19th > April > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Gates book – hit or miss?

With Gates' second book, Business at the speed of thought, having had nearly a month's exposure to the book buying public, we thought we'd check on how it was doing. It took us some time to spot it in the USA Today best selling books list, where it languishes in 36th position. Surely that's a mistake? We turned to the Wall Street Journal's non-fiction list and found it at 5th position, but the WSJ seems to omit quite a few works from the USA Today list, although any elimination criteria are not stated. We'd like to know what happened to Dr Atkins' new diet revolution (3rd), Dr Atkins' new carbohydrate gram counter (32nd) and Sugar busters! (35th) which are in the USA Today list, but which do not figure in the WSJ list. USA Today claims it uses data from 3,000 bookstores, but as the WSJ only claims 2,500, clearly something funny is happening in the missing 500. It seems that the American public is more concerned with the belly line than Gates' bull. ®
Graham Lea, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Yocam was pushed from Inprise over earnings fall

Del Yocam, the former CEO of Inprise, which is still better known as Borland, was pushed. His sudden resignation on 31 March turns out to have been the result of "philosophical differences regarding the company's growth strategy". The board says it asked for his resignation. Unpacking this, it transpires that Q1 earnings will be way below expectations, with a probable loss of 55 cents/share, rather than an expected profit of 3 cents. Some 34 cents of the loss is down to restructuring and severance costs, including no doubt a severance payment for Yocam. This bad financial news also accounts for the departure of CFO Kathleen Fisher, whose resignation was requested. Dale Fuller, late of WhoWhere?, Apple, and NEC, was appointed CEO and interim president. William Miller who was previously a non-exec director is the new chairman. Fuller is credited with the ability to create shareholder value. Hambrecht & Quist has been retained to advise the board on strategic alternatives, which probably means to make Inprise and Borland.com into two separate and independent companies. ®
Graham Lea, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Apple to challenge MS with open source QuickTime

Apple is poised to make parts of its QuickTime code open source, according to reports. The company is expected to make the announcement at the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Las Vegas this week. The move would make Apple a late entrant in the main arena for streaming, but with arguably the best technology. Microsoft is there with NetShow, and RealNetworks with RealPlayer, but this is still a battle in progress. Microsoft has been targeting web sites to persuade them, with co-marketing offers, to go exclusively or primarily with NetShow, and has Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Warner and CNET. Apple would offer the next version, QuickTime 4.0 for the Mac, and server versions for Win32 and Unix are likely to become available quickly. Version 4.0 was originally scheduled for release at the January MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. It is probable that Apple has chosen to make the announcement at this meeting because of the growing importance of streaming for corporate webcasters and portal sites. Since Yahoo said it would be acquiring Broadcast.com for a staggering $5.7 billion, the need for better streaming software has been heightened. QuickTime 4.0 is expected to offer better live streaming, so that content can be played while it is being received, with less buffering than happens at present with rival products. Apple says it has had 8 million downloads of its QuickTime trailer for Star Wars: Episode 1 since it was made available on 14 April. ®
Graham Lea, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Dixons sues AOL, claiming slander from CIS staff

UK retail chain Dixon's has issued a High Court writ against AOL for slander because, allegedly, CompuServe customer support staff told callers cancelling their CompuServe subscriptions that Dixons' Freeserve would be charging in the future. Dixons said this began to happen in December 1998, and the CompuServe statement was "blatantly untrue". Dixons complained to AOL in January 1999, it says, and CompuServe claims to have investigated the allegation and given Dixons an undertaking that its staff would not to make any defamatory statements. AOL is suggesting that the dispute will be settled out of court. With many media organisations offering "free" access, it is understandable that CompuServe finds itself being squeezed. However, the professional audience which CompuServe aspires to serve has found that important services offered through CompuServe have been dropped. Dialog's Knowledge Index, now owned by Maid PLC, was withdrawn last year, supposedly because there were Y2K problems, but this did not sound very convincing. Another service that has gone is Computer Database Plus, a bibliographical database run by ZD. Freeserve is said to have 1.1 million subscribers, and is being assessed for partial floatation by Credit Suisse First Boston and Cazenove. Could Freeserve really be worth £2.5 billion, as is being suggested? We have our doubts. ®
Graham Lea, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

