5th > July > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel turns Pentium III/600 price screw on AMD K7

c't magazine in Germany is reporting that Intel will ratchet its price screw on AMD when it releases its 600MHz Pentium III part later this month. Last week, we reported that Intel will also cut prices on its mainstream Pentium III/500 parts to compete aggressively with AMD's soon-to-be-released K7 Athlon chips. (Story: Intel to slash Pentium III 500MHz prices in reaction to AMD K7 wins) Intel had hoped to release its 600MHz Pentium III with 133MHz front side bus (FSB) in September, but problems with the i820 chipset caused that idea to burn to flames. Instead, a few weeks back, it announced it would have a .25 micron 600MHz part out in July. Intel was to have released the Pentium III/600 at $823/1000 (see desktop roadmap), but will now price it below or near AMD's $700/1000 for its Athlon K7/600 part. One source suggested $670/1000. The Intel desktop roadmap is now changed out of all recognition. A few hardware sites are reporting these prices for Intel parts: Around August 20, a 550MHz part will cost $480, a 533MHz Pentium III $370 and a 500MHz part $260. These are drastic reductions, compared to Intel's original roadmap. If the reports are true, which we believe they are, there will be a further cascading of prices throughout Intel's entire desktop range of microprocessors. So far, there are no hard and fast details of what exactly the prices will be. The moves show that Intel still feels it has sufficient profit and liquidity to put the pressure on AMD by selective price-slashing. And it will further put pressure on AMD by introducing a 500MHz Celeron two months earlier than expected, c't claims. The 500MHz Celeron was originally intended to sell for $187/1000 at release in September. These reports also suggest to The Register that Coppermine may not be quite as delayed as Intel itself has suggested... ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Loss hit AMD renegotiates loan terms

A year ago From The Register, July 1998 -- a year ago In the wake of stinging losses announced earlier this week AMD has renegotiated its credit deal with its banks. On Wednesday the company reported a net loss of $65 million, having been badly hit by R&D spend and poor demand for communications products. According to the company it has met the terms of its loans in previous quarters, and the renegotiation of terms is simply a precautionary measure. The new arrangements say that AMD can't let its ratio of cash to liabilities fall below .8 to 1 from Q3 1998 to Q3 99, and that this ratio be .9 to 1 from the end of 1999. Its minimum net worth can't fall below $1.9 billiom beyond the end of Q3, and it can't suffer net losses greater than $20 million for Q3 1998. If matters don't get better, it might be forced to cut marketing spend, but it will be nervous about reducing R&D. ®
Drew Cullen, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Europe hit by re-marked Intel chips

A report on NEWS.COM over the weekend suggests that the problem of re-marked CPUs in Europe this year was greater than earlier anticipated. Hong Kong local authorities seized more than £500,000 of re-marked Intel microprocessors last week. Crooks had re-marked more than 3,000 Pentium IIs to look like Pentium IIIs. The chips were intended for export to Europe. Pentium III CPUs from Intel have a unique identification number (personal serial number -- PSN) which identifies them as the real thing. And some Intel pages will not work unless the Pentium III identification number is switched on. Earlier this year, liberty groups were up-in-arms at the idea of the PSN, worried that individual users might be traced by the chip giant. But the number could be a protection against unscrupulous crooks re-marking Intel CPUs, it now emerges. ® RegisterFact015362583725395 Chipsets from the i810 (Whitney) onwards have a hardware random number generator as standard.
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel, Sun, HP to aid $1 billion investment in Hong Kong

The South China Morning Post is reporting that major IT firms are to help sponsor a $1 billion IT project in Hong Kong. The newspaper, which has a Web site here, says details of the venture will be announced later today. The project will supplement an early $13 billion HK project called Cyberport. According to the report, other, unnamed Taiwanese companies will also invest in Silicon Harbour. ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

