8th > November > 1999 Archive
After the flash-bang-wallop launch of .18 micron Coppermine processors three weeks back, the world+dog has waited to find where they can buy them. At launch time, as reported at the time, none of the biggest distributors in the world, including Ingram Micro, was listing the Coppermine processors for sale. PC manufacturers were complaining that Intel had generated demand it could not supply, while the company itself admitted that supply would be a "little tight" in Q4. Distributors and dealers were told that mobile versions of the Pentium III/.18 micron were unlikely to arrive in volume until the first half of next year. Most PC manufacturers are unlikely to launch 370-pin flip chip Coppermines until Q1 next year. By some quirk, the first place where new products are often spotted is the electronics-heavy Akihabara area of Tokyo. And now we can confirm that some shops have stocks of some of the 15 parts Intel introduced. According to Japanese reader Battlax, some shops in Akihabara now have limited stocks of the following parts: Pentium III/733, Pentium III/650, Pentium III/600EB, Pentium III/600E, Pentium III/533EB, Pentium III/550E and the Pentium III/500E. The Pentium III/666? No stock whatever. When we say limited, we mean pitiful. The total number of parts available adds up to 42 Coppermine processors for sale. That is unlikely to satisfy the pent-up demand for the parts, we'd have thought. No i820s mobos have yet appeared but we expect Intel is waiting for Comdex/Fall, next weekend, to make that hullabaloo. There are some pictures of the abundant parts here. ®
Shaken but not stirred by repeated legal action Intel has taken against it since June, Via Technologies is to take the giant head on at Comdex/Fall next week. Publicly, Via will unveil its long-awaited support for the AMD Athlon processor, a move that will further put heat on Intel. And sources close to the company say that Via will unveil a DDR (double data rate) synchronous memory strategy aimed at desktop PCs, rather than servers. This might be behind closed doors but Via doesn't seem to get scared very easily, so may well go public on the whole shebang. So far, most companies which have announced support for DDR, have restricted it to their server families. Synchronous memory is far cheaper than Rambus memory at present. Intel engineers are currently struggling to create a PC-133 chipset for early release in the year 2000. This is bound to irritate Intel, which is using the glitzy Las Vegas venue and its key PC partners to show Coppermine processors running in i820 motherboards, using PC-100 synchronous DRAM and Rambus memory. Via is also likely to step up its efforts on the CPU front. As well as demoing its own "Joshua" chip, it is likely to outline its further microprocessor roadmap, the sources added. It now claims it has integrated both Cyrix and Centaur-IDT x.86 technology and will preview a whole low-cost family of parts at Comdex. Via is a so-called "fabless" processor company, meaning that it does not have the huge capital costs Intel has. It also has excellent relationships with the majority of Taiwanese IT related companies. The "Joshua" reference will not be lost on Intel. The chip giant is seen by Via as a modern Jericho and the Taiwanese company wants to see its walls, in Mission Boulevard, Satan Clara, come tumbling down. Sources added that Via, which has a stand in the Sands exhibition centre, is also likely to demonstrate its KX-133 chipset running with some fast Athlon processors. The deal Via struck with S3 recently will mean the creation of a family of low cost integrated products. The sources added Via will show the Apollo ProMedia II for Slot 1 and Socket 370, which also includes an AGP4x expansion slot and is pin-compatible with the Apollo Pro 133A chipset. ® See also History of the Decline & Fall of the Intel Empire
MS on Trial Microsoft can even use the fight against piracy as a mechanism for strengthening its hold on the OS market, according to Judge Jackson's findings of fact. The company has achieved a situation where practically all PCs ship with Windows on them, so nobody much wants a pirate copy of the OS, and where the illegal market that does exist has no effect on keeping the prices Microsoft charges down. It's nice work if you can get it. This is how, according to the judge, it works: "Although there is no legal secondary market for Microsoft's PC operating systems, there is a thriving illegal one. Software pirates illegally copy software products such as Windows, selling each copy for a fraction of the vendor's usual price." That's not much help, is it? But wait: "One of the ways Microsoft combats piracy is by advising OEMs that they will be charged a higher price for Windows unless they drastically limit the number of PCs that they