29th > January > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

MS mounts Linux sales pitch in trial video

The personal appearance in the Washington courtroom by Paul Maritz was preceded by three commercials on videotape. The presenter of the messages was John Warden, the self-confessed non-techie lawyer on Microsoft's team. At the start he tried to pass off a document that purported to be an IBM strategy document entitled "Network computing division strategy posted on the Internet" as an IBM document, but it was not from an IBM web site. Microsoft had tried to authenticate it with IBM, but failed, so David Boies successfully had it excluded on the grounds of doubtful authenticity. The first commercial break was - read this carefully - Microsoft rooting for Caldera's OpenLinux on videotape. So who was the star, I hear you cry? None other than Vinod Valloppil, here described as a Microsoft program manager, but perhaps better known as the author of the Halloween documents. He said that Linux provided "effective functionality"; it looked "just like Microsoft Windows"; it had a "growing list of third-party application support"; and "corporate backing" from Netscape, Intel, Oracle, Sun, and IBM. The cheeky chappy was both devious and factually wrong of course in describing Caldera's product as "Caldera's operating system", and attributes features to Caldera that are in fact from the KDE desktop environment. Unfortunately, Boies did not pick this up. The only clue that Valloppil did not work for Caldera was that he added "popular" when describing Windows and Office. He ended with this message: "In summary, I have demonstrated that Caldera's operating system is: first, powerful and easy to use; second, that there are significant third-party support in both software and hardware companies; and finally, that Caldera's product bundles a strong office productivity suite from Star Division which is not only interoperable with Microsoft products, but is also designed to work and look like Microsoft products so that users of these products will be comfortable and productive using these programs. "This concludes the demonstration of Caldera OpenLinux operating system version 1.3." It is not The Register's normal practice to present to readers unadulterated, unfiltered sales pitches, but we thought that this was an interesting enough to be worthy of exception. The second demo was for WebTV, although Warden forgot to mention Microsoft's connection. The implication was that it was easy to start such a service, with just $1.5 million of initial financing, but again, there was no mention of who was guaranteeing the enormous debt. Boies raised in his cross-examination of Maritz whether Microsoft had represented that WebTV was a competitor, when it was seeking antitrust approval for the transaction, but Maritz said he did not know. The final demo was of IBM's Network Station 1000, which "does not use any Microsoft software" and has "comparable power and performance to the traditional personal computer running Microsoft software." Warden was too incompetent to reinforce the points that Microsoft was trying to make. They were not clever, and certainly not convincing. He also played them out of sequence. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Office the ‘perfect club’ to use on Apple – MS

Further evidence of deterioration of relations between Apple and Microsoft emerged in court yesterday, as Paul Maritz was confronted with a February 1998 email saying that "MacOffice is the perfect club to use on them [Apple]".
John Lettice, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Dell using Alpha chip in servers

Updated The Dell Corporation, perhaps the staunchest of Intel's customers, is producing large file servers using the Alpha chip, it has emerged. Terry Shannon, editor of Shannon knows Compaq broke the information this week. A company called Net Appliance is selling the boxes as servers for thin clients. According to Shannon, the company has been buying several thousand Alphas from Dell. Details of the machines are available at the company's Web site. Steve Jackson, European business manager of servers at Dell, said: "The agreement we've signed with Network Appliances is to bring to market a filer rather than a file server." He explained that a filer is a network attached storage system. "This market is expected to grow significantly," said. The choice of an Alpha processor had no signifance, he claimed. "For a standard platform, Intel is absolutely there. Our standard software is Windows NT." ®
Mike Magee, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Qualcomm to drop Eudora?

Updated Qualcomm looks set to sell or close its Eudora Internet software division, according to anonymous sources cited on US Web site MacOS Rumors and allegedly confirmed by sources at Apple and Qualcomm. However, Franklin Antonio, Qualcomm's CTO, denied the rumours. "Eudora division is not closing nor being sold. We are very proud of Eudora. It is an excellent ongoing business," he told The Register. The questions about Eudora's future ultimately follow Qualcomm's acquisition of utilities specialist Now Software back in November 1997. The company was bought to allow Qualcomm to integrate Now's eponymous contact manager and personal organiser software (it sold off Now's other utilities to Power On Software last year) into the Eudora line of email software. The acquisition, the oh-so-slow development of Eudora Planner (as Now's PIM has now become), falling sales of Eudora Pro (Eudora Lite has always been available free of charge) in the face of solid email applications being bundled with the leading Web browsers, and its advertising-funded email-for-life service less popular than those offered by top-ranking portals like NetCenter and Excite, has hit the division's finances hard. Meanwhile, it is being claimed that Microsoft, now a partner with Qualcomm thanks to the latter's decision to use Windows CE instead of Palm OS for a forthcoming Internet-enabled cellphone, has been pressuring the telecoms company to drop Eudora too. Certainly Eudora Lite is one of the biggest obstacles to Microsoft Outlook Express' domination of the email software market (such as it is). The sources claim no final decision has been made on the Eudora division's future, but Qualcomm -- better known as a telecoms infrastructure company; the fit with Eudora was always a puzzling one -- does appear to be looking either at a sale -- in fact, it may have been touting the business to possible buyers for some time -- or simply shutting the division down. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Parry shoots from Portable