CompaQ rejigs Europe

The triumvirate ruling Compaq Corporation made further decisions affecting Europe over the weekend, in the wake of the retirement of former general manager Andreas Barth. Barth was closely associated with ex-CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer and the triumvirate, headed by chairman Ben Rosen, has effectively mirrored the US reconstruction into three groups, previously reported here. Euro-executives, including Compaq UK and Ireland MD Joe McNally, will now report to VP Werner Koepf, while another VP, Gerard van de Aast will head up Compaq's European enterprise solutions and services group. Kasper Rorsted will be VP in charge of Europe's PC and e-commerce group. As revealed here Saturday, Compaq is continuing to push hard on the former Digital Unix and Alpha front and is concentrating on its NONSTOPCOMPUTING theme. As part of its Alpha roadmap, insiders tell us that sometime mid-next year, Compaq will introduce a 1.4GHz microprocessor, running on the EV68 bus and using copper technology. Compaq will sell more of its products over the Web and will rebate its former resellers with agents fees for passing on leads. ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel joins Japanese in appliance memory alliance

Intel and Hitachi have agreed to support a common industry specification for memory in consumer electronics devices. The pair join Mitsubishi and Sharp, the prime movers behind stacked chip scale packages (S-CSP), a format designed to produce small, dense storage modules for mobile phones, hand-helds and so on. Intel's support of a standard will be linked to the company's recent moves in the consumer, embedded and appliance markets; although the company's efforts so far have been embryonic, as sure as eggs is eggs it will be wanting to be well to the fore when the reference platforms start being built. Volume S-CSP devices have been shipping for over a year, and Sharp and Mitsubishi proposed a standard specification in September 1998. The initiative is also supported by Seiko Epson, Sanyo, Mitsui, Amkor Technology of the USA and Power Technology of Taiwan, but it now looks pretty much like an alliance between Intel and the Japanese giants, with Korea's Samsung and Japan's Sony as significant absentees. S-CSP stacks flash memory and LPSRAM die on top of one another, producing a package 8mm x11mm with a 0.8mm ball pitch. ®
John Lettice, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Dissent at MS over trial? Nope, PR spin…

MS on Trial A strange Dow Jones News story suggests that there is internal dissension at Microsoft over the antitrust case, although no relevant sources are named. At first it looks as though it's a mildly critical piece designed to assert independence. But closer examination suggests that Microsoft PR could be involved. There is a suggestion that Gates, Ballmer, Neukom and Herbold are the hard guys who "call the shots". That's pretty obvious, so no points for that. Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray had not met anyone in Microsoft "who believes that the government's accusations have any merit", so no credit for that either. It reports that "one senior Microsoft executive emerged from the witness stand badly shaken up - and resentful" of DoJ trial counsel David Boies' cross-examination, with adverse effects "on internal morale". Surely that should read "nine Microsoft witnesses were feeling resentful". The evidence of Gary Norris of IBM about Microsoft's bullying was also said to have upset many inside Microsoft who "had long viewed IBM as the bully". That suggestion must be credited to Microsoft PR. Then there's the claim that "the flow of email among concerned managers" has increased. That's hardly surprising, and should provide some interesting disclosures in future rounds of the case. There is an implication that "managers" in Microsoft's research and consumer products were "looking more intensely for a silver lining", but later the article notes that the possible spin off of the MSN business, and perhaps the whole consumer business, had been considered but rejected some months ago. The plus factors were thought at the time to be the possibility of attracting better MSN senior staff because a separate business could offer superior stock options than Microsoft. If there is any substance in the resurrection of the MSN spin-off story, we think it is more likely to be an attempt by some people in Microsoft consumer products to get better stock options for themselves, as well as a realisation that MSN will not be a great success in its latest incarnation. As for the reason for this strange story, it looks like a collaboration with Microsoft PR, and we await a follow-up along the lines that "morale has improved amongst senior Microsoft managers, who are solidly behind Microsoft's appeal, in view of the horrid things that Judge Jackson had to say about Microsoft's business ethics". ® Complete Register Trial coverage
Graham Lea, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

