18th > May > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

X.Org takes over X Windows stewardship

The stewardship of the X Window system, part of the X Protocol developed in the mid-1980s, has passed to the newly-created X.Org, which is part of the Open Group. The technologies for which the Open Group has been custodian also include Motif (the graphical user interface used by more than 200 platforms), CDE (common desktop environment), and CTL (complex text layout for certain non-Latin alphabets). The executive members of X.Org are Compaq, HP, Hummingbird, IBM, Silicon Graphics and Sun, with a dozen premier members so far in the second level of membership. The Open Group has had a traumatic time recently. The vision brought in by Joseph De Feo was unsuccessful, and he left after failing to deliver on somewhat grandiose ambitions "to focus on his other business interests", according to his confidential letter to members. There was also a financial crisis brought on by the resignation or threatened resignation of several major supporters. De Feo was very keen to have Microsoft as a member, but the organisation was wrong-footed when the secretive Active Group was formed within the Open Group but failed to deliver on promises made by Microsoft at the time. Since De Feo's departure, the Group has been concentrating more on its core competencies like testing and branding, and is also continuing the licensing of open technologies. The PR spin at the time was that De Feo "re-aligned the company with 21st century technology issues" but the Group "may no longer have a large research and development function". Around a quarter of the staff, mostly those based in Cambridge, Mass. who had been developing these technologies were fired. The Open Group resulted from the 1996 merger of the Cambridge, Mass-based Open Software Foundation (OSF), and the Reading-based X/Open Consortium. The differing cultures have not mixed well, it is admitted. This move looks like a positive step to get back to the primary role of trying to be a worthy custodian of technologies developed by thousands of people over many years. ®
The Register breaking news

Could judge's ‘free OEMs’ suggestion herald MS trial deal?

MS on Trial It now seems certain that the Microsoft trial will not restart before Monday 1 June. When we visited Judge Jackson's drugs trial recently, witnesses were being questioned interminably. The public area of the courtroom (not the one used for the Microsoft trial) was separated from the court by a bullet-proof glass screen, which was reassuring when a handgun was produced, but evidently it was an exhibit. Judge Jackson seemed in good humour, although perhaps a trifle bored. We can positively confirm that the judge is a white man, which may be of interest to UK mags Computer Weekly and Computing, which have both carried photographs of a black judge misidentified as Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. A few details have leaked out about contacts between Microsoft and the DoJ since the trial recessed on 26 February. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the first meeting was on 24 February, and another on 30 March. The report suggests that the judge asked the lawyers why PC makers and consumers couldn't choose the software they wanted. Microsoft realised that this implied that the judge thought it had improperly bundled products, but probably wasn't going to carve the company up. Another meeting will probably take place just before the resumption. Three suggestions for a deal are believed to have been discussed at the March meeting: no exclusive contracts; no interference by Microsoft with the software loaded by the PC maker; and greater disclosure of Windows APIs. The report also suggests that the DoJ wants it to be possible for rival technology to co-exist, with some disclosure of the interfaces, as happened in the old IBM case. The WSJ appears to want a settlement, since it is suggesting without evidence that it was in both parties' interests to settle. This is not true: it is for the DoJ to get a remedy that will solve the problems that have arisen, and whether this is obtained by court order or through a tough consent decree is immaterial. ® Complete Register trial coverage
The Register breaking news

MS trial opponents allowed to share information

MS on Trial Microsoft had a bad day yesterday when federal Judge Janet Hall ruled in the district Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut that MS would not be granted any further delay in the case brought by Bristol Technologies. Bristol complains that Microsoft has anticompetitively manipulated access to Windows APIs, in contravention of the Sherman Act. That wasn't all however: the judge agreed that Bristol could share its information with the other organisations having an antitrust case against Microsoft -- and reciprocation is likely. Of great concern to Microsoft, quite apart from the merits of the case, is that it will be a jury trial, with selection starting on Thursday, and the trial beginning on 2 June. It is expected to last six to eight weeks, on preliminary estimates. Quite often litigants employ jury selection consultants who specialise in identifying jurors likely to be most advantageous to their client's case. In this instance, it is likely that the jury will favour Bristol as a local company, and the underdog. Of the current batch of cases against Microsoft, this one will probably be the first to decided. In the event that Microsoft loses, the decision is likely to have a severe ill-effect on the other ones. ® Complete Register trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Heads roll at Compaq Alpha factory

