9th > March > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

AMD comes a cropper on chip yields

An unspecified problem in manufacturing microprocessors led AMD to warn it will make a loss yesterday, as it announced 300 jobs will go. Rumours had circulated ever since the beginning of this year that a yield problem was affecting AMD K6 production. Last week, we reported that there was already a dearth of its newest K6-III processors in the marketplace. AMD would not say where the axe would fall on the jobs, but this is the second time in the last four weeks that it has warned there would be a loss in its financial Q1. The company claims the yield problem is now solved but said that it would fall short of its K6 target this year and post a "significant" loss. One of our readers took the time to speak to AMD in more detail about the problem. He talked to executive Toni Beckman, who said that AMD sees improvements of yield on higher clocking chips. She also told him there would me more improvements in Q2. He took the opportunity to question AMD about chipsets for the K7, and she said that ALI and VIA were on target for a June release. She scuttled the story, reported here earlier, that chipsets were delayed. Motherboard manufacturer Shuttle claimed that last month. ® See also K6-IIIs as rare as hen's teeth K7 chipset reported delayed AMD claims 30 million 3DNow! chips to ship by year end AMD hurts as Intel fights harder
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Bill consults agony aunt

Four years ago From The Register No. 13, March 1995 BILL WRITES MIKE "Dear Mike, I am writing to make it clear how disappointed in the lack of candor and honesty Apple has shown in dealing with Microsoft during the last several months," writes an embittered Bill G. to The Register's resident Agony Aunt. "...On Thursday without talking to me you sued Microsoft. Based on the video press release and other orchestrated press activity, the suit had been in planning for some time," he continues. "...We did not suggest that Apple should drop OpenDoc or that we would discontinue our Macintosh development. We did say that, as we presently understand OpenDoc, it is not clear how we can support it in our applications." UNCLE MIKE REPLIES In the many years I've spent counselling companies, I've often found that when individuals use words like candor and honesty in a relationship which shows every sign of breaking down, they don't carry their normal meaning. Underlying hostilities are usually the cause. When a relationship gets to this stage, all sorts of issues normally considered trivial become blown out of all proportion. Why drag clothes into the argument, for example? Even if Apple was planning to buy a new suit, what business is it of yours Bill? It's interesting to note that when and if squabbles like this turn into irretrievable break downs, one or other of the partners seeks to destroy the other's clothes; in this case apparently a suit or a raincoat.I beg you that you think of the children before you think about clothes. Poor little Ole is only around three and OpenDoc is little more than a babe in swaddling clothes. I wish you both the best of luck in solving your problems. ®
Our Agony Aunt, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel, itself, warns PIII ID number not secure

A kindly reader has taken the trouble to read through Intel's application note literature on the Pentium III and has discovered the company has no faith in its own serial number technology. The reader said: "Today I was perusing through to bone up on CPU ID and PSN of the Pentium III and found the following interesting disclaimers" PSN not reliable From page 16, section 4.0 entitled: "Processor Serial Number": (Identical paragraph in App Note AP-909, March 1999,"Intel Processor Serial Number", Order #245125-001, Page 4-5):- "Processor serial number provides an identifier for the processor, but should not be assumed to be unique in itself. There are potential modes in which erroneous processor serial numbers may be reported. For example, in the event a processor is operated outside its recommended operationg specifications, the processor serial number may not be correctly read from the processor. "Improper BIOS or software operations could yield an inaccurate processor serial number. These events could lead to possible erroneous or duplicate processor serial numbers being reported. System manufacturers can strengthen the robustness of the feature by including redundancy features, or other fault tolerant methods." So there you go. ®
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

K6-III drought continues – but not in Japan

The K6-III is still in desparately short supply in Europe, The Register has learned. A letter from AMD to a dealer confirms that there are problems supplying the parts. AMD said yesterday: "The K6-III is unfortunately not yet available from stock (and the K6-III Processor-in-a-Box hasn't been launched yet), but the AMD-K6-2/450AHX will become available (from stock!) during this week." However, you can get K6-IIIs in Japan. A reader from there has supplied these prices: K6-III/450 Y67,800 and the K6-III/400 Y39,800. For some reason, chips seem to reach Japan well before the US and Europe. Check out this Japanese price list, which also lists the MII-366 from Cyrix (sigh). Two weeks ago, at the Intel Developer Forum, The Register had lunch with Pat Gelsinger, senior VP at the corporation. He claimed then that AMD only had limited supplies of processors and could not possibly meet demand at its current fabrication plants. ®
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Cyrix gets knickers in a twist over pix