VNU buys CMP UK and France: nightmare scenario realised

There’s going to be an awful lot of computer journalists at CMP in London quaking in their boots today. For they are to be sold by new owner Miller Freeman to VNU. This was the nightmare scenario that CMP’s British hacks feared most. They breathed a collective sigh of relief a couple of months back when Miller Freeman outbid VNU (by $15 -$20 million ,we understand) to take control of the company. The price and terms for the CMP disposal are expected to be announced today. Being bought by VNU was the worst option for two reasons: first, half the staff at CMP, London used to work for VNU, and few of them would want to return, and second; many staff won’t have the option to work for VNU, even if they want to. For, there is huge overlap between CMP’s British titles and VNU. *CMP’s Network Week plays VNU’s Network News *CMP’s Information Week plays VNU’s Computing *CMP’s Computer Reseller News plays VNU’s PC Dealer. VNU titles are market leader in two areas, and is the strong number two in the corporate computing press behind Reed’s Computer Weekly. Reed tried and failed to buy CMP’s London interests. For what it’s worth, we guess Network Week will be closed down, except for the cult Bastard Operator From Hell column will transfer over to Network News. And we can’t see the point of Information Week UK. How much life is there left in this beast, post-VNU,is anyone's guess. We also reckon Computer Reseller News will merge into PC Dealer. In the UK, CRN has a stronger and more settled editorial team than PC Dealer, but its sales johnnies are not doing so well, as the VNU machine. Worldwide, CRN is a much stronger brand than PC Dealer. VNU must be tempted to adopt this brand , if it can secure European rights for the brand and sales- co-operation with CMP America. Which beggars the question: what’s happening to CRN in Germany? In the meantime, happy job-hunting to CRN hacks and sales johnnies, everywhere. ®
Team Register, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

VNU buys CMP UK and France: nightmare scenario realised

There’s going to be an awful lot of computer journalists at CMP in London quaking in their boots today. For they are to be sold by new owner Miller Freeman to VNU. This was the nightmare scenario that CMP’s British hacks feared most. They breathed a collective sigh of relief a couple of months back when Miller Freeman outbid VNU (by $15 -$20 million ,we understand) to take control of the company. The price and terms for the CMP disposal are expected to be announced today. Being bought by VNU was the worst option for two reasons: first, half the staff at CMP, London used to work for VNU, and few of them would want to return, and second; many staff won’t have the option to work for VNU, even if they want to. For, there is huge overlap between CMP’s British titles and VNU. *CMP’s Network Week plays VNU’s Network News *CMP’s Information Week plays VNU’s Computing *CMP’s Computer Reseller News plays VNU’s PC Dealer. VNU titles are market leader in two areas, and is the strong number two in the corporate computing press behind Reed’s Computer Weekly. Reed tried and failed to buy CMP’s London interests. For what it’s worth, we guess Network Week will be closed down, except for the cult Bastard Operator From Hell column will transfer over to Network News. And we can’t see the point of Information Week UK. How much life is there left in this beast, post-VNU,is anyone's guess. We also reckon Computer Reseller News will merge into PC Dealer. In the UK, CRN has a stronger and more settled editorial team than PC Dealer, but its sales johnnies are not doing so well, as the VNU machine. Worldwide, CRN is a much stronger brand than PC Dealer. VNU must be tempted to adopt this brand , if it can secure European rights for the brand and sales- co-operation with CMP America. Which beggars the question: what’s happening to CRN in Germany? In the meantime, happy job-hunting to CRN hacks and sales johnnies, everywhere. ®
Team Register, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel share price ramping up

If you look at Intel's share price over the last seven days it is a wonder to behold. But then, the reasons why shares go up and down is a mystery to mostly everyone on the planet. Last Monday, the INTC price started at just a shade above $50, and closed on Friday at $63.5, briefly touching $64. The USA is on holiday today, but the word is that it's set to go to $75 by the end of this week, despite apparently adverse news. AMD's share price, on the other hand, closed slightly down at $17.188, and wavered from that kind of position up-and-down, during the week. CompaQ also spent almost the whole of last week hovering around the $23 mark. We would say that meant AMD and CompaQ were undervalued. But what do we know? ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Y2K bug eats into VC deals

UK venture-capital firms are delaying business deals for fear of the Y2K bug, according to a BDO Stoy Hayward report. Venture-capital houses are postponing acquisitions and sales until next year due to concerns that companies are not ready for the millennium threat. Around 34 per cent of the 96 venture-capital firms questioned by accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward forecast fewer deals in the last three months of this year – and all because of the bug. Peter Hemington, head of mergers and acquisitions at BDO Stoy Hayward, said: "Owners of companies wishing to sell or seeking finance could find it difficult to get their deal away in the last quarter." He advised companies to act quickly to get a sale in late summer or early autumn to give buyers time to iron out possible glitches. Companies most likely to be affected by the bug were financial services, IT and distribution businesses, said Hemington. "A couple of houses have said off-the-record their investment committees are demanding good reasons not to delay acquisitions in affected sectors in the last quarter until after January," he added. The findings follow last week’s statement by Taskforce 2000, the government watchdog, that 300 of the UK’s biggest companies had not started to prepare for the bug. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq, IBM converge on anti-MS stand