When Ben Rosen put Eckhard Pfeiffer out of a job recently, he was at pains to insist that no restructuring at Compaq was needed. Did we believe that at the time? No. And now Compaq has taken the first step in what looks like a big restructuring plan, laying off 900 people at its Alpha factory in Salem. Factories cost a lot of money and Compaq execs said that quite big savings will be made from the exercise. At the Intel Developer Forum earlier this year, Mr Paul Otellini, a senior manager at the chip company, described microprocessor manufacturing as "a bloody business" and predicted Compaq would have trouble making the Alpha a profitable business. ®
The Register breaking news

Philips takes 50 per cent slice of LG's LCD biz

As predicted here at the weekend, Philips has taken a cut in LG's liquid crystal display business. The Dutch company yesterday confirmed it had signed a letter of intent to take 50 per cent of Lucky Goldstar's TFT screen business, and is paying $1.6 billion for the privilege. While LG already has a fair chunk of market share in the burgeoning flat planel screen business, Philips will bring its R&D expertise to the deal. Products will start to roll off the fab lines in time for the third quarter buying spree, the Dutch company said. There were rumours last year that Philips was considering exiting the monitor business but the LG deal spanners that speculation. Paying $1.6 billion will allow Philips to jump straight into the potentially lucrative LCD market, as CRT sales start to decline. ®
The Register breaking news

CDMA group jostles for position in G3 cellular battle

A year ago From The Register May 1998 (a year ago) Political infighting over next generation cellular standards intensified this week, following a statement made by Perry LaForge, executive director of the CDMA Development Group (CDG). LaForge was allegedly "welcoming" the announcement of support for CDMA technology "by GSM interest groups in North America," but in the intricate world of global wireless politics, all statements are loaded. The CDG supports the cdmaOne (ANSI-95) standard, while Europe and GSM companies world-wide support W-CDMA. Relations between GSM and NTT DoCoMo, a leader in W-CDMA technology, were strengthened in an announcement last week, while the situation in North America is complicated by the fact that CDMA and GSM are deadly rivals to establish a digital cellular standard. Says LaForge: "We are pleased that the North American GSM community has vocalised its support of the CDMA air-interface as an element of 3G wireless systems. Discussions among world-wide standards bodies have shown that cdmaOne (ANSI-95) CDMA is the basis of wideband CDMA proposals currently under consideration. For GSM operators to express support for CDMA is a long-awaited and welcome development, as it lays the groundwork for joint efforts toward harmonisation of W-CDMA with Wideband cdmaOne." From the point of view of the GSM companies and NTT DoCoMo, LaForge's line is not particularly welcome. European telecoms overseer ETSI has decided to use W-CDMA technology in its third generation standard, but supporting companies are concerned about ownership of the technologies and patents involved, and regarding likely licence fees. So LaForge could be seen as putting a mark down for the intellectual property rights of cdmaOne members. And from his perspective, it would seem that the European GSM companies are different from the North American ones: "Many of the European and Asian GSM operators expressed support for harmonisation at the recent GSM World Congress, and we have been working with them. Unfortunately, a few North American GSM operators appear concerned that harmonisation will give North American CDMA operators a competitive advantage and have attempted to undermine harmonisation efforts." This is all terribly disruptive, he says: " Such gamesmanship will create an atmosphere of hostility and will very likely lead to substantial delays in the deployment of 3G systems by GSM operators in North America, which will impact 3G migration world-wide… The possibility of extensive delays due to protracted intellectual property debates is looming on the horizon." So it's about money, right? ®
The Register breaking news

