4th > February > 1999 Archive

A year ago: US Var alleges heavy-handed treatment by Intel

A US value added reseller is claiming sinister goings on following what appears to have been the irretrievable breakdown of its relations with Intel. Ken Catto, general manager at Select Micro Systems (SMS), has been barred from Intel newsgroups, says he has been leaned on by anonymous individuals "purportedly from Intel," and alleges that "two very long time and large suppliers (both authorised Intel distributors) took it upon themselves to inform us that it had been suggested in a phone call from Intel that they 'lose' a few of our shipments." And another anonymous visitor to his offices, he says, has been asking if other individuals still posting to Intel newsgroups work for SMS. The row started in the middle of last year over Pentium Classic supplies. Catto then complained to Intel that his company, like many other dealers, was told to continue selling the so-called Pentium Classic throughout the whole of last year to home and to small business customers. But when SMS approached its authorised distributors for supplies of the chips, it was told that they were unavailable as Intel had discontinued the range. Catto posted messages in the Intel newsgroups complaining about the problem after he claimed he was told there were "spot shortages" on the parts. After the postings, Catto met Intel executives but later learnt that the chip giant had ceased producing the products of the "Classic" range last June. Said Catto: "If this indeed was the case, why were we presented with information telling us to base our home and small business marketing on this processor in July? Why, after doing as instructed at this dealer meeting, and writing proposals and taking orders for systems based upon this process would Intel not reply to our questions regarding the virtually total lack of availability." Catto claimed that it took "extraordinary means" to get a response from Intel. But, he added: "That response was virtually too little and too late to save any of the outstanding and virtually undeliverable contracts we had in hand. Intel's unethical handling of this cost us both business and clients. If those extraordinary means required going outside the Intel newsgroup Guidelines, so be it, but don't fault me for it, fault Intel for creating the situation that made it necessary to do so." He said that at a lunch meeting he purportedly had with Intel executives, he agreed that he would cease the postings in the Intel newsgroups if they stopped "playing these kind of games" with the dealer base. But, said Catto: "I also warned them that if we saw this same chain of events repeat itself, we would do whatever was necessary to resolve any new issues with Intel." He claims that during this period, SMS's Intel representative still maintained the parts were in production. "Since the matter had been cleared up with Intel finally admitting to the truth that the Pentium Classic had indeed ceased wafer fab in June, we accepted our losses and moved forward expecting and hoping that such action on our part would not be necessary again," said Catto. But Catto said that a similar issue occurred with Intel later in the year over supplies of the Pentium Pro. (This delay was exclusively reported in The Register, passim.) He said his company had outstanding orders to deliver NT and SQL servers using the Pro but the only way to procure parts was through the grey and black markets. "We became rather irate," said Catto. "At some point in time, Intel responded with their no infamous "spot shortages" once again and that did it for us. Once again we would not accept our availability question going unanswered, so we began again with exactly the same and only approach that historically works." Catto said his company then had a visit from two executives, purportedly from Intel, who would not say who they were and refused to give their business cards to him. "They did not at any time answer even one single question we asked about availability of any processor products. Their purpose was singular and obvious, get us to shut up or else," he said. Later, Catto received an unsigned letter, again purportedly from Intel, which, he claimed, chastised his company for the attitude SMS was showing. Catto then said a series of personal attacks started on the Intel newsgroups. When he replied to the attacks, he found himself "chastised" by Intel in every case. Catto claimed that other issues with Intel emerged more recently. "We have had a significant number of people being referred to us by other resellers, since we are (were) an Authorized Intel Processor Dealers and they expected us to deal with their new Pentium II's shutting down due to excessive heat and or lack of proper thermal design in the ATX case/ATX Power Supply/Pentium II package. I might add that this included an equal number of clones and brand name systems. When we attempted to broach this problem with the newsgroup reps all we got were references to the PII thermal specs and the ATX specs." Catto admitted that he became angry over these issues. "But when an industry leader like Intel chooses to ignore and then silence any person attempting to carry the market's message to them, rather than deal with the problems that are causing the messages to be generated in the first place, what can we expect next," he said. Any postings from Intel newsgroups he makes are now removed, Catto alleged, including articles he has posted from previous issues of The Register. Another unsigned letter, again purportedly from Intel, has claimed that Catto has infringed another's copyright, trademark or trade secret. He has said to Intel: "This is a very serious charge, and I take it very seriously, and I now demand that you provide undeniable proof or retract this slanderous statement immediately." Catto ended: "Since Intel is so obviously continuing in the typically unprofessional manner that has been associated with Intel in the past by others, at this time, we wish to take this opportunity to state that should any Intel employee, representative, or anybody connected with Intel in any way set foot within any of our offices, shop space, or exhibit space at any trade show, uninvited, we will immediately pursue trespassing charges. "Should any further attempts at intimidation occur in person, by phone or by email, either directly or indirectly through suppliers or other industry contacts we will pursue harassment and restraint of trade charges. This is not a threat, it is a response that is intended to protect our employees, our suppliers, and our customers." In the middle of last week and again on Friday, The Register put some of these allegations to Intel but at press time we have not so far received an answer. According to Catto, an Intel representative, has, however, replied in the newsgroups from which he is now barred. ®

Gateway goes AMD

Gateway has now confirmed it will use AMD chips in some of its machines, as exclusively revealed here a month ago. (Story: AMD pushes date of K6-3 forward) The company, formerly a 100 per cent Intel house, is to use an AMD part in a Japanese PC. But this is only the thin end of the wedge, we are given to understand. It is particularly interested in using the Sharptooth K6-3, which has its launch date sometime in the next two weeks or so. ®
Mike Magee, 04 Feb 1999

Opinion: Yesterday's men conduct the virtual trial

Microsoft and the United States government are engaged in a virtual trial. The professional witnesses are for the main part yesterday's men, and in the case of Microsoft, its witnesses are mostly virtual executives who act as comforting yes men in Gates' bizarre empire, rather than being knowledgeable and logical people who could bring Microsoft to maturity. The witnesses are mostly supported by teams of lawyers and technicians who craft the direct testimony so that the result is often unfamiliar under cross-examination. The law is archaic and insufficiently dynamic to deal with the Microsofts of this world, which is why, in the end, Microsoft may well escape sanctions on appeal, especially given the political inclinations of the higher courts. Microsoft's downfall is most unlikely to result from a legal proceeding: the conqueror will be new technology, and Microsoft will be overwhelmed because it is now a legacy marketing company rather than a technology-led one. The lawyers are most of the time insufficiently aware of the facts, and seem to believe that they can wing it by virtue of cross-examination skill. Nor are judges immune. To be sure, Judge Jackson has done sterling work in trying to conduct the case according to the rules, and he will decide the District Court case. But the skill of his law clerks will play a major role in deciding how watertight his Opinion is on appeal, and in deciding the remedies. More important than even the legal outcome is what is happening in the court of public opinion. Even a year ago, criticism of Microsoft was akin to a vicious attack on motherhood and apple pie. Now, pro-Microsoft articles are so few that they are even referenced by Microsoft on its trial Web page. The open source movement has enthused the digerati, and may yet embrace typical users to a significant extent. If Microsoft significantly increases prices, large-scale piracy is likely. The heats are still being run for Java and network computers: the main races are yet to come. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 04 Feb 1999

