9th > August > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

MS in porno banner ads row

Microsoft is being sued for allegedly allowing pornographic banner ads to be displayed on LinkExchange. Boathouse Row Entertainment -- which flogs gridiron cheerleader merchandise -- alleged that banners advertising porn sites appeared on its home page within a month of it signing up to LinkExchange. Microsoft-owned LinkExchange enables companies to place free banner ads on other sites in return for accepting ads on their own sites. According to the report by ZDNet, some of the ads even included links to kiddie porn. Microsoft claims that it does not allow material of this nature to be included in LinkExchange. It said it couldn't be held responsible if once advertisers have been vetted they then change their criteria and begin posting porn. ® See also: Updated: Excite pulls porn off kiddie-friendly search engine Hardcore porn ads sneak past Excite filters Hefner huffed over Excite, Netscape for smut substitutions
Tim Richardson, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

MS, Softbank plan wireless Web venture

The mysterious Microsoft wireless Web announcement that didn't happen a couple of weeks ago may be taking shape at last, with the imminent unveiling of what appears to be a pilot service in Japan. According to Japanese paper the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the company will roll with a low-cost wireless service there in the middle of next year. The paper says the service, to be run in conjunction with Softbank and Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), will be announced on Wednesday, and will be run via wireless base stations installed on TEPCO's electricity network. That can then operate as an Energis-style backbone. There are a couple of intriguing aspects to the move. First of all, it seems that Softbank will be putting up most of the capital for a joint venture company, around about $1 billion. Second, the network will operate on a frequency that is currently unused in Japan, although it's not as yet clear which one this is. That suggests that Microsoft, rather than trying to go head-to-head with NTT DoCoMo in the 3G broadband cellular market, may intend to set up some kind of rival system. Broadband cellular will be out first in Japan, and DoCoMo intends to put out a Symbian-based wireless device next year. The rival Microsoft venture should therefore be going live in the same timeframe, although it's initially being targeted at only one of Japan's regions. ® Daily Net finance news from The Register
John Lettice, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

MS filing claims browser plans started in 1992

MS on Trial Sources close to Microsoft have been spinning merrily again. It will file its summary antitrust defence with the court tomorrow, but mysteriously, extremely detailed leaks from the 400 page document started popping up everywhere yesterday. And we have a new ludicrous claim, apparently peddled to the press by a "company attorney," for the first surfacing of the notion of integrating the browser into the OS - in 1992, apparently. If this were true, it would certainly be helpful for Microsoft's defence, but the claim is more than a little undermined by the apparent difficulty Microsoft has had in nailing down one date and sticking to it, or indeed in producing supporting documentation. The spun filing that's leaking out now reportedly argues that the strength of Microsoft's defence is in the written evidence of its witnesses. Which is just as well, considering how comprehensively most of them were dismembered in court. But as we at The Register have in the line of duty been compelled to read most of this complacent and self-regarding turge, we are unable to agree that it constitutes any kind of solid foundation. Microsoft's execs mistook the trial for a marketing presentation, and their written testimony was largely flattened by a level of forensic examination they didn't expect. But back to those integration dates. Last year Bill Gates 'remembered' when the issue was first discussed, just before Netscape was founded (this is important to Microsoft) in April 1994. Characteristically he 'remembered' it as his idea: "Hey, let's put the browser in the OS!" he allegedly claimed. But the claimed timeline was cranked backwards in Jim Allchin's trial testimony (MS claims integration plans predate Gates' birth). Allchin humorously tired to co-opt the unveiling of the Microsoft Information at Your Fingertips "vision," which Gates unveiled in 1990, as browser integration evidence, and came up with a Steve Ballmer suggestion from December 1993 that Windows could be positioned as "a great front end to the Internet." But the nearest thing Allchin could come up with for a half-plausible early sighting was the claim that at a day-long technical meeting on 6th April 1994 the operating systems group decided that Word Wide Web support should be added to Windows 95. By May of the following year Bill Gates' Internet Tidal Wave paper was saying that "over time the shell and the browser will converge," but as far as we can see, that's just about the first documented integration statement from a high-level Microsoft exec, and it was made five months after Netscape shipped its first browser. Inevitably there will have been Microsoft employees talking about integration beforehand, maybe some ignored crazies jabbering about it as far back as 1992. Butt we remember 1992, and we remember Bill Gates in 1992. He'd just unveiled Windows 3.1, and during a rather dull presentation he touched on integration. But he was talking about Microsoft integrating the file manager and the desktop in the next version of Windows - it would be a couple more years before he even noticed the Internet. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
John Lettice, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD a monkey, Motorola a chimp and Intel a gorilla

A year ago From The Register No. 89 -- a year ago The head of chip company AMD has compared his company to a monkey, Motorola to a chimpanzee and Intel to a gorilla. Jerry Sanders, CEO of the company, speaking in California last week, said: "It is not illegal to be an 800 pound gorilla, nor is it illegal for the gorilla to wind up with more bananas than the much smaller monkeys and chimpanzees that forage in the same hunting grounds." Sanders said that "size counts" in the semiconductor industry. "Being big is not only good - it's essential," he said. "In the semiconductor industry, Intel is a gorilla, Motorola is a chimpanzee and AMD is a monkey." But Sanders said that the agreement it had forged with Motorola on the 20th of July last, meant that "the number one monkey and the number one chimpanzee entered into a broad collaborative alliance intended to enhance their mutual prospects of competing successfully against the number one gorilla." AMD's objective, he said, was not to replace the Intel gorilla but to co-exist as a virtual gorilla with Motorola. "As a virtual gorilla, we will prevail against the Intel monopoly. No one has a monopoly on ideas," he said. "AMD's plan is to be the nucleating point for an alternative to an Intel monopoly." ®
Team Register, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD Athlon K7 NDA expires…