France Telecom sues Deutsche Telekom for billions

Jilted phone giant France Telecom is claiming "several billion Euros" from Deutsche Telekom over the latter's wrecking of the pair's nice alliance. FT's claim translates neatly into a little over several billion dollars, and if the other member of the old triple alliance, US Sprint, cares to chime in, this could get expensive for DT. According to France Telecom: "The proposed combination between Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, undertaken without any prior consultation with France Telecom, significantly alters the trust between the two partners and deliberately breaches the alliance. It entails as a consequence the termination of the agreements signed in 1998." DT's proposed Telecom Italia merger certainly materially alters the nature of its alliance with FT (which is somewhat different from, but not entirely unrelated to, the Global One alliance involving Sprint). The Register's take on DT's move is that it's some kind of corporate insanity (Register stock tip - never put any money into anything called Telecom Italia), and that no good will come of it. France Telecom has filed lawsuits with the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, and seems very cross indeed. ®
The Register breaking news

Aplio to launch Linux-based Internet phone

Internet telephony outfit Aplio is to standardise on Linux as the operating system for future Internet appliances and embedded systems. The company's first Linux-based product, it says, will be out this summer. Despite recent growth, Linux hasn't so far made any major breakthroughs in the appliance and/or embedded arenas. The OS can run on fairly cheap hardware, its footprint can be reduced, and there are a few projects implementing it on low-resource platforms (e.g. Linux7k, a port of Linux to the Psion Series 5). But widespread uptake of Linux in these fields will more likely be dependent on larger companies putting resources into development, and Aplio seems to fit the bill. It already makes the Aplio/Phone, and says there are clear advantages to Linux in the Internet telephony area. According to CTO Henri Tebeka: "Linux is the ideal operating system for our technology. Its built-in Internet connectivity, royalty-free accessibility, and open source structure will allow us to streamline our development process, and ultimately strengthen our position as the leading provider of Internet Telephony Appliance technology." ®
The Register breaking news

GSM will continue to dominate handset sales

Report Annual cellular phone handset sales will virtually double by 2003, but although it will show the highest growth rate, the CDMA digital standard isn't going to make breakthrough. According to a new report from Cahners In-Stat, of the 392 million units sold in 2003 (up from 207 million this year), 203 million will be GSM. The numbers provide a valuable reality check for those of you in danger of believing we'll all be using third generation broadband systems by 2003. Cahners is cagey, simply observing that this year: "As digital users begin to implement 2 1/2 generation data and Internet ready handsets, we will finally learn if data is the killer application that most believe it is." The Register wishes to point out that lots of otherwise rational people have been predicting the triumph of wireless data for years, so far erroneously. Cahners says CDMA will score an annual growth rate of 24.69 per cent, TDMA 22.46 per cent and GSM 22.66 per cent. CDMA's lead, however, is based on growth from the smallest base, so probably the best it can hope for is a reasonably strong position in its core US market. TDMA's continued growth, however, means that CDMA won't have it all its own way there, and TDMA is of course a relation of GSM's. GSM meanwhile looks set to trample across the rest of the world, and here it might be worth considering that Cahner's numbers might be overly conservative. Growth in the region of 20-25 per cent per annum is probably achievable for the territories which are already fairly heavily populated with mobile phone users, so major breakthroughs elsewhere surely ought to generate far higher growth overall. By the way, Cahners, we notice although you've press released the report you haven't got around to putting it up for sale on your Web site yet. We feel slack attitudes of this sort may undermine the value of your future e-commerce reports somewhat... ®
The Register breaking news

