28th > September > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Millennium, MS consumer OS, goes to beta – really

Following up on the weird shenanigans of late last week, Microsoft really did announce Beta 1 of Millennium yesterday -- or at least we think it did. An email has gone out to selected testers welcoming them to "the upcoming beta." Microsoft accidentally announced Beta 1 in a press release last Friday (24th), although the release itself was for some reason dated the 22nd. This time around there doesn't seem to have been a release, although the Redmond Webbies, no doubt suffering from a severe spanking over the Beta 1 goof, were up early yesterday, posting releases about other stuff like crazy. Testers are now being told they'll be notified when Beta 1 will be available by FTP, and that it will be sent out by mail tomorrow. It's worth noting that the email confirms that Microsoft has recruited numerous new beta testers for demographic reasons; this has hacked-off veteran MS testers who've been left out this time around. Says Microsoft: "Many of you are new to beta testing, but we look forward to your fresh point of view and approach to testing this pre-release software." It's still entirely unclear why Friday's announcement was countermanded only for the beta to go ahead anyway on Monday, but from Microsoft's point of view, so far so good. The beta was scheduled to start before the end of the month, and it has. ® Related Stories MS announces Millennium beta - by mistake MS doesn't know which Millennium it is
John Lettice, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Memec up for sale as parent group merges

The world's third biggest electronics component distie is up for sale following the merger of its parent company. Veba Electronics, a $5 billion t/o company, is the subsidiary of Veba AG, a massive diversified German conglomerate that yesterday announced its intention to team up with Viag AG (another massive diversified German conglomerate). Post merger, the enlarged massive diversified German conglomerate will slim down to its energy and specialty chemicals constituents, leaving it as a massive, focused German conglomerate. The upshot is that Veba Electronics has been put into play. In Europe, Veba Electronics businesses include Memec and EBV Elektronik. It also has four big distie subs in North America and a wafer manufacturing fab in California. The options for Veba Electronics look simple enough: trade sale, IPO, MBO or fund buyout. An IPO doesn't look much of a goer -- physical distribution isn't exactly fashionable right now among the world's bourses. A trade sale could be an option -- but what would Arrow and Avnet (Veba's two bigger rivals) gain from buying Veba, except a lot more debt and a hell of a lot more headache? Maybe they're so paranoid about each other, and so keen to consolidate the industry around the two As, that they'll put in their bids. But that would be a mistake. For these reasons, an MBO or fund buyout (or a combination of the two)look more likely. ®
Drew Cullen, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Freeserve preps women's portal, credit cards and auctions

Freeserve is to launch an auction service, a credit card and a portal for women this quarter. This will pitch it against QXL and Loot.com on the first count; Egg and store card operators on the second; and the world and its dog on the third (Freeserve is the sixth company to announce its intention to launch a portal for British women). The company is also considering some big, but unspecified acquisitions to beef up content and subscriber numbers, CFO Nicholas Backhouse said, in a interview with financial news service AFX. "We raised net proceeds of £123 million. We have a cash balance, as at quarter end, of £98 million and the majority of the spend was accounted for by our investment in GlobalNet, TelePost and Babyworld. "As we go forward you can expect us to be doing more of those acquisitions... but for the big deals you'll just have to wait and see." His remarks accompany today's release of Freeserve's much anticipated maiden figures. They don't make terrible reading, but the market was no so impressed. In early trading this morning Freeserve shares dropped 7.5p to 142.5p. The trailblazing free ISP saw Q1 pre-tax losses before exceptionals come in at £5 million. Sales were £3.38 million for a slightly lengthened quarter (the figures cover the 16 weeks to 21 August), just over double the previous 12 weeks. In an interview with Radio 4's Today programme, Freeserve's John Pluthero declined to name a date when the company could expect to go into profit. But with e-commerce and advertising revenues doubling quarter and quarter, the trend was in the right direction, he said. These revenue streams have now overtaken connectivity in importance, Freeserve revealed in its financials. Pluthero swatted an impertinent question from the Today interviewer over Freeserve's supposedly lost customers, pointing to a net gain of 200,000 members in the quarter. A pity that Today didn't frame this question in terms of customer "churn", estimated by some analysts to be running at 40 per cent annually. In fact, Freeserve's annual churn rate could be even higher than that -- although to its great credit, it actually publishes its figures, unlike any rivals we can think of. During the quarter, Freeserve's average four-weekly churn (defined as accounts that had been inactive for more than four weeks) was 9.5 per cent, down from 11.9 per cent in the previous quarter. By other yardsticks, Freeserve also improved -- page impressions were 76 million in August, up from in 64 million in May. It claims more than 2.2 billion minutes of use for the 16 week period (1.5 billion for the 12-week period ended 1 May); Freeserve's membership stood at 1.406 million at the end of Q1, 19 per cent up on the previous quarter. In a statement about current trading, the company said its active membership is growing at 14,000 per week, compared with 11,000 during Q1. This is good, but it shows that the headlong subscriber growth of Freeserve's first days are now over. And the company will be hard-pressed to sustain its 30 per cent market share in the UK home ISP market (as estimated by Fletcher Research). ®
Drew Cullen, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

