5th > January > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

SuSE Linux joins Debian to embrace Mac

SuSE is to join Debian as the second major Linux distributor to expand its horizons beyond the x86 world to the PowerPC processor in general and the Mac in particular. A "beta quality" version of SuSE 6.3 for the Mac will be unveiled tomorrow at MacWorld Expo, here in San Francisco. The finished release is set to ship in the Spring, but in the 'in-development' Linux world, most software is inherently in a kind of permanent beta test state, so SuSE's stability should be pretty good. The release will be identical to the versions of the open source OS SuSE offers for x86 and Alpha platforms, the company said today. The PowerPC version will ship with SuSE's own administration and configuration tools. Debian's version of Linux for PowerPC has been in the works for some time, though the organisation has largely kept quiet about it, awaiting for the next major release of the Intel version, 2.2, when the two releases can be consolidated, before shipping the Mac release. It's a testament to the success of Mac projects like LinuxPPC and the more commercially-oriented Yellow Dog Linux that the big names in the Linux world are viewing the Mac as a viable platform to support, particularly given the Mac's generally poor showing in Linux's traditional home, the server market, and the strong x86-orientation of most Linux users and developers. That focus on the x86 platform has largely kept Linux on the PowerPC in the shadows, despite the efforts of the platform's supporters to keep it up to date with the x86 kernel. The arrival of Debian and SuSE should help 'legitimise' Mac Linux in the eyes of the x86 world, and will hopefully ensure kernel upgrades cross to the PowerPC that bit more quickly. A basic version of Debian for PowerPC can be downloaded from the Debian Web site. SuSE will also make its 'beta' release available for download. A $49.95/Euro 46 package containing installation CD and 60 days' tech support will also ship shortly. ®
Tony Smith, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Analysts bullish about Apple ahead of Expo announcements

Investment bank Saloman Smith Barney (SSB) today dubbed Apple's stock an outperformer and raised its target price to $115. At the same time, Warburg Dillon Read said it expects the stock, marked 'buy', to reach $125. Both statements come in anticipation of some good news from Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs' keynote at Macworld Expo, San Francisco tomorrow -- anticipation that saw the company's share price rise almost ten per cent yesterday. SSB analyst Richard Gardner told Computer Reseller News US he anticipates some very positive news to come from the Expo -- and from Apple's 19 January report on the current fiscal quarter, which ended 31 December. That said, analysts over at Prudential take a very different view -- that Apple will have a job meeting its aggressive sales growth target for the quarter. Apple CFO Fred Anderson has been saying for the last nine months that he expects double-figure growth for the Christmas season. While Anderson or Jobs can't yet give details of the quarter's performance, at past Expos they have dropped strong hints about the company's sales, and Jobs may well do so again tomorrow. In any case, Gardner's expectations of a stock price hike following Jobs' keynote is a safe bet since the crowd-pulling interim CEO's public proclamations always have such an effect. Indeed, it's such hike that largely pushed Apple's stock up through most of 1999 before the launch of the Power Mac G4 in August sent the share price skyrocketing through a series of all-time highs. ®
Tony Smith, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Celerons and Linux to power Intel Web appliances

Intel will announce its plans for consumer Web appliances at a conference in Las Vegas today. The company is to sell appliances with the Intel logo to telecom operators and service providers, which will then sell them on to consumers. These are not PCs running any version of Windows, which is not good news for Microsoft, given Intel's undoubted ability to manufacture and sell its products. An Intel representative confirmed that the machines will run a version of the Linux OS, and will use Celeron, not StrongARM processors to power the boxes. This is a bit of a volte face, as Chipzilla originally had plans to incorporate the StrongARM technology it acquired as part of a FTC-brokered deal with Digital, in such devices. There will be several machines available in the range, which will be rolled out around the middle of this year, according to Intel. The boxes will include both Internet and telephony features, but it is unclear whether other applications will run on the boxes. Nor does Intel yet seem to have a name for the devices, which may well spell a further stage in the company's gradual move away from Microsoft. As we have reported here on many occasions before, Intel also has no problems executing on software. Many components in Microsoft Windows 98 were provided by Intel, and last year its Architecture Lab demoed a user interface that owed little or nothing to a Windows software metaphor. What is clear is that the machines will soak up some of Intel's fab capacity, and the boxes may well use several speeds of Celeron processors, although it seems unlikely that the Megahertz clock wars will play a part in the marchitecture. Intel did not make clear which version of Linux will power its Web boxes. A statement from the company said that it has already struck deals with a number of other companies including NEC, French firm Laser Galeries Lafayette and Lucent to assist its Web appliance push. Later on this year, Intel plans to provide its Timna, "system on a chip", processor, which will also be used in set top boxes and Web appliances. That will allow it to compete with National Semiconductor's Geode processor, which already has quite a clutch of design wins. It may be that Intel has turned on the Celeron tap so full that using these processors in the devices will clear the stockpile. Having played Caesar III over the holidays, we're aware that it is possible to end up with far too many widgets in a warehouse... ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Big Q pundit gazes into Compaq 2000 crystal ball