MS Office virus could infect without you opening attachment

Israeli security outfit Finjan Software has warned of how a potentially serious Excel-related virus could spread and inflict damage without the recipient opening an email attachment. Finjan says that "All 3.x and 4.x versions of the Microsoft Internet Explorer Browsers and Netscape Navigator browsers 3.x and 4.x (except Navigator 4.5) are vulnerable, as well as all HTML-aware email applications such as Outlook 98." The virus in question is Russian New Year, which uses the Excel CALL function in Office 95 and Office 97. This allows external executables to be started from within a spreadsheet cell, without the user knowing it's happening. Finjan explains how this would work via a browser: "On a Web page, Web developers include services to various file content types from a server to a browser. Suppose the files end with .XLS extensions. Then it is likely that these files will be associated with the Excel program. In this case, the .XLS files transferred to a browser will be passed immediately and processed by the referenced application - in this case, Excel. When Excel is opened, it executes functions in the cells of the spreadsheet. If one of the functions has a maliciously coded CALL function then it is possible that the Excel spreadsheet can be used to copy an executable program to the hard disk and execute it." But that doesn't mean you have to physically open the link yourself. Vulnerable browsers and email programs can execute the CALL function automatically without the email actually being opened, therefore it seems conceivable that the infection could spread without users even noticing it was happening. Freelance writer Deborah Radcliff reported on this a few days ago in Computerworld, and she comes up with some possible consequences. A mass mail could be used to distribute the virus, which could be used for espionage purposes (suck data from your corporate rivals) or for sheer destruction, creating and writing data to the recipients' hard disks. She also suggests the possibility that the Melissa approach, where the virus apparently comes from a colleague or friend, could be used in conjunction with Russian New Year. According to Finjan, the solutions are convoluted, and not particularly attractive for people who use the CALL function frequently. You need to run Office 97 (there's no fix for 95) with service packs 1 and 2 installed and the Microsoft patch to disable the CALL function. If you're using IE 3.x, upgrade to 4.x and set the security level to highest. Navigator users should switch to 4.5. Our thanks to Windows 98 Central, a useful site for monitoring all things Windows-related, for drawing this one to our attention. ®
The Register breaking news

Half a2b staff jump ship to Reciprocal

Over half of the staff at AT&T's digital music subsidiary, a2b, have walked out to join Microsoft-backed content rights management software developer Reciprocal. To make matter worse for the telecoms giant, the mass defection was led by a2b co-founders Larry Miller and Howie Singer. Miller said he and his co-defectors made the move to give themselves the opportunity to work in a "better place" where they can "accelerate their work", according to a report in the New York Times. At Reciprocal they will form a music delivery division. Presumably they will be given a deal of autonomy -- it is believed one of the reasons the founders bailed out of a2b is AT&T's refusal to spin the division off into a separate company. That doesn't say much for a2b the company, and it's not what you'd call a vote of confidence in the a2b digital music format either. Not only is it fighting against the controversial MP3 format and other digital music distribution pioneers like Liquid Audio, but now it faces stiff competition from the Sony-backed Microsoft Windows Media Technologies (based, in part, on Reciprocal technology), RealNetworks and alternatives from various music and consumer electronics companies. The format's only hope now comes from AT&T's alliance with music giant Universal, which plans to open up its own digital delivery service later this year, quite possibly with a2b as its chosen format (see Universal online music plan gains AT&T, Matsushita backing). AT&T said it will continue to develop a2b and is to appoint a ex-CompuServe executive to take charge of the company's 12 remaining staff. ® See also a2b unveils latest digital music player, format Microsoft launches MP3 killer RealNetworks launches universal digital music player
The Register breaking news