For the last couple of days, we have badgered Cyrix to give us some kind of statement about the MII-366 pictures we found on the Web. This is our original story: Hard core multiple Cyrix chips found in cyberspace But despite a stream of phone calls, so far no-one has taken the trouble to call us back. The only official statement we've got out of them is that there's "no news". Excuse us, but as news journalists, please let us be the judge of that. This is news. Meanwhile, NatSemi-Cyrix in Japan has removed the pictures from its own site. You may remember that AMD played this airbrush game when we broke the news that the K6-3 was really the K6-III. Cyrix, of course, may be waiting for CeBIT to show an astonished world something they now know about. But hasn't the US branch of Cyrix realised that we live in a global economy? Answers on a postcard, please. ®
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Free Web access every weekend

A trial last night offering toll-free telephone access to the Internet is being extended until the end of March. A statement issued last by pioneering Internet Service Provider, The X-Stream Network, said: "X-Stream's free call day has been so successful that we are extending the offer of free calls again this weekend starting at Friday midnight, right through to Sunday midnight and then every weekend until the end March. "No other ISP has ever given you more, and we'll keep on doing it." Staff at the company's London offices worked throughout the night fielding telephone calls from users anxious to make use of the free service. But the service has already received stinging criticism from some who complained that they simply couldn't get connected to the service. Others said that even when they did log on they were kicked off in a matter of minutes. One net user said his modem dialled the 0800 number more than 200 times between 6pm and midnight without success. Another user, who used a newsgroup to vent his anger said: "I connected first time at 6pm and the connection died after about 10 minutes. "I dialled in again, about an hour later and got 300 busy tones I got through again but the connection only lasted five minutes." X-Stream's MD Paul Myers was unavailable for comment this morning. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Apple, HP US retail sales surge

Hewlett-Packard and Apple both experienced retail surges in January, according to the latest figures from market research company Intelect ASW Marketing Services. Apple saw sales through US retail outlets in January grow by 176 per cent on the sales it achieved for the same period last year. HP's retail sales increased by 111 per cent. US Retail PC sales grew by 24 per cent overall, said Intelect, based on its survey of 4900 outlets. That compares well with researcher PC Data's figures for the same period, which claimed retail sales grew 21.7 per cent. PC Data also found two of the top five best-selling desktop PCs in the retail channel were HP boxes, taking the top and number three slots. Apple's iMac was the fourth best-selling machine, suggesting that while sales are being maintained, the initial furore over the stylish consumer computer, which ensured it was the top-selling PC in the retail channel for most of the final half of 1998, is over. Still, Apple's showing in the top five is impressive, given the company's lower profile in the retail arena than that of HP or Compaq. It's also noteworthy that the iMac in question is the original 233MHz edition -- clearly Apple's initial difficulties supplying the multi-colour 266MHz iMac to the retail channel hit that machine's standing in the chart. Intelect's figures placed Compaq at the top of the retail chart, though its 15 per cent sales increase was below the industry average. Packard-Bell/NEC, which ranked fourth, behind IBM, was the only top-six supplier to experience a downturn in sales, of 57 per cent. ®
Tony Smith, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

MS gains entry to Hong Kong ATM network

Microsoft has announced a joint venture called Zoom with Hong Kong Telecom, but how much each side will be investing, and when there will be a service have not been formally announced. Gates was in Hong Kong for the launch. Hong Kong has the world's largest ATM network, so Microsoft is evidently keen to use it as a testing ground for services it expects to offer elsewhere. As a consequence, the return on investment is likely to be minimal or negative. Microsoft will be providing Windows NT and its Commercial Internet System. Microsoft's PR talking point will be the so-called Cyberport, which is described as "an international multimedia and information services centre" to encourage broadband services. The telecom company, a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless, is already the largest ISP in Hong Kong, and has 70 per cent of homes wired for broadband interactive TV, a service it began in March 1998. The deal should also be seen as a softener for Microsoft's ambitions in China. Gates will be in Shenzhen on Wednesday to announce deals with six Chinese computer companies, including a manufacturer of TVs that have video CD players (still popular there for karaoke) and Internet access. The Hong Kong stock market became excited for a time, but cooled when it was clear that even if interactive media profits increased 100-fold, it would scarcely impact the company's results. Allen Ma, CEO of the telco's Interactive Media Services, suggested that in terms of commercialisation "we are talking of months rather than years". ®
Graham Lea, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Double discounts on new Gates book