Allchin heads for video remix

The hot news in the trial at the moment concerns the Felten prototype removal program to stop browsing functionality in Windows 98. It has been seized upon by the hungry media as a stick with which to beat Microsoft. To refute the suspicion that Microsoft deliberately misled the court, the evidence needs examining very carefully and forensically, away from the Star Chamber. An overnight re-run, with referees from both sides in attendance, is unlikely to resolve all the issues. If the evidence stands further scrutiny, retribution should be swift, appropriate, and include a consideration of criminal sanctions. Because the Felten video issue will be much discussed, we are posting the full text of the videotape voice-overs so that readers of The Register can assess the facts so far for themselves (Full transcript). This is accompanied by a chronology (below) of the related events and a detailed analysis of the cross-examination. In matters of business ethics, Microsoft has not lost its virginity: it was never a virgin, even in the earliest days when Gates used time on a Harvard computer for his private for-profit purposes. CHRONOLOGY Early September: Felten provided Microsoft with a copy of the source code of his prototype removal program. 4 December: Microsoft modified some of the software it used as part of Windows Update, with the result that there was incompatibility between the new version of Windows 98 and Felten's program. 11 December: Felten's direct testimony was unsealed. Felten said on his Web site that his program was not available publicly, and also made it clear that he was an independent consultant to the DoJ. In this work, he was assisted by Christian Hicks (age 24) and Peter Creath (age 23), formerly at Princeton with Felten, and now with a consultancy that they formed called Elysium Digital. Their Web site claims "many years of experience" for the youthful Creath, and "wide experience " for the older Hicks. 14 December: Felten's cross-examination, including a demonstration of the removal of browsing capability from Windows 98, with continued functionality of Windows 98. 16 December: Microsoft filed a Representation concerning allegations by Felten that Microsoft had made "some change to the Windows Update site that he believed interfered with is add/removal program" (and it was interesting that Felten never used the word "add" – just "remove"). Microsoft said that it provides updates about every two weeks, and had modified the site on 4 November (for version 2 of the Windows 98 Update), and again on 4 December. 13 January: Judge Jackson ruled: "Plaintiffs' motion to strike the Representation of Microsoft is denied. The Representation has been controverted, and consequently it is of no probative force or effect at this stage whatsoever other than as a Representation as to what purported testimony will be." Since Allchin was to testify concerning the representation, the judge reluctantly allowed document discovery and a further two hours of deposition to be taken from Allchin, since in Allchin's direct testimony there was no detail of the tests on Felten's program, although Microsoft said it caused Windows 98 to fail. Late January: Further deposition of Allchin. 26 January: Short video by Allchin. 29 January: Allchin's direct testimony released. 1 February: Allchin's cross-examination commenced. Microsoft played a video of its testing of the Felten program, and a second short video in which Allchin purported to show that IE remained after Felten's program was run. 2 February: Allchin's cross-examination was concluded. Redirect examination was by Steven Holley. Felten's original demonstration on video is no longer at the MSNBC site, although the date it disappeared is not known. The youthful Creath and Hicks appear to have been responsible for spotting an anomaly on the Microsoft videotape that suggested that the title bar of the Windows update window said "Internet Explorer" rather than "Windows 98", which was what it should be after Felten's program had been run. Allchin went belly up, and surrendered. The Microsoft spin doctors span very fast. 3 February: The redirect examination continued, followed by a devastating re-cross-examination by Boies. At the end of the day, it was agreed that Allchin would personally repeat the test, surrounded by heavy breathers. At the end of the hearing yesterday, there was a bench conference between the lawyers and the judge. The court: I do not believe that he [Allchin] deliberately falsified this, but it does cast serious doubt on reliability of that exhibit all together. If you would like to have an opportunity to have him go back and do it himself and videotape it while he does it himself and then come in and tell us what it shows- Holley: I would, your honour. I apologise that this demonstration, which is what it was, got bolloxed up, and I'm confident and represent to the court as an officer of the court that we did nothing to these demonstrations. The court: I didn't think he did, but Mr Boies has done a very professional job of discrediting those tapes. Holley: Well, the test results were what they were, and we are confident with that, and I would like, your honour, the opportunity tonight to do exactly what your honour suggests. So, if we could recess until tomorrow morning. The court: I'm sure we can. Boies: No objection. Your honour, could we have somebody present during that demonstration? Holley: Absolutely, your honour. The court: Yes, that would be the best way to do it. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 04 Feb 1999