A stack of US AMD non-disclosure agreements have expired, allowing various hardware sites to spill the beans on the K7-Athlon. Ace's Hardware Page, Fullon3D, Tom's Hardware, Sharky Extreme, AMD Zone and CPU Review have all taken the opportunity to get their contributions in early, that is on the stroke of midnight on the 8th of August. Anandtech points to these sites, as do we, below. Meanwhile, over here, JC invites his readers to even mark the reviews for writing style... Tom's Pages have some nice but rather graphics intensive pictures of chips and block diagrams of the K7. Many details had already been comprehensively leaked, as NDAs found it hard to stay kept in the global world of the Internet. Later on today, a number of hardware firms including IBM, Compaq and others are expected to announce K7 Athlon systems. Ace's -- which devotes 29 pages to a review -- points out that to overclock the K7, people will need a special add-on which we're sure will arrive in the twinkling of an eye. That site also points out there are additional 3DNow! instructions in the K7 -- which was also widely predicted. Many questions are also answered at AMD's own site here, which we expect to be updated later today. AMD has also managed to sneak in a 650MHz Athlon, as revealed here earlier. Most of the sites point out that the Athlon is a bit of a power consumer, explaining why it has such a large heat sink. And again, most, if not all, point out that the AMD Athlon K7 busts Intel's bum on the benchmark front on apparently all fronts. Fullon3D posts an interview with AMD, where it seems to suggest it won't reach 1GHz until the year 2000. Don't forget that AMD wants to underplay its hand on this, and other futures. Further, AMD suggests there that it may well socket the Athlon K7 in the future, while it confirmed it will move the K6 to .18 micron (and in copper, as revealed here this time last week). More on the Athlon later today... ® Our last week's news coverage AMD manages to undercut Intel on K7 pricing Intel may snap up AMD AMD K7 strategy is a tightrope walk AMD uses Intel Inside top Fab Sandpit AMD+Dresden Sandpit II AMD to intro non-legacy push AMD's Sanders puts two fingers up to Intel AMD positions K7 Athlon for enterprise Via-AMD finalise chipset deal AMD+Dresden Sandpit I AMD succeeds in producing copper K6 Web Hardware Sites Anandtech Ace's Fullon3D AMD Zone Tom's Hardware CPU Review Sharky Extreme
Mike Magee, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel rebate programme causes further chip price reductions

Dealers and distributors close to Intel's plans have revealed a rebate system which will give further price reductions to people who buy its processor and other products. The IPD rebate system, available only to dealers who buy through Intel authorised distributors, not only provides its customers with rebates on processors, but also gives them a two percent merchandising incentive payment, the sources said. That, in addition to rebates, is intended to further put pressure on Intel competitors -- such as AMD. Rebates for those joining the system, amount to $23 apiece for 600MHz and 550MHz Pentium IIIs, $15 for 500MHz Pentium IIIs, and $5 for the now doomed PIII/450. There are even rebates available on the already cutthroat Celeron family of chips, amounting to around $3 at the high end. The Xeon family also offers whopping reductions, with the 2Mb Pentium III/500 Xeon having $126 lopped off its price. Intel has also extended such rebates to hubs, routers, chassis and a heap of other products, showing it can afford some pain in its gladiatorial battle with AMD... ®
Mike Magee, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD gets all fundamental about Athlon Outside

A report on a stocks and shares investment site has revealed how serious AMD is about following Intel down a rigorous route to the corporate marketplace. Paul Engel, who won our reader of the month award earlier this year, has published details of AMD's conditions for using the Athlon logo on Silicon Investor. According to Engel, the guidelines exclude the Asia Pacific markets. He quotes the document as saying: "The following guidelines address the correct treatment of AMD's "AMD Athlon" logo and associated logos in advertising, technical, collateral, and other printed or visual materials for the AMD Athlon processor in the U.S. and all International markets, excluding Asia-Pacific countries. Asia-Pacific countries include: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. If you are developing material that will be used in Asia-Pacific countries, please refer to the AMD Athlon Logo Guidelines and Trademark Usage Guidelines for Asia-Pacific countries. " The rules include the fact that the AMD Athlon logo must stand alone, and a minumum amount of empty space needs to be left between it and any other object, proportional to the weight of the arrow icon in the same logo. Further, the logo mustn't get near any other logo, photo, slogan, symbol or anything else. Its minum size must be one inch by one inch, and it must use a stringent set of colour options, with PMS numbers quoted. The trademark is AMD Athlon and there must be a space between AMD and Athlon." In each publication that uses the "AMD Athlon" trademark, provide a trademark attribution notice that includes all AMD trademarks used in that publication, material, or item," the document says. AMD warns that the trademarks must only be used in connection with AMD products. Doh. People must not use the trademarks in any way that could disparage the trademarks. The rules drone on in similar vein for pages... ® Reader of the Month: Paul Engel
Mike Magee, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

