24th > January > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

A year ago: Mitsubishi shows lack of Shogun skill

There's a bit of a glitch on the Japanese front but Mitsubishi is glitchier than most, we would suspect. Last week it closed down its facility in Durham (not County Durham, dear readers) and 200 people got axed there. According to a carefully pre-released statement, that was because of a decline in the semiconductor market. Decline? What decline? It's been evident for a little while that while companies like Mitsubishi are a little bit in trouble, the US manufacturers are wafering in the facilities. So, is this the trade war to end all trade wars? We think not, here at The Register. Despite all rumours to the contrary, there's still all to play for in the semiconductor market (See the Semiconductor Industry Association's site for a breakdown). In fact, best predictions are that the market is growing like billy-o, so it would only be fools that rushed in where angels feared to tread. Nevertheless, analysts could perhaps ask whether Mitsubishi's stake in Apricot was a wise move a few years back and also whether it was a terribly good thing for Fujitsu to buy ICL, notwithstanding the effect Fin-Fin has had on the market. ®
Mike Magee, 24 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

The emails the DoJ may use to ambush Maritz

The Paul Maritz deposition Microsoft made public on Friday was, as we may have intimated yesterday, pretty predictable stuff. Maritz denies everything, but does so without directly addressing large swathes of the case the DoJ has already made against Microsoft. But putting Maritz on the stand as a defence witness is a big risk for Microsoft. He's a senior exec, and has been 'in the loop' for the whole of the period the prosecution is concentrating on. That means he has sent or been sent a large proportion of the mail messages the DoJ is using in evidence. Presumably Maritz himself has boned-up on the documents he's likely to be asked about under cross-examination next week. And presumably, having another senior exec taking the 'I can't remember' road out will not be viewed as an option by Microsoft's attorneys. We've been taking a look at some of the stuff that may come up, and we think we can see a DoJ ambush or two ahead. Quite a lot of the stuff the DoJ has isn't public yet, but the headings of some of them are on the record, and quite a few of the good ones involve Maritz. We may not see the financial ones (trade secrets) for a while yet, but the ones that sound non-financial look good. Expect, for example, one or more of the Microsoft witnesses (probably Maritz or Jim Allchin) to have to deal with a message from February 1994 to Gates, Brad Silverberg, Maritz and Allchin headed "re Chicago beta #1 content." This dates back to the period when Microsoft claims it was putting its IE integration plans into motion, and should be quite enlightening. If it confirms what Microsoft has been saying, then you'd think it would be a defence exhibit, rather than a prosecution one. From March 1994, we have an email from Brad Silverberg to Gates, Allchin, Maritz and Ballmer headed "re Shell plans - iShellBrowser," plus a response from Gates. This sounds very much like an early appearance of the browser as shell, so should make good reading too. And of course, at that time Brad Silverberg was heading Windows 95 development, later becoming head of matters Internet, so he was right slap-bang in the thick of things. Funnily enough we interviewed Silverberg about Windows 95 at almost exactly the time he wrote this email, but the subject of the Internet didn't come up much - Brad was keen on the new plug and play features, largely, and we got to see a portable crash when it tried to figure out a network card. Silverberg himself went on sabbatical last year, and seems to be still absent. In June 1998 though he does seem to have roused himself to send yet another of those yet to be released messages to various members of the high command. Fascinatingly, it's headed "re Netscape meeting," although the interesting Netscape meeting we've all heard about was three years earlier. The month before Brad sent this email, of course, the DoJ had filed its suit against Microsoft, and the Netscape meeting has figured prominently in the DoJ case. There are a couple more missing memos dealing with the meeting, probably the most tantalising being a June 95 one from Bill Gates to Paul Maritz headed "Netscape meeting reality." Aside from these, Maritz is likely to have to deal with a stash of unreleased presentations he made way back, and an April 96 memo of his own headed "Internet directions." There's also quite a but of interesting stuff in the Maritz-related documents the DoJ has released. We'll get back to this, but for the moment, here are some points from one of his presentations: "Partner with Intel to fund nationwide QoS network: tie to Windows client/MMX." We're amused to note that somebody (please let it be Bill's handwriting) has scribbled "Quality of Service" on the printout - apparently senior MS execs preparing to plunge into telecoms don't bother learning the lingo beforehand. The MMX/Windows tie is fascinating. Was Maritz proposing to roll out a US voice and data system that required Wintel-only PCs? If so, that puts an interesting spin on what he says in his deposition about MMX (Intel could sue over Katmai, IA-64). Finally, some more interesting spin on the telecoms plan is his suggestion to "give away voice calls (for a while)." Hmm… Until you've established what, Paul? ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 24 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

US outfit cracks Web music copyright whip

The owner of a Swiss Internet site which posted the lyrics of popular songs faces a stiff fine or even jail after his home was raided by the police late last week. And now the action has extended to other sites which post lyrics, prompted by US company The Harry Fox Agency, which represents nearly 20,000 music publishers. A press release issued by the US National Music Publishers Association said the action was taken against the International Lyric Server, based in Basel, Switzerland. According to Edward Murphy, CEO of the US organisation: "Many of the people posting lyrics on the Internet...mistakenly believe that if the lyrics are merely copied down from a recording that they somehow become the intellectual property of the poster." But now the action has extended to another site, which tabulates user generated music. At Harmony Central, there is a brief message saying that it can no longer post information generated by users because of the threat of legal action. Heavyweights behind the action include EMI, Warner-Chappell Music and Sony. And titles allegedly infringed include I Got You Babe by Sonny Bono, Ay Ay I by Gloria Estefan and Walk Like an Egyptian. It is unclear whether reporting the names of these titles infringes the copyright. Users at the Lyrics server are people who have bought the records from big record companies and transcribed them. The plaintiffs in the action admit that the Lyrics server was not charging people to examine or download musical works but said that the US Congress had passed criminal laws aimed at people distributing copyright material on the Web. Very interesting. The question still remains whether sites which aggregate news story headlines are also guilty of copyright theft and can also be sent to jail... ®
Mike Magee, 24 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel invests in UK entertainment company

Eagle Rock, a company into records, videos and TV programming, has received an equity investment from chip giant Intel. The company, which was founded in April 1997, said it had raised £3.3 million in fresh equity from Intel and from German company edel music AG. The latter distributes Eagle Rock's audio products across Europe. The money will be used to help Eagle Rock distribute audio and video products electronically, said Eagle Rock. In the last year, Intel has invested over $65 million in other companies across the world. But not us. ®
Mike Magee, 24 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel says it won't track individuals

Intel has denied that security it is building into future versions of its microprocessors will be used to track net usage. But its denial follows a barrage of complaints from end users, and concern has also been expressed by US politicians. Last September, we exclusively reported from the Intel Developer Forum that the company was building up to 10 primitives in a bid to make the market more secure for e-commerce. (Story: Intel makes bid to capture security lead) At the time, Pat Gelsinger, Intel's general manager of platforms, said that individual signatures generated by different PC metrics, including vibration, would provide genuine random numbers. "Many security methods are ad hoc and incomplete," he said then. The methods would arrive this year, he said. Intel is committed to making money out of e-commerce. Over the weekend, spokespersons from Intel in the US have claimed they cannot and will not use the information to trace individual accounts. ® * Intel will tomorrow release its families of mobile PIIs, supported by a slate of OEMs. Look out for details here. Related Stories Intel Developer Forum coverage Intel adds serial numbers to PIIIs Grove's Intel attacks UK journalism
Mike Magee, 24 Jan 1999