That video – the full transcript

There are two videos that were played after lunch on 1 February, shortly before Allchin was offered for cross-examination. Ominously, Judge Jackson remarked, perhaps bored by some video sales pitches that morning, that the defence should remember "it's just after lunch". Jim Allchin, for Microsoft, said that the videotape was prepared under his supervision and at his direction. FIRST VIDEO Yusuf Mehdi [director of marketing in the personal and business systems division of the platforms and applications group] was apparently the prime mover in arranging this videotape. This is a demonstration of the effect on Windows 98 of running Dr Felten's program that allegedly removes Web-browsing capabilities from Windows 98. I will demonstrate two things. first, after running the program, Web-browsing capabilities are still present in Windows 98. in fact, all the key components of Internet Explorer remain in Windows 98. Dr. Felten's program attempts to hide these components from users and to disable Web-browsing functionality, but it fails. Users can still browse the Web from Windows 98 in several ways after the removal program is run. Second, after running the program, the functionality of Windows 98 has been significantly degraded even for functions that do not relate to the Internet. I will also demonstrate other ways in which Dr Felten's program has adversely affected and impacted the experience of using Windows 98. This is the Windows 98 desktop after Dr Felten's program has been run, which I will refer to for convenience as the government version of Windows 98. We have not made any other changes to this computer or Windows 98 except to run Dr Felten's program as he describes in his expert report and his written direct testimony. as you would expect, he's removed the Internet Explorer icon from the desktop and the Internet Explorer icon from the quick launch bar. but there are many vestiges of Internet Explorer that remain on this computer. Let me show you just a couple of them. first, in the settings control panel, there is an icon here with the Internet Explorer logo labelled "the Internet." If I click on this icon, the control panel for configuring all the settings for Internet Explorer appears, everything from the security settings, the type of content, to the type of Internet connection and other things including programs and advanced settings. If all Web-browsing functionality were removed by Dr Felten's program, this control panel would be very confusing to users. In fact, as I will show you in a minute, the government version of Windows 98 can still be used to browse the Web. Next, if I click "start settings active desktop," you will see that there's an option for view as Web page. This is another remnant of the Internet capabilities in Windows 98. finally, let's look at what Windows 98 itself says is present on the computer after the removal program is run. I will open up the Windows update feature and click on the "help about Internet Explorer." The computer tells me Internet Explorer 4.0 technologies are still here in the government version of Windows 98. I will now demonstrate there is web-browsing capability in the government's version of Windows 98. First, let's look at the Windows update feature. When I click on that icon, we'll connect to the Internet. You will see that Internet Explorer browser window comes up and displays the Internet address that we have reached, "Windowsupdate.microsoft.com." We are now on the Internet. As you see, at the bottom of the page here, we're actually connecting out to the Internet and fetching that data. It's taking a very long time, however--unusually long--to access that Web site. That's a result of the performance degradation that has occurred because of running the Felten program. So, go ahead and give it a minute here. It will eventually display all of the web page. So, Dr Felten chose to let customers access this one web site which is done using the IE code in Windows 98 including mshtml, urlmon and Wininet among other files. However, Dr Felten's changes make access very slow. Dr Felten's changes also break the user's ability to use the Windows Update web site once it is accessed and displayed on screen. As you will see, when I click yes and attempt to view a catalogue of the available updates that I might download to improve Windows, I get this "please wait" message, and the program just hangs. let's look at another example of Web-browsing functionality that remains in the government version of Windows 98. I will go to help system. As you will recall from an earlier demonstration, integration of the Internet Explorer system services in Windows 98 resulted in improved help features. The Internet functionality of Windows 98 displays graphical information coded in html from both the local computer itself and from Web pages. so, as you can see here, we've a split-pane view of the help system. I can certainly continue to use Web-browsing technology like a single click on these hotlink topics to get help information. In addition, there is a Web help option. Now, the Web-access functionality of this particular button has been disabled by the Felten program, but the underlying Web-browsing capabilities of the help system are still present and available to users. As I will now demonstrate, I will click on an html link that comes with Windows 98, drag it and drop it in this right pane. Windows 98 will now render that html page. This page has links that will allow us to navigate the Internet right here from within the help feature. So, for example, this is an html page that has a listing of business channels in the active channel guide. If I were to choose the Microsoft channel guide, Windows 98 will take us to that site. This is now a Web page on the Internet. this site has a number of links which I will use to demonstrate that a great deal of Web-browsing functionality exists in the government version of Windows 98. for example, I can download a screen-server program. I will enter "save as," and you will see Windows 98 connect out to this web site, "Www.Windowsmedia.com," grab a screen saver program and download it to the hard disk of my computer. It asks me to save it on the desktop. I will go ahead and say "yes." As you can see here, we downloaded data. Now the download is complete. I can browse a world wide web from this location. For example, I can choose the Lycos link here, and the Internet functionality integrated into Windows 98 will take me to the Lycos search site. Here we are now on the Lycos search site. now I can freely navigate the Web by typing in the search. We get the Internet security permissions window because we are using the security systems services provided by the Internet Explorer technology in Windows 98. now we will go ahead and execute a search for Ford. As you can see, we have a list of companies that have to do with automobiles and information on Ford. We are browsing the Internet from within the help window using the Web-browsing capabilities that are integrated into Windows 98. Those capabilities were not removed by the Dr Felten's program. The government version of Windows 98 does not successfully hide all the Web browsing from customers. Let me show you a third example of Internet capabilities that remain after the Felten program is run. I will open the "my computer" feature of Windows 98. Let's look at the toolbar here and zoom in to look closely. Windows 98 provides several buttons that include cut, copy, paste, undo, delete, properties, and views. I will zoom back and type in here, "in about navigation cancel," just a standard error message. I could have typed in a Web site address. notice that when I typed in "enter," the toolbar that I just showed you is going to change. Watch the buttons as I hit "enter." The toolbar changes, and it's now the Internet Explorer toolbar. We now have new buttons: stop, refresh, home, search, favorites, history, channels, full screen, and mail. In fact, we now have the Internet Explorer browsing window provided by the shdocvw systems services integrated in Windows 98. I could do a number of things from here. I could check history, for example. Here in the left pane is a list of the web pages and Internet sites that we just visited; namely, the Windows update site, the Lycos.com site, and the Windows media site. Each of these are links to Web addresses that we just visited. The Web-browsing functionality of the history list is still present. I click on one of these sites and visit it again. The web address, or URL, is displayed to the right in the pop-up dialogue box. Now we are back on the Internet at the Web site we visited before. so, as you can see, there is, in fact, a great deal of Web-browsing capability in the government version of Windows 98 even after the Dr Felten program was run. Windows 98 can still access the Web, use security privileges, download data and programs like a screen saver or an ActiveX control, and browse and conduct searches on the world wide web. To further illustrate the full Web-browsing capability that's still present after the Dr Felten program has been run, I will now demonstrate how a user can, with just a few steps and without adding any software or code whatsoever, restore full Web-browsing capability to the "my computer" feature of Windows 98. let's take a look. I opened up the "my computer" window. You can see that the user is unable to access the Web because the phone program has hidden Internet functionality. As the user tries to enter a URL address, they are presented with this error message. I will now show that using standard features in Windows 98, the user can re-enable full browser functionality with just a few steps. I will go ahead and open up the Windows registry and re-enable Web browsing within Windows. Think of the Windows registry as something that is similar to the circuit breaker panel in your home. When the lights go out due to a storm or power hit, you can essentially flip a few switches on the circuit breaker and re-enable the lights in your house. I'm going to do the same thing for Windows. If you recall the error message that we just saw that says the computer did not recognize http as a registered function, I'm going to basically re-establish that function and flip a switch to turn it on. That's essentially what I'm doing here on this screen. Let me go ahead and tell Windows there is a function called http, as I'm typing in here, and I will go