CDnow to launch digital music sales site

Online CD retailer CDnow is to launch a digital music delivery service in the autumn. It's not yet clear what mechanism and music format the company will use, but with over two million customers (it claims) it does have a head start on the major players, coming online later this year. Sony will get there first, with a plan to sell singles digitally this summer (see Sony Music backs MS' digital delivery format), a programme it's putting in place with Microsoft. Universal (formerly Polygram) will follow later in the year with a full-scale digital delivery service to promote not only its own roster of artists and bands but fellow major label BMG's too. It has the backing of AT&T and Matsushita. That still leaves a large number of independent labels for CDnow to promote, and in any case Sony, Universal and BMG have not (yet) said their own online sales will be exclusive. CDnow is probably more concerned about fellow online retailers like Amazon.com, and it can't be long before Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos extends his own sites's CD retailing section with a digital delivery service. ® See also Half a2b staff jump ship to Reciprocal
The Register breaking news

Fraud charges follow abuse of BT 0800 test number

An anonymous Net user has been accused of fraud and threatened with legal action for using a toll-free number to access the Web that was reserved for use by BT staff. A letter, purportedly sent by BT customer relations manager Keith Lawton, orders the unnamed customer to cough up for the 680 hours and 45 minutes spent online illegally -- or face legal action. The letter also warns the crafty BT customer that if he/she does it again, the police will be called "with a view to criminal charges being brought". Having already issued a warning to stop using the number, Lawton wrote: "By continuing to use that freephone number you have committed fraud against us." "As you have knowingly used our internal ISP without our express authorisation, we are billing you for all the time that you have been online using our freephone number by converting all time spent online to a national number," Lawton wrote. There is no indication exactly how much the bill is for but it could run into many hundreds of pounds. A spokesman for BT said the company would not comment on an individual customer's bill and also questioned the validity of the letter It could be genuine, or it could be a hoax, he said. Since no one is prepared to say one way or the other, The Register has decided to let its readers decide whether it's kosher or not. If you want to see the letter click here. Yesterday, The Register revealed how Net users ran amok after the number and access details of a BT freephone number used for V90 modem trials were published in newsgroups over the weekend. ®
The Register breaking news

Loki game for Linux

Linux games developer Loki Entertainment will follow up its release of Civilization: Call to Power with Linux ports of Myth II: Soulblighter, Railroad Tycoon II and Eric's Ultimate Solitaire. The company didn't specify when the three new titles would ship, other than a cautious "available in 1999". However, Loki's programmers will need to move quickly -- it has already promised eight ported games will ship this year. Civilization: Call to Power was announced back in January, and shipped this month, five months down the line. Loki's bent is clearly towards more strategic titles -- Linux gamers requiring a little more action (though Myth II is furious and bloody enough) can try the recently released test version of Id Software's Quake III Arena. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel confirms Pentium II dead

We have been predicting the demise of the Pentium II for some time now, as Intel shifts its customer base to the Pentium III and introduces Coppermine technology. But now it is official. Intel has confirmed that the Pentium II will die in six months time, according to wire Asia Pulse. The news service quotes Intel India director Atul Vijaykar, who said that Pentium II shipments will cease by the end of the year. Last week, we reported that Paul Otellini, a senior VP at Intel US, said the transition from the Pentium II to the Pentium III was the company's fastest microprocessor transition. ® Microprocessor Trends Site
The Register breaking news

