25th > May > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Cat out of K7 bag..

Our good friends on the hardware and gaming sites have, yet again, alerted us to certain facts we should know. And, at the same time, AMD was responding to pix of the K7 cartridge with a definite "no-comment". Meanwhile, Iranian president Katmai was welcoming US president Clinton as a friend of the federation of American states. So it's all very confusing, which is what AMD likes to love. Robert Stead, Euro AMD marketing director, told us today that a picture on Firing Squad's site "looked like" it was an AMD part, but how could he possibly know whether or not it was. But meanwhile US hardware specialist JC cited a report from an evaluator who claims to be from Prudential Insurance with a K7 in his mitts. According to JC -- based in fabulous New York City -- the Prudential guy claims yields are very good and AMD has already shipped nearly 2,000 of the beasties, which use the Alpha EV6 bus. As the Alpha consortium has stuff running at 800MHz, as reported here on Sunday, using the famous Ironside chipset, this all seems very good news for AMD. We and others, including DEC analyst Terry Shannon, reported at the end of last year that AMD would use Ironside. But at The Register, many of us are still of the somewhat sceptical and Scottish belief that AMD should concentrate on its very profitable Flash memory. It has a joint venture with huge Japanese company Fujitsu. So, if it capitalised on that stuff, it would have more than a fighting chance against Chipzilla. AMD's stocks and shares were rising at press time. ®
Mike Magee, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Win VIP tickets to Networks Telecom

Updated If you're a UK reader of the The Register and you're likely to be going to this year's Networks Telecom show, we're pleased, in conjunction with the organisers, to offer two VIP packages for the event. All you need to do to enter is to send the answer to the following question here, putting Competition as the subject line. Here's the very tough question: What is the venue for the Network Telecom show? We'd also like you to complete the following sentence in under 30 words: Networks telecom is important in my IT calendar because... Each VIP package has a value of around £1200 and gives full access to the conference programme and to the VIP lounge at the shows. The conference programme tracks are CT technologies, corporate enterprise networks, call centres, extended voice and data networks, IP telephony and business case study master classes. We will announce the winners of the competition about two weeks before the show, which is held between 29 June and 1 July. Full show information can be found here®
Team Register, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

It's a person – Gates 3.0 ships

It's a son for Melinda and Bill Gates. Rory John Gates (anag: short Jane orgy, shag Jerry onto) arrived at 2:40pm Pacific time on 23 May, and weighed in at eight pounds 12 ounces. Bill, 43, was present at the birth, and was subsequently seen on the Microsoft campus wearing a hospital bracelet. We are told that the couple are "thrilled to be parents again". Again? So what happened to the one they had three years ago? A baby isn't just for Christmas, you know. Melinda, 34, appears to have put herself in charge of the family philanthropy, while Bill concentrates on being the breadwinner. His fortune has dwindled recently as Microsoft shares have dropped around 20 per cent. Jennifer, age 3, (ah, there she is then) was reported to be "very excited to have a brother". ®
Graham Lea, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Broadband wireless goes live in Europe

US broadband wireless specialist WinStar Communications has rolled out its first European service in Amsterdam. The company, which offers business fixed wireless provision of frame relay, ATM, high speed Internet and private line, says it will establish a presence in other European markets before the end of the year. WinStar's Amsterdam service, operated by subsidiary WinStar Europe, uses the 38GHz frequency. Lucent provided design, build-out and is running operation and maintenance from its NetCare operations centre in Sophia Antipolis, France. The network uses Ascend switches for a multi-service data platform. ®
John Lettice, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Matsushita to invest in Symbian phone alliance

The Symbian alliance is poised to crack the key Japanese market, according to reports in Tokyo. Yesterday's Nihon Keizai Shimbun said that Matsushita's will invest in Symbian, while NTT Mobile Communications is considering Symbian's EPOC as the OS for a cellular device to be released in 2001. Symbian is a joint venture company with Psion, Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola holding stakes, and these companies alone are sufficient to give it a commanding head-start in the smartphone arena. EPOC is intended to be licensed for $5-10 for smartphones and communicators, and it's by no means compulsory for licensees to buy shares in the company. But there's a certain symbolism attached to getting industry leaders on the balance sheet, so Matsushita's recruitment will be a helpful boost. Meanwhile if NTT does go for EPOC, the OS is likely to get an early showcasing in third generation networks. Japan is rolling out 3G broadband wireless somewhat in advance of the rest of the world, so is where the first super-cool gizmos are going to be seen in action. ®
John Lettice, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

