24th > March > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel steps up Microsoft-Merced recruitment drive

In a bid to ensure Merced has a run for its money before McKinley swamps its chances, Intel is recruiting a large number of IA-64 engineers. And adverts posted earlier this month show that it is seeking to step up its recruitment rate at Microsoft in Seattle, too. Intel is offering a large number of posts in areas relating specifically to Merced. It wants software engineers in its Santa Clara microcomputer labs to work on future IA processors. These posts will involve ports of "major commercially available OS software" to Merced, and assisting OS vendors in their ports. It also wants staff to join it at its labs in Seattle-Tacoma, WA to help design "major commercially available operating systems software". It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this project is in conjunction with Microsoft, and it seems to us the software in question is likely to be Word and Excel. Microsoft is understood to be doing the major port of WinNT to Merced. ®
The Register breaking news

SGI ramps Linux route

Adverts posted on slashdot.org by SGI indicate that the company is taking much more than a passing interest in the Linux operating system. The company is looking to recruit staff working on Linux kernel development. SGI says that "experience with multiprocessors is a plus". Applicants who get the jobs will, according to the ad: "take the lead in identifying and implementing our I/O driver plan for Linux in the areas of SCSI, FC, 1394, and SAN." ®
The Register breaking news

IBM signs licence for ARM7

A year ago posted 24 March 1998 IBM Microelectronics has licensed Advanced Risc Machines' ARM7 for use in its custom silicon products. The deal gives IBM's semiconductor arm access to the ARM7TDMI processor core, which includes ARM's Thumb code compression extension, which is intended to produce 32-bit performance at 16-bit prices. Although good news for ARM, which is currently preparing an IPO, the IBM Microelectronics licence doesn't mean IBM as a whole has decided to embrace ARM as a standard for low-cost and embedded silicon. According to Luis Arzubi, general manager of ASICs and embedded controllers for Microelectronics, ARM7TDMI is to be added to the group's core library "to ensure that we offer our customers a complete menu for their applications, including networking, stroage and consumer electronics." ARM's Thumb technology uses a subset of commonly-used 32-bit ARM instructions which have been compressed into 16-bit instructions. These are decompressed transparently to full 32-bit instructions on execution, in real-time without performance loss. Designers can therefore use a mix of 16-bit and 32-bit instructions, using 32-bit only when needed, and thus optimising code. According to ARM this could mean a set-top box system could use two 512K flash devices rather than two 1 megabyte ones, so costs of finished can be shaved. IBM's initial production will use 0.35 micron process technology, but a port to 0.25 micron and beyond is planned. Sampling is already under way, with volume shipments within the next two months. ®
The Register breaking news

More Alpha details seep from Compaq sieve

Once more we have received NDA details of Compaq's future plans on microprocessors and operating systems. And although we have already published quite a lot of this information already, the info does not come this time from our mole deep in Texas. It is from an NDA'd presentation towards the end of last year. According to the document, Compaq thinks Alpha still has 19 years of life left in it, and at the end of last year, 12,177 apps were available on the platform, compared to 3,864 on OpenVMS. The Alpha platform is a key component of Microsoft's alliance with Compaq and "bug free", the company claims. It states that the EV8 will arrive in the year 2002 and the EV9 in the year 2005. EV7 goals include large cache on chip, a built in memory controller, lock stepping to replace the Tandem architecture, four thread symmetric multiprocessing, and Rambus technology, while EV8 will have twice the performance of Intel's McKinley architecture, claims Compaq. The Alpha systems will be marketed as an Open Standard system, via Established Channels and branded as Alpha Powered from Compaq. According to the source, Microsoft has licensed "key parts" of the OpenVMS kernel to be used in future versions of Window NT, and many OpenVMS features will only be supported on the Alpha version. Tru64 and Tandem NonStop UX will be merged. The Vatican (!) uses Tru64 Unix, while Red China has said that it will be the number one Chinese Unix. Windows NT 7 will be "very similar" to OpenVMS V7. Floating point apps on WinNT run three times faster than on Intel IA-64 chips. Support for 32-64 SMP systems is currently being written. The Intel run-time environment FX!32 is included in the NT kernel so Intel native exe files will run on Alpha. Ten-way Oracle systems will be available in the year 2000, and the year after that, 10-way Informix systems. Err...that's it. ®
The Register breaking news