MS to face spate of lawsuits if it loses the big one

MS on Trial "A Microsoft lawyer", meaning Bill Neukom, has been giving unattributable briefings to media friends before Microsoft files its proposed findings of fact tomorrow. The main news seems to be that Microsoft has failed to come up with anything new to help its case, while the Department of Justice is sensibly not saying what is in its brief. But Neukom has reason to spin hard - if Microsoft goes down against the DoJ, the result could trigger a spate of private antitrust actions. Neukom claimed that Microsoft "did a lot to help [Netscape] to get their browser out for Windows"; repeated the joke about Microsoft wanting to retain the "right to innovate"; and maintained that there is "vigorous competition" in the browser market. AOL was being portrayed as "a competitive threat to Microsoft" and the portal services said to "represent a platform challenge", but it is unlikely that Judge Jackson views AOL and portals as challengers to Windows. In any event, it looks as though there will be around a thousand pages of submissions on Tuesday. One problem area for the DoJ is that the judge's desire for speeding the trial prevented the DoJ's special trial counsel David Boies from refuting all the arguments introduced by Microsoft's witnesses. Microsoft will claim that it won all these unrefuted points, but the judge is most unlikely to agree. The DoJ will have the opportunity in a final brief to refute any such points made by Microsoft, with both sides filing by 10 September. Closing arguments will be heard on 21 September, but it is not yet known how long this will take. Not surprisingly Microsoft said that it was "open to a new round of settlement discussions", but it is unlikely to find DoJ antitrust supremo Joel Klein amenable to any settlement that did not look as though it would resolve the problems. In previous settlement talks in April and June both sides were too deeply committed to their positions to make this a realistic possibility. Microsoft's shots are called by President Steve Ballmer, COO Bob Herbold and Neukom, with Gates as an independent wildcard with a veto. The DoJ had some nasty experiences in May 1998 when it realised that Microsoft was a Janus, with one face in Washington (Neukom) negotiating, and the other face in the other Washington (Gates) changing the rules as the game progressed. The same thing had been found by Klein's predecessor, Ann Bingaman, when she tried to negotiate with Neukom, until she finally insisted on having Gates on the speaker phone as well, since he wouldn't leave Fort Redmond and lead from the front. More actions if Microsoft loses? Although the other current cases are unlikely to have much direct influence on the Washington trial, the real challenge that Microsoft faces is that if it is found to be a monopoly, which seems to be a near-certainty, and if this withstands appeal, it will find itself in locking horns with many companies in court in further antitrust battles. This time, its challengers would have the high ground. By delaying the start of the Caldera trial until January, Microsoft has put itself into the position where there will probably be a result in Washington before or during the Caldera trial, which could be very bad news for Microsoft. Gates could be considerably influenced towards a settlement by the prospect of Microsoft losing some major private antitrust cases. In the event of another consent decree, there would be no finding in law that Microsoft was an illegal monopolist, so making private antitrust cases more difficult, and hugely more expensive. By dividing his findings into two - on facts, and on law - it will be essentially impossible for any appeal court to refute Judge Jackson's decision about the facts, although Microsoft would no doubt try to achieve this, particularly any finding that it is a monopolist. The Court of Appeals, and/or the Supreme Court, will only be able to introduce its political bias over the judge's findings of law. The majority of appellate judges are against the enforcement of antitrust law, so another political decision is quite possible. This was previously seen when the Court of Appeals overruled Judge Stanley Sporkin's refusal to sign the consent decree, so ignoring the Tunney Act and the Sherman Act. It is no coincidence that so many senior Microsoft executives have either left or have gone walk-about. The shame and public ridicule that is likely to result from an adverse decision for Microsoft will make it a politically incorrect organisation. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
Graham Lea, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Rambus' RAID for RAM is Big Blue-built

Rambus' technology to make Direct DRAM chips sufficiently fault tolerant for use in mission-critical servers, due to be unveiled this week, may not be as new as UK paper Electronics Weekly, which broke the story, claimed. It now appears that Rambus' 'Chipkill' technology could well be licensed from IBM, according to many Register readers. "It sounds very similar to IBM's Chipkill-ECC initiative, which is one the streets now (in Netfinity 7000M10, etc.)," writes Margus Rohtoja from Estonia. "The guys at Microelectronics even named it RAID-M, making [your] comparison with RAID-5 very appropriate. It gives same level of protection as RAID-5, and has similar drawbacks: reduced capacity due to extra space needed for checksums, and slightly reduced performance. Also, the memory subsystem takes an additional performance hit when one of chips is dead -- its contents will be deduced from healthy chips and checksums. Just like RAID-5... "Ordinary ECC doesn't fix multi-bit failures, but when memory capacities are reaching gigabytes, probability for multi-bit errors increases ominously." It has to be said, Margus is an IBM tech support guy, so he's clearly keen to point out Big Blue's success here. However, we received many similar comments from other readers who don't appear to be IBMers. Our thanks to everyone who emailed us with details of the technology. The interesting thing about Chipkill is that it was apparently designed for NASA to be used in its Mars Pathfinder probe. Presumably, this will ensure all Netfinity servers are suitable Heat Ray-resistant when the Martians finally show up on Earth... ®
Tony Smith, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Exchange weathers Net IPO storm

Optimism surrounding Friday's flotation of the UK's second largest Net company was eclipsed after early hopes of Freeserve-style profiteering failed to materialise. Shares in Exchange Holdings, which operates a personal finance Web site, opened at 200p before rising quickly to 238p -- an increase of 19 per cent. But after early profit taking shares dropped back to close at 209p. This morning, they've fallen back still further currently resting at 202p. More than 90 per cent of shares in circulation changed hands on the first day. It seems the early gains were made by institutional investors keen to make a quick buck before bailing out in relative comfort. David Chislett, Exchange's FD, told the Financial Times: "Clearly [the share price] could have been priced at the higher level [of 207p] but with the jitters in the US market we all considered it was sensible not to squeeze the last penny out of the price." Exchange raised £77.6m in its IPO. Another £24.4m could be come available by selling off a tranche of unallocated shares. ® Daily Net finance news from The Register
Tim Richardson, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