IBM certifies four Linux versions for servers

IBM is increasing its commitment to Linux with a series of announcements, including the certification of four major Linux versions, Caldera, SuSE, Pacific HiTech, and Red Hat as 'ready to run' on IBM Netfinity 3000 and 5000 servers. In addition, the company is extending its ServerProven Solutions programme, which tests software for compatibility with various Netfinity configurations, to Linux operating systems and applications, with the Applixware productivity suite to be certified. IBM will also be setting up a Web-based forum for customers, resellers and developers and will be issuing betas of Linux device drivers for its ServRAID adapter via distributors and the Web. ®
John Lettice, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

MS plans stakes in ten key Euro companies

Microsoft has a target list of ten European communications companies it wants to put money into, according to company European Internet director Georges Nahon. The list's existence, together with some clues about who the companies might be, was revealed in an interview published yesterday by Dow Jones Newswires. Market size, location and reasonable numbers of existing subscribers are apparently important, so presumably this means Microsoft wants to pick off large cable TV operations in the larger countries first. It's done a pretty thorough job in the UK already, and is currently in a huddle with Bertelsmann and Deutsche Telekom in Germany. French and Italian operators should therefore prepare to receive emissaries. Microsoft is also looking for territories where there is a 'positive regulatory environment.' What this means isn't exactly clear, as Europe is at least theoretically subject to a single regulatory environment. The requirement could therefore be code for 'countries whose politicians aren't going to beat-up Microsoft.' Nahon says the investments will come in several stages, with a minority investment first. This is the stage we're at right now, although some are more minor than others. The objective is to give the cable outfits sufficient resources and incentives to roll out broadband data networks faster. Then later on Microsoft might increase its investment, or try to bring in other companies. Which is a pretty meaningless thing to say, really - Microsoft could do anything from taking total control to cashing its winnings and leaving, it would seem. Cable is the most important area right now, but Nahon's interest in doing something to encourage faster roll-out for DSL is worth noting. Investment doesn't seem to be the route Microsoft intends to take here, but he says the company has been talking to several operators about deploying DSL, and suggests developments in eight to 12 months. We'd guess both British Telecom and Deutsche Telecom as likely perpetrators, regulatory environments permitting. ®
John Lettice, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

IBM Euro channel gets e-wasted

The Euro arm of Big Blue rolled out its PartnerWorld initiative but the scheme means a vast shake up in the channel. According to Kevin Bishop, IBM's director of business partners for Europe, its PartnerWorld scheme "is a unified solution across all of our brands". That means, he said, that IBM channel partners will be able to sell anything from ThinkPads to S/390s. But it also means complete re-accreditation for all existing IBM partners from the biggest distributor to the smallest reseller. Bishop claimed that this plan was masterminded by CEO Lou "Boots" Gerstner four and a half years ago, and it has taken that long for the shake up to be complete. A post hoc propter hoc line if ever we heard one. Bishop said: "This comes direct from Gerstner." Blood had been shed, he said, but he refused to discuss how many billions of dollars had flowed out of Big Blue's coffers into the scheme. Meanwhile, channel partner Kevin Drew, at Triangle, said he was betting his whole business on IBM's PartnerWorld. ®
Mike Magee, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Snes9x.com host explains actions