Schmidt at Brainshare: Novell gunning for MS

Eric Schmidt said in his keynote at Novell's Brainshare in Salt Lake City this week that there was still a user running NetWare 2 after nine years - longer than NT has been announced; a NetWare 3 installation that has been running non-stop for 2,347 days; and a NetWare 4 installation running for 894 days. This epitomises one of the problems that Novell faces: the reluctance of users to update. However, users were moving from NetWare 4 to 5 at nearly three times the rate that they had moved from 3 to 4. In mid-1997, Novell was being written off as a victim of Microsoft, and showing a loss of $122 million. But purple-shirted Schmidt exuded a new confidence as he unfolded the new Novell story - regaining some of the ground that it had lost while it was mired with too many unproductive staff at all levels, too vague a technical vision, and more than a hundred products (now reduced to ten). Novell is heavily responsible for the delay to Cairo-NT5-Windows 2000 as Microsoft tries to get corporate networking performance to match that of NetWare. At Brainshare, Novell announced a personal identity scheme it calls Digitalme which allows bookmarks, cookies, preferences, user IDs, credit card and contact information to be managed using NDS developments. Novell has persuaded Citigroup and FirstUSA to use the technology. An Internet Caching System was also announced for Intel-based OEMs whereby Web server capacity is increased (ten-fold, Novell claims). By having the caching on servers, it is possible to get more customers on Web sites at the same time, and deliver more content. Compaq and Dell are the first big names to announce they would be using it. The caching market is forecast to reach $2 billion by 2002, according to Collaborative Research. Novell has found it hard to partner in the same way as Microsoft, but suddenly a corner seems to have been turned. The most important announcements have been the non-exclusive deals with Lucent, Nortel and Cisco. Now there is a second and third tier of new relationships, including IBM (for WebSphere, a Java platform for the design of high-performance Web applications), Oracle (a new bundling agreement), and Compaq (a partner for the NDS billion object tree). Presumably SCADs (Novell's scalable clustering directory services) ran into some trademark problems, because Novell has now modified it to SKADS (kick-arse). NDS 8, now in open beta testing and expected to be released next year, is said to have eliminated the need for any special-purpose Internet directory and scales to around a billion objects. It was pointed out that a key feature of a directory is that it should be shipping -- believed to be a reference to the status of Active Directory. Also demonstrated was a 12-node version of Novell Cluster Services on Compaq and HP kit, which is also in open beta. Novell says its 1999 objective is to take back its leadership role in networking from Microsoft. All that needs is a little assistance from Microsoft in finally delivering NT5 next year and full of bugs. That shouldn't be too hard. ®
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You don’t have to be mad to work in IT, but it helps

Anyone who wants to know what it's like to work for a major technology company but is simply far too sane to try it for themselves, should take a look at a new book which claims to lift the lid on working for "cyber giants." Aimed at the curious -- and the downright nosy -- the authors of Vault Reports Guide to the High Tech Industry interviewed thousands of employees from whole host of IT companies such as AOL, Compaq, Microsoft and Yahoo!. The results, according to the publisher, make fascinating reading and reveal what really goes on behind the scenes at today's "high-tech powerhouses." Commenting on Netscape one employee said: "Frankly, if there were no Microsoft in the world, this [company] would undoubtedly be the most popular place of employment for anyone beginning in the software field." No doubt this particular person was interviewed before AOL decided to buy Netscape and the subsequent speculation that one in five of the workforce is going to be given its marching orders -- possibly today, The Register has learnt. Speaking fondly about Unisys, someone else said: "There are some people from the 'old school' who, due to the hard times we've been through, are very unreceptive to change, new ideas, or even a positive attitude." And an employee of Lotus said: "Although Lotus is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM, we have our own policies and procedures. "Technically, we are IBM employees, but it hardly seems like it." Another IBM insider confirmed that this view was fairly accurate adding that real seamless integration between the two companies was definitely achievable but no one was quite sure when. Vault Reports Guide to the High Tech Industry is published by VaultReports.com, an Internet recruitment service based in New York. ®
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Yahoo! scraps charge for Web access in UK

