1st > April > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

eBay rival offers 12,000 free PCs

Would-be eBay Internet auctioneer NuAuction.com has become the latest Web-based business to jump onto the free PC -- or, more accurately, the PC-for-spam -- bandwagon. NuAuction is to offer 12,000 free computers to anyone who registers their name, address, phone number and email details with the company, and is willing to put up It will begin picking names out of the hat in June, and will continue on a monthly basis until the 12,000 total has been reached. The company did not state how many machines would be issued each month -- it simply said, it would depend on the number of people who "register for the auctions both for buying and selling". While that's not technically at odds with the claim that would-be winners are not obliged to use the NuAuction service, it does mean that no one will get a machine until enough people begin offering goods. A second 'catch' is that winners will have to may have pay sales tax on the computers they win. However, NuAuction's rules do not say winners are responsible for shipping costs, which should please international applicants, who have not been barred from entry. Finally, NuAuction will not accept registrations from users of free email services, such as Hotmail, Netcenter and YahooMail. The company claimed this is because it cannot verify the authenticity of such participants. NuAuction claimed that the information it receives from registrations will be kept private and only used to mail registered users with messages from its sponsors. The company admitted the chances of winning were "one in 3000", but anyone who fancies their chances should go here. ®
The Register breaking news

Nine loves of Bill Gates revealed

We've been meaning to write the book The Nine Loves of Bill Gates for at least nine years. Just never got round to it, so we thought we'd write the news story first, as a sort of taster for the full thing. Love One. This is when Bill introduced Windows for the first time in 1983, faced with tough competition from Digital Research. Love Two. This is when Bill introduced Windows for the second time in 1986, faced with tough competition from Digital Research. Love Three. This is when Bill introduced IBM Presentation Manager in 1987. Love Four. This is when Bill introduced the command line version of Microsoft OS/2 in 1988. Love Five. This is when Bill introduced the GUI on top but things started to fall apart. Love Six. This was in 1990, when Bill, rather confusingly, launched Windows 3.0, after his relationship with Big Blue collapsed. Love Seven. Bill realised that Windows 3.0 didn't work as well as he hyped, oops, hoped, so introduced Windows 3.1. Love Eight. Confusingly, Bill finds all sorts of odd code names including Cairo (but not Delphi) and Memphis. Love Nine. He starts talking about some Microsoft chick called Windows 98. Love Ten. He starts talking about something called Win2000. Conclusion? Bill loves Windows. ®
The Register breaking news

Corel WordPerfect bundling deal unveiled

Let it never be said that The Register doesn't 'fess up when its speculation doesn't come match up to the actions a company finally takes. Though in legal cases, we will always maintain that reality is at fault. Corel's "major" deal with a "leading PC vendor" turned out to be nothing more than an agreement to get motherboard manufacturer PC Chips Group to include a WordPerfect Suite 8 CD with every board it ships. We suggested Compaq would make a good partner. We still do, but that's not what was announced yesterday. Hong Kong-based PC Chips apparently shipped 15 million motherboards in 1998, mainly to no-name cloners in over 30 countries. That equates to more PCs than Compaq (13 million, according to IDC stats) and IBM (eight million) sold last year. Is it good news for Corel? Corel's CEO, Michael Cowpland, was enthusiastic, but we're not so sure. For a start, shipping software with a motherboard is no guarantee that it will be installed, even if money-saving PC assemblers choose to ship it in the box instead of a copy of the Microsoft Office or Lotus SmartSuite that they would have to pay for. That's clearly what Corel hopes they'll do, but many will choose to go for Office and pass the cost on to the consumer who's expecting to get that package. Then there's the branding -- volume is one thing, but if you're software gets linked with cut-price PCs over whom you have no control over quality, it could hit your brand hard. Many of PC Chips' customers are companies out to save the last cent in margin -- they're hardly likely to have the same level of QA that the majors provide. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, so it's not clear how the deal is likely to benefit Corel up front. Presumably PC Chips is paying up front for the software, though whether it's enough to turn Corel's red ink into black remains to be seen. ®
The Register breaking news