The ISP at the heart of Nintendo's latest anti-emulator actions, HalfPrice Hosting, a division of Express Technologies, has spoken out about its decision to nuke the www.snes9x.com Web site. The site, maintained by Dutch emulator developer Jerremy Koot, was removed at the console company's behest last week (see Nintendo pursues emulator sites). HalfPrice Hosting gave Koot no indication of why it had pulled his site beyond a reference to Nintendo's overall anti-piracy policy, a policy that takes in emulators even though they are not illegal unless unlicensed intellectual property was used in their development. However, company president Jason Heffran, yesterday responded to questions from an emulator advocate going by the name of 'Homersexual', who published Heffran's response on Usenet. "As in the case of America Online vs. CyberPromotions, we can refuse service to anyone at anytime if we feel their business practices do not conform with our core values," wrote Heffran. "Case in point: Network Solutions does not have to authorise the registration of any domain names that appear to be in their definition of bad taste. Likewise, a site that Nintendo views as improper begs the question of integrity." Heffran goes on to state his disinterest in emulation, that he will vigorously defend any legal actions brought against his company by emulator fans annoyed by his move over www.snes9x.com. If his comments sound a little peevish, to be fair, it's probably because of the broadly belligerent nature of Homersexual's original email, which threatens legal action and sees Heffran's actions as a some kind of personal insult against the emulation community, though it's understandable that he or she would hold such a view. The problem here is that Heffran is perfectly within his rights to pull the site. If his company did so without first consulting Koot, that's a matter for them. Nintendo's claims about the illegality of emulators are not the issue -- but threats to tie up an ISP in legal knots are. No business, even on broadly in sympathy with the emulation community, would want to risk defending a costly legal -- it's easier just to pull the site. Who can blame Heffran for that? As he says, the emulator fight is not his -- that's between Nintendo and the emulation community. Meanwhile, the clever part of Nintendo's strategy is that HalfPrice Hosting's actions have set the emulation community against the ISP, diverting attention away from Nintendo itself. ®
Tony Smith, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

SiS goes live on 630

Taiwanese chipset manufacturer SiS has now gone live on its 630 technology. According to the company, the SiS 630 is PC99 and PCI 2.2 compliant, supports Pentium II/IIIs, Celerons, PC-133 VCRAM/SDRAM, three dual inline memory modules (DIMMs) and up to 1.5Gb main memory. It also supports Ultra ATA 66 IDE, five OpenHCI USB ports, ultra-AGPTM architecture, and digital flat panel interfaces for TV-out, LCD-out and dual view. At the same time it announced its K6-III single chip 540, which has the same features as the 630. The 630 and 540 will work with SiS950, a super IO chip. The 630 costs $35/10K. ®
Mike Magee, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Hackers to wage war on Serbs

The CIA will wage a cyberwar on Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, using hackers for a sabotage campaign. US president Bill Clinton has ordered the clandestine plan, which includes hacking into Milosevic's foreign bank accounts. It is understood that the US will also try to grind down his public support this way. Clinton issued an intelligence "finding", authorising the CIA to find "ways to get at Milosevic". This would permit it to train ethnic Albanians from the troubled Kosovo province in the art of cutting phone lines, polluting petrol and stealing food, according to Newsweek. The plan could threaten internal relationships within NATO, as other allies had been kept in the dark. "If they pull it off, it will be great," said a government expert. "If they screw it up, they are going to be in a world of trouble." A US official denied plans for the secret war. ®
Linda Harrison, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel registers loop to prevent people going inside

Good old Intel is up to its old weaselly tricks again and is attempting to register the loop that encloses its Intel Inside legend. Our take on this is that it must be attempting to prevent people from sticking stuff inside the loop such as Intel Outside, Ugeek Inside, Chipzilla Inside or whatever. This is an interesting trademark application. Can Intel really trademark a squiggle? This is our own trademark which we have registered in Intel Pantone Blue. ®
Mike Magee, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

DRAM famine due next year

Survey Expect DRAM to be in short supply in 18 months' time -- that's the warning market researcher Dataquest sounded yesterday. It's an interesting conclusion, not least because of the semiconductor industry is currently experiencing a DRAM surplus and prices are falling. Dataquest believes that increased demand for PCs, consumer electronics kit and communications devices, which together account for two-thirds of the semiconductor market, will boost demand for memory, in turn limiting supply and pushing up prices. Driving the demand for systems will be "the digital home, the global communications explosion, personal mobility, e-commerce and the need for more bandwidth", said the company. It predicts the industry will experience double-figure growth this year (12.6 per cent), next year (17 per cent) and during 2001 (21.6 per cent), after which the oversupply cycle will kick in again, and growth will plummet to a mere 5.9 per cent. By 2003, the global semiconductor market will be worth $244 billion, up from $153 billion this year. ®
Tony Smith, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Azlan bounces back into the black