I'm Virgin – call me

Virgin is to take on the UK mobile phone market with the launch of its own brand phones, running on the One2One network. The company yesterday outlined plans to have the phones on the shelves of its 220 Our Price shops and 85 Virgin Megastores by Christmas. This would give the group more mobile phone outlets than any other high street phone store. Virgin said the Our Price customer profile and age slotted neatly into that of mobile phone buyers. It had previously considered selling the Our Price chain, but now said it was perfect for launching Virgin Mobile. The deal with One2One is expected to be signed tomorrow. Virgin will be trying to cash in on the storming UK mobile phone market -- users have grown to over 17 million, from ten million a year ago. Last week the UK saw a mobile phone price war break out between the supermarkets and the high street, with retailers slashing prices by up to 50 per cent. The same week also saw a High Court ruling against the government, criticising it for aims to impose licence charges on the next generation of mobile phone operators. Ministers wanted the charges to force operators into letting rivals use their present networks. The legal decision could delay the auction for the five licences for the next generation of mobile phone network, which was due to start in January. ® See also: Mobile war spreads to supermarkets
Linda Harrison, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Updated iMacs to ship in September

The next version of the iMac -- the so-called 'D2' revision -- is due to go on sale next month, according to two US retailers. In a report over at MacWeek.com, sales reps in a California branch of Sears and from New York-based J&R Electronics provided a cross-continent consensus that the new model will ship in September. Still, their stories don't quite match up. The Sears rep said the new machine would sport a faster PowerPC 750 (aka G3) CPU -- current iMacs ship with a 333MHz verison -- and more bundled software, all in the existing iMac 15in monitor casing. However, J&R's man claimed the new model will be different from current models, implying some sort of new casing. He was also unable to provide details of the machine's spec. The MacWeek.com points to the upcoming Seybold conference in San Francisco as a possible launch pad for the new iMac. That said, it is believed that Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs will use his keynote speech at the show to unveil changes to the company's Power Mac line, primarily a switch to the new PowerPC 7400 (aka G4) processor, and possibly its split into two parallel product lines, one for business users the other for the creative computing community. That said, there appears to be some doubt whether the long-awaited G4 boxes will make it out of the Apple this year, so Jobs may well choose to debut new iMacs and possible speed-bumped G3s based on Motorola's latest version of that CPU too at Seybold instead. Seybold opens on 30 August, so we won't have too long to wait. ®
Tony Smith, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Rambus launches RDRAM fault tolerance

Rambus today announced its version of fault-tolerant memory for high-end servers, as predicted here. Dubbed IDM (Interleaved Data Mode), the technology will be incorporated into the 256Mb version of Rambus Direct DRAM chips, due to sample at the end of 1999 and go into production next year. Essentially, the technology mirrors an approach laid down by IBM, which developed its Chipkill memory fault tolerance technology last year and now uses it in its high-end Netfinity servers. Rambus' announcement doesn't refer to the IBM effort beyond stating its "support for Chipkill high availability memory systems". As Rambus puts it, IDM "enables whole-chip and singular pin failure detection and correction using an approach similar to today's SDRAM-based systems" [our italics]. So IDM is essentially about allowing memory companies supplying RAM for Chipkill systems to use RDRAM, with its higher bandwidth and smaller chip size, instead of SDRAM. And let's not forget the naming of the technology. IDM sounds just like... well... IBM. Coincidence or a dig at Big Blue? We suspect the latter. ®
Tony Smith, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq UK loses David Petts

David Petts is leaving Compaq UK for the PC vendor's head office in Houston. Petts, previously director of Compaq PC business unit in the UK, is moving to the US in three to four weeks. He has taken up the position of VP of marketing at Compaq CPCG (commercial personal computing group), according to Compaq. He will report to Mike Winkler. Petts sudden departure means he will not be around for the launch of the Prosignia range in the UK –- the desktops, servers and notebooks Compaq plans to sell direct to SMEs from next month. He was heavily involved in this announcement last month. His replacement in the UK will be David Wright, currently director of commercial personal business group. Petts has been working for Compaq for ten years. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Fujitsu PCs on sale at Iceland

Fujitsu is in talks with frozen food retailer Iceland to sell its PCs. The vendor is in early discussions about selling its mini-tower PCs in Iceland stores in the UK, according to Noel Lynch, Fujitsu channel director. No details were available regarding volume price points of the machines -- or, indeed, which freezer cabinet they'll be stored in. Ahem. The deal reaffirms Fujitsu's love affair with the supermarket as a PC channel. Last year it sparked off a wave of copycat ventures when it started selling PCs in selected Tesco stores. While Iceland may lack some of Tecso's brand strength, there are 771 Iceland frozen food outlets in the UK. Fujitsu is also due to announce another deal regarding Tesco. From the end of August, it will sell its Biblo mini notebooks for £1199 in around 50 Tesco supermarkets. This comes less than a year after a similar deal to sell Fujitsu laptops fell through with Tesco at the last minute. According to Lynch, it was all down to availability problems. He stressed the product was now more readily available. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Shake down splits Compaq UK in four

Joe McNally, Compaq UK vice president and managing director, has shuffled his Cabinet of senior management in the UK and Ireland. The rejig resulted in three business groups being created – the Enterprise Solutions and Services Group, Commercial Personal Computing Group and Consumer Group. These will be led by Gareth Cadwallader, David Wright and Jude Meadows respectfully. A new eCommerce division has also been created, and this will be headed up by William Knocker. Knocker will be responsible for the vendor's entire ecommerce activity. The rest of the top staff line-up is as follows: Mark Norton – group sales director Nick Offin – partner sales director Hamish Haynes – marketing communications director David Toso – professional services director Craig McCoy – human resources director Paul Smolinski – finance and administration director Tom Keating – director, Compaq Ireland McNally said Compaq was aggressively trying to claw back some of the company’s growth and financial performance. "Customers can expect to see a more focused approach in three specific market segments – enterprise solutions, consumer and commercial PCs. "The creation of the new eCommerce division reaffirms Compaq's vision to become the Internet leader of tomorrow," said McNally. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Cisco's $1bn in KPMG forms love triangle with MS

