1st > June > 1999 Archive

MS finalises Nextel stake

Microsoft announced on Friday that it had completed its $600 million investment in Nextel [see 11 May story] by acquiring a 4.25 per cent stake of 16.67 million shares for £36 each - a loss so far of $23 million as the share fell on the news. Nextel customers will be able to receive the latest incarnation of MSN using Motorola's i1000 phone, which should be a blessing for Motorola. Nextel needed some such deal as it was falling behind paging competitors like SkyTel and BellSouth Wireless Data. Microsoft, which is none too keen for its own partners to work with competitors, also owns some 5.67 per cent of SkyTel, following share cumulation over the past four years. But that's not all: Microsoft is also an investor in Wireless Knowledge, with Qualcomm, to develop a CE-based cellular service. It's strange to see Microsoft creating such competition in a generally loss-making market, but it does show just how keen Microsoft is to make its mark in wireless communication. It needs another source of income like the DOS/Windows tax, and it looks like it plans to get this from an ever-increasing share in access services. Further complication to the scene comes from Craig McCaw, who is a major NexTel shareholder but also a major shareholder (with Gates, personally) in Teledesic, the satellite venture scheduled to go live in 2002, providing enough satellites can remain operational. It seems likely that Gates' plan is to get the wireless network going as an interim measure, and back up Teledesic with wireless, in case the satellite failure rate is too high for continuous service. One advantage of such a network is that it could give higher level of security that the present Internet, although the US National Security Agency's ability to listen to satellite and wireless traffic is another matter. ®
Graham Lea, 01 Jun 1999

Official: Linux is Art

Linux has won an award - for electronic art. The operating system came top in the .net category of the Prix Ars Electronica, an annual electronic arts competition run by the Austrian Broadcasting Company. The choice of Linux here, according to the jury, was intended to demonstrate that the prize wasn't, as you might have expected, about finding the world's grooviest home page. "It is also intended to spark a discussion about whether source code can be an artwork." This will be good news for overweight, dysfunctional geeks in beanies. Source code can be art, so when you look in the mirror (you own a mirror, don't you?) just remember you're fashionable. But having art juries assessing the artistic merits of code could be ominous news for some companies. Microsoft, for example, may have to give up on its half-hearted attempts to partially open source its code, given that people might then start judging it, and concluding that it's complete Jackson Pollocks. ®
John Lettice, 01 Jun 1999

Intel plans ‘Timna’ PII-on-chip

Intel is planning a PC-on-a-chip processor, codenamed Timna, for rollout next year, according to a report in EE Times. And from its specification the chip looks like it will be coming out of Intel's embedded stable - this puts a certain amount of spin onto Intel's recent Applied Computing Platform announcement (See story). Timna will be built in 0.18 micron, based on a Pentium II-class CPU with 128k L2 cache, graphics controller and integrated Direct Rambus memory controller. EE Times gets particularly exercised about the expense of integrating the latter, but while this might mean it's a mistake to do this at this juncture, the general Intel plan to build its own components into single chip solutions is obvious. Note that the companies involved in Intel's Applied Computing Platform Provider programme are designing in fields where system-on-chip technology would be appropriate, and that they're already committed to using Intel components and advancing Intel standards. So they're going to be pretty close to the Timna development programme, and they're obviously going to be early adopters of Timna. Timna could be seen as another one of those Intel pre-emptive strikes, given that NatSemi ought to be rolling with products in the area any time now, but the choice of Rambus does suggest that Intel is in no great hurry. That technology isn't likely to be cheap enough to destabilise NatSemi in the short term. Alternatively, Intel may reckon NatSemi's problems are such that it won't be a serious challenger for a while. ®
John Lettice, 01 Jun 1999