Leading portal Yahoo! has become the latest high-profile company to offer a subscription-free Internet access service in the UK. Yahoo! Online -- which is free of charge for users except for a 50p a minute charge for help desk support -- is funded from revenue generated by the interconnect charge and replaces Yahoo! Click which was launched last November in tandem with BT. Back then, many people criticised Yahoo! for adopting the pay-as-you-go service -- which slapped a 1p a minute fee on top of the phone call charge to cover the cost of Net access -- instead of opting for a subscription-free service popularised by the likes of Dixons FreeServe. Nonetheless, Yahoo! has kept faith with BT, which is providing the network and no doubt supporting this new venture in the guise of its own subscription-free service BT ClickFree. For the moment at least Yahoo! Online is only available in the UK but Kate Rider, spokeswoman for Yahoo! UK, said the company hadn't ruled it out for other countries. "It's all dependent on local market needs and requirements," she said. Earlier this month, Yahoo! announced an agreement with Germany's second largest telco, Mannesmann Arcor, to offer a pay-as-you-go service for users. Both services are branded under the common name of Yahoo! Online and are part of Yahoo! Europe's strategy to move into Internet access services – a move that could seriously challenge the leadership of established online service providers such as AOL and CompuServe. This potential threat to AOL becomes even more apparent after today's news that Yahoo! is branding its subscription-free service for booksellers Waterstone's and the music group HMV. In return, Yahoo! gets two important ecommerce partners that should help drive online sales through its portal site. ®
The Register breaking news

Free Web access war between the bookworms

Waterstone's -- a keen favourite with UK bookworms -- has denied that it brought forward the launch of its own branded subscription-free Internet access service to spike similar plans by its rival WH Smith. An announcement due to be made this coming Friday had to be hastily brought forward after the story was leaked to the press yesterday. The new service will be launched next Monday as part of a joint venture with leading portal Yahoo! when bookish people will be able to pick up a free CD containing software to access the Net in any of the retailer's 130 shops. And as a sweetener Waterstone's is giving away a £5 voucher to anyone who makes a purchase for £10 or more using their Web site. A spokesman at WH Smith denied that Waterstone's had taken the wind out of WH Smith's sales and played down the importance of the news. "We've made no secret of our intentions," he said adding that what whatever Waterstone's proposes WH Smiths' plans would be "broader and more comprehensive." He did confirm that WH Smiths plans -- which are still being kept under wraps -- would be made public later in the spring. According to some reports, the Internet Bookshop (iBS) -- owned by WH Smith -- is already Europe's largest Internet book retailer. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel a monopoly – official

The PC Data figures on x.86 chip market share, certainly on the face of it, show AMD in a rosy hue. But dig a bit deeper and you'll find the truth. And, as you all know, the truth will out. PC Data figures show that Intel's market share of the $1,000 to $1,500 slice of the PC market is greater than 65 per cent. Intel's market share above $1,500 is 100 per cent, according to PC Data. That makes Intel a monopoly, doesn't it? Now what's the email address for the FTC? An Intel representative declined to comment on whether 100 per cent market share in a segment constituted a monopolistic situation or not...® Related Stories Intel-FTC settlement ignores pricing fork Intel to slash Pentium III prices on 11 April AMD thrashes Intel, again
The Register breaking news

MacOS X technology comes early with QuickTime for Java

Apple has released a Java version of its would-be standard multimedia platform, QuickTime. The public beta release, available now from Apple's Web site, allows developers to present and manipulate QuickTime data through their own Java applications. The software is essentially a Java applet that presents the QuickTime API as a series of Java classes. QuickTime for Java isn't a full implementation of the multimedia software's API in the Java language -- it simply connects the Java classes to the QuickTime 3.0.2 engine already installed on the host computer. Still, it provides Java with its first solid, mature multimedia framework. Sun's own alternative, the Java Media Framework, was released last year to provide multimedia playback features and a basic multimedia architecture. Version 2.0, which adds capture functionality, pluggable codecs, file saving, RTP broadcast and the ability to access and manipulate media data before it is rendered, is available as a public beta release, but is the final version is unlikely to appear before the summer. Even then its feature-set will lag some way behind QuickTime's. However, QuickTime for Java is probably more interesting to Mac developers as the first sign of Apple's strategy for MacOS X development. Apple has said that it intends to allow programmers to access MacOS X's Yellow Box API, its OpenStep-derived interface to the operating system's core functionality, and key MacOS technologies, including QuickTime, through Java. It's a sensible move. Rather than restrict MacOS X development to programmers who have expertise in either the current C-based MacOS Toolbox or OpenStep's Objective C APIs, Apple's approach will allow any Java programmer -- and there are rather a lot of them out there, especially in the corporate sphere -- to get working on MacOS X apps as quickly as possible. Implement MacOS X and you can leverage your existing Java expertise, is to be Apple's message here. And, as Java programmers get more experience with the MacOS X APIs, they'll undoubtedly want to use them natively, tying them even tighter to the platform. QuickTime is a logical choice for the first API-to-Java mapping exercise since it doubles up as a QuickTime evangelism move. It also ensures MacOS X will have a stack of multimedia applications ready to run out of the box. ®
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Just Fancy That!