Bill Gates new book Business@the speed of thought has set some new records by being twice discounted before publication. Online bookseller Barnes and Noble has increased its discount of the $30 tome from 30 per cent to 40 per cent, and is throwing in automatic entry in the Bill Gates' Sweepstakes - a trip to Microsoft's HQ for a tour and one evening in Redmond. No second prize in mentioned, but presumably it is two evenings in Redmond. The book is to be published in 24 March by Warner Books, not noted as a serious publisher, and currently touting titles such as Kiss me Softly (a story of obsessive love, apparently), and one that Bill may not like, entitled A Thousand Suns: Witness to History. The new Gates' work (co-authored by Collins Hemingway, although this is hard to discover) will supposedly pick up where The Road Ahead (presumably the second edition) left off. The first edition missed the Internet somehow. Readers will apparently be able to find out how, "like a living organism, an organisation functions best if it can rely on a nervous system that will instantaneously deliver information to the parts that need it". The analogy with DNA/nervous system is not credible, especially in view of the muddle surrounding Microsoft's use of the term and Gates' slender knowledge of the subject, which he gleaned from some private tuition in the 1980s. The book should be seen as a marketing move by Microsoft to establish DNA as a brand name associated with Microsoft's efforts to conquer vertical markets. A start was recently made when Microsoft announced DNA manufacturing, and we predict that Microsoft will soon announce its entry into DNA accounting, as we shall reveal shortly. ®
Graham Lea, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Debian 2.1 open source OS released

Release 2.1 of the Debian operating system, codenamed Slink, became available for free downloading this morning (Download sites listed here). CDs will be produced at low cost by a number of distributors. There are now Debian versions for the Alpha, Sparc, and Motorola 680x0 and Intel x86. Debian was created by Deborah and Ian Murdoch. Debian uses the Linux kernel and GNU basic tools, and has a development team of some 300, using the Linux model of development. Slink is only certified for use with the Linux 2.0x series of kernels, and there are some known problems with the 2.2x kernel. Debian decided that it would only use free versions of the X Window system (X11R6.3) because of what it calls a social contract with the free software community. Debian is overseen by a non-profit organisation Software in the Public Interest. Netscape decided to use the Debian free software guidelines as the basis for the Netscape licence for Communicator. At Pixar, a developer's PC with Debian was run for 458 days continuously before being switched off to move it to another floor.
Graham Lea, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

EU complains to WTO over Korean trade

English-language newspaper The Korea Herald is reporting in tomorrow's (Wednesday's) edition that the European Union plans to complain to the World Trade Organisation over unfair trades. The list of items is long and topped by alcohol, cars, chemicals, food and logistics, the paper reports. ®
A staffer, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel sidesteps FTC probe

Analysis Analysis The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was supposed to begin its legal case against Intel Tuesday but reached a settlement late Monday, thus denying us the courtroom dramas witnessed in the trial between the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Microsoft. The FTC had based its case on the proposition that Intel effectively …
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Receivers sued by slightly miffed creditor

Two Manchester administrators have found themselves on the receiving end of the law after taking over the affairs of a defunct PC dealer. Computer parts vendor PC Partner of Hong Kong is suing Dermot Power and David Swaden of BDO Stoy Hayward, Manchester, alleging it still owns £160,000 worth of components that were delivered to Bascrown. This was before Lancashire-based Bascrown went in administration on 5 January 1998, with Power and Swaden appointed to take over the running of the company. PC Partner says it wrote to the administrators last February, claiming it had not been paid for the parts and still retained legal title to them. The Asian outfit has now decided to go for the full monty - suing Bascrown, Power and Swaden. The disputed kit included master tower cases and motherboards supplied to Bascrown between September and December 1997. Jeff James, a partner at BDO Stoy Hayward, said: "It was a parcel of stock that we believed belonged to us. We took legal advice, then sold the components. It is not uncommon for an administrator to receive a retention of title claim." James said BDO Stoy Hayward was continuing to realise the assets of Bascrown for creditors, and anticipated a dividend would be paid toward the end of next year. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Encryption is not a loaded gun, UK gov't told