Assiduous Digital, and latterly Compaq watcher, Terry Shannon, has outlined his ideas on the company's plans for the year 2000. In the latest edition of his newsletter, Shannon knows Compaq, he offers 10 predictions on product and other developments throughout the year. Shannon agrees with The Register that the delayed "Wildfire" Alpha GS server product line is likely to appear in February, although he doesn't rule out another slippage in delivery. The first systems are in place at a number of sites he says. Later this year, he also believes that the Big Q will start talking about its Marvel followup to Wildfire, which will use as many as 256 microprocessors. The much awaited announcement of the pact between IBM and Compaq to fab Alphas will also take place during the year, and there may be copper interconnect microprocessors produced on .15 micron technology. Shannon also anticipates the introduction of a quad chip Alpha workstation, a further move towards the Linux OS, and a C++ compiler for Linux. Compaq also has a project en route called Slate, he says, which will rack up to 42 1.75-inch low cost Alpha system for ISPs in one cabinet. There will be 667MHz and 700-750MHz versions of the Alpha over the next months, while shortly afterwards Q will introduce 800MHz .18 micron Alphas. The newsletter also predicts 1GHz Alphas to ship in volume during the year. ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Gov't slammed for serial IT blunders

Basic errors repeated time and time again are to blame for the British Government's inability to deliver major IT projects on time and within budget. That's the conclusion of a damning report published today by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which claims taxpayers are footing the bill for the Government's blundering IT mistakes. The committee said failures to pay social security benefits to the most needy people in society, and the computer glitch that plagued the issue of passports last summer (forcing some people to cancel their holidays) were not isolated incidents. "It is imperative that the government acts quickly to improve its record on the management of IT projects," said David Davis, Tory chair of PAC. "Such projects are often delivered late or not at all; they come in over budget or fail to work as intended at the outset," he said. In a statement the Government said it welcomed the publication of the report and that it had set up a new initiative under the watchful eye of the Cabinet Office to review major IT projects and drive up performance. A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "We are determined to improve the management of major IT projects and learn lessons of past projects. "[We are] developing recommendations that will help ensure that future systems run effectively, deliver value for money and apply best practice learned from previous projects," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Ingram steps into WStore CHS breach

Online reseller WStore has made Ingram Micro its sole distributor in the UK. Ingram steps into the shoes of now defunct distributor CHS Electronics UK, which WStore previously used to distribute its IT products in this country. The Internet-only PC dealership said the partnership would allow it to increase its product portfolio to 15,000 items by the end of this year’s Q1, from its current 7,000 products. WStore, which started trading in France and also operates in Germany, Switzerland, Russia and the Czech Rebublic, will also gain access to Ingram’s 14 European warehouses. "Our target market is increasingly discovering that e-commerce based ordering of IT equipment drives down procurement costs and is much more effective and quicker than traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ resellers," said Tony Price, WStore MD. Ingram will also be pleased with the deal as it tries to step up its Internet strategy. The company saw profits nosedive to $17.5 million for its third quarter ended October 2. This excluded $2.7 million of reorganisation costs, and compared to $59.8 million for the same period the previous year. Meine Oldersma, Ingram Micro UK MD, said: "Our single world-wide IT system provides the ideal platform for e-commerce companies such as WStore. It has offered us a significant advantage in the rapidly expanding online ordering market."® Related stories: Net-only dealer sets out Euro-stall UK management blamed for Ingram woes Ingram late filing accounts Northamber snaps up CHS Electronics’ customers
Linda Harrison, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Compaq buys Inacom's PC operations