France Telecom flogs books, CDs, videos online

France Telecom is buying Alapage.com, taking it into e-commerce retailing for the first time. Terms of the deal were undisclosed. Alapage, which sells books, CDs and videos online, had been prepping an IPO -- but that now goes out of the window. France now becomes a rather more challenging proposition for Amazon than other major European territories, such as the UK and Germany, where it has been welcomed with open arms. France Telecom is building up a useful set of French-language Web properties -- it already owns Wanadoo and Voila, two top search engines/portals in France, which collectively generate more than 5.5 million page views a day. Alapage will sit nicely in this portfolio. And one would expect audience reach to increase massively. Each month, six per cent of France's online population already check out alapage.com, notching up 600,000 visits and 14,000 purchases, according to Net Values. ®
Drew Cullen, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Micron raises 64Mb DRAM contract prices…

Micron is firming up 64Mb DRAM contract prices a dollar to $9, and other memory chip makers are sure to follow, in the wake of the Taiwan Quake turmoil. DRAM spot prices are also on the march -- on 24 September, 64Mb chips (8 x 8Mb, PC-100) were trading in the US at over $20, according to Asia Biztech. Taiwan accounts for 12 per cent of the world's memory manufacture, and its producers have lost up to two weeks production in the busiest buying season for DRAM. Major memory buyers (the Compaqs, Kingstons and Hypertecs), which buy on contract, have been able to shield their customers a little from the DRAM feeding frenzy. But they receive only limited guarantees on price from the DRAM chip makers, which usually reserve the right to raise prices during the course of each contract. On 30 July, the 30-day rolling average contract prices for 64Mb DRAMs (8 x 8Mb PC100) were $6.18 for North America, $5.58 for Europe and $5.75 for Asia, according to ICIS-LOR. ®
Drew Cullen, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Teledesic to launch sooner than expected

Satellite-based Internet pipeline company Teledesic yesterday coughed up to charges made by the Wall Street Journal that it was "exploring early market entry strategies". Some confession. It would be surprising indeed if the $9 billion Teledesic wasn't looking at ways of getting customers on board sooner rather than later to fund the full development of the service. It would also allow it to build up a userbase in time for the opening of the complete satellite network. It's always easier to win new business if you've already got users on board, than it is gaining customers from scratch. Of course, the snag is that Teledesic might suffer from Iridium Syndrome -- failing to achieve userbase targets because the technology simply isn't ready yet or powerful enough -- but the company's co-CEO, Bill Owens, reckons that's not going to be an issue. In what's almost certainly a tacit nod towards Iridium, Owens said: "Despite current conditions in the satellite communications market, Teledesic is in an enviable position." How does Owens define 'enviable'? "We have money in the bank. We have the time necessary to evaluate opportunities created by the unfortunate difficulties of others [see what we mean?]. We have investors with long-term vision." The company's key investors, apart from Owens himself, are Bill Gates, Motorola, Boeing and Alwaleed Bin Talal, the Saudi Arabian prince noted for his keen interest in hi-tech investments. Of course, Owens hasn't said what kinds of "early market entry strategies" he's considering, but they're likely to centre on offerings like point-to-point network connections for big businesses, something to make use of the infrastructure the company has while it builds up the rest. ® Related Story Teledesic confirms Motorola support
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Freeserve decides users want lower dial-up fees after all