Cisco intends to invest $1 billion in "global advisory firm" KPMG, which is what these bean-counters-cum-management consultants are calling themselves nowadays. That's a lot of Cisco shareholder cash. Cisco has relatively few people in consultancy, and so had to look outside for an entree into the systems integration scene. As CEO John Chambers told the New York Times, "You can be out of business in three years... whoever moves quickly first are those who will benefit first over the next ten years". But he seems to have overlooked IBM and Oracle, who've already moved into this field. KPMG itself has been trawling for technology partners for some time, and will use the money to hire 4,000 engineers and service professionals over the next 18 months. The focus will be on areas where Cisco manufactures kit. Six new centres will be set up, four in the US, and two elsewhere. Whether KPMG will find 4,000 people is another matter, but with all that cash, it could afford to pay rather well. In return for its money, KPMG will get "less than 20 per cent" of KPMG's US unit. KPMG entered a joint venture with Qwest Communications, called Qwest Cyber.solutions, earlier this year to develop order processing. Whether KPMG will be able, or will pretend, to offer "independent" advice to its clients in view of its relationships is an issue that needs addressing. Like Microsoft's "consultants", who at least admit that they only work with MS software, KPMG seems to be hedging on this important issue of professional ethics. For its part, Cisco has indicated that it will seek relationships with other consultancies - and of course already has a solid relationship with Microsoft. If Cisco is sincere about not allying with single vendors, it would also seek to strengthen its strategic partner relationship with Novell, although the Microsoft relationship may have some hidden clauses precluding this. A story that deserved to be told during the Microsoft trial was how Microsoft "persuaded" KPMG to desert Netscape's browser in favour of IE, as well as to use Exchange. Netscape lost 18,000 Navigator seats and a SuiteSpot back-end system. The previous week, Intuit and Lotus had also been "persuaded" to make the same switch. The person negotiating the November 1997 Microsoft deal was KPMG COO Roger Simboni, who later went to Epiphany as CEO. He told Microsoft vp Jeff Raikes at one stage during the negotiations that "You guys don't know how to partner with anyone." But Raikes put on a personal meeting for Simboni with Gates, and proposed that KPMG became a Microsoft "partner" and not just a customer. Despite Simboni's staff complaining that "Microsoft hasn't invented anything. All they do is marketing and copying", KPMG was won over but had to pay severance fees to Netscape for software that it never used. Raikes also gave KPMG $10 million to set up a unit of ten centres around the country to market services with 500 new staff to corporations adopting NT. ®
Graham Lea, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

EMC squares $1.1bn DG buy out

EMC is to buy Data General (DG) for $1.1 billion in stock, the companies announced today. EMC will issue 0.3262 of a share of common stock for each DG shares. The deal values DG at around $19.58 per share, based on EMC's 6 August closing stock price. Through the deal, EMC will swallow DG's CLARiiON storage products. DG's AviiON server business will operate as a separate unit of EMC, the companies said. EMC also plans to use DG's R&D knowledge in Intel-based systems across its existing product range. Completion of the buyout is expected before the end of the year. EMC said it expected the acquisition to boost profits for 2000 and 2001. DG shares closed at $13.19 on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange and EMC closed at $60.06. Michael Ruettgers, EMC president and CEO, said: "Data General's products have proven technology leadership in the mid-range storage market, particularly in the Windows NT and UNIX environments, but have lacked the global distribution and support needed to achieve their full market potential." ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

BTClick unveils VOIP helpline

Internauts who need help using BTClick can now speak directly to helpline staff directly over the Net. Hyped by BTClick as the first time a subscription free service has introduced such software, it claims that users will be able to make calls to the helpdesk while surfing the Net at the same time. BT reckons this is a major advance in voice over the Internet technology. But anyone who has tried speaking to people over the Net will know it can be ropy even at the best of times. The delay in the voice transmission is reminiscent of transatlantic TV satellite broadcast where it appeared that questions were answered even before they were asked. There is one other problem. What if your reason for contacting the helpline is because you can't access the Net in the first place? ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Receivers take reins at Pace Modems

PMC Electronics, the Pace-brand modem manufacturer, has gone into administrative receivership. Based in Shipley, West Yorkshire, the company has ceased trading, and is now under the control of KPMG in Nottingham. Its holding company, PMC Group, has also ceased trading. The two companies went into administrative receivership last Thursday. According to a recorded announcement from PMC this morning: "With immediate effect, we regret that PMC has now ceased to trade. All enquiries regarding technical and support issues should be directed towards your local PC distributor." The receivers are MV McLoughlin and Peter Terry at KPMG. PMC had 45 staff in its warehouse and offices in Shipley. Around 40 of the staff have been made redundant. KPMG was unable to comment on PMC's debts. PMC was one of the few remaining British modem vendors. One source commented that US competition was now too fierce to sustain many UK manufacturers in this sector. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Philips, Matsushita outline MP3 plans

