6th > August > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Cut price UK domain registrar mystery

There's confusion today surrounding exactly who is behind a new service that claims to offer "the [cheapest] .co.uk domain names in the UK." The Register received a spam email last Monday describing how UK Fast Hosting could register a .co.uk domain for the cut price of just £29 for two years. But a trace of UK Fantastic Limited -- the company reportedly behind UK Fast Hosting -- revealed that it is registered by Business Information Research and Reporting (BIRR) based in Cardiff. BIRR, as well as offering a number of business-to-business services, registers companies for some of its clients. Spokeswoman Irene Harrison said BIRR had nothing whatsoever to do with the Web site or the spam. So if BIRR isn't involved, who exactly is behind this incredible offer? There are no contact details -- no addresses, telephone numbers, nothing -- on the site other than an email address. The Register tried to contact UK Fantastic and did receive an email on Wednesday from someone called "Nick Marshall" who claims to work for UK Fantastic. He has hasn't been in contact since and has failed to reply to requests for an interview. ®
Tim Richardson, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel may snap up AMD

Speculation is mounting in the chip community that Intel might now feel able to buy AMD. The chip giant would be safe from the threat of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) action because of Via's latest acquisition -- the IDT-Centaur x.86 business line. Earlier this week, Via said it would pay $167 million for Cyrix technology. AMD would not come too expensive. For over a month now, its share price has bumped along at a dismal $16 or so. AMD turned in a record loss-making quarter recently, and is in debt up to its eyeballs. And, last week, AMD's credit rating in the US was downgraded a notch. The move would also have the neat effect of knocking the Athlon K7 out of the chip equation. We know Intel is worried, very worried about this. There is another possibility, according to an ex-Intelinsider. He said that Intel was more likely to wait until AMD drifted into Chapter 11, and then come in as a white knight, thus looking a bit like the hero it wants to look like... ®
Mike Magee, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Why does Via want Centaur technology?

Taiwanese chipset manufacturer Via may have bitten off more than it can chew with the acquisition of IDT's Centaur microprocessor business. The cores of Cyrix processors and the WinChip line are very different and that raises questions about staff consolidation. However, and possibly this is more likely, owning the WinChip x.86 technology will give Via an extra bulwark in its up-and-coming legal battle with Intel. No-one from Via was able to comment on the affair at press time. ® Via to buy IDT's Centaur
Mike Magee, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

If Bill Gates were a European, he…

"If Bill Gates were British, he would be a lord, in Italy a life senator, in France an untouchable: in America he is humiliated by the government and accused of being a grasping monopoly. Which is healthier?" Martin Hoyle, radio critic, Financial Times
Author, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

IBM slashes hard drive recording speed

IBM boffins have come up with a way faster method of recording data on magnetic media, the journal Science has reported. The technique uses an ultra high frequency AC current to flip the magnetic poles of electrons in a cobalt-copper-cobalt sandwich. Or, as the researchers themselves put it: "Current-induced switching in the orientation of magnetic moments is observed in cobalt-copper-cobalt structures, for currents flowing perpendicularly through the layers. Magnetic domains in adjacent cobalt layers can be manipulated controllably between stable parallel and antiparallel configurations by applying current pulses of the appropriate sign." The upshot, say the researchers, is a way of storing data twice as quickly as has been achievable to date and three times faster than currently available hard drives. However, the scientists, from two teams based in the US and Switzerland, admitted that the technique is some way away from commercial exploitation. The teams' efforts parallel IBM's ongoing programme to extend the capacity of magnetic media. Earlier this year it announced a hard drive capable of storing 20 billion bits per square inch of platter. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Big Blue extends Linux support