Troubled networking distributor Azlan has clawed its way back from the brink, posting a pre-tax profit of £5.5 million for the year ended 31 March 1999. This compared to the company's loss of £6.8 million for the same period last year. The 1999 figures were before exceptional costs of £1.6 million. Sales were up 17 per cent to £343 million, with the second half accounting for 25 per cent growth. Azlan product business turnover was up 20 per cent to £293 million. Training increased by only eight per cent to £40.8 million. Services grew from £200,000 to £1 million. Azlan chairman Barrie Morgans said the company had made it a priority to improve product sales. "We have achieved this and are now the major network vendors' preferred value added distributor in Europe," he said. Operating cashflow was £6.3 million positive, from last year’s £10.6 million negative. A new three-year £30 million syndicated bank facility was in place. Second half sales were particularly strong, and this had continued into the early months of this year, said Morgans. "Our balance sheet strength, together with our new funding facility, provide capacity for continued investment and enables us to pursue selective acquisition opportunities should they become available." Last January, Azlan was given the all clear by the Serious Fraud Office after an investigation into allegations of financial impropriety. ®
Linda Harrison, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Samsung wins huge Amstrad BskyB deal

Amstrad is to buy $170 million worth of digital satellite receivers from Samsung Electromechanics. The receivers, which will be shipped to Amstrad by June next year, will receive BSkyB broadcasts. According to reports, the latest deal is a follow-up to an earlier $43 million deal. ®
Mike Magee, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Microsoft UK boss bashes wired Britain

The boss of Microsoft UK has delivered a scathing attack on the UK's attitude toward the Internet and ecommerce. In a keynote speech delivered on the opening day of Internet World 99 in London, David Svendsen pounded the government's record on its wired policies and thumped UK business for being complacent and unambitious. In a 35-minute mauling Svendsen said that when it came to ecommerce, the UK was "too cautious and procrastinated too much." Before he even started on his speech he had a go at the number of people in the conference hall. "This should be a highly attended event but I'm disappointed," he said. "I'm staggered. In other countries [the hall would be packed] and there'd be standing room only," he said to a room that was at best three-quarters full. In his outburst, Svendsen... · explained how the UK has been in relative economic decline for the last 100 years · hit out at the government's snail-like approach to the digital world · had a pop at small businesses for not embracing technology · instructed government to leave business alone and let it sort out how the Net should be run · criticised government's slow adoption of the Electronic Commerce Bill · whinged about not enough people being online in the UK · attacked the work government has done already saying that there is too much information around and it's too confusing · told people to use the National Grid for Learning -- not just read about it · denounced the government's plans to deliver all government services electronically by 2008 as being three years too late · jumped on local government for being even slower than central government for adopting digital solutions · outed politicians for not leading by example and not using the Net themselves · lampooned the government for having no obvious champion in the Cabinet for a digital Britain. And in a Millennium bug-type threat he warned delegates that unless something was done now Britain would become an also ran in the emerging digital economy. "Time is running out," he said. "And it may already be too late." ®
Tim Richardson, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

UK government threatens own Y2K push

Exclusive Computer contractors in the UK are up in arms following changes UK chancellor Gordon Brown made to counter tax avoidance in the spring budget. According to one contractor who consulted his accountant about the changes: "This is going to decimate the UK IT industry." He said: "Myself and 32 per cent of contractors surveyed would move our work abroad -- courtesy of the tax legislation that is being sneaked in the backdoor." Figures published by Action 2000 recently show that there are many sectors in the UK where work has only begun on Year 2000 compliance. A group of contractors and consultants have set up a forum on Engineerjob in an attempt to counter the changes. ®
Mike Magee, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

From window locks to Net music star

A down at heel maker of window locks has become an Internet star performer overnight. Yesterday, shares in Midlands-based Arthur Shaw jumped 113 per cent, when it was revealed that music publishing magnate Bryan Morrison was to reverse a new Internet business into the company. But before you get too excited, Arthur Shaw shares are not exactly liquid. And that 113 per cent jump translates into 4p per share, up from 1.875p the previous day. Morrison is getting a stock market listing on the cheap, in a technique perfected by Luke Johnson, the thirty-something entrepreneur who reversed Pizza Express into sleepy computer dealer Star Computers a few years back. Morrison won't say exactly what he is up to -- but it appears that the business has something to do with music downloads, judging from comments reported in the Times. There is "significant potential for the delivery via Internet of many of the different facets that make up the world music business". According to The Times, Morrison is worth £30 million, and with a publishing roster that includes songs from Pink Floyd, Elton John and George Michael. Morrison will own 30 per cent of Arthur Shaw and takes a seat on the board, where he joins a founder of Capital Radio, chairman Alan Bartlett. Currently, Arthur Shaw is capitalised at £10.5 million. It can only be a matter of time before the sale or closure of the windows locks business and a change of company name. ®
Drew Cullen, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Oxymoron of the week: The Prison Portal