The government is being urged not to view encryption as the IT equivalent of a sawn-off shotgun in the hands of villains using the Internet for criminal activity. Instead, it is being asked to broaden its horizons and consider the wider social and political issues associated with encryption, instead of just being fixated with ecommerce. These are just some of the arguments submitted by the pressure group Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) to the House of Commons Select Committee on Trade and Industry this morning. In the wood-panelled smoke-filled corridors of power, Professor Clive Walker, deputy director of Cyber-Rights, told MPs: "In a democratic society, police powers must be open, workable and fair. "These principles will not be achieved by dealings behind closed doors between the police and Internet Service Providers nor by future wide-ranging legal powers to access private correspondence. "There is insufficient evidence that encryption is the computer equivalent of a sawn-off shotgun and that its users need to be treated as if they were a virtual community of masked villains." His view were echoed by Dr Brian Gladman of Cyber-Rights who said that law enforcement authorities need to overcome their fear of encryption and their desire for solutions that create more risks for society than they remove. "Instead, they need to invest in the development of the expertise needed to remain effective in a future environment where cryptographic information protection will be the norm," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Lycos/USA Networks deal hits more stormy weather

Lycos' proposed merger with USA Networks has hit yet another snag after a director at the portal's biggest shareholder announced his resignation from Lycos' board earlier today. David Wetherell, a director of Lycos since the beginning and the chairman and CEO of CMGI, said the resignation was effective immediately. "After further consideration, it is my opinion that the terms of the USA Networks/Lycos transaction are inadequate for Lycos shareholders," said Wetherell. "As such, I am resigning from the Lycos board in order to be free to explore the best options available to Lycos shareholders, including the possibility of Lycos remaining independent." A report in today's New York Times said the resignation is a deliberate attempt to scupper the proposed deal between Lycos and USA Networks. Wetherell's departure is yet another nail in the coffin for the Internet deal that went wrong almost as soon as it was announced last month. Shares plummeted by a third as investors bailed out from a deal they didn't seem to favour. A tip-off from sources close to the deal told The Register that the deal had collapsed within days of being announced, although this was vigorously denied by was executives at Lycos. And last week it was revealed that Lycos and its CEO Robert Davis are facing legal action for allegedly misleading investors over the deal. See earlier story. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intergraph to pursue Intel to bitter end

One of the witnesses in the FTC case versus Intel, which was dropped yesterday, said it will carry on with its own anti-trust case against the chip giant. Intergraph said it hoped Intel would now change its behaviour to give "fair and equal treatment" to its partners and said it also hoped that the chip giant will now behave fairly in business. But just because the FTC and Intel have reached an agreement, that will not stop Intergraph pursuing its own case, the company said. "We will continue to pursue our private lawsuit against Intel, which is a much broader case and includes antitrust violations, patent infringement, and illegal coercive behaviour," said a statement. "While we have not seen the precise relief the FTC obtained in the decree, this settlement vindicates our antitrust claims and shows that the preliminary injunction in favor of Intergraph granted by Judge Nelson in the federal court of Alabama was based on sound antitrust principles," it continued. FTC officials have indicated that they are still investigating a broader case against Chipzilla. ® Analysis: Intel sidesteps FTC case Intel-FTC deal leaves Intergraph to square -- $$$ needed? Intel case called off -- as predicted here
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Raise for Pfeiffer makes hair stand on end

Eckhard Pfeiffer, CEO of Compaq and dubbed the Great Satan of Haircuts, has had a pay rise that is enough to make your hair stand on end. And the employees laid off by Compaq over the last six months will certainly be scratching their heads. Reports said that Pfeiffer now earns a paltry $30 million a year or so, despite the fact his firm made something of a loss during last year. If you comb through the figures, the package will shock you to your roots. That's the bald truth. ® Haircut rated Four Vultures by our resident barber
Our barber, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Journalist guilty in kiddie porn case