IBM this week extended its Linux support programme to take in other distributions of the open source OS than the two the plan original covered. And next week the company will release its first low-cost Netfinity server specifically designed to run Linux. The support announcement goes some way to put IBM back on track to deliver its promise, made earlier this year, to support all the major Linux distributions. So, in addition to providing help for Caldera OpenLinux and Red Hat Linux, as announced late last month, Big Blue will now also support TurboLinux and SuSE's releases of the OS. Meanwhile, IBM is set to take off the wraps on the Netfinity 3500 M10 next week, according to reports on US newswires. The server is set to ship in September for $1800, and will be supplied with any of the major Linux distributions pre-installed according to customer choice. IBM has supplied extra software to ensure the OS offers full RAID support on the Netfinity. The server will bundle 90 days' free support for whichever Linux distribution the customer selects. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel Itanium trademark thin end of a thick wedge

Some weeks ago we reported that Intel had filed a trademark under the name Itanium. (Story: Intel Itanium now part of Web cranium) But now it has come to our notice that Intel may have breached the US copyright law by "reserving" trademark names. According to US Trademark Law, reserving trademark names is strictly prohibited. Over at the old Intel Secrets site is a list of names from some years back that Intel attempted to trademark. Intel applied, on the same day, for Itanium, Septium, Heptium, Sexium, Amphion, Cognium and Centeon. Because of the re-appearance of the Itanium name, that suggests Intel was then reserving names for future products. Aside from this highly interesting possibility, the list is a cracker. There, for example, you can find the letter I, the famous trademark Intel Hotels of Distinction™, Design Mark Only™, Umatilla™, The Computer Inside™ and PC Dads™ (PC Dads? What about PC Mums?) ®
Mike Magee, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Rambus readies RAM RAID

Rambus will next week unveil 'Chipkill', a method to make high-end server memory fault tolerant. According to a report in the UK's Electronics Weekly, Chipkill will allow Rambus' high-speed Direct DRAM to be used in mission-critical servers. The story doesn't reveal any details of how Rambus will add fault-tolerance to its chips -- so we're naturally keen to hear from unnamed 'sources close to the company who can fill us in -- but it's likely to involve building some level of memory cell redundancy into the chip itself -- a kind of 'RAID for RAM', if you like. It will be interesting to see how this can be achieved without drastically hitting the memory capacity a chip delivers to the host system -- unless, of course, the idea is that high-end servers have so much memory, reserving a stack of it to mirror data from the rest of the RAM bank isn't an issue. Chipkill will be integrated into the next generation of 256Mb Direct DRAM chips, said the report. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Thai military in knots over Y2K threat

Thailand's military is not going to make the deadline for Y2K compliance according to its top brass. Major-General Kharavuth Khemayodhin said that the country's missile launching computers would be taken offline before the New Year, to avoid shooting down passenger jets by mistake. A representative of the MoD said that the UK's military was well on target and would not be shutting things down because of the millennium bug. "We are working closely with our NATO partners on the issue of millennium compliance, and non-compliance of other nations is a factor we take into account when planning for the date change." But Karl Feilder, chief executive at Greenwich Meantime - the Y2K investigators - said that this doesn't really solve anything. "I am particularly concerned about the former Soviet Union and China," he said. "They are well developed counties with nuclear arsenals, but Russia, for example, has spent only $80 million on the problem. Estimates suggest that they need to spend $2 billion, money that they simply do not have." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Latest free ISP tries to hide face

The UK is to get another subscription free ISP offering toll-free dial-up access to the Internet. An announcement regarding the launch of Freedomi.com is due to be made in the next two weeks or so, The Register has learned despite attempts to keep details of the service secret. At present exact details about Freedomi.com are still sketchy. It is not known exactly who is behind the service, how it will be funded or which telco is providing the technology infrastructure. What seems clear, though, is that the launch of Freedomi.com appears to have been bungled by the high-profile London-based Web design agency Hard Reality. It designed the site and registered the domain Freedomi.com on 24 May. A single web page containing scant information about the service and no contact details was removed this week after The Register repeatedly tried to speak to someone at Hard Reality. It has been replaced with one that says simply: "Freedomi coming soon..." But a search on Yahoo! still bears the result: "Freedomi -- with no local call or phone support charges." When this reporter was finally put through to someone at Hard Reality -by mistake - Keld Van Schreven was heard saying to the receptionist: "I've had journalists phoning all week. I can't speak to anyone now. I've got nothing to say for a week or two." He then hung up when this reporter introduced himself and asked for an interview. He refused to take a call immediately afterwards. Although it's feasible that Hard Reality is the company behind the new toll-free ISP it appears more likely that it has carried out the work on behalf of one of its many blue chip customers. And with a client list boasting the likes of Kellogg's, McDonald's, Heinz, Express Newspapers, Haymarket Business Publishing and DoubleClick it is possible that an equally well known brand is behind Freedomi. How pleased they will be about such an unceremonious public airing of a service to rival X-Stream, Screaming.net and BTInternet is another matter. ® Daily Net finance news from The Register
Tim Richardson, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Inland Revenue probes IBM for tax avoidance