ahead and flip a switch by essentially changing a value from zero to one, as I will do here, and that will re-establish Web-browsing functionality within the "my computer" window. and with just those few steps, we have now enabled full web-browsing functionality in Windows 98. Let's come back to "my computer" and take a look. I will come back to the address bar, and I will go ahead and enter a URL address for a site on the Internet; for example, site about sailing. and as you can see, I can fully read and view all of that information from the Web site. for example, I will go ahead and show one other site, the disney.com site, and you can see here the full Disney site with animation as well. and finally, you can see that we have also re-enabled the seamless navigation between the Internet and "my computer." The backward and forward button functionality is now reestablished, and I can move between Web pages and between the Internet and "my computer." So, for example, for "my computer" to the Internet and then back with a single click. So, in summary, the Felten program fails to hide all user access to the Web-browsing code in Windows 98. That code can be accessed, and the user can browse the web in several ways after the Felten program has been run. In addition, by using standard features of Windows 98, it is possible to reactivate full Web-browsing functionality from the "my computer" feature without adding any new software. This further demonstrates that the Felten program only hides Web-browsing functionality in Windows 98. it does not remove it. Next I will demonstrate how running the Felten program impairs the functionality of Windows 98 in a number of areas not related to the Internet. The government version of Windows 98 does not work as well as the Microsoft version. First, as I have already demonstrated in showing how slowly the Windows update site loaded, the performance of the government version of Windows 98 is much slower. Second, as I will now demonstrate, some applications that use the integrated Internet system services in Windows 98 do not operate properly on the government version of Windows 98. the changes made by the Felten program break features of those programs. To demonstrate that, I have two computers. I have a Microsoft Windows 98 computer and a government Windows 98 computer that has had the removal program run on it. I'm going to show you three applications that now do not operate as intended on the government version of Windows 98. First program I will demonstrate is software that Prodigy distributes to make it easy for users to sign up for its online service. I will show you how that software runs on Microsoft Windows. this is the Windows 98 desktop. It is marked here, so you can tell the difference between the two computers. Here is the Prodigy Internet software icon. I can double-click that, and the Prodigy signup process starts. There is a welcome. The software uses the Windows 98 Internet capabilities to display some dialup boxes and to facilitate the signup process. Now let's look at the government version of Windows 98 and run the Prodigy software on that computer. Again, here is the Prodigy icon on the desktop. When I click on the Prodigy icon, the computer will hang here for about 30 seconds, and then we will get an error message. The Prodigy setup program will not be able to complete as intended. first we get this message that says, "Prodigy Internet registration." The error message says, "your Web browser has failed to open. Please try to launch your Web browser manually and close it and retry Prodigy Internet registration. If you still have a problem, call us at 1-800-213-0992. So, the Felten program has deleted for Windows 98 functionality of Prodigy relied upon. the program will not work to the detriment of Prodigy's customers, even if the Netscape Navigator is installed on the government Windows 98. This program and the others I'm about to demonstrate will not work properly. let's take a look at a second example: the Microsoft Plus product that includes a program that provides a deluxe audio CD player for playing audio CDs on the computer. on the Microsoft Windows 98 machine, when I insert a music CD, the music player will pop up. it allows us to play audio on the computer. in addition, this program can play music from the Internet. Here you can see the name of each song on the CD, which is information that Windows 98 automatically downloaded from the Internet. That was done by clicking on the Internet button here, which offers the option to download track names, which we have done. there's also several other options to go out to the Internet and get other information about the music CD I am playing, so I could get information in this case on the CD I have loaded which is called "hunter." now I will demonstrate how the enhanced CD player operates on the government version of Windows 98 after the Felten program is run. Here is the desktop. The CD is inserted, and the CD player comes up. We get a dialogue box that says, "do you want to download information now?" and always download. I will go ahead and click okay to download now. The computer will respond that the album was not found on the Internet. Now, in fact, as we have just demonstrated, the information is actually on the Internet, but because the Felten program has disabled some of the integrated Internet capabilities of Windows 98, this enhanced CD player will not operate as designed. notice here that many features which work on the enhanced CD player running on Microsoft Windows 98 are disabled after the Felten program has been run, so the customer misses out on some features of this music CD player. let's look at a third example of how the Felten program breaks the features of applications a user may run on Windows 98. In this case, I will demonstrate a financial management and investment program, Microsoft Money98. Again, I will first demonstrate Microsoft Money on the unchanged Microsoft Windows 98 computer. This is the Microsoft money program. one feature of the program is "smart financial decisions made easier." I can click on this icon, and money goes out to the Internet and gets information; in this case, on how to choose between a Roth IRA, a regular IRA, and a bunch of other information. Similarly, I can check here and get information about a home offering. Money provides users with seamless access to a great deal of information located on the World Wide Web. Now let's run Microsoft money on the computer with a government version of Windows 98. I will click on Microsoft Money 98. It will launch. As you can see, it will look very much like the other screen that you saw, but now if I click on the information links, we get this error message that says, "unable to open this Internet shortcut. The protocol HTTP does not have a registered program." So again, this product that was working properly under Microsoft Windows 98 that would be expected by customers to work well under Windows 98 does not operate now because the removal program deleted integrated Internet functionality that the money program expected to be present. once again, even if Netscape Navigator were installed on the government version of Windows 98, all of these programs would still be disabled as I have demonstrated. In summary, I have demonstrated the following deficiencies in Dr Felten's program for removing Web browsing from Windows 98: first, after the program is run, Internet Explorer system services and Web-browsing functionality still remain in Windows 98. All of the code that does the work of Web browsing is still present. The technology has just been partly hidden, leaving some Internet web-browsing functionality available to customers. Second, the program degrades the functionality of Windows 98 even in ways not related to browsing the Internet. finally, Dr Felten's program breaks some applications designed to run on Windows 98 harming consumers who expect those programs to run and have full functionality on Windows 98. SECOND VIDEO A second video was apparently produced during the evening of 26 January, after Allchin had been deposed again. "My name is Jim Allchin, and I'm going to demonstrate that in the DoJ version of Windows 98, it is still very easy to access Web browsing even after Dr Felten's program has been run on the system, proves that Web browsing is still fully enabled, simply hidden in some cases. what you're seeing before you is the screen of the Compaq Presario, a machine that we purchased brand new on Monday, the 25th, and I personally set this machine up and connected it. I went through the installation as defined by Compaq.” If Maritz is a Microsoft mastiff, Allchin turned out to be a tenacious terrier with a soft under-belly. His legal minder was Steven Holley, a lawyer who has himself been compromised in an earlier episode of the US versus Microsoft saga, when he was caught making inappropriate remarks about the former antitrust chief, Ann Bingaman. Holley wanted to create the impression that Allchin's testimony was correct to the very last detail, and made a great point of a change to what he called a hexadecimal notation – except that the location of a patch was not a hexadecimal number. Holley wanted to show a series of videotaped demonstrations, but David Boies successfully objected to extracts from one by Gates from the 7 December 1995 Internet strategy day. Boies pointedly noted that "Gates, obviously, is not available for cross-examination" as to the truth of what was said, so the whole tape of Gates' remarks had to be submitted. Microsoft also wished to submit part of an email chain, and was told by Judge Jackson to offer the whole chain. Likewise, a redacted (censored) exhibit was not allowed. The video demonstrations were no doubt intended to propagandise Judge Jackson, but as things turned out, they became the demos from hell. So far as the Gates' extract was concerned, it was perhaps an attempt to rehabilitate the great leader after the appalling extracts from his deposition, but it was doubtful if he was yet eligible for parole. The remaining demos were of Windows 98, by Joe Belfiore; "integration" by Dave Fester; an item on Caldera and BeOS by "Vinod "Halloween" Vallipoli (yes, him again -- it turns out that he is the technical assistant to Allchin, so that the Halloween documents were from Allchin's stable); Yusuf Mehdi on third-party developers; and the last video by Mehdi on Felten's removal program. The crux of the messages was