sell without an operating system pre-installed. In 1998, all major OEMs agreed to this restriction. Naturally, it is hard to sell a pirated copy of Windows to a consumer who has already received a legal copy included in the price of his new PC system. Thus, Microsoft is able to effectively contain, if not extinguish, the illegal secondary market for its operating-system products." In this section of the findings of fact Jackson is actually concentrating on possible constraints on Microsoft's ability to charge what it likes, and finding that there aren't very many at all: "So even though Microsoft is more concerned about piracy than it is about other firms' operating system products, the company's pricing is not substantially constrained by the need to reduce the incentives for consumers to acquire their copies of Windows illegally." There are a couple of obvious effects of the regime. First of all, as end-users aren't likely to have much motivation to buy pirate copies, the piracy of Windows that exists is heavily skewed towards the smaller system builder end of the market. These guys are obviously a hell of a lot easier to spot than individual consumers, hence the prodigious number of prosecutions Microsoft mounts against the class of offender every year. Second, although the major OEMs have only (one presumes, but fears perhaps not) agreed to limit the number of no-OS machines they sell, this effectively increases Microsoft's dominance and raises the barrier to new entrants, especially if we bear in mind that it will be operating in conjunction with the dreaded MDAs (Market Development Agreements). At the moment, if an OEM has to ship PCs with an OS, that OS is probably going to be Windows. Most of the big OEMs have announced support for Linux, but right now that support is heavily skewed towards the theoretical. How many of their machines are tested to run Linux? How easy is it for customers to specify Linux as their OS of choice? Linux will be an alternative, but it isn't really rolling yet. Meanwhile MDAs, which we've covered copiously here in the past, incentivise OEMs to maximise their Windows shipments at the expense of rivals. Rather than being straight discount schedules they're pitched in the form of joint marketing deals, so PC companies get marketing subsidies together with extra discounts for meeting targets. We should also note how another aspect of Microsoft's anti-piracy activities allows the company to tithe* the PC market. OEM versions of Microsoft operating systems are licensed only to run on the machine they're sold with, which is why, as the judge says, "there is no legal secondary market for Microsoft's PC operating systems." Now, once upon a time the PC operating system bundled with a PC came on separate disks which you could install on any machine, and take with you from machine to machine, whatever the licence agreement said. But these days that isn't just illegal - it's remarkably difficult to do, and is getting harder. Microsoft doesn't allow OEMs to supply installation disks for Windows. The install files are welded onto the particular machine's hard disk, and can't be (illegally, of course) moved onto another machine and installed there without a deal of hacking about. OEMs who do have a deal to supply system files on CD along with their machines generally supply them in the form of an encrypted Microsoft-approved CD that can be used to restore the files as they were on the hard disk when the machine was first bought, but that will only work on that particular machine. So when it comes to OEM versions of Windows, the licence effectively says that you're already only renting the software, and you'll have to toss it when you buy another machine, both for reasons of legality and because you just plain can't move it over. Microsoft gets its share of the price of every PC sold, and it's all a side-effect of the fight to eliminate piracy. Neat. * The word tithe is no longer particularly appropriate to describe Microsoft's share of the price of a PC. As hardware costs have fallen, and OS costs have not, the Microsoft cut is now frequently in excess of one tenth. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
A group of hardware sites is petitioning makers of motherboards in Taiwan to show their whole-hearted support for AMD's Athlon K7 microprocessor.
14 Oct 1999 Financial services company First Global Group has launched the UK's first independent, online comparison and transaction service for life assurance. It was developed using e-commerce tools from eXchange Holdings plc.
7 Oct 1999 QXL offer eight times oversubscribed
Sources at Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer Asus have denied rumours that the company will withdraw its Athlon CPU motherboard, the K7M, from the market, as a result of pressure from Intel.