A journalist in the US has been convicted of peddling child pornography, even though he insisted it was part of ongoing research into paedophiles on the Net. Believed to be the first hack to be convicted for trafficking child pornography, 54-year-old Larry Matthews pleaded guilty to the offence after the Judge refused to allow him to base his defence on freedom of speech as laid down by the First Amendment of the American Constitution. US District Report Judge Alexander Williams Jr argued that if Matthews succeeded it could provide a legal loophole for paedophiles to dodge future prosecution. Sentencing Matthews to 18 months in prison, Judge Williams said: "I believe Mr Matthews crossed the line. I also believe that [that what he did] was immoral." Matthews is expected to appeal against the decision. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

OFTEL to rule on unmetered UK calls

OFTEL has confirmed that it will publish its consultation document on interconnect charges tomorrow. A spokesman for OFTEL refused to reveal any detail before the formal launch tomorrow but any significant changes to current telecoms pricing structures could make subscription-free ISPs financially unsustainable. Erol Ziya, a spokesman for the Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunication (CUT) said that he was looking forward to tomorrow's announcement and that he hoped it would pave the way for the introduction of unmetered local calls for Internet users in the UK. The Register will bring you full coverage of what OFTEL has to say - and industry reaction to it - just as soon as the report is made public. ® See earlier stories. Freeserve to hit one million accounts soon Review of call charges procedures is delayed
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Dawes open for Cellnet

Cellnet made a Warrington businessman a millionaire when it bought his mobile phone company for £130 million. Martin Dawes, for it was he, sold his 54 per cent stake in Cheshire-based Martin Dawes Telecommunications, to the telecomms giant yesterday. The company that started as a television rentals group in the 1960s has now made him around £70 million richer. The agreement was finalised after four months of negotiations. Dawes, 55, was also understood to have held talks with Vodafone, according to today's Guardian newspaper. The family business moved into mobile phones in 1985, when the cell phone industry was in its infancy. It expanded to a £350 million enterprise, with 15 shops and employing around 1,300 staff including Dawes' son and daughter. At the time of the sale, France Telecom owned 36 per cent of the company, with the rest distributed between the other directors. Yesterday's acquisition involved 800,000 customers, 660,000 on the Vodafone network and 140,000 on Cellnet. The company will continue to offer Vodafone services. Martin Dawes Telecommunications was the last remaining independent service provider of significant size. And as for Dawes himself, a spokesperson said he would not be sitting back and enjoying his fortune. "Mr Dawes has not made this money to retire to a Caribbean island. He will certainly continue in business," she said. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

LineOne admits it's going free – at last

Dithering UK online service provider - LineOne - has finally confirmed that it is to become a subscription-free service after more than a month of dilly-dallying over the decision. See earlier story. The new service will be launched next Monday although existing subscribers will only be billed up to 15 February. A new logo and promotional campaign will accompany the relaunch. A spokesman for LineOne blamed the delay on "administrative problems" explaining how difficult it was to get the three companies behind LineOne - News International, BT and United News & Media - to ratify the changes. LineOne did confirm that it would relaunch the service shortly complete with a new logo and a new marketing initiative. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