IBM UK has confirmed it is in talks with the Inland Revenue concerning allegations of tax evasion. Big Blue issued a short statement today following a story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) which alleges that IBM could owe government coffers more than £300 million in unpaid taxes. The allegations centre on whistle-blowing ex-employee Gerard M Churchhouse who was sacked by IBM in 1995. It is not known why the sales and marketing manager was dismissed. However, it seems in return for being booted out he squealed to the Inland Revenue alleging that IBM UK had upped its royalty fees to the IBM Corporation. Instead of paying eight per cent of its income derived from the sale of products and services to IBM Corp, IBM UK increased the payments to 12 per cent. The net result, Churchhouse alleged, was that IBM UK paid less tax in the UK -- because its income was effectively cut -- at a time when IBM Corp was paying little or no tax in the US due to its poor performance. The alleged tax dodging was said to have taken place between 1991 and 1996. Reading from a prepared statement, an IBM representative said: "IBM is currently working with the Inland Revenue on an enquiry. "This is a normal and routine procedure and IBM is co-operating fully. "IBM has no comment to make about Mr Churchhouse or his allegations." The WSJ claims that IBM UK has been under investigation for the last two years. But a spokeswoman for the Inland Revenue said she was unable to comment one way or other on the case. ®
Tim Richardson, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Ads watchdog issues free PC warning

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today urged UK consumers to read the small print and shop around before embarking on any "free" PC deal. The move follows complaints about ISP Online-Direct, which is being investigated by the ASA over the hidden charges in its £99.99 "free" PC offer. The advert, in the national press this week, claims users can get a new PC - worth £220.99 - for just £99.99. But this price excludes the £64.99 obligatory warranty and £39.99 delivery charge, as well as VAT. These small additions bring the actual price to £222.47, with punters paying more than Online-Direct claims the machine is actually worth. According to the ASA, VAT must be included in any advert explicitly aimed at consumers. The ASA has been dishing out advice to users thinking about committing to one of the "free" PC deals. "The idea of the free PC seems to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a free lunch", said an ASA representative. "But we would urge people to be extra cautious. There may be some amazing deals out there, but consumers should compare all offers before choosing one. Also, it is imperative to read all details in the adverts – as with any new type of product or offer." The Online-Direct deal includes an IBM MII 300 chip -- a regular addition to subsidised PC packages in the UK -- and comes with 2.1GB or 3.2GB hard drive. It has 32MB RAM, a 56k modem and 24 speed CD ROM. The company, based in London, also promises to refund the initial cost of the computer if punters spend an average of five hours a month online over a two-year period. Users who already have a PC can sign-up for the company's We Pay You scheme. At the end of 12 months, consumers will be refunded 10 to 20 per cent of their call charges, according to an Online-Direct representative. There are also plans for a share scheme, but no details were available. ®
Linda Harrison, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