Compaq has stepped up its direct business by paying $370 million cash for Inacom’s PC assembly facilities. The deal, predicted here last month, will see the US distributor hand over its four US assembly and distribution operations and 2,500 staff, as well as its systems for managing customer orders online. The agreement is expected to be finalised by March 31. Big Q plans to spin the acquired assets off into a separately managed, wholly owned subsidiary led by Mike Winkler, senior vice president and group general manager of Compaq’s commercial personal computing group. The deal will allow the Houston-based vendor to directly provide US users with tailor-made PCs and track their purchases, Compaq said. "This purchase makes great strategic sense for Compaq because it gives us the right capabilities quickly and cost-effectively," said Michael Capellas, Compaq president and CEO. "We’ll be better equipped to meet the diverse and changing needs of our US customers – particularly our major accounts which clearly want to go direct – increasing our potential for profitable growth." But analysts claimed the deal would not be enought to plug the growing gap between Compaq and direct demon Dell. While boosting Compaq’s manufacturing capabilities, it would still not give it Dell’s direct relationship with its customers, they claimed. "It doesn’t get Compaq closer or further from a customer," Raymond James & Associates analyst Robert Anastasi told today’s Wall Street Journal. The four acquired facilities are based in Indianapolis; Omaha, Nebraska; Swedesboro, New Jersey; and Ontario, California. Inacom will still deal with its own on customers, but will buy PCs from Compaq instead of customising them itself. In November, Compaq admitted its supply chain needed speeding up and ditched its channel-only policy for volume sales in the UK.® Related stories Dell eats into Compaq’s European sales Compaq offers crumbs of comfort with small Q3 profit
Linda Harrison, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

MS Office blocks Linux progress on desktop, says VA chief

Office, not Windows, is Microsoft's real killer asset, according to VA Linux Systems CEO Larry Augustin.
John Lettice, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Golf snobs turn backs on scruffy Gates

Bill Gates is cocking a snook at uptight golf snobs, by building his very own £20 million golf course. The exclusive Vintage Country Club in Indian Wells, California laid into the world's richest man for looking too scruffy, in a case of the Emperor's Old Clothes. Vintage rebuked the Microsoft chairman for wearing a T-shirt on the practice tee. He should have been wearing a shirt with a collar or turtleneck, according to club rules. For all his wealth, Gates has found it hard to crack America's ultra-bourgeois golfing scene. Eighteen months ago, he was denied membership of the Augusta National, home of The Masters tournament, one of the world's four most important championships. He was told to wait in a seven-year line. ®
The Register breaking news

2000 is the year of the Rambus

Direct Rambus DRAM could be in office machines and consumer electronics as early as 2001 as prices fall. By the end of this year, the high-speed next generation memory chip is expected to account for 16 per cent of the DRAM market, with 270 million units sold, according to a Nikkei Market Access survey. Four companies Toshiba, NEC, Infineon Technologies and Samsung Electronics will account for 75 per cent of Rambus production in 2000. Sony's Playstation 2 will use the Rambus memory from March 2000. ®
The Register breaking news

Virgin dotcoms banking arm

Richard Branson's Virgin has attempted to dampened speculation that it is set to open an Internet bank to compete with Egg, Smile and e-bank in Britain. The company said that a plan to create a Net bank was just one of a number of options currently being considered by the financial branch of the group, Virgin Direct. Virginmoney.com would offer a range of financial services and is rumoured to launch as early as June. But a spokesman for Virgin Direct said: "We do have a number of things in the pipeline -- this is just one of them. "We're just formulating ideas at the moment -- I have nothing more to say," he said. Despite Virgin Direct's efforts to pour a bucket of cold water over the matter, the Telegraph's source for the story is just about as rock solid as they come. Apparently, this secret information was made public at an analysts' meeting in Australia by the insurance company AMP. AMP owns 50 per cent of Virgin Direct. A spokesman for Virgin Direct denied there was any conflict with its Australian partner over the premature release of the company's plans. Yesterday, Britain's biggest bank, Lloyds TSB, announced its intention to create an online bank. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Seven alternative uses for an Intel Bunny Suit