Motorola reckons it will be able to meet Apple's requirements for PowerPC 7400 (aka G4) processors this quarter, the company told MacWeek Friday. Clearly this is a point of honour for the chip company -- and perhaps a tacit admission that Apple was right to lambaste Motorola for its inability to meet the company's demand, in turn preventing the Mac maker from supplying its customers in a timely fashion. Interestingly, company spin doctor Phil Grove said Motorola is focusing on "fulfilling demand" for 350, 400 and 450MHz parts, so it would appear that the company still hasn't knocked the chip's 'can't exceed 500MHz' bug on the head, at least not enough to get 500MHz parts in volume production. The 500MHz bug forced Apple to downgrade its Power Mac G4 line, prompting some serious marketing gaffes as the Mac maker proved unable to figure out what to do with users who had already ordered pre-downgrade computers. It's policy shifted one way, then another, back again and then settled down somewhere else. Grove told MacWeek that Motorola is "run-rated" to meet Apple's demand -- in other words, the company will hit targets in the quarter, rather than (since we're already there) hitting targets just before entering the period. It's also rather vague on when exactly Apple's requirements will be met -- it could easily be later rather than sooner. ®
Maybe Chipzilla is mellowing in its old age. The venerable i740 graphics chip may still be on the train to the gulag, but the chip behemoth has done a total U-turn on support. Interactive support was discontinued a month or so back, but it would appear that users have been bombarding Intel with complaints about being left in the lurch to the extent that its support site now sports the following message: "Dear Intel740™ Graphics Accelerator Customer: Due to the overwhelming interest with the Intel740™ Graphics Accelerator, Intel is extending support for the Intel740™ product line. "Intel will provide interactive support via Forums and Email for the Intel740 graphics accelerator. Intel740 graphics accelerator product information and existing drivers will continue to be available here." Intel listening to its users? Who'd have thought it? ®
Japanese electronics giant Kenwood today unveiled a 72x CD-ROM drive in a last ditch attempt to sell fast CD units before DVD-ROM becomes the PC standard. The internal 72x unit is based on US developer Zen Research's TrueX technology, which equips a slower drive with multiple lasers. Since more data is read in a given time -- more than six bits can be read simultaneously -- the drive appears to run faster than in fact it does. The drives spin at a range of speeds to ensure a constant linear velocity (CLV) to allow the lasers to rates read data at consistent rate wherever they're stored on the disc. Regular drives spin at a constant angular velocity (CAV), so the linear velocity of the disc, and thus the speed at which data can be read, slows as the laser moves away from the edge of the disc. Earlier this year, Kenwood released its first TrueX drive, a 40x unit. It quickly boosted the drive's speed to 52x. Kenwood said the drive would ship initially in Japan for Y25000 ($239). ®
British Palm users keen to get their hands on the latest Palm clones from Handspring and TRG will have to wait until next year at the earliest. According to IT Week, TRG president Ernie Rudolph said the company is planning to begin shipping its corporate-oriented TRGPro in the UK some time during Q1 2000.
If you've just come out of university and want a job among the high-fliers in Asda's training programme (and who wouldn't?) you can now apply online. But don't worry if you're not good enough for Asda because it will point you towards inferior competitors like Tesco and Sainsbury's without you even having to click. Asda's recruitment drive site, Have You Got What It Takes?, is low on tolerance but high on fun. "Asda's not everyone's cup of tea," it informs the hopefuls. "But find out if you're right for us by answering this fun questionnaire." Select A, B or C from the seven questions on offer ("What's your definition of a good manager?") and Asda will tell you whether you're on the way up or wasting its time. This reporter selected the daft answers and was unsurprisingly rejected. But the 'right' answers (hint: we're all a big, happy team) led to a 17-page online application form. Bugger that. So we went back and re-entered the wrong stuff. "Sorry -- you are obviously a very talented person but ASDA may not be the right place for you. Are you sure you want to go into retailing, if so try..." And without so much as a thank you we were whisked off to Sainsbury's Web site. We tried again. Same thing but winding up at Tesco. A third attempt led to Safeway. And so my dream of becoming a supermarket manager died. Marvellous thing technology. ®
Police are conducting a fingertip search of a Web site in the hope that it could unearth some vital clues behind the murder of a young university researcher at the weekend. The battered body of Elizabeth Stacey, a 24-year-old psychology technician in the Research Department at London's Westminster University, was found on Saturday by police sniffer dogs. She had sustained massive head injuries. Miss Stacey, described as a "conscientious, happy young lady" by DCI Guy Ferguson, the officer leading the investigation, was reported missing on Friday night after failing to return home after work. She was last seen alive on Friday morning with work colleague and fellow research assistant, Steven Reid. Police want to talk to Reid, who has not been since the disappearance of Ms Stacey. Reid appears to have been infatuated with Stacey and, according to a report in This Is London, even created a Web site devoted to her. At a press conference today, Metropolitan Police officers would not discuss specific details concerning the site. A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that the missing man's Web site had been found. She said that the investigation into the site was "only one line of enquiry" and was unable to comment further on allegations that the site was an online shrine to the dead woman. Steven Reid, who comes from Edinburgh, has not been seen since Friday morning. He is described as 33 years old, white, 6ft tall, slim build with brown/green eyes and short dark brown hair which is longer on the top. He has a tanned complexion and speaks with a Scottish accent. ®
MS on Trial Linux and the open source movement won't succeed in breaking Microsoft's hold on the operating system market, said Judge Jackson in his findings of fact last Friday.