SGI to spill beans on new strategy

Updated SGI is about to undergo its second restructure in less than a year following a meeting on Tuesday in which company execs will outline their latest business strategy. Such a move would have come as no surprise earlier this year when SGI admitted CEO Rick Belluzzo's recover programme wasn't going quite as smoothly as anticipated. Back in April, the company was still haemorrhaging money, though Belluzzo had managed to staunch the flow somewhat, and its revenues were still heading down. Then, last month, SGI announced its first profit in ages, on increased revenue. Its net income was boosted by the sale of some of its MIPS shares, but it was still in the black even if that additional income is ignored. So what will Belluzzo and co (quite a few of them fellow ex-HPers) announce next week? It's likely to be evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary one. SGI bosses have already admitted their attempts to push into the Windows NT workstation market hasn't been entirely successful. That plan was always little more than an extension of what SGI had already been doing -- what's needed now are moves into other markets. The template here is Apple and its shift towards the consumer arena. That's not to say SGI will make the same move, but it's certainly the kind of market the company needs to thinking about. Ironically, it has got close to that market before, thanks to its early work with Nintendo on the N64 console's graphics engine. At the time, though, SGI -- or Silicon Graphics, as it was then -- was highly snobbish about such 'trivial' applications and effectively allowed the Nintendo relationship to wither away. Nintendo's next-generation console, codename Dolphin, is being co-designed with a team of ex-SGI graphics guys. Still, the expertise is there, and SGI's recent rapprochement with games graphics specialist nVidia may well signal some interesting moves ahead. Indeed, we've since learned that SGI has been moving staff from its mid-range graphics operations over to nVidia. Certainly, giving its graphics expertise to nVidia would make sense as part of SGI's erstwhile patent action against the company, particularly given its interest in moving away from its graphics heritage. Meanwhile, many pundits have predicted SGI will flog off Cray, which it bought in 1996 for $576 million. Stressing SGI's support for Linux is also likely to be part of the meeting. Linux provides SGI with a way into the wider business server market, especially now it has dropped the 'Silicon Graphics' name and can begin to try to persuade more mainstream users that its products aren't solely for the creative computing arena. In fact, that has to be central to whatever SGI does from here on. Telling everyone you're name has changed is one thing -- getting out there and stressing that change of focus is something else, and that's where SGI really does need to develop its strategy. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

EA, Sony swoop on Paradigm pirates

Games software companies Sony and Electronic Arts (EA) today announced they had jointly begun legal action against alleged members of a software piracy gang dubbed Paradigm. Both companies say Paradigm is responsible for trading illegal copies of their games over the Internet. The dynamic duo -- with the help of US Marshals -- raided the home of one the alleged copyright infringers and seized a PC and a stack of CDs. Among the material confiscated were the real names and addresses of people believed to be Paradigm members in the UK, the US, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Russia and elsewhere. Now, software piracy is a pretty despicable act, and the actions of Sony and EA, while not eliminating the crime, should at least plug one of the many outlets for illegal copies of software. But what's really interesting about all this is what it says about the level of software piracy out there. According to EA's senior VP and general counsel, Ruth Kennedy, software pirates cost the worldwide games industry $3.2 billion. So how can the European Leisure Software Publishers' Association (Elspa) claim, as it did earlier this week, that games piracy costs European developers alone £3 billion ($4.8 billion)? Can it be that no one really knows how much money is lost to games pirates, and that perhaps its effects really aren't as bad as the industry's various participants would like us all to believe? It's certainly hard to imagine any other reason for such divergent statistics. Of course, all piracy is bad -- or at least illegal, which is perhaps more to the point -- so games companies are perfectly justified in taking action against people who are, after all, thieves. But why not be a little more realistic about the figures? The clue, perhaps, lies in another part of Sony/EA's news release about the anti-Paradigm action. This year, EA alone posted revenues of $1.2 billion. Sony didn't mention its software sales, but they're probably higher still. And there are plenty of other games publishers making similar amounts of money, suggesting that each company's losses due to piracy actually aren't that significant. Yes, piracy is wrong and should be battled -- but please, let's be a little less melodramatic about it, guys. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Oz team challenges IIS hackers