1. It is the best contraceptive mankind ever invented. 2. Young people will envy your trendy fab gear. 3. It will keep the rain out as you're walking to the fab. 4. You will never have to buy a deodorant again because Intel forbids you from wearing deodorants in a bunny suit. 5. You will never be bothered by your partner for snoring because your partner will have left you for reason 4. 6. You will never need to buy a contraceptive again because of reasons and 1 and 5. 7. You will never be confused for anyone else because no-one will recognise you. See also Intel makes The Register sweat I Intel makes The Register sweat II Intel makes The Register sweat III
Adamson Rust, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Millennium Bug prophet receives death threats

Defrocked prophet of Y2K doom Peter de Jager claims to have received death threats from a number of followers disppointed by the rollover's lack of destructive effects, today's Express reports.
Thomas C Greene, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Computacenter ‘theft’ arrests

Two former Computacenter employees have been arrested on suspicion of theft of Computacenter property. The men were arrested in December and are currently on police bail pending further enquiries, according to St. Albans police. Neither have been charged. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Millennium Bug prophet ‘not upset’ by $10m eBay hoax

It's been confirmed that the record-breaking $10 million bid for the Web address year2000.com was a hoax. The bogus bid for the Web site address was made via the online auction house eBay after the current owner decided to sell it. Had the sale gone through it would have been the highest amount paid for a Web address. The current record is held by eCompanies which bought business.com for $7.5 million. Attempts by officials at eBay to contact the purchaser proved unsuccessful following an investigation by the auction house. "We never thought it was a legitimate bid," sighed Antoinette de Jager, the wife of Peter Jager, the fallen prophet, who owns year2000.com. "We're not upset or disappointed by this," she said. Both eBay and the de Jagers are now trying to find out which of the bids -- if any -- is genuine. There's speculation that someone is prepared to cough up $2.5 million for Web address although this has yet to be confirmed. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Ma Bell and BT sing in Concert

AT&T and British Telecommunications Plc announced today that their $10 billion joint venture, Concert, has been signed, sealed and delivered. Concert will combine both companies' international networks, traffic, and business products. "This is a new company for the new Millennium addressing the massive growth in e-business in the Internet-enabled global economy," BT CEO Sir Peter Bonfield gushed. Concert is expected to generate revenues of US $7 billion in FY 2000, with earnings before interest and taxes of about $700 million. Expected capital expenditures for 2000 are estimated at $1.5 billion, the companies said. Concert has fixed assets of approximately $3 billion. ®
Thomas C Greene, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Compaq flogs blue breadbins to the masses

Compaq is to launch an easy-to-use Internet range of Presario PCs from $999. The Houston vendor is today unveiling plans for its desktop Presario EZ2000 series, with one-touch Web access, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The two models, aimed at home users, will be based on either the Intel Celeron or Pentium III chips. Both will be available in the US from the end of this month. The PCs will try to lever some of Apple’s success, sporting a navy blue colouring and what Compaq described as a "retro" design – in actual fact, more like a bread bin. They will offer USB and FireWire, as well as a "digital dashboard" which promises to provide feedback to the user like a car dashboard. "No longer will the consumer need to wait for a connection to be established to check their e-mail - the Digital Dashboard will automatically ‘wake up’ the PC by dialling out to the consumer's e-mail account to notify household members (up to ten) that e-mail is waiting for them," Compaq gushed. The EZ2200 is based on a 500MHz Celeron, with 64MB RAM, 20GB hard drive, two USB and FireWire ports and CD-RW and CD-ROM drives. The EZ2700 will be available direct from Compaq on a build-to-order basis. It uses a 500MHz Pentium III chip, comes with a 17-inch monitor, and will cost $1,499. Mike Larson, Compaq senior VP and general manager, consumer business unit, said: "Today's announcement is the first in a series of innovative products that help consumers maximise their connected e-lifestyle." The company is also adding seven new desktop and three portable models to its Presario range, as well as a multifunction device for printing, faxing, copying and scanning.®
Linda Harrison, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel Linux devices challenge MS – but at the server end

