13th > January > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

New Intel 800MHz Xeon has no mobo support

Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage and microprocessors and motherboards have the same relationship. Forgive the hackneyed link. So while it is with no great surprise that Intel has confirmed this morning the release of an 800MHz Coppermine Pentium Xeon processor, aimed at the workstation and low-end server market, there is a little bit of a problem with the carriage part of the equation. The most interesting part of this announcement is the part about motherboard support for the 800MHz Coppermine Xeon. An Intel statement mentioned only the processor, and did not say which mobos will support the server-workstation chip. There's a difference between Slot One and Slot Two. While Intel's much vaunted i840 chipset does, in theory, support this latest Coppermine announcement, so far there are absolutely no designs which yet support this Slot Two part. The OR840 board which Intel pre-announced last October 25 only supports Slot One parts. It will be towards the end of this calendar quarter that there will be mobos supporting this Slot Two part. The processor will use a 256K on-chip cache and the 133MHz front side bus, and Intel promises that there will be further revs of clock speed during the year. According to Intel, the 800MHz Xeon "is available now" using the Slot Two connector it is keeping for its server processors for the time being. Demand for server versions of the Pentium III is far less than for desktop Coppermine processors, so while the 800MHz Pentium III still remains in as short-supply as a hen's tooth, it is likely that Intel will be able to meet demand for this particular variety of fowl. The Pentium III 800MHz Xeon will cost $901 if you buy 1000 of the babies. (Are there 1000? -- Ed) Intel will reports its quarterly earnings at 9PM GMT, today. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

UK's premier tech street goes to seed

This time last year, we took a walk up Tottenham Court Road, London W1, to see what the IT trends on the street were. Tottenham Court Road is, or was, considered to be the closest to an IT area that the UK has. While it's never been anything of a patch on say, the Akihabara area of Tokyo, even this time last year, walking up and down the short stretch between the tube station at Tottenham Court Road and Goodge St tube, and at right angles to Oxford Street, would give you a reasonable snapshot of the state of IT technology. What a difference a year's made. You'd expect, in the post-Christmas period, that there would be offers a-plenty on IT kit. But the street has gone way downhill over the last year. Not only has the number of shops selling IT kit declined, but fly-by-night stores seem to have cropped up in their place. And the shops which do sell IT kit all claim to have sales but the kit they're selling are far from being bargains. If you're looking for bargains or new kit in the Tottenham Court Road, you're going to need a pair of infravision spexs, to find out which pups they're trying to sell you. At something like 60 per cent of the stores we visited, there was old technology being sold as if it was new technology, both on the desktop and the notebook front. Want a Pentium II machine? No problem. These are being sold as if they're brand new. Going to buy a new notebook? Don't bother looking to the UK showcase for that either. A large number of the shops were selling defunct notebooks and in some cases from manufacturers who went down the pan quite some time back. What's worse, some of the PC shops which did use to have a reasonable supply of kit have disappeared, to be replaced by dubious looking outfits selling mobile phones or merchandise that's more suitable for the raincoat brigade than the techno-savvy customers that used to cruise this street. Tottenham Court Road is even less a PC paradise than it was this time last year. And that probably tells you most you need to know about the UK market. It looks as if making a margin as an independent PC dealer is harder than ever, with competition in the UK not only from large combines such as the Dixons group, but also pressure from people selling direct over the Internet. Rents in Tottenham Court Road are high, and while margins are low, it's going to be hard to make a living out of PCs. Far from being a showcase for the UK IT market, this street is now on its uppers. High prices, defunct technology and dubious bargains all point to one piece of advice -- avoid it. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