Register bids to buy CMP and Techweb

We can now confirm that The Register has put a bid in to buy the whole of CMP. CMP, which has stacks of magazines all across the world as well as the very famous newmedia site TechWeb, put itself up for sale earlier this year. And now we can confirm it is taking our bid -- worth one dollar -- seriously. No one from CMP was available to say whether it will take us up on our handsome offer at press time. ®
The Register breaking news

Memsolve meeting put off by two weeks

Memsolve's winding up hearing was adjourned yesterday for two weeks. The petition on behalf of distributor Northamber had not been completed to requirements, according to a representative at BDO Stoy Hayward. The hearing is now due to take place on 14 April, again at The Royal Courts of Justice, London. Administrators from BDO Stoy Hayward went into the Cheshire-based distributor last month when Memsolve admitted owing around £4 million. ®
The Register breaking news

Future server I/O co-operation talks collapse

Intel and IBM have both walked away from talks aimed at brokering a compatibility agreement between the two companies' proposed server interconnect technologies. According to a report in EE Times, the discussions hit "insurmountable sticking points". Specifically, the Intel-backed Next Generation I/O (NGIO) Forum were not keen on the IBM-led Future I/O group's proposal that both groups scrap their specifications and co-operate on a new, combined approach. "Their schedule is a year behind ours," said NGIO negotiator and Intel's server group general manager, Tom Macdonald. "And the reality is it could take two years or more to work out a fresh approach. I don't think the market should have to wait." For their part, Future I/O representatives grumbled that the NGIO approach would quickly leave today's PCI bus behind. That would limit work done by IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard on the next generation of PCI, PCI-X, which will provide bus speeds of up to 132MHz. The collapse of the talks leaves both I/O offerings battling out for marketplace dominance in a retread of the old EISA vs. MCA fight. Future I/O's specification is due to be published towards the end of the year -- servers using the technology would follow in 2001. The 2.5Gbps NGIO spec. is already available in draft form and is set to be utilised in shipping product late 2000. ®
The Register breaking news

Pino Collapso – another distributor bites the dust

Pino Computers, the PC component distributor, has gone into administrative receivership. Vincent Simmons and Alan Tomlinson, from AH Tomlinson, were appointed administrative receivers at the Manchester-based outfit on 23 March. This leaves only two other components distributors in the Manchester area: CCM and VIP Computer Centre. £9 million Pino was started in 1992 and had around 30 employees. Brent Cutler, managing director of CCM, said price wars were raging in the sector, but companies could not survive on offering cheap prices alone. "Distributors have to concentrate on customer service. That's why CCM doesn’t suffer from margin pressure," he said. Pino's fall follows last month's collapse of another distributor based in the north west, Memsolve, which went into administration owing around £4 million. ®
The Register breaking news

MS trial schedules slips towards 2000

MS on Trial The Microsoft trial will resume no earlier than 10 May, because Judge Jackson's criminal case is running longer than expected. It had been anticipated that Microsoft would be back in court around 12 April. If the judge's other case has not finished by 10 May, then the Microsoft trial will restart on the first Monday after the criminal case goes to the jury. Judge Jackson had previously allowed Microsoft to depose witnesses from Sun and AOL's Netscape Division, as well as AOL CEO Steve Case, so he is also allowing the DoJ to depose three more witnesses. No decision had been made about who these witnesses might be at press time. The judge also decided that rebuttal witness lists must be filed by 23 April. The procedure for these witnesses -- whether they will be requested to submit written testimony in advance, or not -- has not yet been decided. It is possible that the witnesses could take up to a week or so each, although some may last barely a day. Consequently, the length of the rebuttal phase is likely to be around four weeks, as we previously predicted. Some 30 days later, each side would have the opportunity to prepare findings of fact, essentially a summary of key evidence from each side's perspective. The judge would also present his own findings of fact, which would amount to a number of decisions about contentious issues. The next stage would be for both sides to present its proposed "findings of law". The final step would then be for Judge Jackson to issue his own findings of law, in effect his Opinion on the case. This would happen some weeks later, and it is hard to assess how long this would take. It would depend on the judge's schedule, the speed and the quality of his law clerks who draft the Opinion, and how detailed an Opinion he decides is necessary. The importance of the case suggests a longer Opinion rather than a shorter one. The case is not particularly complex, but it is a broad one with a considerable amount of evidence, and is therefore likely to require closer legal analysis than a case that hinged on a value judgment, for example. The judge has discretion to hold hearings about proposed remedies if he rules against Microsoft. This could take another month or so The Register's opinion is now that Judge Jackson's result will first be announced on a wire service at 11:05 EST (16:05 GMT) on 25 November 1999. Readers are invited to place their bets on The Register's Message Board. A date and time should be given, together with the name, organisation, and email address of the contestant. A modest prize, but one of singular beauty and elegance, will be offered. The closing date for bets is 10 May 1999, at 10:00 Eastern Time (15:00 BST). ® Complete Register trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Murky financials may haunt AOL, Netscape, Sun deal