Analysis Intel's shiny new web appliances do indeed shun Windows in favour of Linux, but a closer examination of Intel's strategy makes it clear that this is the least of the headaches Chipzilla is presenting its 'ally' Microsoft with. Aside from building a range of cheap, Intel-branded access devices the company is proposing to challenge Microsoft in a whole range of key areas, and the battlefield is going to be software, not chips. Intel describes its "Web appliance strategy" as consisting of three components. First of all there are the appliances themselves, intended to be used "to bring the Internet to new devices in the home," according to Claude Leglise, general manager of the Intel Home Products Group. These will indeed run Linux on Celeron processors, but considering their nature that's neither here nor there; they're intended to be dependent on remote applications and management capabilities (maybe they're really, ahem, NCs...) so it's perfectly possible to plug in kit based on other hardware and other software. Intel itself has produced appliances using VXWorks, for example, while even Microsoft has started to sound more agnostic about client operating systems - really, as both companies understand, the money's going to be upstream of this, at the server end. The red light must have started flashing and the klaxon sounding at Fort Redmond when they got to the next part of the Intel strategy: Intel will be providing "appliance management capabilities." This is of course server software stuff, and doesn't have anything to do with chips per se. More alarm signals will have been generated by component three, "services packages building blocks." Intel is proposing to put together solutions that do pretty much what Microsoft has been proposing to do; "work with other companies that [sic - shocking editing standards in Intel documentation] will provide applications and content for the Intel Web appliance," and to "assist service providers in developing service offerings." Put like that the Intel offering could be interpreted as being more a case of corralling various other companies in order to put together packaged solutions for service providers, but it becomes rather more specific, rather more Intel-specific, further on: "Intel further plans to provide service and telecom providers with server software based on standard management technologies to enable cost-effective remote support of the Intel web appliances, and other Internet access devices." Intel isn't specific about the kinds of server software it will be offering here and where it will get it, but as Microsoft is not noisily jumping for joy in tandem with the Intel announcement, Solaris and/or Linux might seem a more reasonable educated guess than NT. Note also that those "other Internet access devices" are likely to include mobile phones, particularly as one of the alliances Intel has announced in association with the Web appliance master plan is with Infospace, which is heavily involved in delivering services to wireless devices, and which is also allied with... Microsoft. According to Intel the first wave of appliance systems, due out by mid-year, are intended to integrate Internet access with telephony features such as call management and unified messaging. Deals with Telcordia (formerly Belcore) and Lucent will support this, and Intel and Lucent are developing a unified messaging system for sale to service providers. Again, this is clearly Microsoft's turf. And: "Future products will also enable retailers to offer e-commerce services to consumers." That implies packages consisting of appliances, server software and server applications supplied by Intel (or at least complete packages put together under Intel's auspices) to financial and retail outlets. Two other alliances Intel announces however make it clear this is close to becoming reality. In Japan NEC "plans to sell it to banking companies, application service providers as a financial terminal and as a home service terminal, starting mid-2000." Meanwhile in France "LASER-Galeries Lafayette Group has selected Intel's Web appliance products to provide personalised e-commerce services to consumers across Europe." Considering LASER-Galeries Lafayette announced a huge e-commerce provision deal with IBM in the middle of last year, this one isn't exactly good news for Microsoft either. Galeries Lafayette, incidentally, is a tres chic French retail operation which broke new ground last year by filling one of the windows of its flagship Boulevard Haussman store in Paris with svelte (live) models in their underwear. Representatives of less chic nations should not try this at home, but it suggests that the group may have the odd killer USP when it comes to appealing to consumers on the web. Live models in bunny suits? No, we think not... ® Earlier story: Celerons and Linux to power Intel Web appliances Register told you so department: Intel appliance strategy means war with MS
John Lettice, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Apple's Jobs declared CEO for life