"Speculating on the contents of Intel's roadmap is one of the joys of IT journalism. Sometimes people get it right. Mostly they don't." - Intel's magazine Intelligence, March 1999 "One of the joys of being Intel is that it can write its own roadmap. Mostly it gets it right, but sometimes it doesn't" - PC Magazine, May 1999
The Register breaking news

More ISP giveaways hit the high street

HMV has become the UK's first music retailer to offer punters subscription-free Internet access. "This is a massive step in HMV's Internet strategy," said Stuart Rowe, general manager of HMV Direct and E-Commerce. "By teaming up with Yahoo! we have become the first music aligned ISP in the UK, which means that customers using this site will have immediate access to the kind of news, offers and information they specifically require." This isn't quite true since rock megastar David Bowie launched a subscription-based service at the end of last year although that was tailored specifically tailored for fans of Ziggy Stardust and all his alter egos. But Rowe is right when he says that this will have a broad appeal to music fans in the UK giving them a portal aimed directly at them and their wallets. HMV's strategy is in sharp contrast to high street rival Virgin Megastore which has yet to launch an e-commerce site to sell music CDs and games. Surprisingly, despite Virgin Net recently announcing it was to scrap its subscription-based service in favour of a free model there appears little co-ordination between the different Virgin brands. A spokeswoman for Virgin Megastore suggested there was little need for Megastore to follow HMV's lead since another part of the group already provided Net access. She did confirm that Virgin Megastore would create an e-commerce store later this year but couldn't reveal exactly when this would happen. ®
The Register breaking news

3Com Q4 results up tenfold

3Com yesterday recorded a tenfold increase in profitability when it posted its Q3 1999 results, a figure that matched the company's warning, made earlier this month, that profits would be down. Revenue for the quarter, which ended on 26 February, was $1.411 billion, up 13 per cent on the same period last year. 3Com posted a quarterly profit of $89.6 million, well up on the $7.4 million it made in Q3 98. The company's profit figure includes a $7.3 million credit related to "changes in previously recorded merger and restructuring expenses", balanced by $7.1 million charge for its acquisition of Smartcode Technologie and assets of ICS Networking. Despite the increase in sales and profitability, 3Com COO Bruce Chaflin still described the results as disappointing. "The question is not whether we are improving [the company clearly is, after all], but are we improving at the rate that was expected?" he said. Hitting 3Com's ability to improve quickly enough was a major downturn in sales of client access products such as modems and NICs. These products accounted for half of the company's sales, but the money it made from those sales increased just one percentage point on Q3 98. Sales of its higher-end systems products increased 28 per cent. Sales of 3Com's high-profile Palm products were down too, but that was expected, claimed Chaflin, because of the strong sales recorded in the run-up to Christmas. 3Com CFO Christopher Paisley said that the company was expecting to post better results next time. "Q4 is a historically strong quarter for 3Com. We expect that to be the case this year," he said. However, he warned that it might not be enough to put 3Com back where it would have been had Q3 been better. "Sequential sales growth in Q4 will be modest this year," he predicted. ®
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Web site reveals speed camera locations