We expressed some scepticism about the commercial viability of the AOL-Netscape (plus Sun) deal when it was announced, and it now seems that our concern was indeed justified. Part of the rationale for the deal centres on some accounting practices connected with pooling rules that are in the process of being scrapped by the Financial Accounting Standards Board. It's a labyrinthine deal centred on AOL trying to avoid having to pay tax on the goodwill. Last November, the deal was announced as having a value of $4.3 billion, but with the rise on AOL's shares, it became $10.2 billion. Netscape's book value was $475 million just before the deal (the fair asset value is not declared at the moment), so there is a potential tax liability of some $9.725 billion for goodwill (defined as the cost minus a fair valuation of the assets), which can be written off over 40 years. So much for dog years. By pooling interests, a company can, at the moment, avoid paying a great deal of tax. Sun is vital to the deal, but it is critically important that Sun is not judged to have acquired Netscape's enterprise software business. Under present rules, two years must elapse before any significant disposal of assets can take place, so assuming the SEC does not challenge the deal, it may reasonably be expected that Sun will formally acquire some of Netscape's assets from AOL around December 2000, although AOL could try to make a case that it did not intend to dispose of the Netscape assets at the time the pooling was established. This is where Microsoft's extra-special interest in the transaction comes in. Microsoft would love to find just a teeny bit of email evidence that contradicts the way the deal has been officially declared to be structured. It could then use this to cause as much damage as possible to AOL and Sun, who look set to make the growth of MSN very difficult on the consumer and corporate fronts. It is known from the disclosure of documents to the SEC that Sun has made a major financial commitment of $275 million in licensing fees, $10 million/year in collaborative marketing, and a minimum of $975 million over three years. There was also a significant backhander: AOL agreed to purchase $500 million of Sun boxes and services, and pay Sun $32 million/year for licensing and support. AOL turned to Sun in the first place because it knew it did not have the technical capability to exploit Netscape's enterprise software, so what better maxim to follow than "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", as Scott McNealy remarked to The Register at CeBIT, in a different context (Linux actually). When some preliminary announcements about the relationship were made yesterday, the situation was further confused. Sun's press release, and the backdrop at the New York announcement, refer to the "Sun-Netscape [sic] Alliance" to "build and market a comprehensive portfolio of e-commerce software". But it was "America Online and Sun Microsystems" making the announcement. You can bet there is a good legal/fiscal reason for this. AOL is developing Netscape Communicator enhancements. The substance of the announcement was pretty thin, although Mark Tolliver, who is the President of the Alliance, said there will be a series of announcements in the next few months, since only a couple of weeks had passed since the completion of the merger. A new product line was being developed, with the first products in Q1 2000. Netscape's directory product would be used by Sun. There will be about 2000 people in the Alliance, with Sun and Netscape contributing roughly equal numbers. The sales force will number 500. It therefore looks as though the real partners are going to keep the corpse of Netscape propped up in the corner during a two-year wake, before deciding about the most economical burial plans. It is unlikely that we have heard the last of this. ®
The Register breaking news

Fake ASUS motherboards circulate in Europe

A hardware site is reporting that over 5000 counterfeit ASUSTeK P2B motherboards are being distributed in France. According to Hardware Fr, the motherboards come from a Chinese factory. The site says you can recognise fakes because the rev number on the PCB is 1.04. That's a version that ASUSTeK discontinued at the end of 1998. You can find the rev number between the second and the third ISA slot. ®
The Register breaking news