French plan another Net strike for June

Sunday 6 June is being targeted as a day for boycotting Internet access, in order to bring pressure to bear on telecom operators in Europe to reduce tariffs and introduce unlimited access for a fixed fee. The French have already staged strikes in December (usage down about 10 per cent) and January (but dubbed "un joli flop" by Liberation), and have linked up with 15 countries for the June boycott. Of all the Europeans, the French seem the most bellicose in the matter. The French argument is that telecom costs limit Internet access to "categories sociales elevees". As with Minitel, access is mostly from users' workplaces, because of telecom costs. France Telecom claimed in December, through a question to Christian Pierret [secretary of state for industry] in the National Assembly, that for six hours access a month, France was about average in Europe at FF 144, and below Germany (FF172) and the UK (216FF), but above Italy (FF100) and the USA (FF116). As usual, such comparisons are rather meaningless, because the time of day and discount plans make the truth more complex. Laurent Fabius, president of the National Assembly, noted that it was not unusual for surfers (called internautes in France) to spend 6 to 7 hours a week online and to receive a monthly phone bill of 2,000 to 4,000 francs, which he thought rather high. Fabius thinks 60 centimes/minute would be more reasonable. French efforts are spearheaded by Internet Moins Cher, with UK liaison through the Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT). It seems that cable operators, at least in some countries, hold the trump card that may force the telecom operators to introduce fixed charges for Internet access. ®
Graham Lea, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Eckhard on Last Train to Wapping

Today is the day when an entire train on London Dockland Light Railway is branded in Compaq colours. The timing, of course, couldn't be worse. We wonder whether Andreas Barth, his long time buddy at Compaq Europe, will also be stepping off the platform on the Last Train to Wapping. ®
Marcel Morceau, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Phone chips pump up STMicro profits

STMicroelectronics has posted a profit hike of 16.5 per cent for the first quarter, thanks to surging auto and mobile phone chip demand. Sales rose 10.7 per cent to $1.11 billion. The French semiconductor maker today released profit figures of $105.1 million, or 72 cents a diluted share, compared with $90.2 million, or 65 cents a share, the previous year. Analysts polled by First Call had forecast profit of 69 cents a share, according to Bloomberg. The company also announced plans for a 2-for-1 stock split, effective from June 16, and the issue of 180 million preference shares to protect itself from a hostile takeover. ST’s share price has more than tripled since October. Today, the shares stand at just over $104. ® Videologic lands STMicroelectronics deal STMicro in beta with fastsys chips ST Microelectronic profits ease STMicroelectronics takes on Adaptec chippies
Linda Harrison, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Palm slammed for Palm VII pricing

3Com subsidiary Palm Computing may have a made a tactical blunder over its proposed pricing plan for the upcoming Palm VII wireless comms organiser. According to reports on US newswires, Palm users who had gathered at the Spring Internet World 99 show, held in Los Angeles last week, to hear new of the device became decidedly hostile when Palm product manager Tammy Medanich revealed the company's pricing structure. Users will pay $9.95 per month, which allows them to send and receive up to 50KB of data -- after that, they will pay 30 cents per 1KB, whether it's uploaded or downloaded. That goes against the grain for US Internet access, which has always be priced according to a flat-fee model. Palm's justification for the Palm VII pricing plan is the cost of the wireless comms infrastructure that the device hooks into. Palm currently running trials of the technology in partnership with US cellphone service Bell South Cellular. "Bell South charges us for every bit they send, and we charge the customer," said Medanich. However, she later admitted that Palm will monitor user reactions to the device, its wireless Net access service, dubbed Palm.Net, and pricing, and review it's strategy as it gets feedback. It's worth remembering that the protocols and technology on which Palm.Net is based are network-independent, allowing Palm to provide the service through other cellular providers willing to undercut Bell South. At the same time, the Palm.Net stores sites as a proxy to minimise the quantity of data sent back and forth between its servers and Palm VIIs in the field (see 3Com unveils wireless-equipped Palm VII). Medanich admitted users would only be able to make six or seven wireless data requests for day for the basic access fee. Only time will tell whether that's sufficient for mobile email and Web access, but if the Spring Internet crowd's reaction was anything to go by, Palm may need to rethink its plan. ®
Tony Smith, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel hides mobo light under a bushel shock