It's evidently the season for hacker challenges, and the latest is by Creative Digital Technology in Sydney, Australia. It claims that its SecurePage software, which works in conjunction with Microsoft's Internet Information Server, makes Web pages hack-proof, and have challenged hackers to crack its technology. COO Philip Burton told The Australian that "we are prepared to stand behind that financially by offering a prize to universities to see if they can do what our developers haven't been able to do". Although the first version runs on IIS, CDT intends to offer the product on other platforms. A patent is being sought so details are scanty at present, but CEO Bahram Boutorabi, who doubles as CTO, said that the product "puts something into Active Server Pages, HTML, Net Commerce Mark-up language and XML which represents a signature that someone has made against that page". The protection relies on comparing the encrypted master signature with the page being served, and if it has been altered, the page is not served. There is 192-bit, triple-DES encryption by way of protection. Unfortunately, CDT's website will not have details of the challenge until next week, as the announcement was only made at Internet World 99 in Sydney earlier this week. We wonder if Microsoft will come calling with its cheque book ready. ®
Graham Lea, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD K7 strategy is a tightrope walk

Analysis We now know how AMD will position its Athlon into the high end market but at the same time it will build this push on its loyal consumer base. It is a fact that AMD's success has traditionally been in the entry level end of the market, and they even managed to break Intel's stranglehold on the retail market in the US earlier this year. But in pushing into the corporate marketplace, AMD has to be very careful it does not antagonise the very people who have backed it in the recent past. For example, one senior AMD person said earlier this week: "We don't need those people any more." Tut tut. Those include the games and hardware sites that now proliferate on the WWW. It is interesting that AMD feels the letter "K" is associated in the minds of corporate buyers with the games and enthusiasts market, and that positioning Athlon as the Ultra, the Select or whatever, will help IT buyers to make the switch from Intel Inside to AMD Inside. AMD has to perform this magic act if its high end Athlon strategy is to succeed, but a mere change of name may not be enough to sway those influential people. They may be swayed by the undoubted performance benefits of the Athlon over existing Pentium IIIs. (See for example, the latest issue of c't magazine, where Andreas Stiller, the technical editor, describes the Athlon as the Pentium III Killer, all dressed up in Superman garb). But big business also wants to make sure that any company it is buying from is financially stable -- and there are big question marks over that, as we have already pointed out this week. We know for a fact that UK companies Mesh, and Evesham are gonna go the K7 route. But because of a tricky situation, we don't know whether Dell and Gateway have been forced to retract and take the Intel shilling. Dan Technology, we are told, will not release an Athlon K7 box. As we reported here last June, AMD will intro notebook K7s next year. And the notebook market is going very well for AMD -- it has captured a large amount of orders during the course of this year. AMD needs all the help it can get. It costs a hell of a lot of money to install copper machines in a huge clean room like AMD's in Fab 30. We don't know how many machines are in there, because we weren't allowed into the clean room... We also talked to a whole raft of journalists each of which had signed the non disclosure agreement, each of whom, severally, seemed interested in telling us more about AMD. We said: "No, we don't want to know". So it goes... ®
Mike Magee, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