MS unique IDs to reappear in Win2k

The addendum to the Intel-Microsoft PC99 specification, PC99a, finally shipped a few days ago. It was originally due in April, in time for Microsoft's WinHEC, but shenanigans over operating system roadmapping seems to have torpedoed that. PC99a is now therefore out in time to furrow brows at Computex Taipei instead. The specification is intended, as with all PC9x specs, to provide manufacturers with design guidelines for the next generation of machines. On a preliminary reading there doesn't seem to be that much to furrow brows, but a "clarification" on unique system ID numbers is intriguing. "The initial use of the unique system ID will be for creating a Machine Account Object for the Windows 2000 Remote Installation Services." (our italics) System ID numbering by both Microsoft and Intel has of course come in for a lot of flak of late, but it's something that's been in PC99 for over a year, and the clarification shows that Wintel (or possibly just Microsoft here, because it's Win2k-specific) isn't backing off. The original reference to ID numbering dealt largely with providing the user with a printed record of the machine ID, which looks suspiciously like butt-covering to us. Clearly, Microsoft still wants to know who you are, where you live, what you buy, and Win2k is going to be the tool to achieve this. We look forward to seeing the shipping Win2k registration procedure. Something else worth noting about PC99a is what's not there. One of the things it was originally intended to cover was Windows 2000, but in reality most of the Windows 2000-specific references are simply replacements for NT 5 (the old product name) ones. For most of the PC99a planning process Microsoft was intending to pitch Win2k as the sole, unifying Microsoft OS platform, so a lot of consumer-related stuff was supposed to have gone in. The cancellation of that plan, and the reviving of the Win9x line earlier this year, meant less amendment was required. The stuff that would have gone in may eventually turn up in the Easy PC specification, announced at WinHEC by Intel and Microsoft, but then again it may not. The PC9x roadmap rolls on into PC 2000, so Easy PC looks like it might turn out to be a damp squib. Neither party seems to have bothered to follow-through on the initial announcement with some hard information, certainly. ®
John Lettice, 01 Jun 1999

Intel PC-on-a-chip details emerge

Details of Intel's upcoming PC-on-a-chip product, now codenamed Timna, are at last beginning to appear. The 0.18 micron part will contain a Pentium II-class processor core, 128K of L2 cache, North Bridge, I/O "hub" and a Direct Rambus memory controller, it has emerged. These features come in addition to the Savage4-based graphics controller, developed for the Intel part by Savage 4 creator -- and Chipzilla's favourite 3D graphics company -- S3. Intel's PC-on-a-chip project was first mooted back in November 1998 by senior VP Paul Otellini and reported by The Register here. He said Chipzilla was developing such a product, due to ship in 2000, to win back ground lost to the likes of Cyrix, IDT/Centaur and AMD. IDT/Centaur and Cyrix have never really featured on Intel's radar screen -- doubly so given Cyrix's post-NatSemi future, if it has one -- but AMD is another matter. For most of this year, AMD's K6-2 has been massively outselling Intel's Celeron in the sub-$1000 PC category, which is also the fastest growing sector of the PC market. Intel undoubtedly hopes Timna will appeal to the emerging market for Internet access devices, where upgradability and raw performance aren't the issue they are in the PC market, yet are sufficiently PC-like for x86 compatibility and the Intel brand name to carry weight. Many analysts believe that most consumer PCs are now being bought more for Internet access than traditional personal productivity use (see Consumer PC spending hits peak), and bringing the price of such systems down through the use of integrated components like PC-on-a-chip parts could be the key to expanding that market. Of course, that assumes Intel can get the price way down. Timna is likely to be a large chip, even at 0.18 microns, which will hit yields and thus margins. Still, Intel's not beyond taking a greater financial hit to promote its products, so it may well be able to price Timna attractively. ®
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 1999