Stealth launches at Intel seem to be the order of the day. Not usually famed for its modesty, Intel has a strange way of launching some of its products. Motherboards are obviously judged not worthy of bothering the massive Intel PR machine about - in fact we can't remember the last time Chipzilla issued a press release about the things. Chipsets, yes. Graphics, yes. Motherboards, no. In fact Intel launches new motherboards all the time. Some of them are even quite good. The new Sun River, aka SR440BX, boasts onboard 16Mb nVidia Riva TNT AGP graphics and Creative Labs SoundBlaster AudioPCI 64V with 64 voice wavetable audio and with a 500MHz Pentium III on board is reported to run damned fast at a street price of around £120. So why is Chipzilla so shy about its motherboards? There was a time when Intel motherboards didn't trouble the scorers in group tests by the leading labs, but these days both the socket 370 and Slot 1 boards that are sold as boxed products can more than hold their own against the opposition, usually only losing out in the final analysis because Chipzilla does everything in its power to prevent overclocking so rival boards tend to win on points purely because of their overclocking capabilities. New boards like the Socket 370 Fiji and Slot 1 Rochester actually came out as top performers in a recent group test in one of the UK trades and sources inside Intel reckon that Sun River is probably the best performing desktop board Chipzilla has produced to date and looks set to pick up a few Editor's Choice awards. In fact if you're listening, Intel, send us a sample board and we'll check it out ourselves. But, due to this stealth launch approach to motherboards, the only way you'll find out about new launches is by keeping an eye on the Intel website motherboard pages at this place because Intel sure as hell won't be telling anyone about them through normal channels. Suggestions as to why this might be on a postcard please... ®
Pete Sherriff, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Dell increases Latitude

Dell aims to woo new markets with the introduction of three notebook models in 1999, but is wary of handhelds. For two years the direct vendor has stuck to one basic version for business users of its Latitude range. It now plans to get cheaper, higher-tech and lighter via three products, according to Infoworld Electronic. The less expensive model at around $1,500, with an Intel Mobile Celeron chip, is expected to be announced on 4 May. A high-end notebook containing a mobile Pentium III and 100MHz frontside bus follows in the Autumn. The third, ultra-light system -- weighing in at about three to four pounds -- will be Windows 2000 ready. No pricing or availability details were leaked to Infoworld. Tim Peters, Dell general manager of marketing for Latitude, said: "We have found a way to leverage our architectural investments in our current products and feel it is time to broaden our portfolio with offerings in a variety of price bands." But the Texas company remains reluctant to plough into the handheld, Windows CE sector. "We're still evaluating that market, and we'll wait until enough of our customers want them," said Peters. ®
Linda Harrison, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD hits back at Intel fab figures

A senior executive at AMD has hit back at internal Intel fabrication plant figures and said his company will have 30 per cent PC market share in the year 2001. Rana Mainee, market analyst at AMD Europe, also responded to Intel figures saying that its Willamette processor would be double the performance of a K7 666MHz part. He said it was highly unlikely Intel's Willamette would out-perform K7s by 18 months. "As we've said we will launch K7 500MHz parts in June and faster parts during the course of this year, that's hardly likely," he said. Mainee was responding to these stories: How Intel's geese lay golden eggs and Willamette will outperform K7 by 2X. Mainee said: "Certainly the [AMD] fab capacities are in line with what we've said before but I'm not going to commit to any numbers. "The PC market is about 115-120 million today and we're looking at a growth rate of say 15 per cent for the next two years. Our growth rate will be far higher than 15 per cent in terms of units." He said: "We're close to achieving 30 per cent market share of all PC in the year 2001. [Fab] capacity will certainly increase." Mainee said AMD was still committed to maintaining its prices against Intel's, as he said it would at the end of last year. "We are still working hard to be independent of Intel's pricing structure," he said. "There's a great deal of work we're doing which will get us to a better state of affairs in the marketplace." He admitted that Intel's aggressive price slashing on Celerons during the course of this year had made that difficult. He pointed out that the Intel roadmap we have just published show that it is now concentrating on slashing the price of Pentium IIIs rather than Celerons. (See Intel desktop pricing revealed until September). We reported last weekend that the price of Pentium III 450Mhz/500MHz chips s will drop by nearly a half over the next six months. "There's a great deal of work we're doing which will get us to a better state of affairs in the marketplace," he said. "The market itself is beginning to notice our growth and different segments of the market react with different time lags." He said the consumer market moved very fast, while other parts of the market took longer to move AMD parts into their plans. "In terms of what we've achieved over the last seven quarters, it shows substantial growth," he said. "We produced three times more processors in the last Q1 as we did in the Q1 before." He said: "We're producing better microprocessors and we've a lot of industry support. Intel is obviously working hard to re-articulate its plans. This is shaping up to be a gladiatoral contest. You [Intel] don't lose 10 per cent of market share in 12 months without something having to be done about it." ®
Mike Magee, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