UK drivers can look forward to dodging speeding fines thanks to a full list of speed camera locations published on the Internet. The Association of British Drivers (ABD), which stands up for the rights of motorists, has a mission to publicise all 2,000 speed camera sites on its Web site. It invites car users to report new speed traps, and the £15 annual membership guarantees regular reports and maps of the country’s hot spots. Drivers can view a list of the speed cameras, divided into counties, with details of where and when the offensive equipment operates. A trawl through London threw up six camera sites, which could put an unlucky driver at least £240 out of pocket, and lose them their license into the bargain, according to the AA. The US Speedtrap Registry Web site, found even more, saying the A10 in Enfield, North London, alone had a total of 12 sets of cameras. Although the ABD stated it in no way condoned abuses of speed, it added : "(We) deplore the abuse of Gatsos and other devices. That is, where there are no safety reasons for their existence and where they are primarily sited to generate revenue and criminalise safe, responsible motorists." 262,000 British drivers faced fines or prosecution on speed camera evidence in 1996, according to today’s Times newspaper. This is an impressive jump from a mere 290 in 1992, the year speed cameras were introduced. Up to 85 per cent of cameras have to be left switched off because it costs over £8,000 a year to keep them in film. But the advent of digital versions will keep more running at a cheaper price, the article said. ®
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Samsung to pick Amazon.com's brains, officially

Samsung's Korean retailing division has formed a partnership with Amazon.com to speed the Internet bookseller's move into the Korean market. The deal specifically relates to Amazon.com providing its retail services through Samsung's Internet shopping site. Aamzon.com will also "pass on its online sales expertise", shorthand presumably for telling Samsung's people how to market books online. A Samsung representative also said the company hoped the current alliance would be expanded to allow it to take a 50 per cent stake in an Amazon.com Korean subsidiary should the bookseller ever decide to form one. However, he admitted that the company had no idea when -- or even if -- Amazon.com had such a move in mind. ®
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UK man convicted of cyberstalking

A spurned lover, who used email to stalk his ex, made legal history when he was convicted yesterday. Cambridge graduate Nigel Harris, 23, became the first person in the UK to be prosecuted for cyberspace harassment. Harris was told to stay away from his former partner Claire Dawson in a ruling by Horseferry Road magistrates’ court, London. The court heard how Dawson, 22, received offensive messages via the Internet at the children’s charity where she worked. Harris threatened her by mimicking horror film characters on her answer machine, according to today’s Daily Telegraph. Dawson, who met Harris in 1996 at Trinity College, Cambridge, said her ex had refused to accept the two year relationship was over. Harris denied the charges, claiming the two were in love when the emails were sent. He was given a two-year conditional discharge. ®
The Register breaking news

Infogrames grabs Gremlin for £22.9 million

French games developer Infogrames has bought loss-making British games company Gremlin for £22.9 million in cash. Gremlin became a well-known name in the UK gaming community with its innovative sports titles, and went on to become popular with investors when it floated on the British stock exchange in July 1997. However, a lack of top-selling titles in the face of aggressive competition from other UK games publishers, most notably Eidos and Electronic Arts' EA Sports brand, saw Gremlin's fortunes begin to fade. Its most recent set of results, for the first half of the current financial year, saw the company post a loss of £799,000, well down on the £1.7 million profit it made for the same period the year before. During the last six months of calendar 1998, growing concern that Gremlin might no longer be able to generate sufficient sales to balance its high marketing and development costs pushed the company's shares down 60 per cent. The picture improved after Gremlin admitted earlier this year that it was in talks with possible buyers, including Infogrames, with which it signed a European distribution agreement last year. ®
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Koreans raise the Anti-Microsoft standard

Korean protesters against Microsoft -orchestrated plans to scrap the country's leading wordprocessor - are putting their money where their mouths are. The Korea Venture Business Association (KVBA) says it can raise the money needed to safeguard the future of the programme, called Ah Rae Ah Hangul. The KVBA said it could meet Hangul's debt guarantee obligations within three months, through a 10 billion won ($7.3 million) share or convertible bond issue. It said the full investment amount could be raised through a 70 billion won contribution from Korean VC firms, and the rest coming from donations from the public. The KVBA is backed by a pressure group "The Movement to Keep A Rae A Hangul". This is conducting a tin-rattling exercise which calls on each Korean citizen to keep the software alive by contributing 10,000 won (US $7). The pressure group said it would raise 3 billion won by the end of the month. The KVBA has demanded that the software owner Hangul & Computer should end negotiations with Microsoft. Hangul is formalising a deal whereby Microsoft pays $10-$20 million in the financially -troubled company. In return, it will axe future development of Ah Rae Ah Hangul, market leader in the Korean market with more than 80 per cent share. According to Korean reports, negotiations between Microsoft Korea and Hangul are proceeding as planned. Microsoft is playing with nationalist fire here. Is it really worth messing with a country capable of throwing up a save our software campaign? The Register thinks not. ®
The Register breaking news