PlayMedia sues MP3.com

MP3 player software developer PlayMedia's $20 million copyright infringement suit against its rival, Nullsoft, has been extended to take in MP3.com, mere days after the MP3 music distributor publicly announced its upcoming IPO. PlayMedia's beef with Nullsoft centres on allegations that the latter used code from PlayMedia's Amp in its popular WinAmp MP3 player. The company's case appeared to be strengthened recently when Nullsoft shipped a new version of WinAmp based on the ISO standard MP3 decoder licensed from the Fraunhofer Institute. Nullsoft's moves made it look guilty, but the company said it switched from its original decoder, dubbed Nitrane and the one said to contain PlayMedia code, to the standard version to avoid further legal issues. The Fraunhofer version is probably a more efficient decoder too, but PlayMedia clearly doesn't want to pursue that line of enquiry too far. Meanwhile, MP3.com comes into the picture as one of the most popular sites from which WinAmp can be downloaded. PlayMedia reckons MP3.com has been offering WinAmp since April last year, and is seeking $15 million in compensation as a result. It's not clear why the company has waited so long to sue MP3.com -- its action against Nullsoft was launched in March -- or why it feels MP3.com's support for WinAmp (the site also offers other players for download) is a legal issue. It's not hard to see MP3.com's proposed $115 million IPO as a motivating factor. PlayMedia's line appears to be that the success MP3.com has achieved has largely come about through offering WinAmp, and since that software infringes its copyrights, it's entitled to a cut. Sounds spurious to us, too, but it has to be said, MP3.com did itself no favours by releasing an MP3.com-branded version of WinAmp last year. PlayMedia claims that took place sometime after its CEO, Brian Litman, contacted his opposite number at MP3.com, Michael Robertson, to discuss his allegations against Nullsoft. Fair enough, but Robertson was under no obligation to drop support for WinAmp until PlayMedia' claim is proven -- only then, surely, would he too be guilty of copyright infringement, provided of course he continued to offer the Nitrane version WinAmp for download. That suggests PlayMedia's action is tactical, since presumably it will vanish if the case against Nullsoft collapses. Even PlayMedia proves its case against Nullsoft, it seems a mite unfair battering MP3.com for shipping software in good faith. And the confusion over the timing of the suit is only muddying the water further. MP3.com said late yesterday it still hadn't officially received PlayMedia's suit. The litigant's lawyer, on the other hand, claims it was served on 28 April. ®
The Register breaking news

Flood of enquiries slows down LocalTel freebies

LocalTel has apologised to subscribers of its new toll-free Net access service for delays in issuing documents to compete the registration to screaming.net. In an email to Net users, customer service manager for the telco, PA Jenkins, said: "The response to the service has been overwhelming and this is why it has taken so long for us to confirm your order instructions. Please accept our apologies for the delay." Since its launch almost three weeks ago LocalTel has been swamped with enquires. It has already registered 36,000 people and is growing by around 2000 a day, a spokesman for LocalTel said today. The screaming.net site is also receiving 90,000 page impressions a day, he said. Around 100,000 CD-ROMs containing screaming.net software have been distributed by Tempo -- the electrical goods retailer that is in partnership with LocalTel. A further 60,000 CD-ROMs are due to be issued shortly. ®
The Register breaking news

Irish eyes are smiling thanks to Taiwanese investment

Taiwan’s first foray into Ireland will create 500 jobs over the next four years, the Irish government said today. Hon Hai Precision Industry plans to invest over 8 million Irish punts (£6.7 million) to set up two factories in Mullingar, Westmeath, the first investment by a Taiwanese company in the Emerald Isle. The first will be a 4.5 million punt (£3.8 million) facility to make computer enclosures for vendors such as Apple and Dell. It will employ around 350 people, according to Reuters news service. Hon Hai, which will operate as Foxteq Engineering (Ireland), is also due to pump 3.5 million punts (£2.9 million) into the launch of a European design and low volume production centre for electronic components. This centre, making kit such as cable assemblies, connectors and riser cards, is intended to service European customers such as Hewlett Packard, Fujitsu and Nokia. Irish deputy prime minister Mary Harney today applauded the investment in the region. Mullingar was hit by an employment crisis last year after the exit of German company Tarkett Sommer. Taipei-based Hon Hai employs 20,000 staff in 18 manufacturing plants in Taiwan, China, the US and Scotland. It recorded sales of over £0.6 billion and net profit of around £1 million in 1998. ®
The Register breaking news