eclipsis builds war chest for online travel offensive

Darryl Mattocks -- who made £3.6 million last year when WH Smith bought the Internet Bookshop for £9.8 million -- is hoping to repeat his success with an online travel service. The 34-year-old businessman is looking to raise £2.75 million for eclipsis.com to help grow the business with an all-out marketing offensive. Some of the cash raised from the sale of almost 14.5 million shares, offered at 19p, will also be used to buy new software. Mattocks believes the UK and European markets for such a service are still in their infancy with no overall business currently assuming a dominant position. Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said that this contrasted sharply with the US market which was already showing signs of over crowding. Aimed at business users, eclipsis.com is free to use and offers travellers the choice of thousands of flights each day. Last week ex-Boomtown Rat singer and the man behind Band Aid launched his own online travel service. Sources claim, however, that at the launch of Deckchair.com, Bob Geldof said: "It shows how sad you all are, coming to the launch of something as boring as an Internet site." Well, there's confidence for you. ® Register Dictionaroid 223 A mattock, our trusty Chambers tells us, is a kind of pickaxe for loosening soil, with a cutting end instead of a point. It comes from the Old English word 'mattuc'.
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Son of Chipzilla found on Microsoft site

A mad dinosaur has been found lurking on Microsoft's site and first reports are it is the Son of Chipzilla, the biggest and meanest semiconductor in the world. The effect that the Son of Chipzilla will have on Microsoft software can only be guessed, said our dinosaur correspondent. However, a Microsoft representative pointed out …
A staffer, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

RealNetworks wins top telco backing

Streaming media market leader RealNetworks is set to announce a series of partnerships with major US telcos, including AT&T and Sprint, today. The deals, which allow the telcos' networks to be used as backbones to Real's Real Broadcast Network, mark an the latest stage in the company's plan to shore up its 85 per cent share of the streaming media market against moves on its territory made by its former partner, Microsoft. The Real Broadcast Network, launched in August 1997 in partnership with MCI WorldCom, has come to dominate the Internet broadcasting business. That said, it still suffers from those ol' bandwidth blues -- too many users are chasing too narrow pipes, and many fail to view the broadcasts they want to see or end up with poor quality images. Real reckons today's announcement will show that it now has the kind of bandwidth available to really ramp up the quality and accessibility of its service. The company is also working hard to encourage large US ISPs to redistribute its broadcasts to improve playback for their subscribers. Microsoft, on the other hand, is courting content providers with its Windows Media Technologies, announced last week. It clearly believes, at least for the moment, that if the material is there, the bandwidth needed to meet users' expectations will follow. It's also betting on the ubiquity of the upcoming version of Windows Media Player, 4.0, which will support its new streaming technology. WMP 4.0 will form an integral part of all future Windows releases, full and service pack. Unlike Netscape, which found itself in a similar position of market dominance only to end up losing marketshare to Microsoft, Real has always made its technologies as accessible as possible -- ie. free -- and has been working hard to promote its software and service. Heck, the last thing it wants is to end up as is an also-ran swallowed up by AOL... Clearly winning the mindshare war through higher quality playback will be very important here, and that's what the telco deal should help provide. Working with other Net media opportunities, such the online music business, always more of a downloading thing than a streaming thing, though the latter is becoming more important, will help too, hence last week's alliance with IBM and its purchase of MP3 specialist Xing Technologies. Still, countering Microsoft's uniquity will be tough, for all the lead Real already has. ®
Tony Smith, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Oracle and Microsoft share sports facilities