Iridium granted 30-day reprieve

Iridium's bankers last week came to the troubled satellite-based mobile phone service's rescue -- well, sort of. The good news for Iridium was an extension to the last deadline its lenders imposed on it to either hit customer and revenue projections or pay back its massive debt. The bad news is that it only has a month to do so. Iridium's arguments for a further delay -- its debt repayment deadline has already been put back, from the end of March to 31 May -- will have centred on the establishment of its new management team, primarily interim CEO John Richardson and CFO Leo Mondale; its decision to take its sales and marketing teams, dubbed by the company as "weak", to task; and to just give it time to see if can persuade its backers to support its proposed finanicial restructure. Speaking last week, before the banks' decision was announced, Mondale said the ailing company's options were essentially to restructure or file for bankruptcy. Motorola, for one, will be keen to pursue Iridium's latest plan. Not only does it own 18 per cent of the company, but it has guaranteed most of the satellite service's debt. However, the deal with Iridium's bank is not exclusively financial. It also needs show it has at least 27,000 subscribers by the 30 June deadline. It managed to notch up a little over 10,000 by the end of March. More than doubling that figure in one quarter alone would be hard enough for any company, let alone one as unhealthy as Iridium. On the financial side, Iridium's books must show a $4 million cash reserve and $30 million of cumulative accrued revenues. Its Q1 revenue was just $1.45 million. ® See also Missing Iridium 'suit' located
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 1999

Borders to offer book printing on demand

US bookstore chain Borders -- owner of UK chain Books Etc. -- is set to bring printing on-demand to its shops, thanks to an agreement to be signed today with Atlanta-based Sprout. The deal, which will see Borders take a minority stake in Sprout, will provide the bookseller will the technology it needs to print high quality paperback copies of out-of-print or limited-distribution booksm, according to today's Wall Street Journal. The company will initially offer the service through its main distribution centre, but the technology could be quickly rolled out to its stores as the company fights to compete with online stores like Amazon.com, whose stock-lists are so much longer. ®
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 1999

UK plc – your number's up

Firms have been warned to take immediate action over today's phone code changes in the UK. Business will be lost in the country's biggest phone number shake-up to date, unless companies act now, said London Chamber of Commerce CEO Simon Sperryn. He stressed it was "crucial" that firms take "urgent action" to make technical checks on their systems. This is the third major change to the telephone system in less than a decade. It follows the omen by telecoms watchdog Oftel that London would run out of phone numbers by next summer if the changes did not go ahead. From today, numbers for inner and outer London, Portsmouth, Southampton, Cardiff, Coventry and Northern Ireland will start with 02. Current numbers will run until autumn 2000. But problems could start today, according to the Financial Times. Some computerised systems may get confused between the new codes and premium-line numbers, which are often banned by firms. "The disruption could start straight away," warned Howard Sando, campaign manager for the National Code and Number Change Campaign. "Businesses need to get their equipment audited to make sure it is big-number friendly." The Federation of Small Businesses yesterday estimated the switch would cost small companies up to £2,000 each to change stationary and signs. In March, only around half of all UK companies and organisations were aware that numbers were changing. ®
Linda Harrison, 01 Jun 1999

Businesses can source HP direct

Hewlett-Packard will start selling PCs direct to business customers in the US today. The US vendor will sell directly through its Web site to corporate customers and the SMB market. Servers, desktops, notebooks and handhelds will all be sold direct. It has been shifting consumer PCs and computer products over the Internet in the US for around 16 months. Today's move will put it in competition with the likes of Dell and Compaq, in an area where HP has traditionally leant on its resellers. An HP representative told The Register there were no plans at present to sell direct to corporates in the UK. However, there will be a pilot site selling direct to the consumer market in Europe launched at the end of this month. Regarding the Web site for US customers, he said: "This is what the market is asking for. HP customers see what Dell has done, and are demanding it from us." HP will not cut its dealers out of the equation completely, but will let them compete for HP's business. Customers can order directly from the HP Web site or follow a link to a list of recommended local dealers. For larger volume orders, HP will work behind the scenes with systems integrators. This is similar to its approach to selling direct to consumers, where its direct online sales compete with retailers. HP said it was forced to offer the service in light of Dell's success with its Gigabuys Web site. It wanted to catch those SMBs that would otherwise use direct vendor Dell. ®
Linda Harrison, 01 Jun 1999