Motorola expects the semiconductor industry to grow by 19 per cent in 2000, prompted by demand for chips in cars, televisions and wireless devices.
Bill Gates is to dish out some of his millions to the disadvantaged in the UK, Arts Minister Alan Howarth said today.
Computer 2000 (C2000) is upping its credit limits to resellers to patch the hole left by CHS Electronics Plc. The Basingstoke distributor said it would increase credit for existing resellers and open accounts for those resellers previously with CHS.
Internet superstar Amazon will go head-to-head with Dixons -- the UK's biggest electronics retailer -- with an online consumer electronics store.
Just two minutes spent chatting on a mobile phone can give you the memory of a goldfish.
Scottish-based ISP 08004u could face legal action over an unpaid account for a measly £2500, it emerged today.
Last week we reported on the massive pent-up demand for Linux that has been identified in the UK reseller channel. The survey which threw up the remarkable figures was conducted on behalf of distribution giant C2000. Perhaps the most astounding statistic in the survey was that 71 per cent of resellers said their customers were ready to adopt Linux. Not only was it astounding, it was also slightly off the mark. Rather than 71 per cent, that figure should have been 29 per cent. An error in transposing the figures led to the picture for Linux looking somewhat brighter than it really is. Doh! Not our mistake, you understand. But we know how easy it is to make mistakes – most of us are only human after all. But it's still good news for all you devotees of the open source OS that Microsoft loves to hate. The survey, conducted by one of the UK's leading distributors, found that 29 per cent of resellers said their customers might be ready to indulge in a spot of Linux. Not as jaw-droppingly high a figure as it first appeared – but still pretty damned impressive; one in three resellers claiming end-users in the UK are ready for Linux? That's a pretty healthy potential market share just around the corner. From zero to hero? You better believe it, baby. It's just taking a little longer than initial reports suggested. ®
Today, Red Hat launches Wide Open News, its very own News and Views site for the Information Economy. And guess who it's selected in its first tranche of content partners? That's right, The Register, sitting alongside Salon and The Industry Standard. Which is nice. In effect, Red Hat is, through Wide Open News, extending the values of the Open Source software movement to the mucky world of IT publishing. This is "intelligent co-operation" in Wide Open News lingo. Well, The Register is intelligent (sometimes) and always willing to co-operate. We have signed a cross-publishing deal which will see us regularly post Wide Open-originated articles. Wide Open News will take some of our stories, too. It's early days yet. But we think Red Hat could be on to an editorial winner: Wide Open News is easy to use -- nice, clean design -- and there's some keen editorial intelligence at work. Moreover, there's a point to it -- Wide Open News is constructed around an idea, not an advertising demographic. Here's the link Wide Open News. Check it out. ®
Analysis One of the most striking features of Judge Jackson's findings of fact is the near absence of direct comment from the good judge. After a while, the reason suddenly becomes clear: what he has written - a basic account of most aspects of the case - wholly accepts the DoJ case and hardly gives any credence to the Microsoft evidence. A considerable part of the evidence - especially from the economists - has been judged to be not relevant. But many of the juiciest morsels offered in evidence are included, and of course this makes them official facts of the case. We shall be offering more analyses of the significance of the result, but here are a few preliminary impressions. On the few occasions where the judge makes a personal statement, it is significant. First blood is when he defined the relevant market following the refusal of Microsoft witness Dean Schmalensee to do so. This wouldn't have helped Microsoft, but Schmalensee has defined the market in other cases where he has been a witness. The judge's decision was that in determining the level of Microsoft's market power, the relevant market consisted of Intel-compatible PC operating systems. He excluded server operating systems, information appliances, network computers, and middleware such as Netscape's browser and Java class libraries. He also decided that Microsoft's claims that it was always vulnerable to new entrants to the market was spurious, because of the applications barrier. The key finding here is that "Microsoft's actual pricing behaviour is consistent with the proposition that the firm enjoys monopoly power in the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems". So monopoly power is a fact, despite Microsoft's denials, and the next step will be to consider whether Microsoft has used its monopoly illegally. Aside from concluding that the applications barrier blocks new entrants, the judge's findings also cover the actions Microsoft has taken in order to maintain this barrier. Talks with rivals are initiated ostensibly to do a deal, but the goal turns out to be to neutralise competition by getting the rival to slow down or abandon development. He