Over the last year or so, we've noticed that every time we speak to our friends at IBM, they start talking about how Linux-friendly they are. That's won them a lot of friends in the open source community but the friendliness is likely to be prompted more by head than heart. That's according to Malcolm Macsween, who works for Red Hat partner Enterprise Management Consuling (EMC) UK. He said today that while IBM draws something like 15 per cent of its revenue from software and around 35 per cent from services, there's a lot of benefit in Big Blue taking Microsoft head on. That's what we hear from our insider at IBM too, who was suggesting to us at last week's Network Show in Birmingham that there are very strong business reasons for supporting Linux. Macsween said: "If you spend £10,000 on [Microsoft] software, that means you have less time and resources to spend on a project." He said that this goes some way to explain why large corporations are interested in companies, such as Compaq, IBM, HP and Sun, which have Unix backgrounds. Compaq is Linux-friendly too (see Secret CompaQ memo shows depth of Unix commitment). The memorandum from the office of the Compaq triumvirate to all of its staff last week also underlines a similar approach. While Compaq appears to have a dual Intel-Alpha strategy on selling servers to large corporations, in reality the situation is a little more complex than that. By proliferating Tru64 Unix in large corporations, and simultaneously selling Alpha servers for both Tru64 and Linux operating system platforms, Compaq hopes to make a large dent in its competitors' market share. Compaq is also, at the same time, managing to keep the Wintel axis happy by, on on the one hand supporting Win64 on the Alpha platform, and on the other still appearing to support Intel's IA-64, whether it successfully appears as Merced or McKinley. On the other hand, Compaq already has its own eight-way Alpha server technology, and one which Intel admitted earlier this year was a threat to its own technology. In such circumstances, it doesn't really matter what the OS is, as long as the high-end, the medium-end, and the low-end tin continues to sell, and sell well. ® See alsoIntel anxious about Compaq Alpha threat Intel's Otellini on Alpha
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Nescafe navigation – inside world's biggest cybercafe

Report Easyjet's Easy Everything cyber-Nescafe near London's Victoria is now fully open, with 380 terminals. This probably makes it the biggest in the world, although the next of four more that are planned for London is likely to have 500 screens. Future expansion sites will include Amsterdam, which is an important EasyJet route. HP has provided the hardware and integration, with Samsung SyncMaster flat screens (said to be worth £850 each), HP keyboards and mouse, with the processors tucked away out of sight. The browser is Netscape, with no IE option. The server is a single HP Vectra, and there are two 4Mbit lines. Since the place opened, it has had queues during the day, although the increased capacity in the basement should now ease the situation. So what are the punters doing there? We had a look during the early hours of Saturday and found a mixture of mailers, games players and browsers. Most seemed to have had some experience, although night manager Tina Stiff has a help staff of eight, available free during the current promotional period. Rob, a teacher of computing who is working there between jobs, said that there had been very few problems with the kit. He noted that the greatest problem had been with mailers trying to sign on to Hotmail: five minute waits sometimes occurred. The record so far for continuous use is 15 hours, but this is likely to be challenged. The elements of the business plan were explained by marketing director Tony Anderson. Easy Everything is a separate company. The assumption is that there will be 60 per cent occupancy 24 hours/day, with each user spending an hour there, and paying a pound an hour. HP is doing joint marketing and probably agreed to a low-margin deal to get some kudos in this marketplace. The biggest expense is the rent for the site, but a large part of this is covered by the Nescafe concession. The business model relies on economies of scale, and requires there to be 2,000 terminals in London. Any advertising revenue from the large screen ads will be gravy and not essential to success. Anderson said that Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of Easyjet, had ordained that there be no reliance on esoteric revenue, and that it was a prerequisite that the venture should be designed to be profitable. Anderson noted that the greatest surprise from a survey of users had been that about half of them said they had a PC with Internet capability at home. This is not surprising in the case of travellers, but so far as office commuters are concerned, it may be that the days of the yuppie phone are numbered. It is also noteworthy that the Victoria venture replaced a bookshop. It's a pity that road warriors cannot go there to plug in their laptops, instead of being ripped off by hotels or business centres. Will the next step be cybercafes at motorway service areas? We think so. The good news is that the coffee concession will be negotiated on a site-by-site basis. We wonder how long it will be before Starbucks starts waving its chequebook. ®
Graham Lea, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD stands firm on Athlon K7 pricing