When it comes to U-turns, they don't get much better than Freeserve. In July, one of Freeserve's spokeswomen, Lesley Smith, told The Times: "The phone call charge is not much of an issue for that many people." She was, of course, referring to the cost of dial-up access in the Britain. In a comment that will no doubt come to haunt Freeserve and Smith, she seemed to suggest that charging people for every second they spend online is not an issue among Net users in Britain. How wrong can one person be? Freeswerve yesterday announced a new gimmick that means that if users spend enough on telephone calls it will give them up to ten hours (yippee, ten whole hours...) of free off-peak dial-up access a month. Hang on, didn't Smith say that the "phone call charge is not much of an issue for that many people"? Before you know it Freeserve will be charging people a monthly fee for using its service... ®
Tim Richardson, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Cam in no 820, your time is up

Oh dear, it's almost enough to make you feel sorry for poor old Chipzilla. Betting the farm on the whizz-bang i820 chipset and Rambus is starting to look like being a really bad move for the Great Satan of Chips. The inability of the 820 to run correctly on mobos with three memory slots is embarrassing enough, but those with longer memories will recall that back in April The Register ran the very first 'What the Hell is...' feature, explaining what Camino was all about. Even then, Camino was late. The original spec for the 820 mentions not three, but four memory slots, so it looks very much as if Intel discovered a problem with four slot configurations months ago and quietly cut back the spec to just three, hoping the problem would go away. Now Chipsetzilla is whimpering on about a measly two memory slots -- and that just isn't enough for the high-end systems the 820 was supposed to support. There are a number of fundamental differences between the way Camino works (or rather, doesn't work) and conventional chipsets like the trusty BX440, which could explain where the problems lie. Camino is based on a hub architecture with a Memory Controller Hub (MCH) at its heart. The MCH in turn talks to the CPU through the host bus (at 133MHz), the graphics subsystem through the AGP bus (AGP 4X) and the memory through Rambus. Everything else is handled by the I/O Controller Hub (ICH) which has a direct link to the MCH. Unlike regular memory, you need to fit continuity modules in empty memory slots because Rambus daisy chains its memory a bit like SCSI devices. This was supposed to mean that clocking the memory was simpler and was also electrically superior, offering active power management of individual memory modules. Electrically superior it may be, but if it doesn't work reliably, it's totally useless. It looks as if Intel was overreaching itself by trying to introduce so many new techniques simultaneously. ® Related stories What the hell is... Camino and Rambus all about Intel comes clean over i820 delay i820 derailed as Intel goes Rambust UK system builder in a right Mesh over i820 delay
Pete Sherriff, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Daily Mail science hack baffled by new technology

This week's 'Guy Who's Supposed To Know This Stuff Not Really Understanding Technology' award goes to Daily Mail science correspondent David Derbyshire for his interesting item in today's edition on Sony's new digital Walkman. Tucked into what's not, on the whole, a bad article -- for the Mail at any rate -- we're told by a Sony PR bunny (dutifully reported by Derbyshire) that the portable digital music player sports an "anti-skip function that allows for uninterrupted enjoyment of music during commuting or jogging". Hang on a mo, though. Isn't the whole point of a solid-state digital player that it has no moving parts that can be shaken about to unterrupt your enjoyment of music during commuting or jogging? Perhaps it was a similarly confused Sony spokesmouth who told Derbyshire about a "device called an MP3 - a pocket-sized machine without any moving parts"? Curiously, the new Walkman doesn't play MP3 files. In any case, apparently hundreds of these MP3s are available over the Web and "some are free". Perhaps the Mail's science guru would like to let us know where we can all get our gratis Rios from, then? ®
Minnie Disque, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Naked iMac II spied on Web