The offices of Microsoft and Oracle in the UK are adjacent to each other in the Thames Valley business park but we can now reveal that the two companies -- in public bitter enemies -- share the same sports facilities. Because little snow falls in the Thames Valley, however, we're not sure whether that means they go on the piste together. ®
Peter Dimmock, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Bookies start odds on Pfeiffer replacement

Britain's bookies have started laying odds on who will replace Eckhard Pfeiffer, Compaq's CEO, who resigned yesterday. Here are the runners and riders in the 4.10 Maiden Fillies Stakes at Houston Park: 12-1 CRAIG BARRETT sired by CHIPZILLA INSIDE 25-1 BOB PALMER sired by WALK IN WARDROBE 50-1 MIKEY DELL sired by DIRECT BOX 20-1 LOU BOOTS sired by BIG BLUE 200-1 JERRY SANDERS III sired by DRESDEN THE FABULOUS 1000-1 ECKHARD THE PFEIFFER sired by OUTOFA JOB PRINCIPAL MEETING Figure of eight course, six furlongs. GOING Good to firm. Our tipster says: ECKHARD THE PFEIFFER looks the most interesting debutant, although the odds against the gelding winning this race again are very long. ®
Prince Monolulu, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

KeyLabs touts ‘official’ Linux marque

IBM and Caldera, plus sundry other OEMs and Linux distributors, are to throw their weight behind independent testing company KeyLabs' proposal for a standard certification of compatibility for Linux-based applications and hardware, according to PC Week US. With corporates relying more and more on certification to back up their implementation decisions, it was only a matter of time before Linux distributions, applications and even hardware to run it all would require a stamp of approval in order to gain corporate backing. Corporate IT guys love certification because it gives them someone else to blame when things don't go entirely as planned. The IT industry loves certification because it makes their products look serious and scientific. It also allows them to differentiate their products from rivals who have yet to go through the certification process. This is of particular interest to Linux vendors, whose offers are by their nature very similar -- even added value elements like installers tend to be based on open source (ie. used by everyone) offerings. And since Linux itself is open source, it's available to all and sundry to offer distributions of their own. Corel is getting in on the act (see earlier story), and while PC and server vendors may initially partner with the likes of RedHat and Caldera, it's hard to imagine them not wanting to bundle their own varieties of the OS, as IBM is planning to do for its RS/6000 line. KeyLabs, of course, really loves certification because it stands to make a bundle of money running tests on all that kit on behalf of vendors keen to achieve that stamp of authority. KeyLabs at least has some experience here -- it already runs Sun's Java certification programme -- but as the apparent source of the PC Week story, it's clearly very keen to talk up the vendor interest in its scheme (it's interesting that of the big name PC companies mentioned by source, none would go on record to PC Week to confirm they might support the scheme). Still, certification might well enable large users to put their Linunx installations on some kind of official footing when justifying the choice of the open source OS instead of a more 'serious' OS -- ie. the non-IT people have heard of it -- like Windows NT/2000. 'Linux Inside', anyone? ®
Tony Smith, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq: ‘20 per cent price cuts across the board’

Eckhard Pfeiffer's sudden removal has thrown a spanner in the works of the Taiwanese computer sector, according to EuroTrade. Following his departure (see Pfeiffer ousted in Compaq shakeup), Compaq is "poised to implement an average of 20 per cent price cuts across the board". We think Eurotrade is referring only to desktop PCs. Local manufacturers in Taiwan and in Red China have been doing very well on the mainland at market leader Compaq's expense, according to the magazine, which reports that Compaq's new Taiwanese "manufacturing and assembly operations have been almost at a standstill" since the beginning of the year. Taiwanese players are now revising their second-half sales forecasts, in preparation for a Compaq-led price war in the region. Still, local components suppliers stand to gain, whichever way it pans out -- they supply billions of dollars of parts a year to Compaq. ® The Eurotrade story in full
Drew Cullen, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Chipzilla silly names department strikes again