DoJ to propose MS breakup next week

MS on Trial The Department of Justice has given up on rumour-swatting, after a partial rebuttal of yesterday's claims that it was pushing for a breakup of Microsoft. The "inaccurate in several important aspects" story published in yesterday's US Today was promptly followed up by a clutch of claims that the DoJ and the states were indeed reaching a consensus, and intended to push for a breakup. And backing this up, an IDC report published last month, and arguing that it was in Microsoft's interest to split into several companies, started hitting the headlines too. Faced with this little lot the DoJ is taking the view that it's not going to comment on every single press report that appears, while Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray described the breakup solution as "extreme and radical," and not justified by the facts of the case. But it's now possible to piece together what's happening, with a reasonable probability of accuracy. AP writer Ted Bridis reports that last week the DoJ and the 19 states who're partnering it in the antitrust action held a secret meeting in Washington where the DoJ laid out a plan to break up Microsoft into three parts. This plan, says Bridis, is now being considered by the states' attorneys general, and if accepted will be put forward at the next round of mediator Judge Richard Posner's settlement talks next week. These claims fit into the picture nicely. The US Today story leaned towards the conclusion that the proposal was for Microsoft to be broken into two parts, not three, and said that a consensus had already been reached - so we've got two possible areas which could justify a DoJ claim of "inaccurate in several important aspects." Meanwhile it will have been entirely impossible to plug all possible leaks from a DoJ-states summit. The states attorneys general have been a lot leakier than the DoJ anyway, and The Register therefore reckons the mouthier ones have let the proposal escape this time. Faced with this yesterday, and the likely wrath of Judge Posner, the DoJ rebutted a little, but did not specifically deny that breakup was being considered. But whether or not the DoJ and states unite to propose a break up in the mediation talks matters not one jot, if Microsoft itself won't go for it. Murray's soundbites certainly indicate that it won't - or do they? Remember that the very busy Mr Murray is a rapid rebuttal facility whose role is to shoot first and do the reality check later. If a week ago anybody had suggested to him that Microsoft was going to pay up to settle the Caldera antitrust action out of court, it's quite likely he'd have insisted that Microsoft was entirely confident in its case, and expected to be completely vindicated. Likewise, Murray now says that a breakup "is not justified by anything in this case or in this industry." But what, friends, was he supposed to say? As Microsoft spokesman it's his job to keep saying Microsoft hasn't done anything wrong, in which case he's got to keep saying any remedies are unjustified, right up until a deal is agreed or the judge (Jackson, the other one) throws them all in the slammer. If Microsoft did cut a deal Murray would then still be saying the company hadn't done anything wrong, but that in order to move forward and get back to 'writing great software' it had magnanimously agreed a settlement. That leaves the big question of whether Microsoft could bring itself to deal. As we said yesterday, and as IDC recommends, a split into three companies wouldn't necessarily hurt the company, and it might even help. It seems pretty likely now that breakup will be the DoJ-states proposal for the mediation talks, and given the difficulty in getting the prosecution alliance to face in the one direction, and keep facing that way, it will be tricky to change the proposal radically later. Which puts the ball into Microsoft's court. If the company says no, then the trial looks like going to the wire. But it'll come under increasing pressure from analysts, commentators and quite possibly its own shareholders to say yes - the breadheads must be starting to note the advantages of leaving the antitrust actions behind, speculating on the AT&T precedent, and musing on how much more their stock might be worth if it were invested in three Microsofts instead of just the one. ® See also: DoJ will demand breakup of Microsoft - report
John Lettice, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

The wearable mobile phone is with us

Trousers that can remember what you had for lunch and an anorak replete with GPS navigation functions could be hitting the catwalks before you know it. France Telecom, the Cnet research centre and research laboratory Starlab hope to create communication clothing for the sports, leisure and business communities. The first applications of the technology in the I-wear range will be a jacket containing a mobile phone with earpiece and microphone in the collar and keypad in the sleeve - or it may have a speech dialling option. The prototype is due for launch in June. In a statement, France Telecom said: "The medical world, the media, the liberal professions, the sectors of defence, civil protection and security services or those requiring the complex activities of maintenance count among the sectors potentially concerned by the rival of this clothing of the new generation." (We had to translate the statement ourselves, so apologies if the nuances got lost along the way - Ed). There are a number of key questions still waiting to be answered. For example, what material should you make I-wear clothing from and how will the high-tech gadgetry survive the wash? The companies involved in the I-wear project are Vasco Data Security, France Telecom, Reticel Electronics, Bekintex Textiles, Adidas, Levis and fashion house Courreges. ®
The Register breaking news