A senior executive at AMD Europe said today that speculation Intel is cutting its prices would not alter its position its Athlon K7 pricing. (See Intel turns Pentium III/600 price screw on AMD K7) Meanwhile, an industry observer said he doubted whether Intel would take such steps pro-actively and wondered whether the company was managing to build more Pentium IIIs faster. Robert Stead, European marketing director at AMD, said: "Our position is we will offer a good product at a fair price. A fair price is determined by infrastructure costs and the competitive position." But, he added: "Clearly we need to run a business and have customers." But Joe D'Elia, senior microprocessor analyst at Dataquest Europe, said: "Certainly, if I were Intel, I wouldn't take prices down proactively but wait to see what the position on the Athlon is. "Intel might want to do that anyway if its Pentium III yields are ahead of what it thought it could do." He pointed out that Intel did not really move its prices, it moved its products. If Intel had taken pro-active steps on pricing, it would only have done so if it could maintain its margins, D'Elia said. On the Athlon K7, D'Elia said that AMD at last had a chance to strike at Intel's high end market. "The question is, will it? People can't have one motherboard that will take both products." He said the big question was whether major vendors would implement the Athlon K7, and, if so, whether AMD could deliver. AMD's Stead said that he was encouraged by a spate of Athlon K7 benchmarks which have appeared on various hardware sites, but that AMD had more up its sleeves. "I've seen some extremely good benchmarks," he said. None of these hardware sites had been "seeded" with Athlon K7s, but it was clear they had product, he said. He said: "There's a lot more detail to come in the next few weeks. Over the next few weeks you will see more [official] benchmarks from us, consistent with what we've already told the market." ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Copyright climb down at Yahoo!

Yahoo! has finally buckled to public pressure over its assertion that it owns the copyright of everything posted on its portal and altered its Terms of Service. In a clear case of enforced capitulation, Yahoo! has finally admitted that it "does not own" content. But it has left the door open for future changes to this policy. It said that Yahoo! does not own content "unless we specifically tell you otherwise before you submit it". The 50-word addendum reads: "Yahoo does not own content you submit, unless we specifically tell you otherwise before you submit it. You license the content to Yahoo as set forth below for the purpose of displaying and distributing such content on our network of properties and for the promotion and marketing of our services." The clarification of Yahoo's! Terms of Service is a victory for the Davids of the Net community against a Goliath of the Net Industry. By publicly backing down after defending its position so rigorously Yahoo! has shown that even one of the biggest Net names in the world isn't immune to people power. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Taiwanese monitor makers set to withdraw from UK market

Reports from Taiwan claimed today that a number of manufacturers are set to pull their monitor production out of the UK. The report, from the organisers of the Taiwanese Computex trade fair, said that Acer Peripherals, a world-class manufacturer, has changed its plans for manufacturing monitors in its Welsh plant and will move to making keyboards there instead. Meanwhile, ADI Corporation, which had planned to make monitors in a Northumberland plant, has also changed tack, while Lite-On, based in Scotland, now intends to change its centre to a services organisation. The reason is likely to be cost, with the manufacturers shifting production to plants in China, Mexico and Thailand. Said Bob Raikes, a senior display analyst at Meko UK: "The Acer development is certainly new." He pointed out that over 50 per cent of Taiwanese owned production was already "hollowed out" of Taiwan. Much of the production has gone to mainland China. Raikes pointed out that lead times for shipping monitors from the Far East to Europe were now lengthy. "If you ordered monitors now, you might get them delivered in December," he said. ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Cadence, TSMC team up on system-on-chip toolkit

Design company Cadence and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) have struck a deal to create a high end toolkit for system on a chip designs. According to the companies, the deal means 10 to 30 per cent better chip performance, plus a shrink of the chip size (die) by around 10 per cent. TSMC, a major foundry, can now offer .18 micron, .25 micron and .35 micron kits using Cadence designs. According to the companies, the kits include files, so-called "parasitic extraction" and physical verification rule files. The Taiwanese foundry is now one of the world's largest producers, with fabs in Taiwan and joint ventures in the US and Singapore. Last Friday it confirmed it was in talks with National Semiconductor to take over a fab in Maine. ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel pulls plugs on plans for Kahneeta PC