Apple's senior executives, most of the rest of the company's staff and the Mac faithful were all granted their most cherished wish today when Steve Jobs struck the 'interim' from his job title to become Apple's full-time CEO. Two-and-a-half years on from the palace coup that saw off Gil Amelio the previous CEO, Gil Amelio, an emotional Jobs told the Macworld Expo keynote crowd that he'd decided not to move on after turning the Mac maker around as he'd originally planned. Jobs said he'd convinced the boards and shareholders of both Apple and computer movie company Pixar that he can run both businesses simultaneously to the detriment of neither. Of course, Apple has always been Jobs' baby, and despite an early attempt to seek a possible successor, a parting of the ways was always going to be a difficult thing to do for all his protestations that running Pixar was the best role he'd had. In the end, Apple couldn't find someone to take over from Jobs once his work at the company was done, but given that, at the time, the company was looking like it wouldn't be around for much longer, it's not surprising no one else wanted the job. Most likely Jobs himself didn't go the whole hog at the start precisely to avoid dragged down too if his attempt to pull Apple out of the red failed. Ironically, much of Jobs' recovery strategy -- cut costs, slim down the product line, focus on core competencies, aggressively pursue Internet business -- actually took shape under Amelio's direction. It's doubtful that the company would have travelled quite as far toward the consumer end of the spectrum as it has under Jobs, but the current CEO has taken more credit than he actually deserves. That said, running Apple isn't always about strategic stuff -- getting up on stage and telling everyone the company is great is just as important, and here Jobs is the master. The way the company's stock price shoots up after every Jobs keynote is proof of that, and in this respect, Jobs has done as much for Apple as an evangelist as a boss. Wall Street likes Jobs and that may well have been one of the main reasons why he finally dropped the sham of pretending to be a temp. He was, after all, fooling no one. ® Related Stories Apple's Internet strategy takes shape Apple unveils MacOS X, readies 'classic' OS' retirement Analysts bullish about Apple ahead of Expo announcements
Tony Smith, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

MS gives Californians $400 each to buy computers

Microsoft is giving Californians a $400 gift to help them buy computers, according to the estimable San Jose Mercury. Of course, this isn't happening by design - it's just a strange coincidence of MSN incentivisation and Californian consumer law.
John Lettice, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Apple unveils MacOS X, readies ‘classic’ OS' retirement

Apple officially launched MacOS X today and, effectively reversing the company's previous system software strategy, signed the death warrant for the current, 'classic' version of the Mac operating system. Of course, 'launching' and 'releasing' are two very different concepts in the IT business, so Mac users won't get their hands on MacOS X until sometime next summer when the software will be released as a retail product. Next quarter, developers will receive the OS' final beta, but the fact that Apple doesn't plan to start bundling its "next-generation operating system" until January 2001 suggests the initial end user release may be a feature-incomplete 'preview' release just like MacOS X Server 1.0 was. Apple's spin doctors describe the 12-month gap between MacOS X's launch and its bundling with new computers as "a gentle transition" from MacOS 9 to the new operating system. Yet MacOS X is supposed not only to be easier to use than the current version -- signalling Apple's ongoing attempt to attract first-time buyers to the platform -- but completely compatible with existing apps. In which case, why is there a need for a transition period? Three reasons stand out: first, the OS, already behind schedule (it was supposed to have shipped last autumn), is a long way from completion. Second, that the much-vaunted MacOS 9 compatibility isn't quite as fast as many users will no doubt expect. Apple presumably wants to wait until it's shipping machines fast enough to handle running not only existing applications but MacOS X's MacOS 9 compatibility application (formerly known as Blue Box). Finally, for all MacOS 9's current support for the Carbon API, Apple's bridge between the classic MacOS Toolbox and MacOS X's modern OS features, developers won't support Carbon until there's a shipping operating system that actually makes use of it. In other words, the transition is more about getting developers on board than users. Carbonising an app is relatively straightforward, but it's telling that Carbon versions of some key apps, such as Adobe Photoshop, won't appear until MacOS X ships even though they will run under MacOS 9 now. Meanwhile, the fact that MacOS X will be bundled with all shipping Macs also suggests that Apple's original plan of offering MacOS X to power users equipped with latest Apple hardware and the 'classic' MacOS to everyone else may have been revised. Maintaining MacOS 9 as a separate OS strand made sense in the early days when MacOS X was still a long way off and ultimately offered users little more than a Unix core with a Mac GUI front end. Incidentally, it was interesting to note Steve Jobs' keeness to stress the similarity between MacOS X's FreeBSD core and Linux -- or rather keeness to get Apple's name attached to the popular open source OS. Since then, Apple has been working on its next-generation UI -- for the last 18 months, according to CEO Steve Jobs -- codenamed Aqua. The new UI sports a lot of cute new features -- and one or two really useful ones; most notably tightly linking dialog boxes to their parent app's window -- but is essentially little more than a colour co-ordinated version of a typical Unix desktop, with the Dock being little more than a fancy application launcher, and the Finder now just a file manager. It looks pretty but isn't exactly breaking new ground. Still, design-conscious Apple clearly wants to get users to view Aqua as the Mac interface rather than the current look and feel, which makes the retirement of MacOS 9 more important than ever. And, as Apple has learned with the iMac, cosmetic computers sell, especially to consumers, so the archly arty new UI isn't entirely design for the sake of design -- it has important branding and business benefits too. ® Related Stories Apple's Internet strategy takes shape Apple's Jobs declared CEO for life Analysts bullish about Apple ahead of Expo announcements
Tony Smith, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Tech stocks take a battering