As revealed here last year, Nigel Parry has left Datrontech subsidiary Portable Add Ons. He will be replaced by marketing director Clive Girling, who spent many years with Apple UK. Girling has recruited Justin Stokes to be his sales director. Parry, who founded Portable Add Ons before it was acquired by Datrontech, is expected to return to his home country, New Zealand, eventually. ®
Mike Magee, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

More legal wrangles hit Microsoft

Microsoft has been hit with yet another lawsuit. This time the writ has been issued by electronic mapping company Civix-DDI, which holds a number of technology patents in this market. Other parties hit by Civix-DDI's writ include AOL and Yahoo!, along with other companies offering mapping and mapping software over the Web. The writ was issued in the US District Court in Denver yesterday (28 January). It also cites Rand-McNally, Infoseek, Lycos and the Denver Post newspaper. A representative of Civix-DDI said: "We estimate that these infringing products have generated somewhere over $1 billion in revenues so far." The company said it is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. ®
Sean Fleming, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

MS ordered to hand over Win98 uninstall data

Microsoft was yesterday ordered to hand over documents relating to its testing of Edward Felten's uninstall program to the DoJ, after their existence was revealed in an email earlier this week (See Story). The data seems to include an Excel spreadsheet giving details of functionality shared between browser and shell in Windows 98's shdocvw.dll file. Judge Jackson also ordered Microsoft to hand over several related emails. The spreadsheet may or may not be useful to the DoJ. Its existence became public after an email discussing it, from Microsoft tester David D'Souza, was given to the DoJ by Microsoft, apparently in error. Arguing against having to hand over the data Microsoft attorney David Holley wrote: "After further consultation with our client, we have determined that the spreadsheet does not relate to any testing by Microsoft of Dr. Felten's prototype removal program," adding for good measure that he email was "inadvertently produced," and asking for the return of all copies. This is somewhat confusing, to say the least. D'Souza would appear to have been involved in the testing of Felten's program, and although one the one hand he says that quite a lot of shared functionality is shown by his data, on the other he says that "this list could be used to 'separate' shdocvw into two parts: Shared+shell and browser specific. So this may not be useful [to Microsoft's efforts to demonstrate inextricable integration]." It would appear that the spreadsheet in question contains the data D'Souza based these views on, and that therefore it does relate to Microsoft's testing. Holley's claim was therefore wrong. We trust he just made a mistake - obviously no-one involved would wish to mislead the court. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Kyocera starts shipping sat handsets

Japanese company Kyocera has started shipping its Iridium handsets. The company is the only Iridium partner apart from Motorola and has two models, one which operates in dual mode. According to the company, it has 15 gateway operators around the world. Earlier this week, Iridium itself turned in poor financial results. Earlier this week, reports in the US press said that even senior executives had been given salesmen roles in order to sell the equipment. ® Related Stories Japanese coverage from The Register
Mike Magee, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

CompuServe UK loses its head

Martin Turner, the MD of CompuServe UK, has stepped down from the post after two years in the job. CompuServe UK declined to disclose any more details except to say that he is considering a number of options within the industry. He has been replaced by Michael van Swaaij, who was responsible for the company's operations in the Benelux countries and Scandinavia before taking up his new position. Little is known about van Swaaij except that he is in his early thirties and has worked his way up through the company. Turner joined CompuServe UK as product marketing manager in 1991 during the company's UK start-up phase. CompuServe UK, which has around 400,000 members, is owned by AOL Bertelsmann Europe, a joint venture between America Online and Bertelsmann AG, the world's third-largest media company. ®
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