Liquidators appointed at Roldec

Troubled reseller Roldec went into liquidation at a creditors’ meeting in Birmingham yesterday. Joe Atkinson, of Deloitte & Touche, and Brian Hamblin, of Pannell Kerr Forster, were appointed joint liquidators at the Deloitte & Touche offices at Colmore Row, Birmingham. Roldec went down owing around £2 million to creditors, including £690,000 to its factoring company Lombard, according to Deloitte & Touche. The Midlands-based mail-order reseller suffered when a deal with a Far Eastern notebook supplier went wrong last year. See earlier story. ®
The Register breaking news

nVidia, Guillemot to pre-sell Riva TNT2s

nVidia said it had a struck a deal with the retail chain Electronics Boutique to pre-sell graphics cards using the TNT2 3D chip. The move follows a similiar pre-ordering deal struck between nVidia arch-rival 3dfx, now selling boards under its own name, and retail chains CompUSA and BestBuy. Prices start at $150 and Nvidia said Electronics Boutique will also sell add in TNT2 cards as they become available. The TNT2 based boards use a 300MHz RAMDAC with 32MB of memory. It can render ten million triangles per second. There is more information on the Nvidia e-commerce site. ®
A staffer, 01 1999
The Register breaking news

Apple UK MD scoots off

Apple UK chief Jon Molyneux is to quit the company to join Internet-based products and services directory service Scoot.com as its MD. Molyneux joined Apple in 1986 as a sales rep after a four-year stint with Acorn, a relationship that helped him form the company's education-oriented joint venture with Acorn, Xemplar. Apple took full control of Xemplar earlier this year. Close colleagues recall Molyneux's early days at Apple, most particularly his numerous afternoon absences from Apple's telesales operation as he nipped out to present the early evening drive-time show on an Essex radio station. In 1996, Molyneux was appointed Apple UK MD following a shake-up in the company set in motion by then new CEO Gil Amelio. At that time the company was Apple's third-largest European subsidiary -- currently, it's number one. Not that is has been all plain sailing. Molyneux led the UK wing's disastrous 1997 New Apple campaign, launched in the wake of the Labour party's election winning New Labour campaign. New Apple was quickly canned in favour of the US-led Think Different ad run. Molyneux's will take his place at Scoot on 1 June, allowing him plenty of time to select his successor (at press time, the company had yet to state its plans for replacing Molyneux). Scoot, best know for its ridiculous purple-faced mascot, styles itself as a new media Yellow Pages, and is backed financially by Dutch publishing combine and CMP suitor VNU Business Publications. ®
The Register breaking news

Chip market showed steep decline in 1998

Survey Dataquest's annual report on the semiconductor market said that worldwide demand for chips fell to its lowest level since 1985. In 1998, revenues worldwide were $134.8 billion, a drop of 8.4 per cent from the year before, the market research company said. One of the biggest reasons for the decline was oversupply of DRAM products, but in 1998 that dragged other product categories down, Dataquest said. But Dataquest said that most vendors thought that the market was on the turn. The company with the biggest growth and market share was Intel. It grew by 4.8 per cent between 1997 and 1998, with 16.9 per cent market share, and revenues of $22,784 million. In number two position was NEC, followed by Motorola, Toshiba, TI, Hitachi, Samsung, Philips, STMicroelectronics, N.V., Fujitsu and Siemens. Many of these companies showed precipitate negative growth year on year. NEC's growth fell by 20.4 per cent, Hitachi's by 26.6 per cent, Samsung by 21.5 per cent, and Fujitsu by 17.2 per cent. However, European chip companies largely weathered the storm, with Siemens showing positive growth of 9.2 per cent. The microprocessor (MPU) segment grew by 7.7 per cent, driven by an upturn in sales of PCs. ®
The Register breaking news