Children’s author found guilty of kiddie Web porn crimes

A children's author and former TV director for the BBC has been convicted of peddling kiddie porn on the Internet. Ian Strachan, 60, told Shrewsbury Crown Court that he downloaded explicit material from the Net as part of research for a book he was writing on child pornography. But Strachan's plea was thrown out by Judge Michael Mander who said it was sheer "humbug" to suggest such an idea, before sentencing him to four months in prison, suspended for two years. The prosecution told how police monitored a number of paedophile sites. Not only did Strachan download material he also posted the pictures onto another site, they said. When police searched his house, they seized a number of books, disks and at least 200 images of children. "I was not thinking straight during my research," said Strachan speaking in The Times today. "When you do research you talk to a lot of people involved in the same thing and that's all I was doing. I wanted to write a book about child abuse and I was looking at the subject in many different ways. "I did not think I was doing anything illegal," he said. Strachan -- whose work includes the novel Throwaways, will have his name placed on the Paedophile Register for five years and was also ordered to pay £1,250 costs. In March, a US journalist was convicted of peddling kiddie porn after he too insisted it was part of ongoing research into paedophiles on the Net. Believed to be the first hack to be convicted for trafficking child pornography, 54-year-old Larry Matthews pleaded guilty to the offence after the Judge refused to allow him to base his defence on freedom of speech as laid down by the First Amendment of the American Constitution. ®
The Register breaking news

US govt’s pay-to-search scheme falters

The US government’s fee-based Web search engine has been halted only a few hours after going live. The facility was intended to allow anyone to search through the US government’s databases to find information, documents and so on. The facility carried a $30 per month, or $15 per day, fee for access, which prompted some criticism in the US. The US government has around 20,000 different online resources containing over four million pages. Some US politicians said that US taxpayers had already paid for the information to be created and that it was wrong to charge them to search through that information, according to online news serviceTechweb. The service went live yesterday, but it has already been pulled, according to Bloomberg, which quotes a story in today’s New York Times. The scheme is being scrutinised to see if it is in line with the Clinton administration’s policy of allowing unrestricted access to information, the report said. ®
The Register breaking news

Child porn banned in Japan

Japan has banned child pornography. It is now illegal to produce, distribute, sell, possess or trade in child porn. As reported by The Register last month, the bill was widely supported and not expected to meet much opposition.
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E-bumpkins doomed to chew e-cud as wired world leaves them behind

The world of ecommerce is inhabited by Global Village Gods -- those who embrace wired technology -- and Global Village Idiots -- um, those who don't. That's according to author Martin Butler, head of Butler Group, in his new book The E-Business Advantage in which he tries to spell out the opportunities for businesses in the wired world. "The world of e-business represents the future of IT," he writes. "These companies [that can make the most of this technology] are characterised as Global Village Gods, whereas those who fail to adapt to this new paradigm will be forever condemned as Global Village Idiots." Does that means those who populate this wired world are Global Village People? Altogether now…You wanna stay at the why em sea hay… ®
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Microsoft says Win2K will run fine on Celerons

Updated Microsoft said today that Windows 2000 will run "fine" on Intel Celeron processors. A Danish computer magazine had alerted us to the fact that Win2K will only run on processors with 256K level two cache or more, following advice from Microsoft in Denmark. But Frances Fawcett, Windows 2000 product manager at Microsoft UK, said: "Windows 2000 will run on a Celeron microprocessor. What I will take from this is that I will tell my colleagues in Europe to change the information on its Web site." According to Jan Wiberg, a journalist at ComputerDK, the conflicting information is posted on Microsoft sites. While the Microsoft English language site says that Windows 2000 will work on Celerons, the Danish site says it won't. After he posted the story, Jan said that he had feedback from many readers who reported their experiences. One said that the processor was not recognised at all, while another said the installation took over ten hours, while a third said it did work when upgrading from Windows 98. If it doesn't work, or only half works, this will have serious implications for Celeron users. Meanwhile, an anxious reader telephoned Intel UK's customer advice line on 01793 431155. He has just bought some Celerons for his office, and intends to upgrade to Win2K. The line told him that if Microsoft was saying that Win2K required 256K cache to run, that the Celeron wouldn't run Windows 2000. He said: "The guy on the phone I spoke to then tried to convince me to upgrade all my computers to Pentium IIIs!" However, a US reader had a different reaction. He said: "This story is bunk. I am running Windows2000 Beta3, both Professional (Workstation), and Server are running on my Celeron 300a (hell it even works OVERCLOCKED to 450). Installing on a BARE hard drive from a 32x CD-ROM with 128Mb of RAM took a little less than an hour. It runs great and picked up all of my hardware (except my Voodoo2 but I found a hacked INI file to fix that at betanews.com). "I also tested it on my Celeron 466 upgrading Windows98, no problems AT all (and this system had two different SCSI controllers in it)." Another reader, commenting on the ten hours install time, said: "It will take that long if SMARTDRIVEis not enabled. When it is present the install takes about the same length of time as 98. I am personally running build 2031 of W2k on my dual Celeron 464 (300a) machine, and it seems to be working fine." At press time, no-one from Intel UK was available for comment. But Microsoft's comment seems to have nailed this one in its coffin for a while. ®
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HP bucks trend with strong PC sales