notes: "Microsoft were willing to invest a large amount of cash and other resources into securing the agreement of other companies to halt software development that exhibited discernible potential to weaken the applications barrier." AOL, Apple, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Netscape, Novell, and Sun/Java come to mind as victims. Judge Jackson elaborated cases where Microsoft's actions have harmed consumers: "Microsoft's actions have inflicted collateral harm on consumers who have no interest in using a Web browser at all." He also thought that MS exec Jim Allchin's refusal to supply a technique to remove for IE, and Microsoft's refusal to cater for customers who might prefer Navigator, harmed consumers. The judge firmly came to the conclusion that there was no technical justification for Microsoft's refusal to meet consumer demand for a browserless version of Windows 98. Microsoft could easily supply a version of Windows 98 that does not provide the ability to browse the Web, and to which users could add the browser of their choice, he said. This suggests he may order Microsoft to produce an IE removal program, and to sell 'unbundled' versions of Windows: "Given Microsoft's special knowledge of its own products, the company is readily able to produce an improved implementation of the concept illustrated by Felten's prototype removal program. In particular, Microsoft can easily identify browsing-specific code that could be removed from shared files, thereby reducing the operating system's memory and hard disk requirements and obtaining performance improvements even beyond those achieved by Felten." Jackson clearly intends to impose serious and wide-ranging remedies on Microsoft, but unless Microsoft and the DoJ cut a deal in the interim, that will only be the beginning. His findings of fact are carefully crafted in order to make it very difficult for an appellate court to come to Microsoft's rescue, but the appeals process will be likely to delay, ultimately even block, any remedies he proposes Microsoft intends to appeal, and has indicated that it will go as far as the Supreme Court. So far the company has done better on appeal, and it's perfectly possible that the appellate court could put remedies on hold. Judge Jackson's own temporary injunction requiring Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without IE was thrown out on appeal, and way back in 1995 the appellate court overruled Judge Sporkin's refusal to sign the consent decree, which he thought was too feeble. The DoJ, which at that time was in cahoots with Microsoft to force the consent decree through, no doubt now agrees. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
MS on Trial There are some positive points for Microsoft in Judge Jackson's findings of fact - no, really… Diligent Register research has identified three key areas where Microsoft can find a straw to clutch. We accept that the first 185 paragraphs aren't entirely positive, but in paragraph 186 we read: "As an abstract and general proposition, many - if not most - consumers can be said to benefit from Microsoft's provision of Web browsing functionality with its Windows operating system at no additional charge." Expect to see this widely quoted. But then ask yourself why the next two sentences are excluded: "No consumer benefit can be ascribed, however, to Microsoft's refusal to offer a version of Windows 95 or Windows 98 without Internet Explorer, or to Microsoft's refusal to provide a method for uninstalling Internet Explorer from Windows 98. In particular, Microsoft's decision to force users to take the browser in order to get the non-Web browsing features of Windows 98, including support for new Internet protocols and data formats is, as Allchin put it, simply a choice about distribution.'" Never mind, here's another: "Windows 98 offers some benefits unrelated to browsing that a consumer cannot obtain by combining Internet Explorer with Windows 95. For example, Windows 98 includes support for new hardware technologies and data formats that consumers may desire." There you go - it's all about building great software, unhampered by the legal stooges of unsuccessful competing companies, right? But then Jackson continues: " Microsoft has forced Windows users who do not want Internet Explorer to nevertheless license, install, and use Internet Explorer to obtain the unrelated benefits. Although some consumers might be inclined to go without Windows 98's new non-browsing features in order to avoid Internet Explorer, OEMs are unlikely to facilitate that choice, because they want consumers to use an operating system that supports the new hardware technologies they seek to sell." OK, third time lucky. Microsoft really does build better software: "The changes in usage share described above would likely not have occurred had Microsoft not improved its browsing software to the point that, by late 1996, the average user could not discern a significant difference in quality and features between the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Navigator. Well, not necessarily better: "As Microsoft's top executives predicted, however, Internet Explorer's quality and features have never surpassed Navigator's to such a degree as to compel a significant part of Navigator's installed base to switch to Internet Explorer. An internal Microsoft presentation concluded in February 1998 that many customers see MS and NS as parity products; no strong reason to switch," and another internal review three months later reported, 'IE4 is fundamentally not compelling" and "not differentiated from Netscape v4 - seen as a commodity.' " So there we have it: a few sentences in three paragraphs out of 412 paragraphs. The outlook is bleak for Microsoft. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