British Queen to beg Koreans for more money

A report in the Korean press said that Queen Elizabeth II, who visits the country this month, is to ask the top five chaebols (family concerns) to invest more money in the UK. According to the report, in the Korean Herald, she will ask leaders from Samsung, Hyundai, LG and Daewoo for additional investments. There are fears that the UK will lose out to other European countries which have already adopted the Euro. ®
The Register breaking news

Bullish mood continues as Skillsgroup makes third acquisition

Skillsgroup has bought the business and assets of Cap Gemini’s UK training division. The IT training company paid £32.5 million - in cash on completion from existing resources - for the unit. This latest deal is Skillsgroup’s third acquisition in a month. Since shedding the reseller businesses of its P&P divisions, Skillsgroup seems to have found a new lease of life. Cap Gemini UK Training posted pre-tax profits of £3.2 million on sales of £16.5 million in 1998. The division will become part of QA Training, within Skillsgroup’s Resource Management arm. ®
The Register breaking news

ATI quick to Rage at WinHEC

ATI is expected to announce an optimised version of its Rage 128 graphics chip at next week's WinHEC. The chips will have a 30 per cent improvement in both memory clock speed and engine, with the set-up engine doubled. The chips will also incude anisotropic filtering (what that? Ed) and have additional support for flat panel monitors. Anisotropic filtering reduces text distortions on angles to the viewing plane. ®
The Register breaking news

IDC predicts Linux growth to beat all other OSes

Survey Shipments of Linux into the client and server operating system marketplaces will grow faster than any other OS between now and 2003, according to a report from market researcher IDC. The company reckons commercial shipments of the open source OS will increases at an annual compound rate of 25 per cent from 1999 to 2003, inclusive. Other client operating systems will experience growth rates of ten per cent over the same period; server operating systems will grow at 12 per cent. The research only covers copies of Linux provided by distributors, such as Red Hat, SuSE and Caldera. Given the free availability of downloadable source code and binaries, the OS' growth rates may well be even higher. IDC bases its prediction on the increasing number of application vendors porting their products over to Linux. That will drive the server side; for client-side growth, IDC believes the key Linux GUIs, specifically KDE and Gnome, will soon become sufficiently mature to allow companies to use the OS to host desktop-based productivity apps. However, that will happen later rather than sooner. IDC's predictions should be tempered by an important caveat. The company's report only stresses Linux's growth compared to other operating systems "that IDC covers". That neatly covers the researchers' backs if emerging OSes, such as MacOS X Server, do rather better than anticipated. And while a high growth rate is good for Linux, it still has a lot of catching up to do on the marketshare front, particularly in the client space. Speaking of 'researchers' backs', IDC has clearly been slapping its own. As the report smugly puts it: "IDC realised over a year ago that the Linux movement was imminent and at that point in time decided to pull Linux out of the ubiquitous and otherwise ignored 'Other' category." Yet in January 1998, a release covering the slowdown in worldwide shipments of server operating environments didn't mention Linux once. Lies, damn lies and market research? ® See also Linux marketshare up 212 per cent
The Register breaking news

Gates eyes China as US pressure mounts

Rumours are circulating that Bill Gates is considering moving his software company into Red China if the heat in the US kitchen rises much more. It would remove, at a stroke, any difficulties he has in the US, according to Register reader Jens Boss. He claims that Gates has his emergency exit already in place and that the Chinese government would grant him an amnesty in exchange for setting up his HQ there. It's not an April Fool joke, Boss insists. It's going to happen. ®
The Register breaking news

AOL bigger than Disney – official

It reads like an April Fool’s Day gag, but it isn't. US investors have been so overcome with enthusiasm for anything to do with the Web that America Online is now worth more than Walt Disney, Viacom and CBS combined, according to today's Financial Times. Walt Disney himself must be spinning in his grave, Mickey and Donald must be fuming. Web-investment fervour has added some $62 billion to AOL's value in the last four weeks alone, giving the giant of the Internet a market capitalisation of $140 billion. Poor old Disney only has a market cap of $66 billion, Viacom $35 billion and CBS $30 billion. AOL is expected to see its turnover top the $4 billion mark this year and may even record a profit. If it does it will one of a tiny number of hot Web stocks with any real money behind them. Some analysts and industry watchers have likened the rush to invest in the Web to the fairy tale of the Emperor's new clothes. The combined turnover of Disney, Viacom and CBS by comparison amounts to around $45 billion –- casting a not inconsiderable shadow over AOL. ®
The Register breaking news