The digital music market feeding frenzy began in earnest, as two of the world's largest consumer electronics companies announced solid state audio players. Philips today said it will introduce a player by Q1 2000. The device is based on last month's final Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) portable player spec. The device's memory is held on removable media -- it will ship with enough RAM for an hour's music. Philips didn't say what its player will be called, or provide other specifications. However, the company said the player will play MP3 files, in accordance with Phase 1 of the SDMI portable spec. That's in marked contrast to Matushita, whose player, announced late last week, will categorically not play MP3s, according to the company. Matsushita's entry into the digital player market, also as yet unnamed, also follows the SDMI guidelines, but will only play files in Matsushita's own format. One of the sub-text's of the company's announcement was that it intends to launch its own online music distribution system, so it looks like Matsushita wants to tie the two very closely together. The company said the device would be released in the US next April. Interestingly, Matsushita said it will be offering a terminal device to allow the player to be loaded with music from the Net without having to connect it to a PC. That's a major step forward for a market that has so far been aimed pretty much exclusively at computer users. Getting the broader spectrum of consumers into the market will be essential for its long-term growth. The dedicated online music channel is clearly part of that strategy -- after all, users without a PC won't be able to look elsewhere for tracks. Matsushita is already working with Universal and BMG in their joint digital music programme, so you can see where the bulk of the tracks it will offer will come from. The SDMI Phase 1 Portable specification was released last month to allow consumer electronics companies to prepare products for the Christmas period, and it's highly likely Philips and Matsushita's announcements will be followed by similar ones from Sony, JVC, Technics, et al. That means tough times ahead for Diamond Multimedia, whose Rio PMP-300 player got the digital music market going in the first place by finally allowing music buffs to listen to music on a decent sound system, not a PC. However, Diamond simply does not have the wider High Street branding or even presence to compete with the big guns of the consumer electronics world, and it will be interesting to see how its strategy adapts in the months before its rivals really start competing with it. ®
Tony Smith, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Microsoft unveils NT Embedded – Not

Will Microsoft be able to find a kamikaze employee willing to test embedded Windows NT in his or her pacemaker? That's one of the key issues that arise from a leaked announcement today. To be fair, Microsoft hasn't asked for kamikaze volunteers yet. But it is trying to suggest that Windows CE is for embedded operating systems in consumer devices, while devices for grown-ups require NT. Last November, the embedded systems conference saw Microsoft make its initial announcement of embedded NT. Now Vince Mendillo, the lead product manager for NT Embedded, suggests that Microsoft intends to embed NT 4.0 and offer it as either a run-time or a development kit by the year end. But late last night, Bloomberg filed a story from Redmond noting that "Microsoft Corporation introduced a version of its Windows NT operating system for intelligent devices..." The only problem with the story was that embedded NT was not there to take a bow, but Bloomberg was able to add that "more than 60 manufacturers, including Siemens AG, Germany's biggest engineering company [sic], and ThermoGenesis Corp, which makes systems for harvesting drugs from blood, announced support for Windows NT Embedded". So there we have it: those clever Microsoft researchers have found away to recycle drugs by extracting them from blood before their potency is reduced. The evidence suggests that they must have had their greatest success with hallucinogens, which The Register will confirm after some testing in its West Wing laboratories. Meanwhile, Gartner is confidently predicting that 15 per cent of embedded systems for $5,000-plus devices will include some form of NT Embedded by the end of 2002. But even when Microsoft gets something out of the door, it will find itself facing tough competition from a number of outfits that are already established. Wind River Systems, tipped to be the Microsoft of embedded systems (although its share price has shown extreme volatility), has Tornado II in the marketplace. Integrated Systems Inc have been making embedded operating systems such as pSOSystem and pOSEK for around 20 years, and the company has some 35 million installed, including in pacemakers, lottery terminals, set-top boxes, lottery terminals, and petrol pumps. QNX Software Systems, with its HQ in Silicon Valley North (near Ottawa) was also founded in 1980. Its QNX realtime operating system has the largest share of the Intel x86 market. QNX is a microkernel, and there is an embeddable Photon microGUI as well. There are also some significant others with their hats in the ring: Sun would like to make Java the basis of embedded systems, of course, and Metroworks and Psion are also there. ®
Graham Lea, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

NetBenefit/Excite deal to push personal URLs

Domain registrar NetBenefit has signed an agreement with UK portal Excite to punt its services to a mainstream consumer audience. In June Tim Ashley, sales and marketing director at NetBenefit predicted that the acquisition of personal domains would become the next boom area in domain name sales. Just like mobile phones, which originally developed as a business-only tool before gaining widespread consumer appeal, the kudos of having a personal domain name would create a new wave of URL owners, he said. What's more, he said personal domains would become valued as family heirlooms and passed down from generation to generation. The exclusive agreement with the UK's second largest portal suggests NetBenefit could be the driving force behind its own self-fulfilling prophecy. It could also be positioning itself to take advantage of planned price cuts on 1 September when the fees paid to Nominet -- the UK's national registry -- fall from around £29 to just £5. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Y2KY jelly eases passage of date change bug

The term 'city slickers' seems to have taken on a whole new meaning thanks to the Y2K bug. KY jelly, the product guaranteed to get you into and out of many a tight situation, has just been declared millennium bug free, according to a bizarre report in yesterday's Sunday Times. This once great British broadsheet received an email claiming the manufacturer of the substance had also decided to rebrand as Y2KY. Geddit? And how exactly might this miracle of modern living assist you in slipping unhindered through the date change? "It now allows you to insert four digits into your date, whereas before you could fit only two," giggled the Sunday Times. Good grief. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel to announce fresh Pentium III price cuts in two weeks' time

Chip giant Intel cannot be happy that its little rival AMD is having such a good news day worldwide. But if you think Chipzilla is gonna sit back and let the situation ride, you've all got another think coming. The company has just notified its distributors and dealers that it will cut its prices again on 22 August next on Pentium III and "selected" Pentium II chips. The move is unscheduled and will put further pressure on AMD. In the email, Intel said: "With this price move, Intel is delivering higher performance and better value in the performance desktop market segment." ® See also AMD Athlon K7 NDA expires AMD manages to undercut Intel on K7 pricing Intel rebate prog causes further chip price reductions Intel to send PIII/450 to gulag Analysis AMD K7 strategy is a tightrope walk AMD-Intel: battle of the processors about to start
Mike Magee, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Geyserville delayed until post-Mother Shipton period