Intel has had an attack of honesty over its new networking push. From the company that brought you such great made up names as the Celeron and Screaming Cindy's Extensions, comes yet another gem, but this time the chip behemoth has chosen a moniker open to even more derision than usual. Step forward, please, the new home networking innovation, AnyPoint (tm), as in "is there AnyPoint?" Find out more at this godforsaken Intel outpost. How much do these guys pay for these names, and please can we have the job?
Twitzilla, 19 Apr 1999

Tire Kyckers slam Register silly email signatures report

The Register has been inundated with insults and explanations after it ran a report into the dark and slightly mysterious world of e-mail signatures last week.
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

HK jails Net teen sex Brit

A Brit was last week jailed in Asia for bedding a 13-year-old girl he met over the Web. Insurance exec Toby Acton was nailed in Hong Kong. He got 14 months for luring the Lolita wannabe to a hotel in the city’s sleazy Wan Chai district. Acton used his office PC to woo the girl via an Internet chat line, according to the Daily Mail. Hong Kong’s Eastern Court heard the girl had "participated willingly", using a provocative log-on name in Cyberspace. Acton was transferred from Liverpool to Hong Kong with his company Griffiths and Armour in 1997. But now he's lost his job. Acton's loyal wife, twice the age of his Won Ton lover, was said to be "standing by" him. More fool her.®
Linda Harrison, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Memsolve ashes laid to rest (ish)

Components distributor Memsolve has finally been laid to rest, with its remaining stock moved to Dorset. The Widnes, Cheshire company was wound up last week at the Royal Courts of Justice, London. Solicitors Coleman Tilley Tarrant Sutton, of Kingston Upon Thames, presented the petition on behalf of distributor Northamber. The warehouse stock has been bought by Elf, the Verwood-based company specialising in end of line, bankrupt and second-user PC equipment. Elf sales director, Nick Knight, preferred not to comment on the price paid for the Memsolve kit, but conceded the company had negotiated "not a bad deal". He said the stock would be transferred to Elf’s warehouse in Dorset. Cheshire-based Memsolve faced the compulsory winding up order after admitting it owed around £4 million earlier this year. Administrators from BDO Stoy Hayward went into the distributor in March.®
Linda Harrison, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Japanese economy staggers

A year ago From The Register April 1998 Far Eastern stock markets and currencies plunged again today on the news that Japan's economy is near collapse. The new crisis was triggered by a damning Bank of Japan report on the state of the economy, together with an angry attack by Sony president Norio Ohga on prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's handling of the economy. Japan, he said, was close to collapse, may go into a spiral of deflation. The country is in its most serious situation ever and, he said, there was a danger of triggering world-wide recession. At time of posting the yen had hit a six year low against the dollar, and currencies elsewhere in Asia were following suit. The Bank of Japan quarterly 'Tankan' survey of the economy meanwhile revealed that its gauge of business confidence had fallen to minus 31, from minus 11 in December, and that investment, output and employment had all fallen. According to the Singapore Business Times Japanese shops have also begun marking prices in dollars as well as yen, showing public distrust of the currency, and showing how one recent liberalisation measure at least has backfired. The Japanese government recently made it easier for the public to obtain foreign exchange. The government has already promised a near-$200 billion reflationary package, but this is now seen as being inadequate, particularly as previous attempts have included large sums for unnecessary construction projects, and have simply had the effect of stopping construction companies going bust, rather than helping the economy in general. Europe and the US have meanwhile been lobbying for stronger measures to boost consumer spending, and the Bank of Japan's latest blow may at last prompt stronger government action. Japan's troubles will certainly ripple further through Asian stock markets today, and will likely make matters worse for its neighbours, particularly Korea's embattled chaebols. But the real threat now is clearly to Japan itself - in the crisis last year Japan seemed to stagger, but it was generally thought it had the resources to restructure and move on. But as the head of Sony has lost confidence in the government, now thinks this isn't automatically going to be the case, and is prepared to say so publicly, the rules have changed. ®
John Lettice, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Excite is back in the black