The Prison Service has set up a Web site, which goes by the incredibly dull name hmprisonservice.gov.uk. What a missed opportunity for the UK's first Prison Portal. Think of what it could have been called -– inclink.com; doingtime.com; porridge.co.uk; goingnowhere.com; The site is really rather good, with a bias towards caring sharing sentiments that goes well with an old lag like me. We learn that the Prison Service wants to treat prisoners humanely, and it wishes that fewer of them would commit suicide. It's even prepared to do something about this. And it aims to help prisoners lead a useful life after prison by equipping them with the skills to keep on the straight and narrow. The site also contains a dictionary of prison slang –- which will come in handy for television script writers everywhere. And there is a section delivering advice to lifers. Which begs the question: how many of the UK's 60,000 prisoners have access to the Internet? ®
Ronnie Kray, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

HP and Intel join hands

Intel and HP will reveal details of the IA64 instruction set tomorrow morning US time. Already accidentally(?) leaked briefly on the Web yesterday, the instruction set will run first on the Merced processor which is due for tape out this week for sampling later in the year. First shipments are due in mid 2000. Watch this space for details... ®
Pete Sherriff, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

UK Web population dominated by the middle classes

Rich people still dominate Net usage in the UK, prompting fears that the divide between the Internet haves and have-nots is widening. That's just one of the conclusions from a new batch of research due to be published tomorrow at Internet World 99 in London. According to Fletcher Research, the latest recruits to the Net are highly educated and well paid. The result is that there is a growing clique of middle class Net users in the UK -- ending speculation that Net may be finally becoming a mass-market media. It seems the efforts of tabloid newspapers, including The Sun, The Mirror and The Sport -- which have all launched subscription-free ISP services recently to appeal to their readerships -- have yet to make a substantial impact on the market. "We might have expected to see some shake up of the traditional, almost cliched perception of the UK Internet user as male, university educated, aged under 45 and affluent," said William Reeve at Fletcher. "While almost a quarter of all UK Internet users are now over 45 and almost four out of every ten Internet users are female, the entire UK Net population remains resolutely affluent," he said. "Over 80 per cent of users are from the ABC1 socio-economic bracket. The Internet is still not a mass-market phenomenon," he said. Fletcher will also announce that there are now more than ten million Net users in the UK -- an increase of three million in just five months. Part of this increase is down to the explosion in subscription-free ISPs such as Dixons Freeserve, Tesco and Currant Bun which have helped boost Net numbers in the UK to new record levels. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Blacksmith's daughter forges Register expenses

Channel reporter Linda Harrison is the daughter of a blacksmith. Here she is caught forging links with new and unnamed friends in Slough when she should be writing one of her snappy little stories... ®
Team Register, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Stars Wars comes to Internet World

Ciscom Ltd is in deep doo-doo after its marketing stunt to lure Netties onto its stand backfired today at Internet World 99. Instead of making people curious to visit the stand, the sight of Darth Vader and his two intergalactic storm troopers armed to the teeth only served to terrify people witless. Visitors could have been forgiven for thinking that they had walked onto the flight deck of the Death Star rather than an exhibition hall at Earl's Court in West London. "It looks like they're guarding the stand," said one timid Net user. "People are just too scared to even get close," observed another desperate to feel the force. While other companies were overrun with Netties eager to find out the latest, Ciscom was deserted. But if that wasn't enough, Middlesex-based Ciscom -- Cisco Systems' newest 'Gold Partner' placed an ad in the exhibition guide that will have progressive thinkers up in arms. A young woman in a suggestive pose and only wearing a bikini top poses the question: "Need support?" The answer is emblazoned on her stretched-top. "CIS", on one large silicon-enhanced boob, and "COM" on the other. No doubt if she was on the Ciscom stand she'd probably say: "Is that a light sabre in your pocket or are you just pleased to me..." Shocking. Absolutely shocking. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Macromedia to free Flash