that "Internet Explorer is a set of operating system components deeply integrated with Windows." The demonstrations of searching using Navigator, Caldera's Linux distribution, and BeOS by Microsoft staff were truly bizarre: they should have been undertaken by the staff of each vendor. In the demos, Microsoft made a point of gloating that Netscape could not create a short-cut so that there could be automatic re-dialling if the line went down. But as Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale pointed out many times in his testimony, Microsoft withheld the technology out of spite for not agreeing to Microsoft demands that Netscape move out of the Windows browser war – but of course this was not mentioned in the video. Microsoft tried to make a big issue of the browsers included by Caldera and Be being "integrated", but what other companies do is not an issue in the present case. The issue is whether it is anti-competitive for a monopolist to tie products in this way. Microsoft's continual "they all do it" defence is solely aimed at an audience beyond the courtroom, because the judge will not be taken in for one moment by it. Microsoft used a fallacious argument in trying to suggest that if Microsoft did not include IE code in Windows 98, a developer would have to "develop all the code that does this work". Microsoft could equally make the code available to developers if it wished (and it does in fact do so in some cases). The most contentious demo was of the Felten prototype program to remove browsing capability from Windows 98. There was no question that Microsoft deliberately misconstrued the purpose of the program, by pretending that it was unable to achieve an objective that was not claimed. It is still not wholly clear what has happened, although events in court recently point very strongly to Microsoft producing false information to the court. Boies appears to have had some advanced warning that there was something fishy about the videos. Maybe the DoJ has a mole in Redmond. More likely, the DoJ had a copy of the videos and Felten and his boys had looked at them. In any event, he wanted all the drafts or versions of the videos, which were produced in-house by Microsoft Audio-Visual. Allchin admitted that Microsoft lawyers had been involved in preparing the scripts. Boies replayed short extracts and quizzed Allchin mercilessly. His first extract was where Allchin was describing "the rich experience that comes from integration". Allchin wasn't sure if he remembered the section, which proves that hype not only does not work, it is also very forgettable. Time after time, after an extract of some vaunted feature, Boies asked Allchin "If you took a Windows 95 machine without any integrated IE technologies, and you added a stand-alone downloaded off of the Web or bought at retail IE 4, you would get the same rich experience that you say you got here?" Each time Boies posed a similar question, and for a total of twenty times, Allchin had to agree that the same functionality could be obtained by loading Windows 95 with IE4. Boies savoured the phrase "same rich experience" each time, and made his point very well indeed. Boies had his victim eating from his hand: Boies: And am I correct, sir, that a user with the original version of Windows 95 to which IE 4 was added, the retail version of IE4, would get the same experience from this deep integration as the windows 98 user that is described here? Allchin: Of course, because IE replaces all those files. It becomes almost Windows 98. Boies: And that's what you mean by "deep integration"; correct sir? It was an ambush. Judge Jackson undoubtedly got the message, since he asked his own confirmatory questions. Allchin responded to one by repeating that Windows 95 with IE4 was "almost Windows 98". They'll love him in Redmond for that. It does not seem to have been stated that Microsoft's way of updating Windows (and providing bug fixes with as little information as possible) by distributing code with IE, provides evidence for IE being a separate product. There is no more devastating way to destroy the credibility of a litigant than to extract a confession in this way. Legally these colloquies were far more valuable to the DoJ case than the probable misrepresentation of the Felten removal test. It was strange that Allchin did not know if IE4 was sold at retail, which indicated that his knowledge of Microsoft policy ("forever free") was wanting, but at least he did step around the trap that Boies had set. Having done with the videos game, Boies went to the toy cupboard and found some emails. The most devastating one from Allchin, which has been trailed extensively, was "My conclusion is that we must leverage Windows more. Treating IE as just an add-on to Windows which is cross-platformed loses our biggest advantage: Windows market share." It was misleading for Allchin to suggest that the O'Hare work "by a small team" became IE1, without mentioning that Microsoft had failed in its own effort to produce a browser, and bought the rights from Mosaic. Allchin was not the only person blurting out things that did not suit later policy. Ben Slivka (who replaced Philip Barrett who subsequently testified that in October 1994, Microsoft had no plan to add a browser to Windows 95) was deposed: Question: Was it your testimony last night that the Web application platform was a threat to the Windows operating system? Slivka: Absolutely. Q: Was integrating the browser into Windows a response to that platform threat? Slivka: Yes. Boies pointed out that Felten's work was concerned with proving a concept, not producing a commercial product. Microsoft has erred by treating his program as some rival code when it should have thought laterally. Boies said he wanted to test the assertions on the tape for accuracy. Boies asked Allchin if Be had approached Microsoft about porting IE to BeOS, but Allchin said he did not know. At the end of the day, a worried John Warden, Microsoft's lead attorney, asked the judge to rule on his motion about conversations with witnesses under cross-examination. Warden's reason for asking was extremely clear: Allchin was blowing it, and Warden wanted to do some damage limitation. Judge Jackson was brief: "Insofar as it involves the testimony of the witness, the motion is denied." It would have been a career-threatening move for the Microsoft legal team to disobey this order, and there was a danger that the DoJ might secretly attach its own minder to Allchin overnight, or Allchin might break down and confess under cross-examination that he'd chatted to lawyers. Witness protection is a two-way street. The next day, Boies started quietly, getting Allchin relaxed by feeding him easier questions about a problem of running Microsoft Money after Felten's program was run. Be and Caldera were also discussed. Boies then fed Allchin some more questions about the Felten program testing, in which performance degradation was put down to the result of having run Felten's program. With some freeze-frame shots, Boies got agreement from Allchin that frames with "Microsoft Internet Explorer" in the title bar showed that Felten's program had not been run, whereas if the title bar had "Microsoft Windows Update - Windows 98", the program had been run. The hopeless Holley even helped his client into the trap that Boies was springing by reading one of the problematical title bars. Allchin had to confess: Allchin: But from what I'm seeing here right now, I believe that that was done on a pre-Felten system, although the point still stands. He has performance problems and the Windows update doesn't work, but I believe, from what I'm seeing here, they filmed the wrong system. Boies: And when they were filming the wrong system and they were purporting to show the degradation and how long it took, they were showing how long it took on a Windows machine without the Felten program being run, correct? Allchin: I can't be 100 per cent sure. I'm going to have to go back and look at it. Boies pressed home the point as to how Allchin had vouched for the accuracy of the video demonstration, and pointed out that any slowness was due to Windows 98. Allchin's lame excuse was that "They probably just filmed it several times and they ended up filming it – you know, grabbing the wrong screen shot." Allchin unwisely said: "To some degree all this doesn't matter..." to which Boies flashed back: "Mr Allchin, you say it does not matter. You do understand you came in here and you swore that this was accurate?" Things moved from bad to worse, and there was a rumour of a fat lady waiting in the wings. Allchin had testified that the tests were carried out on virgin machines with just Windows 98. He blundered on: "I mean, the truth is that, you know, having Office installed, or whatever, I consider to be, you know, not a big deal." Well, Office is a good deal too big, and PC s running it are known to be sluggish. There was more to come. Allchin was forced to admit that Microsoft had run tests several times and had altered the Registry settings, so that the machine was no longer a virgin. Boies then went on to Windows "integration" with IE, asking what proportion was IE. After some fumbling, Allchin thought it was about 17 per cent, and it was strange that he knew this since IE is supposed to be totally assimilated. Allchin did think that most of the code was shared, but this seems questionable in view of the size of IE. As the cross-examination continued, it seemed as though Allchin meant that the most frequently executed instructions might reference shared code. Boies started questioning Allchin about the spreadsheet that had caused a legal tussle earlier in the week. Judge Jackson admitted it under seal, but Boies was able to ask some questions that suggested that it was a list of files in Windows 98/IE with some details as to whether they were common functions or specific to "my computer" or to browsing "home.ms.com". No wonder Microsoft had been so disturbed about the document. It was the recipe book for disintegration pie. Allchin confessed about an email to Paul Maritz: "What I wrote here was wrong." It seemed likely that at an earlier stage, Allchin had advocated IE4 being separate, but was overruled, so he hastily toed the party line. He volunteered he had discussed the email with Microsoft attorneys. But with such a plentiful supply of coffin nails, what was one more? ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 04 Feb 1999