Profit warning from Northamber

Northamber issued a profits warning today, blaming falling prices and over-supply in the distribution sector. The Chessington-based distributor said it expected financial results for the year ending 30 June to be "significantly below current market expectations." "The recent market trend of falling unit prices, driven by over-supply, has adversely impacted our overall trading performance. "This change has unfortunately affected us in what has traditionally been the most profitable period of our second half-year," said a company statement issued this morning. In December, Northamber turned in interim profits up 10.8 per cent to £4.72 million for the six months ended 31 December, while sales fell. Chairman David Phillips told The Register this was due to his company moving to a higher margin model. Northamber said the group remained profitable and it had been strengthening its position in the market. ®
Linda Harrison, 01 Jun 1999

Hackers threaten to crash US gov network

Aggrieved hackers have threatened to disable every US government Web server in retaliation for the FBI’s attempts to track them down. Two sites were broken into at the weekend – one a Federal supercomputer laboratory’s site and the other a site belonging to the Interior Department. A message was left on one home page declaring: "Now, it's our turn to hit them where it hurts by going after every computer on the Net with a .gov. We'll keep hitting them until they get down on their knees and beg." Hackers are claiming that their activities are an expression of freedom of speech on the Web and that they have become the victims of harassment. Last week, the FBI site was downed by hackers after nine people were arrested for alleged hacking-related offences. Despite the best effort of assorted spooks and government enforcers, the hacker community shows little sign of being intimidated by the FBI’s attempts to run them out of Cybersville. ®
Sean Fleming, 01 Jun 1999

K7's new clothes debut on Web

The Register's favourite Japanese hardware Web site, Happy Cat has posted some pics of the heavily-heatsinked Pentium-style container for AMD's upcoming K7. And the site has a snap of the Celeron 500. Some of the photography could be sharper, and we suspect the K7 container to hold little more than the daughtercard -- is that 'manufacturing sample' we can read on the top of the case (no, it says 'engineering sample, we're told), and where's the chip itself in the second shot? (answer: round the otherside, directly connected to the heat-sink -- but it gives you a feel for what to expect. The pics also show the container in and out of a host motherboard. You can see all the pics here. ®
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 1999

Iomega opens direct sales operation

Iomega today set up a direct sales arm, operated through its Web site, in a bid to generate more revenue from sales of its drives and media. Right now, the service is only available to US-based customers. Roll-out schedules for continental Europe and the UK were not yet available at the time of posting. The move follows CEO Jodie Glore's ongoing campaign to return the troubled storage specialist to consistent profitability -- he managed it in the last two quarters, but the cost of internal changes and redundancies may yet work against him Part of Glore's plan involved the merger of the company's separate professional and personal product divisions into a single unit sub-divided by product type. That made Iomega appear more like a one-stop storage shop, a structure that suits Web sales well. ® See also Iomega shuts plants, readies redundancies Iomega makes money again (ish) Iomega flogs off Ditto Iomega returns to profitability, begins reorganisation
Tony Smith, 01 Jun 1999

100 all out for Cable & Wireless

Cable & Wireless is to lay-off around 100 management-level employees in the UK. According to the London Evening Standard, the job losses will be focussed on the company’s central London headquarters, which currently houses some 740 staff. The report describes the move as “a major shake-up of its corporate operations” and says a further 500 staff will be relocated to Cable & Wireless Communications – the company’s cable TV business, based in Watford. ®
Team Register, 01 Jun 1999