Web graphics specialist Macromedia is to freely licence its Flash Player's source code, but it's not yet clear whether the move will embrace the open sourcer movement. Macromedia bought Flash technology a few years ago and has been promoting it as a de facto standard for animated vector graphics on the Web ever since, with some success. However, Macromedia's chief competitor, Adobe, has been working its own Web vector graphics format, Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), and by working with the W3C, IBM, Sun and Microsoft, has ensured that SVG is likely to become the official standard for XML vector graphics. And being XML-based, SVG graphics can be code straight onto the page -- you don't need to download binaries as you do with Flash. As Web sites move from HTML to XML, that's going to favour SVG over Flash, unless Macromedia can widen its usage, and that's what the free licensing is all about -- and, indeed, its attempts to persuade us that every Web user and their dog has downloaded Flash Player. The company's plan appears to follow Sun's approach with Java. Anyone who wants to support Flash in their software or hardware will be granted free access to the source code. To what extent the licence terms will permit developers to modify the code and post their own Flash Players, as they would under a true open source licensing programme, remains to be seen. The terms will be released when Macromedia ships the Flash SDK "later this year" -- probably in the summer, when the next version is due. ®
Tony Smith, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel's NewsPad from Acorn… the saga continues…

The plot is thickening nicely on Intel's so-called non-product the WebPad. Apart from the fact that bitter rival Cyrix-NatSemi already has a reference design for something called the WebPad, it could be that Intel Architecture Labs is even less innovative than we thought. According to several emails received by The Register since yesterday's stories, the Intel description is similar to an Acorn reference design called the NewsPad, several years ago. It was based on ARM technology. It arrived along with another interesting design called the Acorn stork. A kind reader sent us a URL with information about the Acorn NewsPad. It is here. An unnamed Korean company also had a similar design based on an ARM chip. It had a built in screen, used GPS and had voice recognition technology. Shouldn't Intel stop talking Web Pad anyway? Cyrix might want to investigate possible trademark infringement. It always did win its court cases against Intel in the past. A representative from Cyrix-NatSemi confirmed that WebPad is one of its trademarks... Intel ready to roll with StrongARM Web Pad "idea" has references to the other stories we've written on this vexed subject. ®
Mike Magee, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

It's time to get on down and dig the groovy Internet, hep cats

Internet World '99 is awash with corporate suits who believe if you say "Net" and "ecommerce" a lot then you're one of the wired elite. For many of the grey-haired middle-aged men here today, having anything to do with the Net industry is like drinking from the fountain of eternal youth. Just by being here they're hoping that some of their vitality will invigorate them. Wrong. The Net may be a new, youthful, vibrant and exciting business but you wouldn't necessarily guess that from attending Internet World '99. The suits outnumber everyone else by a long chalk and whatever anyone may tell you, wearing a Homer Simpson tie is no indication that you're really young at heart. Sightings of real Net pioneers are few and far between. More than 12,000 people are expected to traipse all the way to Earl's Court this week to check out the show. In the US earlier this year the same show attracted more than 40,000 people. Andy Center, marketing director of Internet World, believes it shows that the Internet is moving away from a techy stronghold top a more mainstream medium. "People thought that ecommerce was a technical innovation with little or no impact on the business management side of an organisation," he said in official show guide. "At Internet World UK we are delighted to see more and more interest in our workshops and seminars from both IT and marketing people," he said. Right, as long as they have some poorly-paid IT graduate on hand to show them how to turn on their laptops that is. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