MS had plans of its own for an IE uninstaller for Win98

Could Microsoft have been considering an uninstall procedure for IE4 in Windows 98? Some evidence suggesting this appears to have been missed by the DoJ, the Princeton puppies (Felten & Co), and the media generally. Remember, you first saw it in The Register first. There is a very interesting clue in an exhibit consisting of slides of a project revue meeting for Windows 98, held on 21 August 1997, and attended by Jim Allchin. An unknown hand (not Allchin's) had written "Uninstall", and from it came two arrows, one with a stressed arrow leading to a box that says "Tune-Up", and the other with an unstressed arrow pointing to the word "Instructions". The most likely explanation would appear to be that at some point in August 1997, the possibility of being able to uninstall IE was being considered, but that it was thought too late to include it directly in the first release of Windows 98. Consequently one possibility was to include the standard uninstall procedure for IE in a subsequently released "Tune-Up" pack (and bug fix). The annotation "instructions" could indicate that written instructions could be included (such as a list of IE files that could be removed) in some documentation. Another annotation said "few corps, lots users", suggesting that Microsoft did not expect much corporate take-up. The exhibit also contains the evidence that Microsoft had tested both Windows 95 and Windows 98 without IE -- something that Jim Allchin denied. David Boies asked Allchin why there was an uninstall procedure for TCP/IP, dialup networking, Netmeeting and Personal Webserver, but not for IE. Evidently, this was a sensitive issue for Allchin, since an email from him to Paul Maritz had suggested: "Move the shell--but not the browser--to the OS team. This was my recommendation before, as you know. It may not be the thing you want to do for other reasons, but it is the right thing to do for the OS (both Memphis and NT). IE 4 would just plug into the environment." ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 04 Feb 1999
Intel headquarters, Santa Clara

Naked Pentium III chip found in downtown Toyko

UpdatedOur friends at useful little Web site Chiptech often come up with some gems. Today it has supplied a URL where pictures of the elusive Pentium III and its pricing in yen appears. However, Intel contacted us this morning and a representative said he believed the part shown in the photographs are not the Real McCoy. According to Intel, serial numbers shown on the part cannot possibly related to the Pentium III. Where the serial numbers are shown, Intel has instead inserted "Intel Confidential" on its samples. So there's a bit of a mystery here. Unfortunately, our Japanese here at The Register is not nearly good enough to decipher what the page says. Correction: Our Japanese is non-existent. Here it is Wow. Intel is bringing the launch date ever further forward. And today we talked to AMD, which is keeping its launch date so quiet that we can't even book an appointment to find out when it is. ®
Mike Magee, 04 Feb 1999

Info’Products ex-staff site gets a piece of the Action

UK reseller Action Computer Supplies is actively poaching staff from its old rival Info’Products through a Web-site for ex and current staff. Action is taking advantage of the Unofficial Ex-Info’Products Staff Resource Site, set up by Simon Michie - who is a former Info’Products employee - as a handy resource for recruiting new staff. The site has a job vacancies section, where Action is advertising for account managers in London, the Midlands and the North West. Action approached Michie about placing an advert last month. They are not being charged for the service. The London–based mail order reseller wants to expand its sales force, which already includes ex-Info’Products staff Gill Rick, Charlotte Beal and Ian Camino, by reaching out to existing and former Info’Products staff. Duncan Wilkes, Action chief operating officer, confirmed the company had picked up some ex-Info’Products staff over the last couple of weeks. He said: "When Compel bought Info’Products we had some job vacancies." He added that he thought the Web site was a good way of recruiting staff. Michie, who set up the site as a way of keeping in contact with his old workmates, has had several companies interested in the job vacancies section. He said: "I’ve been approached by quite a few recruitment consultants to advertise there, but at the moment I don’t want to liquidate the site too much." Other companies using the section include Cambridge-based Metaweb and Computeraid Services. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Feb 1999

AMD share price seesaws

The share price in Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) seesawed yesterday after the news of Gateway took it up and a cancellation of two investor conferences dumbed it down. (Separate story: Gateway goes AMD) Its share price fell by 14 per cent, representing $3.375 of its value after AMD cancelled two investor meetings. But AMD is providing no reasons for the cancellation. That is bound to give rise to speculation that it is possibly having trouble with yields on its processors, the introduction of the K6-3, or even that it is in talks with other unspecified companies. ®
Mike Magee, 04 Feb 1999

UK police deny Web conspiracy

Civil rights activists in the UK have been accused of spreading alarmist reports after allegedly uncovering a plot by police to obtain confidential information held by ISPs about their customers. The Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) organisation said it had discovered that the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) last year gave a secret briefing to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) about what customer information ISPs could pass to the police. Yaman Akdeniz, director of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) claimed he'd received a leaked document which proved ISPA was in cahoots with the police and published the so-called evidence as part of a wider report on personal freedom of the Internet. Both Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of ISPA and the chairman of the ACPO Computer Crime Group, Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Akerman, have denied anything sinister took place. DCS Akerman confirmed that a meeting had taken place in November 1997 but said that it was a "private" meeting (as opposed to a public meeting) and not a "secret" meeting, as alleged by Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK). He and Lansman confirmed that the document obtained by the Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) did indeed exist, but said it was an internal discussion document and not a statement of policy. The report called ISPA: Industry Capabilities for the Provision of Information was written by the former chief executive of ISPA, David Kennedy, and discusses in some length the type of information that could be supplied to police. But the report also contains a number of caveats saying that any request for information must be supported by "appropriate documentation". "For anyone to allege that the police are entering into a conspiracy to circumvent the normal legal process is simply ludicrous -- it's too silly even to contemplate," said DCS Akerman. Even if this was true and the police obtained information illegally about people which subsequently lead to a prosecution, it wouldn't be admissible in court, he said. Despite this Akdeniz is adamant that ISPA is hiding something. "With all these possibilities and capabilities for the provisions of information through the ISPs to the police, ISPA runs the risk of becoming the Big Brother Providers Association. The leaked report shows that our concerns were fully justified, and that secrecy, rather than media disinformation was at work with the activities of the ACPO/ISPs Forum," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Feb 1999

Hitachi makes huge loss

Giant Japanese conglomerate Hitachi announced that it had made a loss of ¥375 billion, blaming the state of the economy and currency fluctuations for the shortfall. Two days ago, Toshiba said it was going to ship two thirds of its DRAM production offshore in a bid to cut costs. Hitachi's losses are likely to have ramifications for workers in the UK and in other sites in Singapore and Malaysia. Last year, Hitachi made a profit of ¥171 billion, but warned late last year that it was not confident about future profits. Japanese companies have been reluctant to lay off their own staff, but last year there were clear signs that they were beginning to bite the bullet on redundancies. ®
Mike Magee, 04 Feb 1999

Online gambling sites accused of rigging the tables

A gambling expert is warning people not to bet on getting rich by playing at Internet casinos. Steve Bourie, who's been in the industry for more than 25 years, says that since Net casinos are unregulated punters have less chance of winning. And even if they do hit the jackpot, they have no guarantee that they will be paid. In one reported case last year a Net casino refused to pay-out a $25,000 win to one lucky gambler because it said there had been a "glitch in the software". "All of these sites say they offer honest games, but in reality you'll never know if that's true,'' says Bourie. Author of the American Casino Guide, Bourie refers to one notorious incident when a slot machine was programmed not to let gamblers win. "If those things can occur in Nevada what do you think might happen in cyberspace where the are no regulations to protect gamblers?'' he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Feb 1999