Mother Shipton of Knaresborough, Yorkshire, as well as Nostradamus, predicted the world would end in 1999. And if she was correct, that means the world and its dog may never see Intel's famous Geyserville technology, as well as its faster Coppermine technology. Sources close to Intel confirmed today that Cu-mines of 0.18 micron thinness and Geyserville technology will not now arrive until Q1 of the year 2000. In the meantime, Intel will push its existing technology as far and as fast as it can, introducing 100MHz FSB Celerons and 133MHz FSB Pentium IIIs in Q3 using the infamous Camino chipset, as revealed here earlier. ® See also What the Hell is... Geyserville Coppermine: the facts emerge Intel in 1999: Mother Shipton speaks Mother Shipton discredited by Intel
Mike Magee, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Beans spilled on Freedomi ISP venture

London-based Freedom Telecom is behind a new subscription and toll-free Internet service due to be launched in the next couple of weeks or so, The Register can reveal. Last week, the service, Freedomi, was shrouded in secrecy. And just like at tight-lipped Web design agency Hard Reality, no one at Freedom Telecom is prepared to say a word about Freedomi. MD Joshua Sayles wasn't available for comment today and director of marketing Mike Bernard wasn't prepared to give anything away either. He did admit, though, that the site advertising the ISP went up a little "prematurely" and that it wasn't completely "factually correct". But Bernard refused to say what was -- or was not -- factually correct. He refused to comment whether the service would be subscription and toll-free or not -- or how it would work. However, an old job advert by recruitment firm Reed Accountancy discovered by alltheweb.com in just 0.0680 seconds (phew) suggests that Freedom Telecom will fund the ISP with advertising. "Freedom Telecom is a remarkable new form of Interactive Digital Media," it says. "Using the most powerful civilian 'real time' computer in the world, Freedom Telecom is offering the people of the UK the chance not only to make national and local phone calls absolutely free, but also to experience all the benefits with a new, totally interactive form of media. "For the advertiser, Freedom Telecom delivers the specific branch message to the exact consumer profile via a proven medium, the telephone." Ah ha, so Net users will have to listen or watch a quota of ads in return for toll-free time online. Why didn't they say so in the first place...? ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Soccer thugs wield Web as a weapon

Britain is bracing itself for a football season wracked by violence after hooligans used the Internet to organise street fights on the opening day of the season. More than 100 fans from Millwall and Cardiff clashed on the streets of the Welsh city causing shoppers to flee for their safety. Fourteen fans were injured and six arrested as riot police spent more than two hours trying to break up fights between rival supporters. What dismayed authorities was the level of sophistication used to orchestrate the violence. Not only was the Web used to advertise details about the street fighting, it was also used to publish a real-time running commentary on the violence. A spokesman for the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) confirmed that soccer hooligans were becoming more sophisticated. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Evesham sings song of south with London office

Evesham Micros is opening a London office next month to sell to the south of England SME market. The Worcestershire-based system builder will operate from Chancery Lane, in the heart of London's legal quarter. It has appointed two staff to head up the operation, Phil Davies and ex-Ingram employee Rob de Main. It is looking to recruit locally for the rest of the team. "We are looking to take on the SME market, and believe there is a niche for a company like us in London," said Luke Ireland, an Evesham director. "We can address problems the big guys can't." Evesham also has offices in Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Glasgow and Dublin. It has 420 staff. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Cyrix M3 Athlon Killer strangled at birth by Via

Sources close to Cyrix, Via and IDT Centaur have now given us yet more facts and figures about Via's decision to shut down M3 development and suggested that the Taiwanese company has shot itself in both feet by choosing the WinChip instead. (See Cyrix layoffs confirmed at Richardson, Arlington) According to the sources, who declined, for obvious reasons, to be named, the architects had succeeded in producing M3 designs with similar performance to AMD's Athlon K7 but at 40 per cent of the die size. And Via's decision to lay off engineers has now dissolved a superior team of architects which had succeeded in severely good optimisation, the sources added. According to the different sources, Cyrix could afford to use very large onboard cache which would have outweighed the effects of slower S370 bus design on overall performance. System performance scaled linearly to a point with clock speed until about 1.2GHz. Right up until the last minute, it appeared that Via believed in the M3 processor, according to sources close to the Taiwanese company. However, Via was primarily interested in the Cyrix intellectual property, which will present a bulletproof defence against Intel's current lawsuit. According to yet another separate source, this means that Via is not really interested in producing processors at all, but in continuing to push its chipset business. It has picked up the Centaur line for a song and this is a separate line of defence against Chipzilla (Intel). Via could not be officially contacted at press time for an explanation of the affair. ®
Mike Magee, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

UK boffins unveil $35 ‘2300GB on a PC Card’ RAM breakthrough

A team of UK researchers from Keele University have developed a "three-dimensional memory system" which, they claim, offers the highest storage densities ever achieved. In fact, the technology can squeeze 2300GB into a PC Card-sized device, according to yesterday's Mail on Sunday. And the system is scalable so that even a wristwatch could contain 100GB of storage capacity. And alongside the technological breakthrough came a rare example of British entrepreneurship: Keele and capital management company Cavendish Management Resources (CMR) have formed a JV, Keele High Density, to market and license the technology. We Brits have long had a reputation of coming up with cracking innovations but being completely unable to exploit them. CMR MD Mike Downey was particularly bullish about the innovation, describing it as "big as the creation of the microchip". He predicted the technology would eliminate the hard drive, and that once the new memory system goes into production, units will cost only £35 to make. Maybe, but that may be a little way off. The technology, which, according to the MoS report, exploits the storage properties of a new family of alloys, is currently awaiting various patents to be granted -- which is probably why the team isn't too keen on discussing how it works. Further development work needs to be done to get the technology ready for mass production. However, the researchers, led by Professor Ted Williams, who cuts a Sir Clive Sinclair-style figure but can at least, having led the development of the nuclear magnetic resonance scanner, claim to have invented something useful, said the technology can be easily incorporated into existing computer hardware. ® More details of the breakthrough See also More from Keele IBM slashes hard drive recording speed Samsung unveils SDRAM-beating SGRAM Tosh develops combo CD/DVD drive Hitachi cracks 'movie on a chip' memory Sinclair plans Linux box for comeback
Tony Smith, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD goes public on Athlon