Confirmation has come via German Mac-oriented Web site MacNews of the specifications for the upcoming three versions of the new iMac -- the so-called 'C2 Revision' -- that we reported yesterday. According to MacNews, the line is topped by "special edition" 400MHz PowerPC 750 (aka G3) model iMac DV (Digital Video) model, which will ship with the same colour scheme as the professional-oriented Power Mac G4. The emphasis on the consumer video market is highlighted by the machine's two FireWire (aka IEEE1394) ports, 13GB hard disk and 128MB RAM. The machine will also ship with a pared-down version of Apple's Final Cut video editing application. The machine will also feature a slot for Apple's AirPort wireless network-enabling card, 10/100 Ethernet, 56kbps modem and twin USB ports. There's a new sound system developed by hi-fi specialist Harman Kardon. The main iMac line will ship in the now standard five colours, and be specced out much like the special edition model with the exception that they will ship with 10GB hard disk space and 64MB RAM. They too will ship with Final Cut Lite (or whatever it's finally called) and two FireWire ports. At the bottom of the line comes a 350MHz machine with 64MB RAM, a 6GB hard drive but no FireWire ports. Other specs. match those of the other models. The budget model will ship in blue only. ® MacNews' iMac pictures can be seen here
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Microsoft buys $15m stake in Akamai

Microsoft yesterday joined Apple and Cisco in pouring money into Internet access acceleration specialist Akamai. Microsoft will write Akamai a cheque for $15 million, but it's not yet clear how much of the company it will get for its investment. Cisco spent $49 million and received a four per cent stake -- Apple owns five per cent of the soon-to-IPO company for a measly $12.5 million investment made just a month before Cisco's. At that rate of inflation, Microsoft will get hardly anything. Not that that may matter, since the deal's advantages lie elsewhere. And for Microsoft the deal certainly is advantageous. For a start, it gets to stick one on Apple. Apple is using Akamai's global network of servers to power its push for control of the streaming media market. Akamai's system mirrors data to sites across the world and transparently connects users requesting data from, say, Apple's software download site, to the server nearest to them. Apple's QuickTime already offers a superior image quality to the likes of Real Networks' RealSystem G2 and Microsoft's Windows Media Technologies, but it needs a solid, fast network to ensure users' get sufficiently decent playback performance to notice the picture quality. Now, however, Microsoft will be doing the same thing, diminishing Apple's quality lead at a stroke. At the same time, third-parties who want to make use of Akamai's system won't be steered toward QuickTime is the streaming media format of choice. The deal with Akamai will also see the software that makes Akamai's network work being ported over to Windows NT. That's not too much of a blow for Apple, but it is one in the eye for the Linux world, currently the only OS that Akamai supports. NT support also signals Akamai's expansion of its strategy from simply offering a network for streamed media to providing corporate networks with the same functionality. That means growing the number of server OSes the company supports, and we can probably expect various varieties of Unix to be added to NT and Linux in the future. The deal is less of a threat to Cisco, which made its investment to gain access to Akamai's technology in order to build it into future router and switch products. ®
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Scottish ISP hit by cut-price calls hoax

A Scottish ISP has been singled out by malicious hoaxers in what is believed to be part of a vendetta against the company. The hoaxers created a spoof Web site offering flat-fee 24/7 access to the Net after using false information to register a free domain with the ISP Freenetname. The spoof domain -- xcalibre.org.uk -- included the name and personal telephone numbers of an employee at the genuine ISP Xcalibre Communications. He was bombarded with 100 calls a day from Net users wanting to take advantage of the £19.99 a month offer for 24/7 dial-up Net access. The company, based in West Lothian, also received a number of calls. The bogus site was launched last week after being registered through Freenetname -- the subscription-free ISP that offers free domain names for its customers. The offending site was removed by Freenetname last week after Xcalibre convinced the ISP that the site was a vindictive hoax. The site xcalibre.org.uk is now safe in the hands of Xcalibre Communications. It's not known why Xcalibre was targeted in this way but it's believed the perpetrator had some kind of grudge against the company. Rhian Ball, development director at Freenetname confirmed that it had shut down the offending site. She also said Freenetname has been forced to remove a number of sites since the ISP was launched earlier this month. ®
Tim Richardson, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

UK ISP offers £500k prize in online ad casino

A new Net lottery from Cheshire-based ISP Telinco and US company Cashwiz is offering punters the chance to win up to £500,000 just for watching banner ads. It's a marketing initiative that could eclipse similar schemes from the likes of Sharkhunt.com and Surfmiles which promise to pay a couple of quid a month if people agree to watch ads on their desktop while they browse the Web. Telicash.com, on the other hand, is free to enter and anyone fancying a flutter could earn serious bucks. A draw is held every five minutes all day every day, but to win the jackpot users have to match six different numbers and a colour. "It's uninterrupted gambling for you to play all day in the office or at home," boasts Telicash. A spokesman for Telicash was unable to say what the odds were to win but The Register reckons it could be in the region of 84 million to one. The National Lottery's odds are said to be 14 million to one. ®
Tim Richardson, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Jungle.com doubles first month sales target