Apple tight-lipped on LG's iMac production deal

Apple yesterday refused to comment on reports in the US and South Korea that the company is planning to place iMac production entirely in the hands of South Korean manufacturer LG Electronics. A spokesman said claims that LG is about to win a $10 billion contract that would see Mac production move from Apple's facilities in Ireland, Asia and the US transfer to LG's plants as mere "speculation". Of course the reports are speculative, but that doesn't mean they're false. Certainly, Apple is building links with LG. Earlier this week, Apple admitted that it would indeed be shifting iMac production away from its own factory in Cork, Ireland. European iMacs will shortly be sourced from LG's factory in Wales (see Apple axes 450 jobs in Cork, Ireland). LG is already producing core components for Apple. An LG spokesman said the company produced monitors and cases for one million iMacs between late August and December, ultimately for shipment to Apple's plants for final assembly. Given suitable contractual quality controls, there's no reason why LG couldn't extend that to other systems and/or greater volumes of iMacs, though it's more likely to be the latter. And since Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs is extremely enthusiastic about bringing down the cost of Mac production -- he has to; it's the only way the company can be profitable in the short term -- signing up LG would seem not only a sensible move but a highly likely one. Then there's the Asian IT market. Last year, Apple opened a branch office in South Korea (see earlier story), run through local sales agent Elex. Apple is very keen to pursue the Asian market. While the region's economies are still somewhat shaky, a number of industry observers believe that IT opportunities will soon expand thanks to the large number of old systems currently installed in Far Easter businesses. With Wintel far less entrenched in Asia than it is in the West, that gives Apple the chance to build up a greater market share there than it has in the US and Europe. So with the prospect of increased sales in Asia, plus moves to cut costs in the West, the economies of scale argument for signing a single supplier, such as LG, become even stronger. And with Apple desperate to compete on price with companies that just churn out PCs yet have nothing like Apple's R&D spend, economies of scale arguments must set the dollar signs ringing up in the cash till of Jobs' mind. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Feb 1999

Year 2000 baby boom bug in the offing

Prospective parents wishing to stigmatise their children from birth by ensuring they're the first born in the new millennium can now seek technical help on the Web. Babycenter.com suggests that competitive parents should consider conceiving between 27 March and 10 April to maximise the chances of giving birth to the first year 2000 sprog. It's even created an ovulation calculator to help couples pinpoint the optimal time for conception. Among its top tips for successful conception Babycenter.com suggests that couples should time their lurv-making to coincide with when the woman is ovulating. No, really? What will they think of next... ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Feb 1999

LG Semicon DRAM strike continues

Hopes are rising that LG Semicon workers in Korea, who have been on strike since the 24th of January, will shortly return to work. The trade unions walked out as a result of uncertainty over their future following a decision to merge LG Semicon with Hyundai Electronics. Asian reports said today that a resumption of work may happen as soon as the 6th of February. LG Semicon has decided to award its workers a "special bonus" in the hope that will bring them back to make DRAMs. ® Related Stories LG Semicon strikes threatened Hyundai workers down tools in sympathy with LG
Mike Magee, 04 Feb 1999

Allchin lobbied Maritz to pull IE4 from Windows 98

If Jim Allchin hadn't had the problem of exploding demos to deal with this week, he would have been determinedly singing the integration tune from the official Microsoft songsheet. But could this Jim Allchin by some chance be related to the Jim Allchin who, in March 1997, was arguing strongly that the integrated browser be jettisoned from Windows 98 development? Yes, we fear they are one and the same. In an email to Paul Maritz detailing subjects for a one-to-one discussion, Allchin says of the shell (yes, that shell): "Both the Memphis and NT team are totally frustrated with the IE4 situation: the code quality is lower than we can take, they are being driven to different objectives on when they have to fix bugs in Memphis or NT, the end-user experience isn't designed with migration in mind, our features we must have are not being done (this is a really bad situation), and finally, the code size/performance issues are serious. Given what I am seeing we are not on a path to have Memphis this year." Step back a little from that and take in the historical context. At the time, Microsoft has an announced strategy to integrate the IE4 browser into Memphis/Windows 98. It also has a convergence strategy (which you'll note got postponed again earlier this week, see MS junks consumer NT plan) for Windows and NT. Allchin's coders in March 1997 were facing precisely the same problems that have stalled convergence yet again. "They [the developers] say having two source trees is a nightmare and they have tried to check things in the IE4 environment and they are told they cannot because IE is trying to get a beta, etc. so progress here stops. The objectives are just different." Allchin presents Maritz with several options, one of which, "create a shell team here", he rejects immediately. Alternatively, they could "force a change of priority on the IE4 team". This appears to mean that the team should be forced to stop pushing for a beta of what would be a bit like, er, an application, and help the Memphis and NT people dig themselves out of their integration problems. But there are two other options he seems to like best. "Drop IE4 from Memphis and NT 5. There is a strong push to do this. We are wasting hundreds of people's time on builds that don't work, etc. Frankly, we may have to do this anyway to make progress. If we drop it, then we know we must either go out without IE4 in the final or we have to be honest in that both systems will take perhaps half year slip because we would have to fix the quality/performance/size later and go through beta tests much later." You can kind of tell he's attracted by this option, can't you? His other option actually relates to this, and is clearly something he's pushed for before, but been over-ruled. "Move the shell -- but not the browser -- to the OS team." That is, keep them separate, right? This is what Allchin has wanted for a while: "This was my recommendation before as you know. It may not be the thing you want to do for other reasons [yup, he was over-ruled], but it is the right thing to do for the OS (both Memphis and NT). IE4 would just plug into the environment [just like it did with Windows 95]. Both teams could make progress then. I still think it makes sense." And boy, does Jimbo love this option. The MS songsheet goes completely out the window, and he warbles: "We have to do something. It is not going to work the way things are today. I will be forced to do something this next week. It has dragged on too long. I must do something for the group as a whole to continue to make progress. If I had to make the call today the only thing I can do is remove IE4 from both systems and press on. At least then we can make progress [you said that already Jim]. I would have them move the win95 shell forward with the features we need for ZAW and simplicity." Email traffic from a couple of weeks later shows that Allchin didn't quite get his way, but that the case remained open. After some considerable debate over the pros and cons of integration, MS marketeer Jonathan Roberts closes the discussion with: "If it is apparent we will miss a December 1 ship, which is Joachim's [Joachim Kempin, head of OEM] cut off for spring machines, we have to make a trade-off decision between IE integration and hardware support. I suspect Billg will have to make that call since the implications are so massive." Microsoft did miss December, of course, so presumably Billg made the call, deciding the IE integration question once and for all for Windows 98. As recently as December 1997, do we presume? ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 04 Feb 1999