Silicon Graphics Q3 loss to widen fourfold

Troubled workstation vendor Silicon Graphics (SGI) yesterday warned that its third-quarter (which itself ended yesterday) loss will be wider than it had earlier predicted. Wall Street analysts have been expecting a seven cents a share loss for the quarter, but SGI, without mentioning specific loss predictions, said that it would likely be 20-25 cents larger than anticipated. It also said revenue would be in the $600-650 million range. The company blamed the deepening loss on production delays and glitches that have hit its ability to ship its new Windows NT-based workstations. Senior VP of corporate operations Bill Kelly said the company had no excuses for the production problems, which he described as "not acceptable". He added that SGI would announce a "clarification of responsibilities" during the next few weeks. That's almost certainly a sign that senior heads will roll, though Kelly himself refused to comment on the likelihood of high-level firings. ®
The Register breaking news

E-business to promote European single market

Survey A report from market research company Forrester said that e-commerce is likely to accelerate market harmonisation in Europe. According to the report, Europe's eZones, progress towards the single market is tardy because of an unwillingness to change regulatory environments and through established trading patterns. But e-commerce will allow companies to use the inherent efficiences of online trade to take advantage of opportunities in other countries. According to the survey, pockets of cross border e-commerce will develop fast and as new products and services enter the target market, local competition will be forced to follow suit. Forrester surveyed 20 large European corporations and 14 vendors supporting their online strategies. It also spoke to regulators, industry organisations, boffins and standards bodies. ®
The Register breaking news

Dixons cuts PC prices to less than £400

Dixons has started selling a sub-£400 PC, but it will only be available over the Easter weekend. Available at PC World, Dixons and Currys, the Patriot MII 300 PC costs £399 including VAT and will be sold from today to 5 April. The cheap PC comes with Cyrix MII 300 chip, 2.1GB hard disk, 32MB RAM, 512K L2 cache, 32x CD-ROM drive, 14in monitor, Windows 98 and 4MB graphics card. Internet access is not supplied, but a 56K V90 modem can be included for an extra £50. One industry source said this was a case of Dixons offloading last year's excess stock at below cost price. Even so, at less than £400, this latest move in the PC price war is bound to be good news for some consumers. John Clare, Dixons Group chief executive, commented in true Dixons' style: "It is an excellent value package and demonstrates our determination to keep driving prices down so that the computer age is available to all." ®
The Register breaking news

Writs fly as Aureal countersues Creative Technologies

Posted 7 April 1998 A Californian chip company has filed a counterclaim against Singapore firm Creative Technology. Aureal claims that Creative, and subsidiary E-MU Systems, intentionally interefered with its business prospects, defamed it, commercially disparaged it, engaged in unfair competition and acted fraudulently. Creative had claimed that Aureal had infringed a patent it holds concerning digital audio processing. But Aureal has said that it has reviewed both its and Creative’s patents and that the original action is without merit. Further, Aureal claimed that the purpose of the Creative lawsuit was to slow down its sales. The suit came days after Aureal had won business with its AU8820 chip, the company said. According to Kip Kokinakis, President and CEO of Aureal: "We would rather fight Creative in the marketplace, but they have chosen this venue to attempt to distract us from our progress in the market." ®
The Register breaking news