Top Web portal Excite has made a profit in Q1 after reporting that its turnover had increased by 123 per cent for the first three months of the year. With revenues of $54.1 million for Q1 -- up from $24.3 million for the same period last year -- Excite will have pleased investors by announcing a net profit of $2.5 million compared with a loss of $6.6 million for the corresponding period last year. The Web portal also increased traffic to its site with 77 million page views each day in March—an increase of a third compared with December. And the number of registered Excite users is also up, bringing the total to 28 million, up 40 per cent during the quarter. "It was gratifying to see the key metrics of our business…remain solidly on track this quarter, in spite of the wholly expected diversionary pressures of our pending merger with @home,"said Excite CEO George Bell. Last week Excite announced it was teaming up with chipmaker Intel to create a new e-commerce service designed to simplify buying and selling on the Internet.
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel re-jigs Celeron plans in favour of Pentium IIIs

The Great Satan of Chips has decided, after its aggressive burst of anti-AMD, Cyrix, Rise and IDT price bombing to re-adjust its sights. The company will now slash prices of Pentium IIIs between now and September, introduce new product offerings and attack its competitors on all pricing fronts, according to prices we revealed last Saturday. The move is part of an egregious plan by Intel to own the entire market, in the face of threats from clone x.86 manufacturers. It has used every means at its disposal, including dedicated spin doctors, to push its case. The US federal trade commission (FTC) is expected to pardon Intel for all misdeeds past and future, in the next few days. In the last year, its retail share of the x.86 market dropped by 10 per cent after its initial Celeron bombed. Now, Intel will introduce a huge marketing spend, starting in June, and based on its future Coppermine technology to explain to its customers why they should buy its, rather than other company's CPUs. However, as reported here earlier today, AMD, Rise, IDT and NatSemi-Cyrix are unlikely to take the marketing attack lying down, and instead will aggressively position their products as the basis of almost free PCs. ®
Mike Magee, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Customers work for Netscape for free

Lycos is trialling rival Netscape's so-called Open Directory, a service where customers do all the work -- for free. The Netscape Open Directory is a new initiative that employs 9,000 volunteers to register different sites, instead of paying teams of editors to trawl around the Web. According to Netscape, the goal of the Open Directory project is to "produce the most comprehensive directory of the Web". But the project is also a tacit admission that Internet growth is outstripping any attempt to try and control it and one way round it is to employ armies of volunteers for nothing. Netscape and other proponents of the service would prefer to re-brand this as the democratisation of the Internet giving people a greater say in the running of the Net. But from where the The Register’s standing, it looks like multinational capitalist combine Netscape, soon to be part of even bigger AOL, is getting a free lunch. Following Netscape’s lead, The Register is now adopting its own "open source" policy. We will accept stories from our readers but won’t pay you a bean for all your hard work and effort. Lycos denies it is about to dump its own Internet directory and search engine, replacing it instead with an alternative from Netscape. According to a report in the The Financial Times Lycos is set to abandon its own Web searching systems replacing it with the new Netscape Open Directory service. But a spokesman for Lycos Inc denied this. "The Open Directory will augment our existing service, not replace it," he said. Lycos is trialling the service in the US, but it has no plans at the moment to include the service on its European sites. ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel in Revelations avoidance shocker

Clock speed anoraks will be thrilled to know that the forthcoming Intel Coppermine processors will avoid all accusations of devilment and general nastiness by not appearing in 666MHz guise. Not for Intel the number of the beast, oh dearie no. For there will not be a 666MHz Coppermine, instead a wholesome 667MHz part is billed for shipment in the middle of next year. At 133MHz FSB, that means a clock multiplier of a nice round number in the region of 5.01503759398496240601503759398496. Great Satan of Chips? Absolutely not. ®
Pete Sherriff, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Microsoft-owned email service runs on FreeBSD, Apache