MS' free Net access plan won't help MSN

Analysis The news that Microsoft might offer MSN access for free, or at least at a low price, is hardly surprising, although poor old Microsoft is getting stick for just thinking about it. But for once at least it can hardly be castigated for the move, if it's true. The history of MSN provides a business school case study. Although antitrust law (and the tougher competition law in the EU) is supposed to stop leverage from a dominant position in one market into another, it hasn't really been necessary to resort to the law, since Microsoft has not succeeded with MSN. Marvel, as MSN was code-named in 1995, arose from a bunch of bought-in products and services. Microsoft found out how online services worked by persuading CompuServe from going with Unix and putting itself on NT, which Microsoft described as a "design win". CompuServe was oddly reluctant to discuss the deal. Microsoft licensed Internet Assistant from Booklink Technologies so Word could create HTML pages, with the deal being completed just before AOL acquired Booklink. At Comdex in November 1994, AOL was able to crow "AOL announces licensing agreement with Microsoft", to Redmond's embarrassment, and this marked the beginning of the bad feeling towards AOL. Microsoft was sufficiently uncertain about MSN to persuade TCI, the cable operator in Denver, to acquire a 20 per cent holding in the Microsoft Online Services Partnership for just $125 million in December 1994. The text retrieval software was provided by Fulcrum Technologies of Ottawa, and in January 1995 Microsoft took a stake in UUNet to get UUNet to provide the plumbing. Spyglass, of course, provided the Mosaic browser, renamed Internet Explorer version 1, after Microsoft failed in its attempt deal directly with the University of Illinois. Wang's document embedding technology was used in the browser, and finally GE Information Services provided electronic data interchange services for MSN. Although MSN was only offered with Windows 95 initially, it caused great concern at the time for AOL (then two million subscribers), CompuServe (2.7 million subscribers) and Prodigy (1.3 million subscribers). They need not have worried. In July 1995, MSN used 130 servers, with space for another 90 to be added in a nearby area, but each NT server could only handle 500 concurrent user log-ins, so the 75,000 capacity was hardly a threat. Microsoft did claim that MSN could support a million users initially, but in performance, it was a dog. The CEOs of MSN competitors (and Scott McNealy of Sun) sent a letter to Congress expressing this concern, and especially the bundling of MSN with Windows 95. MSN was priced a little below the rival services, so they immediately lowered prices to compete. Bill Neukom replied on behalf of Microsoft, claiming that MSN's competition would be good for consumers. To the surprise of many people, MSN was a flop and continued to be a flop, and not just because the content lacked lustre and the performance of the site was below par. Relaunches did not help, and it began to be clear that other powers were at work: first movers tended to remain winners, all else being equal. MSN rivals assumed that Microsoft was bound to be successful with MSN but they forgot that Microsoft's operating systems monopoly was obtained through licensing practices, and tying Windows to MS-DOS, and certainly not on the merit of the product. If this new pricing move for MSN is put into practice -- and it looks likely -- Microsoft may for a time pick up a few more subscribers, but they will probably mostly be the floaters who move around the services anyway. A business plan that makes up the losses on MSN by reducing the price does not look good, and we doubt if there's really enough advertising to go round. Of course, AOL might suffer -- but we have long since given up making any sense of AOL's own business plan (and assuming there really is one may be generous). It's been a story of rags-to-riches, although the years of rags went on for so long that the upturn must have surprised even AOL. The saving grace was not even something that AOL did -- it was a cultural shift to emailing, coupled with much lower prices for PCs, and CD-ROM carpet bombing that did the trick. AOL's share price went from a low of $17.25 in September to a high of $175.50 in April, but finished yesterday at &83.50 after falling to $77 earlier in the day. CEO Steve Case and some other insiders decided to sell four million shares when the price was over $100. This is bad news for the new hires whose options are of no value, at least for the time being. AOL has little to fear from Microsoft offering a low-cost or free service, since the wall had already been breached in Europe and exposed the fragility of AOL's business model. There appears to be no more likelihood of MSN becoming dominant now than there was four years ago. Microsoft should be allowed to lose its money in any way it chooses. ®
Graham Lea, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Online shopping kids are full of beenz

Web currency beenz.com has teamed up with iCanBuy.com to let teenagers exchange their beenz for cash. iCanBuy acts as a digital wallet for kids and is billed as a family-centred service that helps teenagers learn to manage their money on the Web. Parents who earn beenz as they visit various Web sites can set up an online debit account at iCanBuy for their kids. Children are then free to take part in a "safe ecommerce" environment purchasing items from carefully selected sites. ® Daily Net finance news from The Register
Tim Richardson, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AOL to hit UK with Fujitsu free PC package