Yellow Dog ships eponymous Mac Linux distribution

Mac software developer TerraSoft Solutions' subsidiary Yellow Dog has begun to ship its first Linux distribution, Champion Server. Yellow Dog Linux is specifically aimed at Apple's PowerPC 750-based Macs, including the iMac and the PowerBook G3 line. The software will run on older PCI-based Macs and clones, but these installations will not be supported, the company said. More importantly, the new 'blue'n'white' G3s are also unsupported for the time being. At press time, Yellow Dog was unable to say why, but it's notable that no other PowerPC variety of Linux, specifically LinuxPPC and the Apple-backed mkLinux, support Apple's latest professional hardware either. Apple is clearly concerned about this state of affairs, and recently began seeking a Linux Technical Manager to help distributors of the open source OS improve their support for the company's computers (see Apple to back Linux with dedicated manager). Yellow Dog's Champion Server is based on version 2.2 of the Linux kernel and supports release 2 of the glibc graphics library. It also bundles a standard selection of Linux server and development apps, along with the KDE and Gnome desktop environments. A full list can be found at the Yellow Dog site. The company offers a range of Champion Server packs, from $24.95 (just the CDs) to $99.95 (CDs, manual and support). A single-user version of Yellow Dog Linux, dubbed Gone Home, is due in the second quarter of the year. ®
The Register breaking news

Gang of Twelve IT CEOs takes shape

If a monopoly does exist in the IT world, it must surely apply to networking companies, and their allies. Intel, let off by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a few weeks ago, made a brave bid to become successful in the networking industry, but no-one yet knows where that will lead. Surely the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should investigate this strange alliance? Far more interesting is networking company Cisco, as big as Intel in its own way, but which seems to own the majority of routes to the Internet in the world. The big question now buzzing in the IT industry is when, or indeed if, Cisco will be investigated by the FTC. That news must be underlined by today's release by Cisco and HP. The release says that John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, and Lewis Platt, CEO of Hewlett Packard, have joined a mystery coalition of IT CEOs. It is a gang of twelve and the usual suspects. As well as Intel's Andy Grove, and Richard Beluzzo of profit warned Silicon Graphics, Scott McNealy of Sun is a luminary. Mikey Dell, CEO of the Great Satan of Hardware, stands next to Loot Gerstner, Big Blue's chairman and CEO. NCR, which used to make tills is also there, in the shape of Lars Nyberg. And Eckhard Pfeiffer, Great Satan of Haircuts, is there, lining up next to Ron Skates, CEO of DG (Data General). Last but not leastly, Unisys is there as well as Apple. The only one who seems to be missing is Bill Gates, from Microsoft. But he would make the thirteenth member, wouldn't he. In the UK, 13 CEOs is called a Baker's Dozen. ®
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Kyocera rejigs management to reverse situation

An outspoken vice president of Japanese Kyocera Corporation has been promoted to effective head of the corporation. Yasuo Nishiguchi is now president of the corporation, while Kensuke Itoh has been replaced by Nishiguchi. Inamori San, who formed the corporation and believes in ceramic technology, remains chairman Emeritus. Nishiguchi invented the EcoSys brand name which made its printers popular throughout the world. He made controversial statements last year in Kyoto, when he told a gaggle of UK and European journalists that major Japanese corporations had the whiff of corruption about them. ®
The Register breaking news

Hitachi makes huge lay-offs

Hitachi has made an executive decision to lay off ten per cent of its staff worldwide, according to London evening newspaper The Standard. The decision will be welcomed by Hitachi's investors but is unlikely to be received well at home. Hitachi is one of Japan's biggest employers, along with Fujitsu and Mitsubishi. The brave decision will not be received very well back in Japan. It could have a domino effect on other majors, which may well make similar layoffs, now the first domino has toppled. No-one from Hitachi UK was available for comment at press time. ®
The Register breaking news

Russian chip scientist Babaian outlines Elbrus future

Exclusive Professor Boris Babaian said today that he needed venture capital support to show the world his superior chip architecture to Merced. At the same time, Babaian laughed at the April Fool's Joke slashdot.org perpetrated about Linus Torvald joining his company because Finland and Russia were close, geographically.
The Register breaking news

Taiwanese firm loses Dual

Dual Technology ceased trading in the UK yesterday. The notebook distributor was part of the Taiwanese notebook manufacturer Dual Group. A recorded message at the Cambridge offices was today informing callers of Dual’s shut down. Customers were being re-directed to the Taiwanese-based Web site regarding warranty issues. Dual had been in the UK since 1992. Figures for the year ended December 1997 showed the UK operation making a pre-tax loss of £395,000 against £2.8 million turnover. Dual Group’s headquarters are in Taipei. It has branches in Australia, the US and the Netherlands. ®