PIII is a Ferrari, says Intel

Using a PC torqued up with a Pentium III chip to access the Internet is like driving a Ferrari down a dirt track, according to Intel bigwig Dave Hazel. If only network companies could turn their dirt tracks into super fast freeways then the Intel Ferrari would really be able to open up and turn a few heads. Hazell was commenting on a new national survey by MORI which revealed that half of all Net users in the UK were frustrated by the world wide wait. One in three wished they had a more powerful PC to make the most of the Net -- especially when viewing video and images. What a coincidence. That's exactly what Intel would like to see happen, we gather. "The survey shows that Intel is on the right track [geddit] in identifying download speed as one of the main concerns for Internet users," said Hazell. "If you imagine that Intel's newest processor the Pentium III is a Ferrari, the bandwidth available to Internet users is the equivalent of driving that Ferrari down a dirt track," said the IT industry's answer to Jeremy Clarkson. Thing is, if you know you're going to be driving down a dirt track, why take a Ferrari out? Surely, you need a 4x4 off-roader, a Land Rover or even a tractor -- especially if it all gets a bit boggy. And let's face it, when it comes to the Wibbly Wobbly Web, things always get a bit boggy eventually. Who in their right mind would want a Ferrari in those conditions? Still, no doubt those stallions at Ferrari have already dismissed a reciprocal analogy to market their motors. You can just hear them: "If you imagine that a Ferrari is a PIII chip..." Hmm, maybe not. Bet their lawyers are more interested though. ® Register Newsoid: All of The Register's computers will now display stickers that read: "My other processor is a PowerPC."
Tim Richardson, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Do proxy servers disguise huge amounts of users?

Seattle II mobo up for grabs We will give a prize of a brand new Intel Seattle II motherboard to the best answer of the following question: Do proxy servers disguise users hiding behind them? As runner-up prizes, we will give 25 Register badges -- prized items for the cognoscenti -- to the best runners-up. Here are the groundrules. We know exactly which IP numbers visit our site on a day-to-day basis, and we also know that for some strange reason, Intel, AMD, ST Microelectronics and NatSemi proxies dig in deep. Is it possible for an independent auditor to come up with these figures? The email address is Mike Magee ®
Mike Magee, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Ballmer says Win2K will be later

Wrapping up a Q&A session with journalists in London earlier today Microsoft president Steve Ballmer happily announced that Windows 2000 would be available later. Later than what? Later than expected? Later than before? Later than Christmas? You decide. His precise words were: "... and Windows 2000 will be available [long pause for audience to shout guesses, but no takers] later." Gags can seriously impact your share price, you know Steve. ®
John Lettice, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Huge tariffs levied on Taiwanese DRAM firms

As revealed here yesterday, the US Commerce Department ruling found dumping margins from 4.9 per cent to 30.89 per cent on DRAM chips. Mosel-Vitelic was initially assigned the highest margin at 30.89 per cent. Those assigned on Vanguard International Semiconductor and Nanya Technology were lower than what Micron alleged at 10.36 per cent and 9.03 per cent respectively. The department also put margins of 4.96 per cent on Etron Technology and 16.65 per cent on all other Taiwan suppliers involved in the investigation. The anti-dumping complaint was originally brought by Micron Technology, which said the ruling was a major step toward protecting US industry from bargain basement semiconductors from Taiwan. It claimed Taiwanese companies had not played fair in the past three years. ®
Linda Harrison, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Barnesandnoble.com IPO to raise $422m

US bookstore chain Barnes & Noble's online offshoot, Barnesandnoble.com, has finally made its official IPO announcement. The company, a joint venture between B&N and Germany's Bertelsmann, was always intended to go public at some stage, but today it revealed details of its Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The offer of 25 million shares at $18 each will raise around $421.6 million after commission and expenses, the company said. That, it claims, is the largest e-commerce IPO to date. It will trade on Nasdaq under the 'BNBN' handle. The move is, of course, designed not only to generate funds immediately, but help the company appear as vigorous as its arch-rival, Amazon.com -- the number one Net book seller to barnesandnoble.com's number two. It also allows the company's major shareholders to cash in on the current trend for inflated Internet stocks. That's largely why barnesandnoble.com was spun off from B&N in the first place, to stop the fledgling Net business' shares from being dragged down by the stodgier stock of its parent. ®
Tony Smith, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