Headline-grabbing valuations have lately given way to small-print corrections in tech stocks, which in turn have initiated an overall contraction in stock indices worldwide. Euro STOXX fell today for a five per cent loss, while the Eurotop 300 index was off 1.8 per cent. European tech, telecoms and media shares took a battering for a second day. Nokia fell 6.08 percent, and Baan, which dived 32 percent on Tuesday, fell a further 7.52 per cent. Mannesmann was off 3.87 per cent, Telefonica fell by 3.75 per cent, Deutsche Telekom lost 2.99 per cent, and France Telecom fell 2.5 percent. Things were even worse in America as the NASDAQ fell 3.51 percent or 136.76 points to 3,764.93 in early trading today. Yesterday it dived 5.55 per cent, to 3,901.69, its eighth worst fall. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.17 percent, to 10,997.93, the largest one-day drop since last September. On Tuesday, the DJIA slid 359.58 points, or 3.17 percent, to 10,997.93. It was the Dow's fifth-largest point loss ever, and its first time below 11,000 since 1 December, all largely due to bad news regarding technology issues. Amazon slid 14.42 per cent this morning after reporting that Q4 1999 sales are inadequate to compensate the company's losses for the quarter. The company also reported its typical litany of expansion and inventory charges and write-downs. Amazon stock fell 11.81 points to 70.13, with a whopping 11.7 million shares changing hands. The mighty Qualcomm fell 12.96 percent to 141.06; Oracle fell 9.58 percent to 97.38; Cisco Systems fell 3.55 percent to 98.37; and Yahoo fell 6.42 percent to 414.56. Not even the re-nomination yesterday of Wall Street's beloved Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, could soothe frightened investors. Superstitious fears of an interest-rate hike again led to a bit of panic selling, though Greenspan has not himself indicated that such a hike is in the offing. Analysts appear to believe that present conditions are similar to conditions when the Fed has raised rates in the past, which is often evidence enough to put investors off. In Asia, the Hang Seng Index ended down more than seven per cent; Tokyo stocks fell by 2.4 per cent; South Korean stocks closed down 6.87 per cent; and Singapore shares fell by five per cent. Clearly, the American superstition is circulating. We wonder if it might be a substitute for Y2K rollover fears, now that they've been debunked. ®
Thomas C Greene, 05 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Apple's Internet strategy takes shape

Steve Jobs finally unveiled Apple's long-awaited Internet strategy during his keynote at Macworld Expo today - the only one of the many rumoured keynote topics the Apple CEO actually spoke about. However, the plan doesn't go as far as many observers had expected.
Tony Smith, 05 Jan 2000