One of Britain's fledgling e-commerce sites, Jungle.com, claims it has generated more than £1 million in its first month of trading -- double its own bullish estimates. It's good news for Jungle.com's very own Tarzan, Steve Bennett. "We thought we'd turn over £500,000 in our first month but instead we've done more than £1 million," Bennett told The Register today. But the success of the operation so far has not impressed everyone. Some customers have reported that their orders have not been fulfilled. Others have claimed that Jungle.com's prices are no lower and in some cases higher than High Street stores. One customer, who asked not be named, has been waiting more than a week for his order despite paying an extra £4.90 for guaranteed next-day delivery. Bennett gave a pledge to look into the matter personally before adding that 95 per cent of his customers were "completely satisfied" with Jungle.com. ®
Tim Richardson, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Win2k everywhere: 70 per cent of you will upgrade

Further evidence has emerged of Microsoft's determination to push Windows 2000 hard when it finally ships. Group VP Jeff Raikes yesterday told an investment conference that he expects 70 per cent of existing Windows machines will be upgraded. If that one comes true it'll put many a dollar into Microsoft's coffers, but how likely is it? And what evidence is Raikes basing his claims on? He thinks that 70 per cent of existing Windows machines are capable of running Win2k, and apart from thinking that this is not true, you might also think the strange coincidence of percentages just a little bit eerie. So everybody who can upgrade to Win2k will upgrade? Very weird notion indeed. Compare and contrast with what Microsoft was saying about likely Windows 95 take-up prior to that launch -- Steve Ballmer trailed a few numbers in front of the analysts, but they weren't consistent numbers, and more often the company said that it frankly did not know. Which it didn't, in the case of upgrades. Microsoft knows almost absolutely how many new machines are going to ship with new operating systems, because it's already signed off its contracts with virtually all of the PC manufacturers. There's obviously some room for variation if the customers still have a choice, but MDAs (Market Development Agreements) build financial carrots and sticks into the deals so the OEMs are encouraged to ship what Microsoft wants them to ship. Microsoft does not, however, know about upgrade and retail sales, which is the area Raikes is talking about. It might, if it looks back at the inglorious history of its retail OS assaults, have a pretty shrewd idea that in fact, most users do not upgrade their existing OS -- they upgrade when they buy a new PC. Windows 95 retail sales, despite the hoopla, were not particularly impressive. So if Raikes thinks with Win2k it's going to be different, a lot different, unprecedentedly different, we can presume the mother of all marketing campaigns when the product's rolled out. Raikes, by the way, repeats that it's on target for release to manufacture by the end of the year. Of course there's one way Microsoft might be able to get very high upgrade rates (actually there are several, but the others aren't legal) -- it could give the Win2k upgrade away. It's a thought, isn't it? ®
John Lettice, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