AOL and Fujitsu are coming together to bundle a free PC/ISP package, according to a report in this month's PC Europa. The two big-hitters were said to be hammering out the details of the bundle, which is expected to be launched in the UK this autumn. Fujitsu UK told The Register the company had been approached by several interested parties regarding a "free" PC offer. According to Charles Bowes, Fujitsu UK marketing manager: "We haven't agreed to go ahead with a deal yet. We are looking at what is on offer." Bowes said the biggest consideration regarding this kind of deal was keeping Fujitsu’s reputation untarnished. "In the US, there has been unease over certain free PC offers. "Some offers have been massively oversubscribed and had a limited supply of machines. This probably isn't good for the companies involved. Users need to feel comfortable that there’s enough supply available." He added that any deal would also depend on the service levels a partner of Fujitsu could provide. Fujitsu currently relies on the consumer market for around 20 per cent of annual sales in the UK. Last year, Fujitsu pioneered the supermarket PC channel with a deal with Tesco. It also sells PCs through Safeway and Sainsbury's supermarkets, and is currently piloting sales in Elf petrol stations. An AOL representative told The Register that no such plans were in place and that the claims made about the deal were false. ® Daily Net finance news from The Register
Linda Harrison, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Wall St tumbles as Net stocks stumble

Cracks are starting to show in the much-hyped world of Internet stocks. Falling prices have shaken confidence in the technology sector, and Nasdaq - heavily weighted with techno-stocks - shed more than 60 points in early trading yesterday before recovering. Sceptics are saying that this confirms their early opinions. An analyst from Freidman Billings Ramsey told the Financial Times: "We knew these stocks were overvalued, based on hype and emotion. The only question was when people would wake up to reality." Freeserve lost nearly five pence, stopping at 201p, and AOL fell more that 10 per cent yesterday, following Microsoft's announcement of its plan to compete in the Internet access market. The slump is being blamed on US interest rates. Fear that the US economy is overheating has made investors more cautious. This hit Internet stocks especially hard as they are a speculative investment. ® Daily Net finance news from The Register
Lucy Sherriff, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

CYRIX TO OFFER 386 TO 486 NOTEBOOK THROUGH SPECIALIST

Five years ago, today From The Register, Issue 2, five years ago... Cyrix has announced the availability of its 386 to 486 upgrade chip for notebooks. Called, rather uncatchily, the Cx486SRx2-NB, the product is aimed squarely at owners of 386SX notebooks. In the UK, Cyrix has appointed Network SI (formerly a part of ACT) and Mikrolive Computer Services to perform the upgrades by physically replacing the 386SX chips on notebook motherboards. The 50MHz surface mount chip is aimed at the large 386SX/16, 20 and 25MHz notebook market with a suggested retail price of $399, a ninety days warranty, and a promised one to two days turnround. According to Geoff Eccleston, managing director of Cyrix Europe, the chip is the first 486 clock doubled single chip microprocessor upgrade for these types of notebooks. Eccleston showed slides claiming Landmark results of 139.58 compared to 22.49 on a Toshiba T3100SX 25MHz notebook and Norton SI ratings of 59.4:17.3. Wintach 1.2 tests for word processors gave a 1.89:1.07 performance boost while CAD and drawing applications gave ratings of 1.40:1.13. Eccleston was unable to provide figures for the number of notebook upgrades Cyrix expects to ship over the next six months. Meanwhile, Nick Woods, European marketing manager at Intel, predicted that the upgrade would flop. ®
Mike Magee, 06 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

BT courts PC vendors for freebie bundle deal

BT has whittled down prospective IT partners to less than a handful for what is expected to be the UK’s biggest "free" PC give-away to date. The telecomms giant issued a tender, looking for a PC maker to join it in a PC/ISP deal. The agreement is now in its final stages and an announcement is expected imminently, sources have told The Register. BT’s move looks like a response to recent free PC offers in the UK, where consumers have been given the hardware in exchange for committing to an ISP or telecomms contract. It follows deals by Tiny and Time Computers and ISP Online-Direct among others, and will surely have these companies quaking in their boots. Andy Brown, IDC analyst, said: "It was bound to happen. After the success of Freeserve, lots of vendors will be looking to jump on the bandwagon. "Its threat to similar packages will depend on which company is supplying the hardware for BT, and the obligations in the deal for the customer." Brown predicted a host of similar deals would follow in the UK. "But the shrewd consumer will be hopping between deals before committing," he said. BT said it did not comment on tenders. ® Daily Net finance news from The Register
Linda Harrison, 06 Aug 1999