The Pentium III 550MHz is an emergency

The 550MHz PIII is a stopgap processor which only exists because Rambus has yet to deliver. Intel's Plan A was for a 533MHz part using the i820 Camino chipset at 133MHz FSB, but that ain't happening as planned, hence the hot (literally) 550MHz/100MHz FSB part hurridly rushed to market to maintain the speed bump lead over AMD. As for the 'Internet dream machine' hype, well, it just won't wash. To claim that a processor is designed for the Internet is more Marchitecture(tm) than architecture. The Katmai new instructions are now somewhat unconvincingly dubbed 'Internet Streaming SIMD Instructions'. While the ability to handle NURBs can conceivably be classed as a move in the right direction as far as download speeds are concerned, it does require optimised web sites that actually have NURB content. Most don't. Moving to ISDN connect will give a far more meaningful improvement in the Internet experience than will the use of Screaming Cindy's extensions. Intel may well stand on its hind legs and bleat that any company not currently on the Internet will be out of business in the next couple of years. Well, you name me ONE company of any size that doesn't currently have some kinda Web presence and I'll buy the beers. Companies that use the Internet as a USP are as tragically misguided as those who were droning on about being solution providers a few scant months ago. Marketing an emergency stop-gap processor with a core design stretching back 10 years as a Ferrari is as ludicrous as trying to sell a VW Polo as, well, a Ferrari. ®
Pete Sherriff, 25 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Marchitecture(n)

Marchitecture(n). The use of marketing hype to position a stopgap product as a cure for cancer, the answer to life, the universe and everything, or to excuse a company's inability to deliver a genuinely innovative product on time. Cf, the Pentium III 550 processor; any car built by the Rover Group; the iMac.
Samuel Johnson, 25 May 1999
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MS mounts major bid for soul of knowledge worker

Just a matter of days after Bill Gates unveiled his visions of "knowledge workers without limits" and digital dashboards, Microsoft was announcing "specific plans" for achieving them on two separate continents. And listen up, people, because these specific plans contain a deal of information as to how Microsoft plans to integrate it all together. Bob Muglia seems to have been handling the announcement at TechEd in Dallas, while in London we drew Steve Ballmer. Ballmer is allegedly more important, but we have here a form that the Microsofties handed to us and asked us to send back. It seems to want us to mark his presentation from excellent to poor in four categories, so presumably Microsoft's number two is up for some kind of performance review. But more of the form later. The big Microsoft announcement allegedly covers "four new initiatives," but in reality there are only two big ones, plus a sketchy commitment to future wireless and pocket devices and "Computers that speak our language." This one turns out to be a commitment to continued research into handwriting and speech recognition, plus the statutory reference to ClearType as a major MS R&D breakthrough. See here for why it isn't really. The continental split of responsibilities seemed to be that Ballmer and Muglia each majored on one of the other two. Ballmer led in from digital dashboards, while Muglia covered the database end, Web Store. But they're related. Digital dashboard as presented by his Billness sounded pretty much of a crock, but the way Ballmer presented it was rather better, the general idea being that users didn't want to be bothered by different data types but wanted to be able to deal with them transparently, and that they should have the ability to organise their own views on information as they needed them. Tools to allow them to start on this will come with Office 2000, but the more interesting point that Ballmer made was that they could actually get at this data via what you might think of as a future email program. What you might think of as a future version of Outlook, matter of fact. That makes sense if the commitments on wireless and pocket devices are going to be met, because obviously you can't be a knowledge worker without limits if you can't get at all your data from a mobile phone. And it's worth tossing in at this juncture that Ballmer claims that Microsoft's Hotmail is the world's biggest email hosting system. They're thinking small clients linked to the big outside at last, so the more conventional Exchange announcements Microsoft is making needn't be the whole story by any means. The pitch is possibly a bit contradictory at this point. As part of the digital dashboard initiative Microsoft says it will be producing a new set of technologies based on Platinum, the new version of Exchange Server intended to ship 90 days after Windows 2000. That will allow delivery of "relevant, targeted and categorised information to knowledge workers... through an internet portal." The release seems to imply it will only do this for knowledge workers "codenamed Tahoe," but we'll let that pass - Tahoe is actually a set of library and search technologies, and the US release got it right. From the above the system would seem bound into Exchange Server, and that is indeed the script Microsoft has been following for cellular data systems. But if we switch over to Web Store, we get a slightly different picture - possibly. Web Store is to be based on Platinum technology, and will handle unstructured data rather than structured. Microsoft envisages businesses continuing with both types, of course. Now, this data, says Microsoft, can be accessed via "applications such as a browser or email client, MS Office, or a custom application that supports industry standards such as HTTP, OLEDB, MAPI or... SMB." The point here of course is that Web Store is a kind of successor to Exchange Server turning into a kind of database, so the Microsoft contribution is still large. But the hint that it mightn't inevitably require Microsoft clients is intriguing.
John Lettice, 25 May 1999