MS may cut a deal to avoid antitrust break-up

MS on Trial Following Intel's shock deal with the FTC, Microsoft and the Department of Justice are considering a possible settlement, according to Bill Gates' local newspaper, The Seattle Times. But although Microsoft's share price kicked upwards on the news, from what the paper has to say talks seem to be in decidedly pre-talks mode. It's possible something may happen next week, but both parties have at least until 12 April, when the trial is currently scheduled to resume, to thrash out a deal. Whether or not they're capable of doing so is another matter. Microsoft is generally held (by practically everybody bar Microsoft) to have taken a massive beating in the trial so far, and the judge could well find himself absent-mindedly stroking the noose as the rebuttals and closing arguments go ahead. But Microsoft has been insisting that there's clearly no substance to the prosecution case, and boasting about how well its defence has been going. If Redmond genuinely believes this, rather than just putting the best spin it can on a seriously holed case, it's not going to want to comply with any of the DoJ's demands for remedies. Even if wise heads at Microsoft know the score, it may also take a bunch of them to take Bill aside and tell him the truth - 'We're losing, Bill.' The two parties did, you'll recall, try to cut a deal ahead of the DoJ filing its case last year, but that broke down. Microsoft probably wanted something similar to the toothless consent decree, which the DoJ had screwed-up in its attempt to de-fang Microsoft back in 1995, while the DoJ wasn't about to repeat that mistake. Now, it must be so sure of victory that it will want to exact a heavy price. Has Microsoft been hurt badly enough to be willing to pay it? The price will be a lot larger than simply getting Microsoft to sign up for some code of business ethics. Other moderate (from the DoJ's point of view) requirements would likely include fixed, public prices and contracts for Windows licences, and linking these with some kind of policing (or outlawing) of 'co-marketing' deals and linkage between applications and OS sales. Which takes us straight into the browser question. Microsoft could be forced to decouple Internet Explorer from Windows, but if this doesn't happen it's difficult to see how the DoJ could be satisfied. Technically it might be possible to level the playing field for other browsers by opening up the APIs while leaving some browser functionality in the OS, but if you didn't decouple at least some of IE, that would still be the default that shipped with the OS. You could maybe decouple it sufficiently to allow OEMs to make a clear choice, but you can see why Bill wouldn't want to agree that. These remedies are minimal, probably well below anything the DoJ would agree, but still obviously unpalatable to Microsoft. Other likely demands are of the sort Microsoft would only accept at gunpoint. It might accept being forced to licence Windows on demand, but it will resist efforts to open up Windows sufficiently to allow OEMs to modify it significantly. Microsoft has made some noises about donning some open source clothes, but it won't voluntarily introduce anything that anybody outside Redmond could even begin to recognise as open source. The one big stick that might make Microsoft deal is the threat of break-up. If the company is convinced it's going to lose, and that its chances of reversing the verdict on appeal are scant, then it could conceivably try to deal its way out of one of the nuclear options. The tamest of these is a split into two operations, one dealing with applications and one with operating systems. The effect of this would probably be catastrophic for Microsoft, for the simple reason that disentangling Redmond's development and administrative systems into two free-standing operations would be a nightmare. Exactly what is an application and what is operating software code? Take a buzz saw to it and there will be disconnected bits lying all over the place. The other nuclear option, the Baby Bills approach, is probably too bizarre and extreme to be pushed for by the prosecution. It would follow the AT&T approach by breaking Microsoft up into a clutch of mini-Microsofts, all competing with one another on level terms. It is however difficult to see how that one would work, and if you're going to go that far, why not just put Windows into the public domain and turn it into open source? But as we say, Bill and his merry men really have to be worried that one of the nuclear options is possible if they're going to cut a deal. And it's probably too early for that still. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Year 2000 bug-busters bust up in UK brouhaha

A fight has broken out in the UK year 2000 bug-busting fraternity. Robin Guenier, head of Taskforce 2000 - an independent body - has blasted the government's Action 2000 for … well, a lack of action. Guenier is reported to have said that Action 2000 had failed in its mission to educate businesses and the public about the serious threat of the flesh-eating millennium bug. His comments were aimed at Don Cruickshank and Gwynneth Flower, chief executive and director of Action 2000, respectively. According to online newsfeed Bloomberg, Guenier said: "Britain's effort to combat (the millennium issue) is led by people who don't understand it and whose strategy has been wrong from the start." Ooh, that's gotta hurt. Undoubtedly down, but certainly not out, Flower hit back: "I can lead a horse to water, but I cannot make it drink," she said. "Despite all the work we have done we cannot force businesses to do something about this, we can only warn them of the potential dangers if they ignore it." Readers of The Register who like a good fight might like to be reminded that Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield fight this coming Saturday for the title of undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. ®
Sean Fleming, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Permanent free Web access plan unveiled

UK Internet users could be on the brink of nation-wide free Net access following the success of a trial last night using a freephone 0800 number for dial-up access. Paul Myers - the MD of the service provider, The X-Stream Network, which originally pioneered subscription - free Net more than a year ago-said he had not ruled out providing a permanent freephone number for full 24-hour Internet access. "The response we had from the public last night was better than we imagined and we'll be watching the development of this with interest-even if it is costing us a fortune," he told The Register. Asked specifically whether he would open up the scheme permanently, he said: "I refuse to rule anything out at this stage." Myers also hit out at critics who said that X-Stream's service wasn't robust enough to handle the deluge of eager users trying to access the Net for free. Although no official figures were available concerning the total number of users who logged on between 6pm and midnight last night, he said he had received only good reports from Net users who had taken advantage of the offer. Myers also confirmed that X-Stream had signed-up an additional 4,000 users because of the offer. Erol Ziya, a spokesman for the pressure group Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT), welcomed the news although was doubtful about the long term cost effectiveness of the free service. "I can't see how they can offer this indefinitely-surely they'd go broke. It's great to see an ISP offering an unmetered option to the consumer for once," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