Intel buys Dialogic

Hungry to grab as big a piece of the server market as it can, Intel has announced that it is to buy Dialogic for around $780 million. Dialogic specialises in telecomms networks and was part of the company’s to pledge allegiance to Intel’s Server Appliance Design Guide late last year.Intel has been making an increasing amount of noise about selling its own servers and the ability to network those servers wouldn’t go amiss. The deal will see Intel pay $44 for each Dialogic share. ®
Team Register, 01 Jun 1999

ilion loses UK Cisco franchise

Troubled networking distributor ilion has lost its Cisco franchise in the UK and suspended two staff who had been key members of the Cisco account team. According to sources, Ted Black and Andy Vine, managers on the Cisco account at ilion, were suspended last week. The Cisco franchise was regarded by many in the industry as ilion’s saving grace and the one thing that potential buyers would be most interested in picking up. With that gone the picture is now much changed for ilion. The suspensions of Black and Vine were followed by last Wednesday's announcement that "an irregular transaction in the UK business" had occurred. The networking distributor said it could cost the group around £500,000. ilion called in solicitors to start litigation against a third party -– which an ilion representative refused to name. Today ilion stated it would stop distributing Cisco products for the UK market from 30 June. But it will continue distribution in the rest of Europe. ilion’s share price fell 12.5 pence today, standing at 72.5 pence this afternoon. Last Tuesday, before any of these revelations, ilion’s share price was £1.02. ilion representatives were unable to comment on the suspensions or the details surrounding the loss of the Cisco franchise, but said the litigation process was continuing. ®
Linda Harrison, 01 Jun 1999

DoJ's ‘Punch’ beats MS' ‘Judy’