Chip company Advanced Micro Devices has now released its official statement on the introduction of the Athlon K7. As revealed earlier, it comes in 650MHz as well as 600MHz, 550MHz and 500MHz flavours, and has support from both Compaq and Big Blue. (Earlier story: AMD Athlon K7 NDAs expire... See this story for links, background &c.) Jerry Sanders III, CEO of AMD, is going to release some sound bites later on today. AMD has also opened its main Athlon page for business. Here you will find benchmarks and the like, which demonstrate the processor's technological virtues. There are also some application and technical notes on this page. But it seems a potentially disastrous price war between AMD and Intel has already started. AMD has already cut some of its prices to match Intel's latest move. ® Our last week's news coverage AMD manages to undercut Intel on K7 pricing Intel may snap up AMD AMD K7 strategy is a tightrope walk AMD uses Intel Inside top Fab Sandpit AMD+Dresden Sandpit II AMD to intro non-legacy push AMD's Sanders puts two fingers up to Intel AMD positions K7 Athlon for enterprise Via-AMD finalise chipset deal AMD+Dresden Sandpit I AMD succeeds in producing copper K6 Web Hardware Sites Anandtech Ace's Fullon3D AMD Zone Tom's Hardware CPU Review Sharky Extreme
Mike Magee, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Date rape gang circulates videos on the Internet

A Californian date-rape gang is broadcasting videos of its "conquests" on the Net. Members of the gang drug their victims with the notorious sedative Rohypnol and film their rapes. These astonishing claims were published yesterday in the Mail on Sunday, one of Britain's best selling newspapers. But where's the beef? It comes in the form of anecdotal evidence supplied by one Nina Richards, a PR consultant and -- last year -- a victim of a Rohynpol-wielding date rapist. Richards was slipped the drug by a virtual stranger at what newspapers always call "London's fashionable" Met Bar. Following seven hours of oblivion, she woke up in a strange room where she "could see a naked man. He was shuffling around and, in retrospect, I realise he could have been assembling a camera". Only later did she discover there was a "strong possibility he had photographed me to circulate his 'conquest' to other drug-rapists on the Internet". She cites a Los Angeles police source who says they "believe there's a film of what happened to me being circulated on the Internet through a California date-rape group called the Bachelors. But only those in the know in the know can access the web site, so it has not been traced". Can this be true? The implication is that some bored, decadent Californian men have got together with other bored, decadent Californian men to form a "date rape club" and then circulate films of their crimes amongst themselves. If so, this is mirrors the activity of secret child porn rings operating on the Net. But it sounds a little dubious to us. Which is not to doubt Richard's account of her ordeal. In April, British police questioned her alleged attacker, described in the MoS as "extremely wealthy" and American. He confirmed he had sex with her, but claimed she had done so willingly. And that was the end of the police investigation. In an investigation of Rohypnol misuse, the MoS reports that more than 1600 drug rapes have been reported in Britain, but there has not been a single prosecution. Traces of the drug disappear from the system within 24 hours -- usually before a victim realises she has been drugged. ® See also: Web hate sites target women and children More cash needed to fight kiddie Web porn war Long arm of the law reaches into cyberspace US Senate moves to ban bomb info on Web FBI fights fraud in cyberspace
Drew Cullen, 09 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

‘2300GB on a PC Card’ RAM technology: more details

More details have emerged regarding the amazing '2300GB on a PC Card' memory technology developed by a Keele University team led by the remarkable Professor Ted Williams. (Even as we speak, Register scriptwriters are working on the pilot episode of Prof. Ted, Craggy Island's very own quantum mechanic: "Feck! Girls! Many-particle Wave Functions!"). The team's system crams 86GB of data storage per square centimetre of physical medium, and uses a magneto-optical system to read, erase and write data within the solid state system. That allows, claim the researchers, a data access rate of 100Mbps. We also learn that Cavendish Management Resources (CMR), which is providing the business brains behind the Keele/CMR joint venture, Keele High Density, is also pioneering the following scientific curiousities, among others: "Zodee -- A disposable toilet cleaning device which avoids the hygiene problems associated with conventional toilet brushes. With major application in hotels and hospitals, this product is likely to be of interest to manufacturers, and downstream processors, of paper tissue." The Register says: Expect Intel to launch its Downstream processor Real Soon Now. "Disposal Speculum -- A unique inflatable vaginal speculum which cost effectively solves the problems of current instruments. This project has caused worldwide interest from manufacturers of medical disposables, and is likely to make a major impact on the speculum market." The Register says: We always preferred the Sinclair Speculum. "Light Weight Wheel -- A totally new concept for a combined light weight wheel/hub, likely to be of interest to manufacturers of automotive wheels and/or hubs." The Register says: Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when... CMR is promoting something called X-Cel. We're not sure what it is -- something to do with concrete, apparently -- but we're told Bill Gates already has his lawyers onto it... ®
Tony Smith, 09 Aug 1999