BT gets green light to bid for 3G wireless

British Telecom has been given the green light to bid for a third generation (3G) wireless licence, and to increase its stake in the UK's current number two player, Cellnet, beyond 60 per cent. The Department of Trade and Industry announced the relaxation of restrictions on BT in the wireless market this morning, effectively giving BT all it wants in the area, and unleashing a dangerous competitor on the UK market. The number of 3G licences granted in the UK is likely to be limited, and the existing four cellular players already have to take into account the likelihood of large bids from new entrants. BT has already said it wanted to bid for a licence, but that it has not yet decided whether to do so independently or via Cellnet. This stance puts a certain amount of pressure on the other Cellnet shareholder, Securicor, as the value of its stake is somewhat dependent on the way BT decides to jump. Current GSM providers are all aware that they may not be successful in bidding for 3G, or indeed that they may not be able to afford the going rate. They are therefore considering alternatives. Earlier this week, for example, German operator T-Mobil signed a deal with Ericsson to build a GPRS (General Packet Radio System) into its network. In the long term GPRS may not match the speeds of UMTS (the European 3G standard), but it can be seen as more evolutionary and more immediate than UMTS. The T-Mobil system will offer data at up to 115kbit/s, and Ericsson claims: "GPRS is a common step for both GSM and TDMA (IS-136) networks to handle higher data speeds and offer 3G packet capabilities." So you could say that GSM with GPRS could form an alternative to full 3G for quite a few years yet.
John Lettice, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

PlayStation emulator developer to fight Sony lawsuit

Connectix yesterday announced it was commencing mass production of its PlayStation emulator, Virtual GameStation (VGS), in preparation for the software's retail launch. The announcement was the company's first strike against moves made by PlayStation developer Sony on Wednesday seeking to block sales of the software in preparation for legal action against Connectix for alleged copyright and intellectual property infringement (see Sony to sue Connectix over PlayStation emulator). Sony's initial complaint also claims Connectix's software bypasses the company anti-piracy policy by effectively encouraging the use of bootleg PlayStation CDs. Connectix denies all charges. It claims to have reverse engineered the PlayStation without recourse to Sony intellectual property, and to have "developed technology specifically designed to prohibit the use of pirated PlayStation titles with VGS. We've worked hard to prevent use of pirated software and have added additional security technology into Version 1.1", according to Connectix CEO Roy McDonald. So far, VGS is only compatible with around 100 of the 350-odd PlayStation titles currently on the market, and in case will only play versions of games for the US NTSC TV standard -- so UK users will need to find an importer of US titles. Ironically enough, VGS isn't the first PlayStation clone. Not long after the console's release, 3DO, then suffering from poor sales of its own game unit, began work on a PlayStation-on-a-card product for both PCs and Macs. Alas, nothing ever came of it, though it's not known precisely why. Unlike VGS, 3DO's hardware was discussed before its launch, and its possible that Sony, then making money on hardware as well as software royalties (only the latter add to the bottom line these days), may well have stamped on the development work much as it's trying to do now with VGS. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Sony Japan to trial Internet music downloads

Sony Music Entertainment's Japanese wing is preparing to sell music via the Internet, according to reports in Japan's Asahi newspaper. The paper claims the company will offer a range of tracks from its own artists which could be downloaded for a fee, apparently straight on to MiniDisc. It's not clear, however, when the scheme, which was not confirmed by Sony, will be launched. It's certainly in interesting strategy. Sony developed MiniDisc and has been trying to persuade the music-buying public to embrace the recordable format for several years now. Producing a MiniDisc unit that could be hooked up to the Internet to download tracks could seem to be a neat way of leveraging interest in digitally distributed music to sell more MiniDisc players. However, to gain wider acceptance, the scheme really needs the support of other music labels -- few people would surely be keen on a technology that would be dedicated to just a couple of their favourite bands. And the wider range of titles available online are not offered in MiniDisc's native audio file format, unless it uses MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3 (aka MP3), something Sony, as a member of the Secure Digital Music Initiative, the music industry-led body charged with setting a specification for a universal music download format that also protects copyright as an alternative to MP3, would be too keen on mentioning. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Rogues’ gallery goes online

Mug shots of London’s most wanted criminals will soon be accessible from the Metropolitan Police Web-site. The new section, which Scotland Yard estimates should be up and running in the next few months, will also feature details of suspects alleged crimes. This announcement comes just two weeks after a man, wanted for the brutal murder of four people, was captured at Amsterdam airport thanks to the Metropolitan Police Web-site. Ibrahim Aderdour, 40, was arrested by Dutch customs officials who recognised him from a picture posted there. Scotland Yard has admitted that its list will be based on format of the FBI’s site which posts pictures and details of it’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. The possible implications of officially posting this sort of information are, however, slightly worrying. A search engine showed that there are a large number of hoax FBI lists that could by confused for the real thing by a particularly hysterical member of the public. Also, unless there are some general improvements to the existing Metropolitan Police site, suspects could well be half way to Rio by the time their picture has loaded. ®
Will Knight, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

