19th > September > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Wicked IBM execs bayonet ailing OS/2

At the last minute, IBM has torpedoed plans for a new OS/2 client from Stardock Systems, despite apparently having no plans for a new client of its own. The decision, made by IBM last Thursday, comes after six months of negotiation and an agreement in principle, so it looks suspiciously like IBM corporate would prefer to see OS/2 dead sooner rather than later. According to Stardock Object Desktop product manager Brad Wardell his company had approached IBM in 1998,suggesting that Stardock license OS/2 technology on an OEM basis and make a new client available. Stardock's proposal won support from OS/2 partisans within IBM, and six months were spent thrashing out the details of the product: "everything from potential names down to which minute components would or would not be included," says Wardell. The culmination of this process took place last week, where the IBMers in favour of the deal made their pitch at executive level - and were told "nope." Says Wardell: "The call has been made -- there will be no new client from Stardock and IBM has indicated that they have no plans for an OS/2 based client of their own... they have decided that it is currently not in IBM's or their customer's interests to license any current OS/2 technology on an OEM-basis... IBM has simply finally made the decision that a new OS/2 client would be in conflict with their strategic directions." So far, we can only speculate as to why the existence of what would inevitably be a relatively small number of updated OS/2 clients would conflict with IBM's strategic directions. IBM has made its intention of moving OS/2 users over onto thin clients and then magically disappearing them pretty clear for some years now, so maybe having OS/2 fat clients staying viable is seen as conflicting with this. Or then again there might be an outside chance that IBM doesn't want to do an OEM licensing deal because it intends to open source OS/2. We confidently predict this will happen one day - but we can't help noticing that IBM doesn't generally get around to giving stuff away until it's too old for most people to care. It's the Smithsonian approach to open source... ®
John Lettice, 19 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Merced Tru64 next on Compaq's death list?

Compaq's next move in the OS shootout will be to put a couple of rounds into the IA-64 version of Tru64, according to US reports (which we suspect of being spread around by our good friend Terry Shannon of Shannon Knows Compaq). Our take is that it's virtually certain to happen, and that it's just a matter of timing. Compaq has already terminated its twin track Intel-Alpha software development by stopping development of Alpha Windows 2000, and consequently ringing the curtain down on Microsoft operating systems on Alpha. That move was justified because of the relatively low level of sales of NT on Alpha - there was absolutely no way sales could, could ever, justify development costs. But turn it around the other way and it's not entirely clear that there's going to be much of a market for Tru64 on IA-64. Compaq is officially committed to doing it, but Compaq officials currently seem reluctant to reaffirm that commitment with any degree of enthusiasm. Add to that the fact that Compaq also supports Monterey, the SCO-IBM joint IA-64 project, and that it has Linux as a back-stop, and several things become pretty obvious. We're going to have more Unixes for IA-64 than we're actually going to need, and if Compaq persists with Tru64 for Merced it'll probably get squished, because most of the rival outfits have more development bucks than Compaq can spare. Plus, supporting Tru64, Monterey and Linux on Intel would mean that Compaq had more Unixes than it knows what to do with. So if it zaps one of them, it'll be putting over a less confused picture, and further differentiating between its Alpha and Intel offerings. And if its non-MS Intel offering turns into a Monterey-Linux double act, it's still backing two horses so has some insurance in the event of one of them screwing up. We suspect Compaq secretly hopes that the Trillian 64-bit Linux on Merced project will work, so it can dump Monterey again, and spite IBM. Mind you, as IBM itself announced support for Trillian last month, IBM may be on auto-spite here. ®
John Lettice, 19 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

800MHz Athlon games systems to launch next month

High end games hardware specialist GamePC has added Athlon machines to its range, and is promising Kryotech cooled versions overclocked to 800MHz in early October. The company, which offers off the shelf or build to order high-powered PC gaming systems, is currently offering the Titan system, based on a 600MHz Athlon,and the Disrupter, a 550MHz version. The next big leap will be the LiquidX-800E and LiquidX-800S, both Kryotech cooled 800MHz beasts, the former having twin 22 gig ATA-66 hard drives, and the latter a twin 18 gig SCSI RAID system. Presumably, as AMD is proposing a rapid ramp of Athlon clock rates, this is only the beginning. ® See also: Carrera pumps Athlon up to 800MHz
John Lettice, 19 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Taiwan slaps punishment levies on DRAM firms

Squeeze hard enough and the worm will surely turn. Taiwan, arch dumper (allegedly) has slapped punitive duties on five foreign DRAM makers found guilty of dumping chips on the island. The five, Micron, IBM, NEC, Samsung and Hyundai, will each have to pay a levy of 61.3 per cent on DRAM chips they sell on the island, according to the Taipei Times. In May this year, they were found guilty of shifting DRAM from US manufacturing operations into Taiwan at up to 75 per cent below cost between 1997 and the beginning of this year. It is not clear whether DRAM produced locally by these vendorsor whether DRAM made in Taiwan but sold for export is subject to the duties. Nor do we know how long the punishment will last. But, the levy will do no harm to Taiwan's home-grown DRAM industry. DRAM prices, currently enjoying a two-year high, are not expected to rise, as a result of the ban. Tit plays Tat Taiwan's indigenous PC makers will simply source from cheaper (Taiwanese?) players, so long as the levy lasts, But it will be a major irritation to the five guilty DRAM makers. Effectively, they have been hobbled in the world's most important centre for PC manufacture. But by far the worst is Micron. Check out the story link below and you'll see why Chinese eyes may be smiling at thatprospect. This is the first time Taiwan has imposed anti-dumping sanctions. But its DRAM maker have faced many dumping charges in the past, particularly from Micron's legal department, otherwise known as the US International Trade Commission. Recently, the ITC found several Taiwanese DRAM makers guilty of dumping chips in the States. Tariffs are expected next month. ® See related story Taiwanese sue Micron -- for dumping!
Drew Cullen, 19 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Astrology site lifts one-to-one Web porn techniques

In 1984, legendary Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie sacked the paper’s astrologer after he was "found to have been recycling predictions… in a letter apocryphally said to have started 'As you will no doubt have foreseen…'"* Fifteen years later, Mackenzie is mixing it up with astrologers again -- but this time he's doing it online, in a venture called World Interactive Television. This is to offer real-time one-to-one astrology consultations, using technology previously seen only in what the FT describes quaintly as the sexual therapy industry, but which most others think of as online pornography. What can we say. This is a brilliant idea. Astrology sells newspapers. It’s sure to sell Web sites. WIT’s astrology site opens for business, Wednesday, because that’s the day considered by an astrologer to be auspicious for a launch. The online astro-staffers will be based in London and hippy trippy Sante Fe, New Mexico. So it seems WIT aims to whip its consultants into 24/7 shape. Mackenzie, currently chief executive of the Sun, is backing World Interactive Television, with WIT chief ececutive Stephen Kirk and Bruce Gyngell, the former chairman of Yorkshire Television and chief executive of TV-AM, the defunct owner of the defunct tabloid breakfast TV station. They are backing the venture to the tune of £1 million. 3i is throwing in another £1 million into the pot for a 25 per cent stake. ® *Stick It Up Your Punter The uncut story of the Sun newspaper -- by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie. ISBN 0-671-01782-9
Drew Cullen, 19 Sep 1999