Nader demands DNS for the people, by the people

World governments should oversee ICANN to confine its influence strictly to the nuts and bolts of DNS registration, according to a draft proposal rolled out by legendary American crusader for the little guy, Ralph Nader, during a Washington conference on DNS issues this weekend. The proposal, by the Consumer Project on Technology (CPT) on whose behalf Nader spoke, calls for the creation of a "multilateral government charter" upon which ICANN's legitimacy would depend. Perhaps unfortunately worded in its present form, the CPT proposal would apparently limit ICANN oversight to those countries that "agree that ICANN's role should be limited to tasks essential to maintaining efficient and reliable DNS management", a stipulation which might have the ironic effect of disqualifying the US from influencing its own creation. The document makes no mention of how those sovereign governments which might wish to exploit DNS registration towards a more activist regulatory agenda could participate in ICANN oversight, or even make their views known. So much for the egalitarianism suggested by the word "multilateral". Apparently, "democracy" is to be limited to those who think liberally about a resource shared throughout the world. Aside from what may be its unintentional bias acknowledging only governments with laissez faire Net policies, or its bald-faced hypocrisy -- you be the judge -- the proposal includes stipulations for increasing the public's access to ICANN proceedings. This might take the form of enabling any and all Net users to vote on ICANN delegates and board members. "What I'm suggesting is there should be direct elections, by potentially millions of people," Nader said. Presumably this feat would be accomplished via the Web, a development which could eventually transform ICANN into a springboard for launching popular referenda. And perhaps that's not a bad way of tying up its resources: Nader may be hoping that once the Hoi Polloi get to mucking about with policy issues, the DNS will be in such a state of blissful disorganisation that regulatory activism will be impossible. ICANN interim chairwoman Esther Dyson listened patiently to an onslaught of criticism and accusations from speakers and spectators alike. She said nothing new in reply, but repeatedly assured all in attendance that ICANN is dedicated to limiting its own power to the minimum needed to function as a domain registrar. ICANN's chief business will be limited to IP addresses, protocols and the domain name system, she promised. This familiar assertion has been less than reassuring among Net activists. In particular, the power of arbitration over trademark disputes, which ICANN elected to give itself, rubs many stakeholders the wrong way. But Dyson sees the move as essential, and quite prudently limited: "We're setting up the procedures for arbitrating trademarks and domain names. We're trying not to become something that can be used as an arm of government, police, big corporate interests, or nutty people of all stripes. The goal of this organisation is to keep itself very limited," she repeated. By way of evidence, she pointed out that ICANN has responded to public criticism: closed meetings are now open to anyone who can afford to attend; and the proposal to levy a $1 surcharge on registrations, which was roundly attacked as a tax, has been scrapped. But ICANN's questionable pedigree, descending as it does from a memo of understanding between the US Commerce Department and Network Solutions, along with its unpopular first steps following incorporation, have tarnished its reputation and instilled suspicion among diverse interested parties. The little guy has scant confidence that ICANN will protect the Net from irreversible colonisation by mendacious mega-corporations, while Big Business frets that the organisation might interfere with its mission to tyrannise the Net and pervert its entire function to the promotion of commerce. It will take more than repeated assurances to convince the majority of stakeholders that ICANN will be a benevolent administrator of DNS resources. The organisation is unfortunately situated between two factions, both of which foolishly see the contest as a zero-sum game where an opponent's success is understood as one's own loss. But of course the Net is almost infinitely flexible by design, and the policies and restrictions imposed by one entity are easily skirted by another. There is virtually no limit to the top level domains that can be registered, and any fool can set up a router and begin providing some form of infrastructure service. As Cisco engineer Karl Auerbach pointed out, "ICANN is erecting a door in the middle of a field". One can fiddle with the bell-pull if one is so inclined, or simply walk around. ®
Thomas C Greene, 28 Sep 1999
The Register breaking news

MS teams with USWeb in major app rental play

In a couple of hours time Microsoft will announce the next stage of its plan to rent applications across with Web. It has struck a "strategic alliance" with Internet services company USWeb/CKS, the general idea being that the latter will standardise on Windows 2000 and Microsoft BackOffice products, and set up application hosting systems that can then be rolled out to Web sites and service providers. Disturbingly the pair say today's announcement will take the form of an announcement of their "vision for digital business," but less visionary sources in the know tell The Register that it's actually a serious play for ASP (Application Service Provider) business, designed to establish Microsoft applications, server and BackOffice software as the de facto standard for application rental across the Web. So it's to some extent an attempt to head off Sun, which intends to 'Web-ise' StarOffice, and also a riposte to Oracle, which has been working on a rental approach to enterprise apps for some time. It also has difficult sub-texts, of course. Just the other day Microsoft was showing off something that sounded a bit like a Network Computer but definitely wasn't, because it was just for Web stuff and email, not for 'proper' apps like a PC is. But if apps are available for on the Web, then they're Web stuff, right? Tricky, but we think we mentioned this already (Microsoft to unleash MSN Web appliance. And then of course, a PR-wizard source close to USWeb/CKS tells us, there's the 'aliens ate my company's credibility' factor. The founder of USWeb, who is understandably no longer with the company, has some pretty radical views about extra-terrestrials and their influence on the IT business. You can start reading about that in UFOs claim Web CEO's scalp. Our PR wizard tells us that today's announcement is bound to generate lots of heartless coverage about little green men, rather than about visions for digital business. But we were nice - we left it to the last par. ®
John Lettice, 28 Sep 1999