So, who c@me first

And we're not talking chicken and egg here, either. Of course, AOL's romantic involvement in the movie You've Got M@il, which stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, was not the first time a service provider has played cupid. Last night, the UK's newest terrestrial TV station, Channel 5, broadcast the soft porn movie E-Mail which relayed the tale of two sexually charged copywriters indulging in a online seduction that left little to the imagination. And which service provider brought these two heaving bodies together? CompuServe. Well I'll be blowed! ®
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Don’t give up your d@y job

AOL may be the world's leading Internet access company but its taste in T-shirts ain't up to much. It obviously blew most of its marketing budget when it splashed out on a champagne reception for 20 or so journos at a private screening of You've Got M@il. For the T-shirts it gave away afterwards to publicise the launch of its new software were supposed to be pre-shrunk. Guess what, no they're not. XL is now XXSmall -– maybe it's a reflection on AOL's shrinking share of the UK dial-up market? ®
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Big Blue buckets

Big Blur's sprung a leak. Nothing the IBM corporate police need worry about, although if the truth were known, they've probably got other things on their minds at the moment. No, IBM has sprung a leak -- literally. At the company's Portsmouth HQ -- a shrine to 70s-style concrete construction -- they're shelling out some of the record $81.7 billion they turned over last year on buckets to catch rain water pouring through the ceiling. Which is a great image for all their customers who trudge down to Pompey just to meet the guys down there. ®
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Infoseek sees losses improve

The fourth biggest Internet portal, Infoseek, reported a net loss of $18.2 million for the first fiscal quarter of 1999 despite announcing record revenues of $30.2 million for the same period. According to some reports, the loss was less than expected although Infoseek added that while it expected revenue to increase "modestly" in the next quarter, it warned that its net loss would also increase by at least $10 million from the first quarter's levels. But Harry Motro, Infoseek's president and CEO, is optimistic about the future. "Looking ahead, we expect that our operating profits will begin to benefit from our infrastructure and marketing investments in the second half of 1999," he said. Last November, Infoseek and the Walt Disney Company formed a strategic alliance to create the Go Network. The company claims that this has helped boost its status and help develop its branding on the Web. "At the time of the launch the Go Network had more than eight million registered users, 21 million viewers and 36 per cent reach," claimed Motro. "We are extremely encouraged by the initial reception for Go Network from users, the media and advertisers," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Linux will ship on our servers – SGI

Silicon Graphics has confirmed its plans to offer server products running Linux on Intel-based hardware, though the company would not say when the product will be released. Nor were details on the specification of that hardware forthcoming. "We will lead the low-end server market with full support for Linux," said John Vrolyk, SGI's senior VP for its computer systems business unit. "SGI will provide the same level of quality and support for Linux as its low-end [Intel] servers that it currently provides for its high-end MIPS-based systems." Vrolyk added that the move had been made to meet the demands of SGI's customers. The company's announcement follows hints earlier this week (see Linux to become a 'core OS' for HP, SGI) that it would join Hewlett-Packard, Compaq and Dell to bundle Linux with certain server products. Certainly, the Linux market is one SGI must be keen to address, given the outstanding growth of the open source OS' userbase and the company's own desire to return to profitability by chasing not only its traditional high-end markets but more mainstream ones too. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Web stock boom will end tears