Chinese state software company to take on Microsoft

Microsoft has an operating system competitor in China: the Peking Software and Engineering Centre, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During his sixth sales visit to China this month, Bill Gates unveiled a Chinese version of Windows CE (or Venus, as it is known locally) for a set-top box. Some 90 per cent of Chinese households (317 million, and more than any other country) have a TV to act as a monitor for surfing, but only five per cent of families have computers. Other reports, which sound more accurate, suggest one computer per 3000 people. Venus has Windows CE, Internet Explorer, WebTV, Pocket Word and Pocket Excel. Eight companies announced they would manufacture the set-top boxes, including Acer (Taiwan) and Philips Consumer Electronics. This morning the Chinese news agency Xinhua is reporting that Chinese-developed software will "force Microsoft to reduce prices" for Venus as a result of what is expected to be a pricing war. The reported price for a system is between $120 and $360 and beyond the reach of most would-be computer users. One of the Microsoft's supporters during Gates' visit earlier this month was Legend, China's largest PC maker, which was founded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It seems as though Microsoft may experience a kind of competition that it has not faced before, and for which it can have no effective response other than to lose copious quantities of money. ®
The Register breaking news

Sun to find home for ex-Netscapers

Sun will today announce a new e-commerce and corporate software division, to be staffed by people due to be laid off when AOL's acquisition of Netscape goes through, according to a report in today's USA Today. The announcement will follow AOL's much-anticipated statement of its plans for Netscape, which has been the subject of speculation that it will involve numerous redundancies. Given that Sun will be picking up Netscape's server software after the acquisition -- that's clearly going to be the focus of the new corporate software division -- so a plan to acquire a group of the browser company's staff isn't unreasonable. ®
The Register breaking news

Ex-AltaVista staff set sights on new horizon

Eighteen former employees of the Digital UK AltaVista development team have set up an Internet company to develop and market a new Web-based application. Details of the new product are being kept under wraps until its official launch next month. Early indications suggest that the application will allow Net users to access their normal office applications from anywhere in the world using a standard Web browser. "This is a genuine Web-based application," said John Kell, R&D director for Peramon Technology, which began trading today. Peramon acquired the application after the completion of a technology transfer agreement from Compaq which bought out Digital last year. The Reading-based company is backed by Royal Bank Development Capital and it's expected to target sales through partners and resellers. ®
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IBM capitulates to EMC

For the last five years, EMC has grown in the corporate storage arena while IBM has shown all the signs of flagging. Now Big Blue has finally capitulated to its upstart rival and has signed a five year deal worth an estimated $3 billion. EMC is to buy in IBM hard drives for its popular Symmetrix systems. It formerly used Seagate hard drives. Under the deal, EMC and IBM will also cross license each other's technology. Quarter on quarter, EMC has consistently shown high profitability which transformed it into a darling of Wall Street. ®
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Electronics Boutique latest to offer free Web service

The growth of subscription-free Internet services is spreading faster than bugs in a Petri dish. Electronics Boutique (EB) - which sells computer software and video games - announced today that it too was to launch such a service. Called In2Home it is no doubt aimed at tech-heads keen to be linked to the trendy retailer. The In2Home service, due to go live next month, will be provided by Scottish Telecom, which owns Demon Internet, Scotland On-Line and Prestel On-line and is a subsidiary of Scottish Power. As well as providing free content such as local listings, features, and competitions, and a free technical helpline to get users up and running, it's also planned to provide a link to EB's own Web site, which is expected to go live later this year. With more than 600,000 loyalty card owners and 180 stores nation-wide, EB is hoping its unique branding will help make its new venture a success. EB will also receive a royalty from Scottish Telecom based on the total number of users signing up to the service through EB stores. ®
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LG scores big flat screen win with Dixons