Hewlett-Packard turned in surging second-quarter profits at over $900 million, bolstered by strong PC and printer sales. The figures topped analysts’ expectations, recording earnings of $918 million, for the three months ended 30 April. This was up on last year’s $685 million. Sales grew 3.3 per cent to $12.4 billion, and orders were up 10 per cent. The company said commercial and consumer PCs boosted revenue growth, and PC servers, mobile products and home PCs were particularly strong. "This is the third consecutive quarter that we’ve exceeded street expectations," said Lew Platt, HP chairman and CEO. "We had solid net earnings in PCs, strong profit performance in printing and imaging, and significant profit improvement in our measurement business. Clearly, our challenge is to convert order growth into stronger growth in revenue." HP shares thrived on the news, increasing $4.56 to a 52-week high of $88.75. According to Reuters, HP stock had risen about 25 per cent this year amid optimism that the company could solve its financial woes and general rallying of technology stocks. HP has been criticised in the past for dragging its feet over incorporating the Web into its business. It recently announced a $100 million investment to advertise its "e-services" offerings. ®
The Register breaking news

SGI gets new channels manager

Silicon Graphics (SGI) will name Greg Goelz, formerly of Iomega, as head of its channels programme, according to US-based online news bunnies CMP. Goelz was Iomega VP of worldwide sales and marketing for the professional products division, and has 13 years in the storage business under his belt. He will be VP of worldwide channels at the US workstation and server vendor, replacing Erna Arnesen who resigned in March. This will be Goelz’s first position at a computer vendor. He spent 16 months at Iomega, surviving layoffs, management switches and financial losses. He has also worked at Conner Peripherals, Micropolis, OR Technology and Seagate. Despite not actually talking to CMP, Goelz was described as "aggressive, well-organised and someone who gets results" by Jim Porter, president of market researcher Disk/Trend, California. Porter said Goelz would fit into SGI’s plans to expand beyond niche markets into more competitive NT sector. Another acquaintance witnessed Goelz developing an "aggressive reseller recruiting effort" at Iomega. Apparently, he was not afraid to hire, reorganise and revamp. "He identifies an area that needs improvement and goes after it like a bull," she said. ®
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Chip market stability helps Siemens

Siemens saw sales jump 17 per cent for the six-months ended 31 March. The German company recorded turnover of $33.6 billion, against $28.7 billion for the same period the previous year. Pre-tax profit was $764 million, slightly up on last year’s $753 million. The electronics giant said new orders climbed 10 per cent, largely in the second quarter outside Germany. According to a company statement by Dr Heinrich Pierer, Siemens president and CEO, special factors were no longer burdening performance. "Price developments in semiconductors are not as dramatic as in the last fiscal year… and a new miniature cell phone family is enjoying a major market success following its recent introduction." Last year Siemens closed its Tyneside plant due to the oversupply in the microprocessor market. It then announced it was to open a joint chip venture with IBM and France. ®