GoodNoise, Harry Fox deal ‘legitimises’ MP3

Web-based music company GoodNoise has been granted a licence to deliver songs digitally in the MP3 format by the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), the licensing arm of the National Music Publishers' Association. The move is a major step in the legitimisation of MP3, loathed by the big record labels yet loved by Internet-based music fans and firms alike. Under the licence, the number of songs downloaded from GoodNoise and affiliated sites will be regularly totalled and, on the basis of that figure, a so-called 'mechanical licence' fee will be paid to the HFA a large proportion of which will then be passed on to publisher of those songs. A mechanical licence specifically permits the duplication of music onto a physical medium (the current legislation counts digital delivery as physical duplication), as opposed to granting a public playback licence. Essentially, the agreement between the HFA and GoodNoise establishes that fact the MP3 is as valid a music delivery mechanism as CD, LP and cassette. GoodNoise says it was already paying mechanical licence fees to its 15,000-odd music publishers on an individual basis -- what's important about the new deal is that it plugs GoodNoise, and thus MP3, into a major part of the mainstream music industry. As part of the deal with the HFA, GoodNoise will embed a licensing number in every downloaded song, identifying the song's publisher to the song's customer. That's similar to the digital watermarking scheme which many other MP3 music suppliers, along with music software specialist Liquid Audio, recently backed under the Genuine Music Coalition (GMC) banner (see MP3 companies to launch anti-piracy coalition), of which GoodNoise is a member. That said, the company's doesn't appear to refer to the GMC, and still says: "GoodNoise supports pure, open MP3s," which isn't entirely true of the GMC's version of MP3. ® See also MP4 launched as successor to MP3 music format Secure Digital Music Initiative launched to kill MP3 Adaptec, GoodNoise develop consumer MP3 system
Tony Smith, 04 Feb 1999

DirectX update adds Pentium III, MIDI support

Microsoft has begun shipping the latest version, 6.1, of its DirectX gaming technology. The new release adds support for the Pentium III and its 3D-oriented instruction set extensions, codenamed Katmai, plus the DirectMusic API. DirectX is a series of APIs designed to make it easier to write games for Windows 9x by providing a single set interfaces to key hardware-based technologies, such as 3D graphics acceleration, 3D soundscaping and multiple input systems. DirectMusic adds MIDI hardware to that list. Originally promised for last August's DirectX 6.0, but never delivered to the public, the API contains a version of the SoundCanvas General MIDI sound set, licensed from Roland, a sound synthesiser, support for the MIDI Manufacturers Association's Downloadable Sounds (DLS) wavetable synthesis format and Waves' reverberation sound processing technology. More game-specific features include the ability to create musical palettes and rules which allow elements from those palettes to be played at certain events during the game or in response to player actions. In the same way, DirectMusic allows other attributes of the soundtrack, such as its playback volume, to be also placed under the programmers' control and modified according to the player's behaviour. This isn't new to PC gaming -- LucasArts introduced its iMuse technology some years ago when it launched its Star Wars-inspired first-person shoot-'em-up, Dark Forces. Other developers have produced similar technologies for specific titles, but DirectMusic is the first attempt to provided a generic programming framework for features like these. At the same time, DirectX 6.1 also does something similar for Pentium III, according to Microsoft. The software's Direct3D component now automatically detects the presence of a PIII, and can use the chip's new SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) instructions to accelerate 3D geometry processing work. DirectX already support's AMD's 3D Now! Technology. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Feb 1999

US mail order dealer snaps up Simply

It's official -- London-based reseller Simply Computers today ended months of speculation by announcing its sale to Global DirectMail. In an e-mail sent out to suppliers Paul Berry, Simply Computers' MD, said he had sold all the company's shares to the US giant. Today's move makes Simply a wholly owned subsidiary of the catalogue and stationery company. Berry attempted to assure his suppliers that he would remain as MD and continue running the off-the-page reseller with the support of his management team. He added: "Simply's fundamental business strategy will not change. We will continue to offer award-winning service through a mixture of off-the-page advertising, direct mail and pro-active sales." The e-mail blamed Simply's problems on the implementation of a new computer system. It claimed this had put "a massive strain on the entire company and in particular, on our cash flow. This has led to irregular payments, lower than anticipated sales volumes and generally strained our relationship". Nazir Jessa, joint MD of Watford Electronics, said: "Simply has got a lot of potential as a company, but seems to have suffered from a cashflow problem. Global should make a success of it, especially as it probably has the necessary cash injection and has kept Paul Berry. You need someone with a lot of experience to run a business like this." According to a statement on the reseller's Web site, the combined PC sales for the two companies stand at $350 million, with Internet sales at $60 million. Global has an existing UK subisidiary, called Misco. Based in Hampshire, this mail order dealership turns over £40 million per year. Simply Computers was unavailable for comment. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Feb 1999

BBC launches joint Web/TV programme

The BBC is launching a new interactive game show for children that blurs the lines between TV and the Internet. Sub Zero is the Beeb's most ambitious interactive project so far and hinges on children e-mailing two teams in the studio during the live programme to help the contestants solve their hi-tech quests. Live e-mail will be scrolled on-screen throughout the show and Webcams in a dozen cybercafes around the UK will link children around the country to the studio. "This type of programming has amazing potential," said Marc Goodchild, the producer of Sub Zero. "And ultimately, it could even help pave the way for interactive TV." Each week Sub Zero will also be setting an Internet treasure hunt leading children to some of the more exciting and informative sites on the Net. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Feb 1999

iMac, Vaio drive record Japanese PC sales

Trade organisation the Japanese Electronic Industry Development Association (JEIDA) today reported Japan's domestic PC shipments grew 16 per cent over the final quarter of calendar 1998. JEIDA cited large numbers of first-time buyers, plus particularly popular products, specifically Apple's iMac desktops and Sony's Vaio notebooks, as key factors behind the season's record sales. Between October and December 1998, 1.85 million personal computers were sold in Japan, up 16 per cent on the same period in 1997. It also represents the second consecutive quarterly increase in sales, said JEIDA officials. The head of JEIDA's PC study group, Tetsuya Mizoguchi, said: "The strong figures show the domestic PC market has hit bottom. New models and the launch of Windows 98 helped turn around the sluggish sales trend earlier this year." In the six months to 30 September, Japanese PC sales fell three per cent to 3.27 million units. JEIDA officials said the organisation expects the year as a whole to show growth of five per cent, reaching total shipments of 7.2 million units. Last year, the market shrank by five per cent. Mizoguchi added that "new-style" PCs like the iMac and Vaio had proved essential in attracting young, first-time buyers. Yet despite the increase in the number of new buyers entering the PC market, they still account for only 80 per cent of that market. JEIDA estimates put iMac sales since its late August launch at 120,000 units. Apple sold 519,000 units worldwide in the Christmas quarter, it claimed. However, it does not release figures for individual territories. Vaio sales, according to JEIDA, also reached 120,000 units, though this figure is just for the last quarter. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Feb 1999

Pfeiffer stopped 128-bit Alpha workstations in its tracks

Yesterday we reported CompaQ was working on a 128 bit Alpha and got lots of criticism for reporting the truth. Maybe Compaq has read Intel's document on how to deal with the press. This was the latest on DEC Alpha and its workstations. Compaq's spin doctor in the UK said: "You must be wrong about this." We said: "Oh no we're not." In fact we were dead right about 128b Alpha chips. Before the Great Satan of Haircuts took over Bob Palmers's Digital, a team was working on graphics chips that would work at 128 bits especially on workstations. We know that for a fact. It makes for wicked, non Intel workstations. Unfortunately, Eckhard Pfeiffer, now CEO of Compaq-Digital-Tandem stopped the project. Is Pfeiffer an IA64 man or not, we wonder? Ask Hans Geyer, from Intel (now in Folsom). (Story: The Register Number Five -- Pfeiffer attacks Intel for monopolistic practices) ®
Mike Magee, 04 Feb 1999