Alan Greenspan -- chairman of the US Federal Reserve -- has added his voice to the growing debate over the current speculative euphoria concerning Internet stocks. In an address to the Senate Budget Committee yesterday, he agreed there was a valid comparison to be made between the stock market and a lottery. Yet that supposes that when the Internet bubble finally bursts -- and burst it will -- that there will be some investors who will have opted out just before the mess hits the wall. By the law of averages, some people will get away with it, but would you get better odds dabbling in Net stocks or shelling out for a lottery ticket? A spokeswoman for Camelot, the company behind the UK's National Lottery, refused to discuss the subject or confirm whether the analogy was a slur on the good name of lotteries in general. For Greenspan, it's more than valid as he warned that "hype" is driving up stock prices and that while some may succeed, he said, the "vast majority are almost sure to fail". And if the companies fail, investors lose out too, and with current prices running sky-high and showing no signing of coming down to earth, that could spell disaster -- big time. Yet far from dampening enthusiasm for .com stocks Greenspan's remarks instead helped sow the seeds for a minor rally on Wall Street yesterday showing just how fickle the market can be. It's a view shared by Charles Schwab, co-CEO and chairman of the online brokerage firm that shares his name. He is also acutely aware of the risks involved and written to investors warning them of the market's volatility. In a personal letter posted on Schwab's Web site he takes a different tack warning investors that the market can move at lightning-fast speeds trapping unwary punters. Investors need to be aware that there may be a substantial difference in the price at which they expect to buy or sell a stock, he wrote, and the price they actually find in the market. "Another reason for these high valuations of Internet-related stocks, as with all stocks, is simply supply and demand. "With so many people believing in the profit potential for these stocks, they are willing to pay a very high premium. The limited supply, coupled with huge demand, can drive prices up or down with extraordinary speed," he wrote. "While I have seen investor enthusiasm in many industries over the years, this particular combination of a fast market in Internet stocks, and the access to rapid trading provided through the Internet itself, is unprecedented," he said. Unprecedented it may be, but with so many people issuing such warnings there is a real danger of investor complacency setting in. ®
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD wins NEC deal

NEC Japan has started using AMD K6-2 chips only a few weeks after Toshiba said it would start using the microprocessors. AMD is now boasting eight out of the top ten PC OEMs as its customers. This is possibly stretching it a bit as it counts Packard Bell separately from NEC when they aren't, really. The other OEMs in the AMD stable are IBM, Compaq, Toshiba, HP, Acer and Fujitsu. The list of OEMs using Sharptooth should be an interesting one. If anyone has such a list, please send it to us and we'll publish it. ®
Mike Magee, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Worldwide PC market grew 15 per cent in 1998

The global PC market grew by 15 per cent last year, according to market research organisation Dataquest. That growth was led by the West, with the European and US markets accounting for 65 per cent of all PCs sold. However, the company's parent, the Gartner Group, warned that Dataquest's figures were only based on "preliminary" data -- it is holding to the final numbers in the hope of flogging more tickets to an upcoming conference organised by the Group. Still, even "preliminary" figures give a reasonable picture of the performance of the industry's leading vendors. The figures below are based on the unit shipments, and are for PCs only, including notebooks, desktops and the like, but excluding servers. Compaq retained its market-topping position thanks to a 20.7 per cent increase in sales through the year. That left it with 13.8 per cent of the market, well up on IBM's 8.2 per cent. Big Blue also retained its chart position, number two, but its share fell 9.5 per cent. Dell saw the biggest growth: 64.9 per cent; Hewlett-Packard's shipments grew by 25.5 per cent. Both companies ended up in third and fourth place, respectively, with shares of 7.9 and 5.8 per cent each. Again, this left them with the same market positions as they scored in 1997. That was also true of Packard Bell-NEC, whose share fell from five per cent to 4.3 per cent. According to Dataquest VP Bill Schaub, Dell has now posted 13 consecutive quarters of 50 per cent growth. Notably, Apple's recent success with the iMac clearly wasn't enough to push it into the top five. Given the above-average growth experienced by Compaq, Dell and HP, that suggests the sales Apple gained throughout the last half of 1998 weren't at the expense of those vendors. The 'Others' category, which notched up a 60.1 per cent share, includes every assembler and its dog, and this figure is likely to please the distribution channel in particular. ®
The Register breaking news

Faster Celerons released faster

Sources close to Intel confirmed today that a 433MHz Celeron is likely to be released before the end of February. In fact, the date will be the 28th of February, so precipitating the usual round of price cuts as less speedier chips enter Intel's Gulag. And the 433MHz Celeron will be swiftly followed by a 466MHz, although other sources said this was unlikely to appear before early April. Intel would not comment on prices, but according to US newspaper Computer Retail Week, the 400MHz will cost $130/1000, the 366MHz $90/1000 and the 333MHz $70/1000. Interestingly, while Intel still insists it is keeping Slot One Celerons, sources said that they were likely to be priced higher than the new 370-Socket PPGA package. This is one way of disposing of Slot One Celerons, we suppose. ®
Mike Magee, 29 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Price of Pentium II mobiles plummets

The introduction of Intel PII/mobiles has meant that prices on members of its former notebook family have plummeted. The 300MHz PII/mobile, which cost $637, now costs $340. The 266MHz part, which cost $391, now costs $207. The prices are for units of 1,000. The price cuts represent a 47 per cent decrease and we can now expect to see large PC vendors hurriedly price slashing over the next weeks. Earlier Story Intel introduces PII/mobiles, PII/Celerons®
Mike Magee, 29 Jan 1999