MS on TrialComputer scientist Professor Edward Felten from Princeton was recently deposed prior to his appearance as a rebuttal witness for the DoJ in the Microsoft trial. In many ways the Steve and Steve Show -- Steve Holtzman for the DoJ and Steve Holley of Sullivan & Cromwell for Microsoft -- was like a Punch and Judy show, and there was no doubt that Holtzman was Mr Punch, and Holley an unsuccessful Judy. Judy had a lot of supporters -- Microsoft in-house lawyer David Heiner as his minder, another S&C lawyer as his bagman, and David D'Souza of Microsoft as a make-weight. Mr Punch faced Judy alone. The transcript allows us to get some useful insight into the thrust of the DoJ case. It is clear that the DoJ has decided to keep the issues simple and at the same time to exploit weaknesses in Microsoft's case. Jim Allchin not only bungled very seriously his video evidence, but he also made several incorrect statements about the "integration" of Internet Explorer and Windows 98 in his effort at disparaging Felten's work on a prototype removal program to separate operating systems functions from IE browsing. Consequently most of the deposition was focussed on Holley trying to trip Felten into some responses to rescue the situation. In the event he failed, but the journey served to make naked (again) Microsoft's dirty tricks. Felten and his helpers (former students who set up a consultancy called Elysium Digital) had been allowed access to Windows and IE code by Judge Jackson, subject to a court agreement about confidentiality. This proved Microsoft's undoing, since it made it relatively easy to find out the tricks that Microsoft had used in its "integration" of IE and Windows. Part of Holley's brief was to find out if there were any further nasty surprises that might be sprung during Felten's rebuttal evidence in court. Microsoft had received at the beginning of May a revised version of Felten's prototype IE removal program, which is likely to expose further Microsoft's dirty tricks when Felten gives evidence again. There was considerable sniping between Punch and Judy, with Punch admonishing Judy about exceeding the scope of what was allowed under the terms of the court order for the deposition. For a long time, Judy had only one question for Felten, which he answered patiently, but not with the answer that Judy wanted. Judy wanted to know what files in Windows 98 made up IE. It was of course a trick question, because the dirty trick had been to give many files double or more functionality, so that to remove a file with some IE functionality would be to stop Windows. One of Felten's replies about this was: "There are two things about that question that I think are misformulated. Number one is the idea that files are somehow indivisible units of software, because they're not. There are plenty of smaller units inside files, and smaller units inside those smaller units. Also, as I said, if you talk about what is the Internet Explorer product, it's defined in terms of what it lets the user do." Felten also repeated many times that "the question that I'm considering here is whether it's possible for Microsoft to remove the Internet Explorer browser product from Windows". Judy made no progress at all, and had there been an audience for this rehearsal, it would have withered away because of her constant repetition. A variant of Judy's questions was to enquire whether Felten had made IE bigger. Felten said: "I don't think it's important how big it is. The question... it was designed to ask... was can Microsoft remove the Internet Explorer browser product from Windows. And it answers that question in the affirmative." But not only that, there were many ways to remove IE functionality: "I'm sure Microsoft can find some that are more efficient." The removal program was "proof of concept" to show that Microsoft can remove the IE browser product. Judy became cross when Mr Punch produced his stick when Judy kept asking the same question: PUNCH: Okay. Objection at this point, and I will instruct the witness not to answer. I mean, this is repetitive. And I think you have gotten an answer in this deposition as well as having asked it numerous times before. JUDY: You know my attitude toward this. You refuse to answer this question, and sooner or later someone will take you to account for it. MR PUNCH (sternly): We shall see. JUDY (bravely): We shall see, yes, indeed. It was only when Felten offered to go through his removal program line-by-line that Judy was forced to move along. Judy had evidently read a bluffer's guide to Visual Basic programming, but when he found it was written in grown-ups language, he quaked. Judy tried to undermine Felten's credibility, but in doing so he inadvertently became the one who's competence was suspect. When Judy said Allchin "described a situation -- I don't remember what it was exactly" it was clear that Judy had forgotten her lines, and did not understand what a shell was when Felten was falsely accused of building a custom shell for IE with his program. In another exchange between Punch and Judy: JUDY: So MSHTML.DLL is or is not part of what you call the Internet Explorer browser? PUNCH: Objection on two grounds. One, vague as to "part of". And secondly, it is, again, beyond the allowable scope of this deposition. This has been testified about at length before. And on that ground I will instruct the witness not to answer. JUDY (cheekily): "Part of" is not English? Gee. I thought it was pretty common. Can you answer the question, Professor Felten? PUNCH: No, I've instructed him not to answer. JUDY: Oh, you're instructing him not to answer? Okay. Is the file SHDOCVW.DLL part of what you call the Internet Explorer browser? PUNCH: Same instruction. JUDY: Well, you'll have to answer it soon enough. PUNCH: I think he already has, I'll say for the record. JUDY (cheekily): Maybe to your satisfaction. PUNCH (after Alice): There's a difference between answering it and answering it the way you would like. Judy tackled Felten about the errors in Microsoft's trial testimony, and he replied: "There are many of them, and so what I can do is give you a partial list sort of by category. And since Mr. Allchin testified the most about this topic, I'll talk about