Want to know about Intel's Kahneeta reference platform? Well you're too late, Intel seems to have pulled the plugs on it well in advance of most of the world having heard of it. If you look here, you'll see that Kahneeta is no more, "due to limited supply," as Intel enigmatically reveals. Other references to what it is/was are scarce, but we've managed to track its appearance in a Microsoft OnNow for Windows NT 5.0 (alias Win2k) late last year. Kahneeta was one of the key desktop platforms Microsoft was aiming NT 5.0 OnNow features at, along with "Intel Atlanta based motherboards," and Compaq and Dell machines. And just to show you how anally-retentive old Chipzilla is, a search of intel.com for Atlanta and motherboard throws up a page in the support section that says: "The phrase Atlanta is not an Intel product name. The correct product name is Intel AL440LX motherboard." So there. The Kahneeta reference platform program was a part of Intel's Instantly Available PC project, which itself is part of the confusing thicket of Intel projects and initiatives designed to make PC easier to use, manage, switch on and off and so on. Intel was showing a "Concept PC" demonstrating ease of use at Comdex last November, and Microsoft was talking about Kahneeta support that December, so go figure. The probable real reason for Kahneeta's sudden demise is of course Microsoft. From Intel's point of view Kahneeta would have related to its own Ease of Use Initiative, which it kicked off at the Intel Developer Forum last autumn. This Initiative was transformed into the joint MS-Intel Easy PC Initiative at WinHEC earlier this year. Until shortly before that point Microsoft's intention had been to handle the lot in Windows 2000 and the consumer product that was going to be built on the NT/Win2k kernel. But the cancellation of the latter kicked a lot of it up into the air again, and you could maybe call Kahneeta collateral damage, spiked while Intel and Microsoft circle one another warily. As Microsoft is now getting its OS strategy back on track, however (MS Roadmap leaks out) it's probably worth watching Intel's Instantly Available reference platform page to see what happens when "we have settled on a suitable replacement for Kahneeta." ®
John Lettice, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Motorola sells two Asia Pacific IC plants

As predicted here last week, Motorola is to sell two Far Eastern chip packaging and testing plants to Taiwan's biggest chip builder, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE). Story: Motorola spins off two factories The deal came to pass and the confirmation came over the weekend. Once ASE takes ownership of each facility, in Chung Li, Taiwan and Paju, South Korea, employing 1400 and 1000 staff, respectively, they will continue to be used by Motorola. Motorola talked a lot of stuff about reinforcing its leadership position and focusing on core competencies, but what we're talking here is essentially Motorola's realisation that, at this level at least, it's more cost-effective to outsource than to own the means of production. ®
Team Register, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Credit card details published on Web after hack attack

The names, addresses and credit card details of around half a dozen people have been published on the Net after a redundant site was hacked at the weekend. The site belonged to Ecstatic, a virtual marketing company that sold radiation shields for mobile phones before ceasing trading last month. Ecstatic's MD, Rash Naggar, is today trying to contact those involved to warn them that their personal details have been published. Naggar said he was told about the security breach on Saturday. He also received a number of nuisance calls over the weekend, although he said he has no idea who was behind them. Barry Ricketts, a former consultant at Ecstatic and one of the names published was audibly shaken by the experience. He questioned the security of the site -- a view vigorously denied by London-based company NetDirect Internet which ran the site on behalf of Ecstatic. "We were sold the VeriSign server by NetDirect at considerable expense," said Ricketts. But in a statement from NetDirect, the ISP has put the source of the blame firmly at the feet of Ecstatic. "We have spoken to the customer, Mr Rash Naggar, who ceased retail trading in June and dismissed the employees of Ecstatic. We have been informed that there may have been a breach of security at the customer end. "We cannot be held responsible for the actions of disgruntled employees of Ecstatic who had access to passwords," it said. Details of the security breach were publicised by self-confessed hacker David Habanec, although he maintains he did not break into the site. Last week, Habanec admitted that he hacked into The Sun'sCurrantBun site. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