More big names invest in Red Hat

Red Hat today revealed that IBM, Compaq and Novell has joined Oracle, Netscape and Intel as investors in the fast-growing Linux distributor. It also announced that Oracle had increased its equity stake in the company. Terms of the investments weren't disclosed, but that's less important than the fact these companies are investing in Red Hat. IBM last week announced it would ship servers and desktop PCs with Red Hat Linux, so some kind of financial help the company develop isn't a great surprise. In fact, Red Hat has been talking to Big Blue about co-operative projects and an investment deal since the autumn. Compaq's interest clearly arises from the increased demand for Linux from its customers. Certainly, Dell, according to chairman and CEO Michael Dell, interviewed in the LA Times, is planning to introduce Linux as a standard OS option -- at the moment, it's only available to high-volume purchasers -- and it's not hard to imagine Compaq considering the same sort of move. In fact, for the Linux community that's a particularly welcome move since it's a sign that demand for pre-installed Linux machines is growing -- and that means more-mainstream users. After all, the traditional Linux user is going to want to install the OS him or herself not get their PC vendor to do it for them. Novell's interest is more puzzling, since Netware effectively competes with Linux in the server software market. But since Linux is more widely perceived as a threat to Windows NT, perhaps Novell's line is my enemy's enemy is my friend -- strengthening Linux will do much more damage to Microsoft than Novell. Of course, whether this round of funding is exclusive to Red Hat isn't yet clear. IBM, for one, is interested in the wider Linux picture, which is why its recently announced support services cater for all the major Linux distributions. Either way, this latest round of funding is a boost for Red Hat, and will help it extend its lead over 'rival' distributors. ®
Tony Smith, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

S3 to power Intel PC-on-a-chip's 3D graphics

Intel's favourite 3D graphics specialist, S3, today announced a heap of statistics to show it's growing strength in the PC graphics arena. Hints also emerged about the company's future products, including a possible 3D-enabled PC-on-a-chip part, jointly developed with Intel. The numbers centred on the success S3 is having with its Savage4 3D acceleration chip-set. The company claimed it had signed up 36 new customers this year, and was on target to make over $150 million out of the deals. The 36 include Far Eastern motherboard vendors Acer, Samsung and AsusTek, plus graphics card suppliers Diamond Multimedia, Creative Technology and Number Nine, and three of the top five PC manufacturers. Such wins will be essential if S3 is to turn around its loss-making financial circumstances. The company's last figures, for the fourth quarter of 1998, reported a loss of $70.3 million on revenues of $41.6 million. The year before, it had achieved sales of $101.9 million. Revenue for the full year totalled $224.6 million, compared to $436.34 million in 1997. S3's 1998 loss was $113.2 million. Theses figures largely resulted from S3's problems keeping up with most rival vendors and ATI in particular. However, the patent-licensing deal the company last year struck with Intel does appear to be paying off, and has allowed it to get a lead on the latest Intel graphics technology, such as AGP 4x. Intriguingly, S3 is believed to be working on a version of Savage4 for PC-on-a-chip products. That's likely to be a joint development program with Intel, which now owns chip integration specialist Chips and Technologies, snapped up to give the Great Stan the system-on-a-chip development expertise that it lacked. A PC-on-a-chip product incorporating fast 3D graphics acceleration would give Intel a lead over NatSemi. Its Cyrix subsidiary is also working to add 3D graphics to its latest PC-on-a-chip designs, but largely on its own. Having a brandname accelerator like Savage4 on-board would give the Intel part a major boost -- in marketing terms as well as for performance reasons. ®
Tony Smith, 09 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel takes stake in Sitara

Internet company Sitara said today it had licensed Intel's Web caching and compression technology. In return, Intel has taken an equity stake in the Waltham, Mass, company. Sitara said it will use Quick Web technology in products aimed at large businesses. ® Intel Developer Forum coverage The coverage includes an interview with senior Intel employee Les Vadasz, who explains why the company takes equity stakes in firms
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 1999