what he said specifically. There are some errors in which he describes certain behaviour as erroneous or wrong or buggy behaviour of the removal program, when that behaviour is not in fact a bug. There are some cases in which he incorrectly describes what would happen on a machine in which the removal program had been run. There are claims that there are certain kinds of bugs when there's no apparent evidence to support that. Those are three categories that come to mind." Felten went on to detail some of Allchin's errors, such as claiming that Felten's program caused a memory leak. Allchin must have been winging it, and knowing that there are probably many problems in Windows with memory leaks, thought he could stick Felten with this. It is interesting to note that Microsoft has no technical rebuttal witness to respond, since it used this opportunity in a gamble to pick holes in the AOL-Netscape merger by calling a hostile AOL witness. Judge Jackson is therefore likely to be left with the impression that Allchin's evidence was unreliable, and that he deliberately mislead the court. It was unwise of Judy to bring up again the browsing capabilities of BeOS and Caldera OpenLinux, since both allow alternative browsers. It was also unwise for Judy to raise the dirty trick that Microsoft used to change the help system in Windows to be HTML and IE-specific. Another tack used by Judy was to bring up features it had added to IE5 that were not in Navigator, but it did not win any points because it was simply not relevant. Judy explored the consequences of removing IE, and fell into the trap that any user not wishing IE would not expect IE "features". Felten had shown in his program that it was possible for users to use the Windows update feature without IE, since the service is operated under contract to Microsoft from a non-Microsoft Web site. In one exchange, Judy introduced a dog, but it was a canard: JUDY: And you're going to testify under oath at this trial that the code that performs that functionality is gone from the operating system? PUNCH: Objection. JUDY (petulantly): No, that's a question, and I want an answer to it. PUNCH: Objection. Calls for speculation as to what he will testify about. JUDY: Nice try, Mr Punch. PUNCH (authoritatively): And in fact he has provided testimony on this very subject. And therefore I will instruct the witness not to answer. JUDY: Oh, boy. Oh, boy. You're going to follow that instruction? FELTEN: Of course. JUDY (sarcastically): Why have the dog and bark yourself, right? Perhaps the most wounding of Felten's replies was when he brought up again Microsoft's techno-sabotage of his program: "When I testified here in December I talked about a change that Microsoft had made to one of the ActiveX controls related to Windows Update and about how that had had the effect of making Windows Update no longer work in conjunction with the removal program. But before Microsoft made that change, this worked just fine. And Mr. Allchin says it did not. He's simply wrong." Another telling exchange may prove Microsoft's undoing: JUDY: Can you think of any other example of a situation in which a Microsoft witness said that it was not possible technically to break up DLLs? FELTEN: We have many Microsoft witnesses speaking as though files are indivisible units. That's been given as the premise of many questions asked by Microsoft counsel. As you know, I've told you many times that files are not indivisible units. JUDY (erroneously): That's -- you know, that's kind of an obvious point, right? FELTEN (magisterially): The point is to make this obvious point clear to the Court. A parody on Microsoft's penchant for incorporating everything in Windows was seen in a document written by Paul Mattal of Elysium. He put himself into Allchin's shoes and created an argument for incorporating Word (and by extension, Office) into Windows. It did not seem to have occurred to anybody that Microsoft is rather unlikely to do this in the near future, unless it finds the market becoming too competitive, since it has established that it can charge a monopoly price for Office separately. Felten wasn't word perfect (he didn't know that plug-and-pray was not in Windows 3.1) but his performance was solid for nearly five hours. He stuck to his simple thesis that IE should not be part of Windows 98, and emerged the victor. It now seems likely that the District Court will order that browser neutrality, or a choice as to whether there is a browser, will become one of the remedies, presumably with the onus being put on Microsoft to make this possible by a certain date. This should also require Microsoft making it possible for other browsers to use the Windows help system. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 01 Jun 1999

Mainland China to become component giant

Communist newspaper China Daily is reporting a number of breakthroughs in US companies warming to the cause of technology in mainland China, although other regional newspapers are reporting the spat over Yugoslavia may jeopardise that cause. According to China Daily, HP is one of many US companies to team with mainland China, with its government promoting Hewlett Packard products to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). The same newspaper reported that there are a number of initiatives to help mainland China develop PC components, although this is bound to antagonise neighbours Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Korea and Malaysia. A consortium of companies has formed round the Pearl River Delta and already produces colour monitors and floppy disks. However, its aim is to move into other components, including semiconductors over the next few years. Philips already has a plant in Suzhou. Exports of monitors from mainland China amounted to $1.74 billion worth this year, nearly 50 per cent up from 1997. Even production of domestic bananas rose, said the state-run newspaper. But antagonism to the US government’s commitment to bombing Yugoslavia is causing the happy cart to rock through the south east of Asia. That, more than anything else, may cause the US to look at its own interests rather than Europe’s. ®
Mike Magee, 01 Jun 1999

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