The Lord Chancellor's department has shut down a Web site for being critical of judges. The site, run by James Hulbert, was openly critical of five judges who have presided over cases he was involved in. Speaking to The Register, a department representative said Hulbert had already lost two court hearings when he began to draw attention to his Web site which contained 'libellous and inaccurate information'. Rather than direct legal action, the Lord Chancellor's department contacted Hulbert's service provider, which duly removed the site claiming a breach of terms and conditions. Hulbert has since found a different service provider to host his site, which the department is also likely to contact, said the representative. The department was "not able to predict" how long this cat-and-mouse game would continue before direct legal action was taken. Hulbert claims his evidence is such that those involved would not dare take him to court. Hulbert was acquitted in 1991 of deception and assaulting a police officer. He sued the police for false imprisonment and settled out of court, but continued campaigning for the courts to recognise that evidence in his trial had been fabricated. The Web site details his progress with the case. ®
The effect of Intel's debacle with the 820 Camino chipset has been to speed up development of its own PC-133 and Double Data Rate (DDR) chipsets, it has emerged. Intel will move to fill a hole by adapting its 815 (Solano) chipset so that the generally poorly regarded graphics in the i810 and i810e will put an AGP 4X slot on motherboards, our sources still insist. That motherboard will also support PC-133 synchronous memory, rather than Rambus memory, a scheme set to satisfy a multitude of PC manufacturers who want to build inexpensive PCs that use the far cheaper, and also far more available, SDRAM memory. Intel has also been pushed into using the DDR chipset using the Amador chipset, as revealed here earlier. That is slated for the second half of next year, unless the chip giant brings it forward. There is another, more pressing reason, for Intel to move fast to PC-133 and DDR memory. Via Technologies is hot on its heels, and as we pointed out earlier today, will unveil a DDR chipset aimed at desktop, rather than server systems, at Comdex/Fall in a week's time. ® See also Intel likely to bring Solano chipset forward i820 pushed back to week 48: Amador emerges Via to intro new Athlon chipset, DDR desktop chipset next week
Apple has been granted an injunction against Future Power and Daewoo preventing the companies' making, distributing or selling their ePower PC in the US. The Mac maker set its lawyers on the companies back in August when it alleged the ePower's design is a rip-off of Apple's own iMac.
Newsblurt: The gigolo-in-chief will be available for a 90-minute on-line chat session tonight at http://townhallmeeting.excite.com starting at 7:00 pm EST. Register your nick early enough, and you might get on as Monica_Lewinski_28500... ®
Forty-two million shares of Microsoft changed hands in the first 45 minutes of nervous trading in New York this morning, as investors and speculators tried to make sense of Friday's unfavourable findings of fact in the company's antitrust suit. Under normal circumstances, something like 20 to 25 million shares of Microsoft might be traded in an entire day. Microsoft values fell by as much as 8.6 percent in early trading, but recovered gradually throughout the morning. At one point, however, a cool $30 billion had been wiped off its value. By mid-day, Microsoft's losses on 72 million shares traded were in the range of 3 to 4 per cent, still sufficient to help drag the Dow Jones Industrial Average, upon which the company made its debut last week, down by more than 25 points. But nothing could stop the tide of celebration on the NASDAQ Exchange, which rose 15 per cent by mid-day despite the fact that Microsoft accounts for 16 percent of its value. NASDAQ issues Oracle, Red Hat, Netscape and Apple all enjoyed smart gains adequate to compensate for MS losses, and then some. We can expect investor jitters to keep the stock in a volatile state at least until the judge delivers his ruling early next year. Market agitation today was due in part to an interview with Assistant US Attorney General Joel Klein, head of the DoJ's antitrust division, on the ABC Sunday news programme, "This Week", during which Klein stated for the first time that a breakup is a realistic possibility. Even if the verdict falls short of a breakup, the findings of fact are already negative enough to tempt Lilliputian legions of opportunistic lawyers to mount all manner of class-action suit against the Redmond giant. This could lead to persistently depressed share prices, as Wall Street has a real penchant for punishing the victims of opportunistic legal actions. ®
Mac-based Register readers can now search the site using Apple's Sherlock technology.