QXL plans UK's second biggest Web float

Online auction house QXL is planning a £500 million float in September, which would make it the second biggest public offering by a UK-based Web company. The float would lap-up the current buyer frenzy of Internet stocks, fuelled by Dixons’ Freeserve upcoming float, according to today's Financial Times. QXL has come a long way since February, when it was valued at only £28 million when venture capitalists Apax partners bought a 25 per cent stake. Since then it has been gaining ground in the UK as well as launching sites in France, Germany and Italy. It has also started a service for users to auction second-hand goods, and one for vendors to sell products to the highest bidder. At its latest pre-flotation fund raising QXL was valued at about £157 million. It had sales of around £4 million in last year’s fourth quarter. The float looks likely to go on Nasdaq in the US, with a further listing in Europe. QXL would take advantage of interest in Internet stocks, and that generated by Freeserve, which is expected to float this month with a value of anywhere between £1.2 billion and £2.5 billion. Credit Suisse First Boston, which is running the flotation of Freeserve, is understood to have won the mandate to float QXL. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Web flotation will be absolutely fabulous, sweetie

The man who ran the firm that inspired cult comedy Absolutely Fabulous plans to float his Internet company on the stock market. The former MD of Lynne Franks PR, Graham Goodkind, aims to raise £5 million for his latest venture, Funmail, according to today’s Times newspaper. The flotation, tipped to take place on the Alternative Investment Market this month, is expected to value the two-month old company at more than £30 million. Funmail offers free customised email addresses, citing hairyarmpits.co.uk and guyofyourdreams.co.uk among its most popular domains. Around 45,000 users, who prefer to use these gems than the name of their company or ISP, have signed up for the service. The company hopes to sell its addresses to advertisers, who can target users by sending them personalised offers via email. Goodkind, Funmail MD, will stay actively involved in the company after its flotation, as will the other three founders and shareholders, Steve Bowbrick, chief executive, Jeremy Kerner, director, and Peter Beech, director. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Morgan leaves C2000 to join Datrontech

Datrontech has poached James Morgan from Computer 2000 to be sales director as part of a series of management changes. The Basingstoke-based components distributor has also promoted Fiona Squire from business manager to product marketing director. Morgan joins Datrontech after five years at rival Computer 2000, where he was general manager for retail and sales. His main aim as sales director at Datrontech will be to build up the company’s SME business portfolio. "Datrontech's customer base of locally based PC system builders make us ideally positioned to exploit this huge opportunity," he said. "I aim to capitalise on this through the sales of new and existing products, and also by exploring the internal cross fertilisation between the Datrontech group of companies." Squires' position has been newly created, seemingly to give some synergy between product management and sales. Morgan's replacement as Computer 2000 is Jim Barnes. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Lucent sues Micron, expects counter suit

Lucent has taken legal action against Micron Technology for allegedly refusing to pay it royalties for the last two years. At the heart of the dispute are a series of Lucent-ownned patent which it claims were licensed to the memory chip company by Lucent's former parent, AT&T, in 1988. Lucent says it took over ownership of those patents in 1996 when it was spun off from AT&T. The following year, it claims, Micron stopped paying licensing fees on its use of those patents. In redress, Lucent wants $7 million in unpaid fees. Of course, it emerges that Micron is already claiming that Lucent is infringing upon six of its patents, so the same action from Lucent was always on the cards. And "Lucent is in reasonable apprehension of imminent suit," the company's suit says. Micron denies Lucent's claims -- and vice versa. ®
Tony Smith, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

C&W buys INS

"As a private company INS is wholly accountable to itself and its customers." But not for much longer. Internet Network Services, the venture capital-backed ISP, has sold itself to Cable & Wireless. Terms were undisclosed... although the Evening Standard reckons the deal was struck at "between £50 million and £100 million". In other words, it doesn't know. Presumably, INS investors (which include Barings Communications Equity and Spectrum Equity Partners) made a pretty penny. Or two. Rumours of INS' impending sale were flying around Networks Telecom last week, sparked by the ISP's no show at an awards dinner. Only it was NTL, the megalomaniac cable company that was supposed to be doing the buying. Through INS, C&W gains net liabilities of £8 million, and 1,500 business customers. INS claims it is the UK's third biggest and fastest growing ISP. It also operates an education-specific ISP, called Edex. ®
Drew Cullen, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Samsung to sell through Microtronica