It's quiz time - why does Hotmail use Apache? Hotmail is the free email service owned by Microsoft, so why isn't it using IIS? It's a good question, and there's an easy answer: Microsoft would desperately like to run Hotmail with NT/IIS but when it tried to switch over, it failed. And if Microsoft cannot get NT to scale, nobody can. Hotmail runs off FreeBSD, is on version 1.2.1 of Apache - and runs on - Sun servers. Another factoid is that Microsoft is a web site management customer of Exodus Communications (CEO Ellen Hancock, late of IBM and Apple - where she was CTO until Gil Amelio, er, left). All this rather undermines the arguments that Microsoft's research collaborator Mindcraft has been using about the superiority of NT over free software, and Microsoft's own claims that NT is ready for the enterprise. It would be putting salt in the open wound to point out that in March, according to Netcraft, Apache's server share continued climbing (to 55 per cent), that Microsoft's fell (to 23 per cent, after remaining level for five months), and that Netscape's rose (to 7 per cent). ®
Graham Lea, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Hamidi forces Intel to argue Spam case

A Sacramento judge has the final say today whether or not, Ken Hamidi, organiser of a group complaining against Intel employment practices, and a former employee of the corporation, was guilty of delivering spammed emails to the behemoth's 65,000 employees. According to a report on the FaceIntel site, a reversal of the judgement made last Friday is highly unlikely. Intel, showing egregious confidence, had moved for a summary judgement to prevent Hamidi, a long-standing anti-Intel litigant, from going to trial on the issue. Hamidi had argued that he, and the people he represented, could not present the organisation's course properly without a proper trial. Judge John Lewis appeared to agree last Friday. But today, Chipzilla will deliver an oral argument against Hamidi and FaceIntel arguing a summary judgement should be delivered. The ways of American Justice are closed to the outside world and so we await the verdict. ®
Mike Magee, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Anti-spammers petition European Parliament

Anti-spam campaigners took their fight to the European Parliament today handing in two petitions ahead of this week’s crucial vote by the Eurocrats. The European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA) and leading German computer title c’t magazine have both become focal points for support against the legalisation of junk e-mail in Europe. EuroISPA -- which represents more than 500 Internet providers across Europe -- presented a petition signed by national ISPs. c’t magazine conducted an online petition amassing the digital signatures of almost 24,000 Net users voicing their concerns against spam. Both petitions are timed to coincide with this week’s vote in the Legal Affairs Committee on the draft directive on Certain Legal Aspects of Electronic Commerce. EuroISPA and c’t magazine are confident that MEPs will take stock of the arguments put forward and vote for an opt-in system for unsolicited commercial communications. "This is a fantastic coming together of industry and consumers," said Jean-Christophe Le Toquin from EuroISPA. "It sends out an overwhelming signal to MEPs that neither industry nor consumers want spam legalised or legitimised," he said. Legislation currently being considered by the EU is calling for all spam to be clearly labelled so that people can see immediately what is bona fide e-mail and what is an unsolicited piece of e-mail. By taking this approach the EU will, in effect, be legalising spam. ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Don't buy notebooks this Summer

If you were planning on treating yourself to a new notebook this Summer so you could 'work from home' while sipping a cold beer in the garden, think again. Intel is set to launch some really cool mobile processors during the Summer months but will replace them with even cooler products less than three months later. The mobile Pentium II 400MHz is set for launch in June at an expected price of around $475 in 0.25 micron guise and $525 in the slinky new 0.18 variant. But by September that price will have dropped to just $310 for the 0.25 and $350 for the 0.18. The reason for this is the arrival of the 600, 500 and 450MHz Pentium III Coppermine mobiles in September, marking identical speed ratings for desktop and mobile products for the first time. Intel itself has stated that it is moving from 75 per cent desktops / 25 per cent notebooks to the opposite situation within two years, citing the increasing power of notebook hardware and the increasing mobility of its workforce as the main reasons. As expected, the high end PIII mobiles will attract a price premium, the smart money predicting price tags of over $750 for the 600MHz parts. But, more interestingly, there will be a 400MHz mobile Celeron in June at just $180, comparing very favourably with the mobile PIIs. And by September, a 433MHz mobile Celeron at around the same price, will sound the death knell for the mobile PIIs, which will never exceed 400MHz. So the message is: wait until Autumn before buying that new notebook. ®
Pete Sherriff, 19 Apr 1999