The Korean press is reporting that LG has secured a deal with UK high street chain Dixons worth millions of dollars. LG claims that it won nearly $20 million worth of orders from different European players at the CeBIT show in Hannover over the last week. The deal means that flat screen monitors, which have taken a long time to take off, could finally be within the purse of an average punter. LG said it will ship over half a million units this year, much more than its deadly South Korean rival, Samsung. ®
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UK .gov slammed for cheap PC idea

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said in the budget earlier this month that he will offer poor British families re-cycled PCs so this country does not fall behind in the information revolution. But now his plan is being slammed because of the high charges of phone calls in this country. In the US, local phone calls are often free, meaning Internet access is a doddle. But high charges from BT and other providers make the cost of connection prohibitive for the underprivileged. As far as we are aware, the government is not taking steps to get BT to lower its charges. On the contrary, DSL schemes in this country are set to be prohibitively high for most, while ISDN access is still not cheap, never mind dial-up connections. A lively debate on the subject has started in our Forum. Contribute your own ideas there. ®
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Intel Xeon problems found on Japanese site

Once again, our friends at JC's pages have struck lucky. This time, they found some information on a Japanese site which is particularly interesting about the Xeon/III and managed to get it translated. According to the information, the Pentium III/Xeon in four way systems will eventually use a 133MHz bus. But Intel is having problems with using four CPUs at 133MHz at present. Intel also has a problem with its 1Mb and 2Mb versions of the III/Xeon, according to the report. In early 2001, the Foster product with integrated L2 cache will ship. And while we're on the subject of Japanese web sites, we noticed that our friends at Happy Cat have some info about the BX-II chipset but our Japanese is so rudimentary we cannot figure it out. ®
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Mystery Intel litigation found on WWW

A federal case was launched on the 18th of March against a vast number of defendants including the Intel Corporation. But the case is far from black and white, although by the look of it it refers to employment law. Nevertheless, Black and White do come into the case. The information comes from Company Sleuth, which offers an update on US companies of your choice. Labelled Cardwell et al, vs Intel Corporation, it cites a number of defendants including Intel, Black Corporation and White Partnerships. Can this be what we Brits call a wind-up, we wonder? A number of John and Jane Does are also cited... If anyone can enlighten us as to what this is all about, we'd be very grateful indeed. We asked Intel yesterday, and the PR people didn't have an earthly... And while we're at it, we note that Company Sleuth also reports Intel has filed a number of new domain names, one of which is INTEL64FUND.COM, a Transmeta like phantom which is "currently under construction", as well as MEDIADOME.COM, (which works), MYMEDIAHOME.COM (slow as a snail, we couldn't get in), and SSTANAMERA.COM, which shows a picture of -- three men on a boat! WWW.BEERANDSPIRITS.COM isn't one of theirs, is it? ®
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WH Smith teams up with Microsoft, BT for free ISP service

WH Smith has signed a deal with BT and Microsoft to create a portal and subscription-free Internet access service but denies it's a knee jerk reaction against Waterstone's entry into the market today. A spokesman for WH Smith commenting on the news that rival bookseller Waterstone's was set to become an ISP told The Register yesterday that its service would still be launched in the spring as planned. He did confirm though that WH Smith's plans -- which are still being kept under wraps -- would be made public later in the spring. And although he said further news was imminent, he didn't say that it would be published within hours of its rival's decision despite the fact the deal was only signed last night. Yesterday, there was suspicion that Waterstone's had brought forward its decision to launch a service to scupper WH Smith's entry into the marketplace. Although vigorously denied by Waterstone's it seem the tables have turned and Waterstone's may just be feeling a little bit peeved that WH Smith's has decided to rain on its parade. Either way, the frenzied activity among UK ISPs today has been without parallel as a succession of companies including Yahoo!, HMV, Electronic Boutique and UK Online have all said they are now offering subscription-free dial-up access to the Internet. As well as becoming an ISP, WH Smith wants to sell books, music and videos on the Internet and take on the big guns of Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com "This venture will not be limited to simply selling books, music and videos on the Internet," said Richard Handover, WH Smith's chief executive, "and will form the basis of a much broader, more innovative and powerful offer." No one from Microsoft or BT was available for comment. ®