Microtronica has announced that it is to distribute hard drives for Samsung. The distribution specialist says that the deal will improve its offerings to its customers. "Samsung has focused only on drives using the IDE/ATAPI interface and this boosts our strength in this area," said Robin Varley, marketing manager at Microtronica. "We know that our customers will share our confidence in products from Samsung, with its well respected brand name." Products available through the new distributor include Samsung's Spinpoint W and V series. The Spinpoint range features access times of 9.5 ms, capacities of up to 12.9GB, and transfer rates peaking at 66 megabytes per second. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Scots bank debuts ISP package

Following hot on the heels of Barclays Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland is launching its own ISP operation, called Quista. Operating through a portal site, its service will offer online banking, news and other information facilities. MSN is believed to be supplying the news for the site. The Royal Bank of Scotland says that its research indicates that 60 per cent of people are still paying a subscription fee for their ISP. Only 26 per cent of respondents said cost was their primary motive for choosing a particular service provider, while 34 per cent said that recommendation and customer service were more important to them. "Becoming an ISP is another building block in the bank's range of complementary services which include branch banking, telephone banking and Internet banking. Customers can access the bank through any of these channels as and when they want," said Bill Bougourd, the bank's head of electronic communications. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Watchdog to rule on local loop competition

Staff at Oftel -- the telecomms watchdog -- were remaining predictably tight-lipped this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's publication of a report into the future of broadband access in the UK. No one at Oftel's kennel was prepared to spill the dog food about what is contained in the report Access to Bandwidth: proposals for action. The crux of the issue, though, is whether Oftel will allow telcos to compete for a share of the SME and consumer market by opening up BT's local network -- aka the copper loop -- when broadband ADSL access is finally introduced. Last December, Oftel published Access to Bandwidth: bringing higher bandwidth services to the consumer in which it sought to examine this whole area. In its very first paragraph the report said: "Oftel's goal is quality, choice and value for money for customers. The promotion of effective and sustainable competition underpins Oftel's approach to regulation." Well if that's the case the whole question of unbundling the local loop will be resolved tomorrow when BT gets told its 85 per cent monopoly of local services has come to an end and it will have to start competing for business just like every one else. We shall see. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

UK Asian Web foundation heads for float

An Asian portal established in 1996 is looking to raise £800,000 through the issue of two million shares. Asian Online -- dubbed the "Brown Pages" -- has more than 30,000 Asian businesses registered on its site and is valued at around £5 million. Everything from Indian cuisine and fashion to insurance services are covered. There's even a marriage bureau that enables people to find partners although when The Register tried to have a peak the server was very busy. Asian Online is the brainchild of Shaila Virani, the daughter of Nazmu Virani, who was jailed for his role in the collapse of BCCI. "The Web site acts like an intranet within the Asian community," Shaila Virani told the Daily Telegraph. There are also plans to roll-out the service to other parts of the world with strong Asian communities. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Doubts emerge over Intel chip tracking

The massive haul of Intel Pentiums that the Chinese (HK) government caught last week should be trackable by Intel itself, it has emerged. Earlier this year, Intel admitted that processor serial numbers (PSNs) were embedded in Pentium IIs and Celerons as well. And earlier today, facts and figures emerged from Hong Kong about the level of Intel counterfeiting going on. Making it important. Intel has always and forever denied grey market activity. (Story: Unique serial number exists in all .25 micron chips, Intel admits) That begs questions as to why Intel has not yet delivered to its distributors, OEMs, and dealers, the method to tell whether one or other of the chips is a counterfeit. Earlier today, we reported that Chinese government police in Hong Kong had nabbed a whole nest of re-marked processors. While Intel, earlier this year, admitted that Celerons and Pentium IIs also have an ID mark, it is difficult to tell how to do it. In our humble opinion at The Register, this will make things very difficult, indeed. Intel said: "The difference is this. Although there were IDs in earlier revisions, the Pentium III allows you to determine the speed of the CPU too." Said a representive: "The software makes all of the difference." Now is that Microsoft or Intel software, we wonder... ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

July the Fourth? We Scots say Pah! Humbug

One of us had a very interesting email yesterday from a Yankee who uttered: "We're sorry about you Brits who can't celebrate Independence Day." What a laugh. Three directors here share Keltic roots, and two thirds are Scots, so we have to admire big time the Yanks (or should it be Tanks) who threw tea into bostoon harbour. Here in Scotland (a correspondent scribbles) should we not have done that too? No, said his English wife: "Cos otherwise you would not have met me." Strange. It now seems Yorkshire is seeking Independence from the English (called Ferenghis in Hindi), too... ®