Blair gov offers half-price PCs to teachers

The government has selected 19 PC vendors in the UK for a scheme to subsidise computers for teachers. Under the aptly-named Computers for Teachers scheme, teachers in UK schools can buy a half price PC from any of the recommended suppliers. Those chosen include Evesham Micros, Viglen, Tiny, Centerprise, Elonex, RM and Hi-Grade. The £20 million joint effort from the Department for Education and Employment and the British Educational Communications and Technology Association will run for three years. A full list of suppliers for the programme can be found here. ® Related stories: Truants rewarded with £1K notebooks It's Time to give away software Half of UK schools are software pirates
Linda Harrison, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

AOL snaps up URLs ahead of Time Warner deal

America Online tried to outsmart cybersquatters over its Time Warner deal, snapping up more than 20 URLs relevant to the new company ahead of the buyout announcement. AOL registered at least 21 domain names on Sunday, ranging from AOLTW.com to AmericaOnlineTimeWarner.net, Bloomberg reported. Being held to ransom by domain name pirates was obviously high on the agenda of the new company to be named AOL Time Warner. Cybersquatters can register a URL for companies for next to nothing, then try and sell them at a huge profit. Businesses can also fall prey to URLs bearing their name being used for unsavoury activities such as porno sites - such as happened to Intel last year. US Federal courts have often come down on the side of companies in such cases following the passing of the Anti-Cybersquatting Act last year. This allows firms to claim up to $100,000 in damages. Registering URLs is getting closer to the top of companies priority lists, said a representative for Network Solutions which controls a database of almost seven million domain names. ® Related stories: AOL to merge with Time Warner UN body moves to ban Web squatters Porno cyber squatters target Intel The URLs registered by AOL on Sunday were: AmericaOnlineTimeWarner.com AmericaOnlineTimeWarner.net AmericaOnlineTImeWarner.org TimeAmericaOnline.com TimeAmericaOnline.net TimeAmericaOnline.org AmericaOnlineTime.com AmericaOnlineTIme.net AmericaOnlineTime.org AOLTimeWarner.com AOLTimeWarner.net AOLTimeWarner.org AOLTime.com AOLTime.net AOLTime.org TImeAOL.com TimeAOL.net TimeAOL.org AOLTW.com AOLTW.net AOLTW.org
Linda Harrison, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Wall St chumps lose out to chimp

A chimp that chose her portfolio of Internet stocks by chucking darts at a list of companies has been hailed a financial whizz kid by her keeper. Six-year-old Raven delivered a 213 per cent gain on 1999 outperforming most of the yuppies on Wall Street. Indeed, had she been employed at a Wall Street Mutual Fund, it's claimed her performance would have ranked as the 22nd best money manager in the country -- outperforming more than 6,000 Wall Street pros. The monkey business began in January of 1999 when Raven lobbed darts at a list of 133 Internet-related stocks, to create her own financial index, MonkeyDex. During the last year her selection has just surpassed all expectations. "She quadrupled the performance of the Dow and doubled the performance of the Nasdaq composite," said Roland Perry, editor of the Internet Stock Review and creator of the MonkeyDex, billed as the "Internet's first index of Internet stocks picked by an actual monkey" (what, as opposed to a fake one? - Ed). "Not bad considering she wasn't able to participate in any of the hot new issue offerings," he said. Raven recently returned to Wall Street to pick this year's selection from 281 Internet-related stocks. They are: Audible.com, Broadcom, eToys, Litronic, Medium4.com, Lycos, N2H2, Prodigy, Software.com, and StarMedia. Game on. ® Related Stories: Brokers challenged to spank the monkey
Tim Richardson, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Red Hat Linux gets foot in door at us.gov

Major US government IT supplier Government Technology Services, Inc (GTSI) intends to add Red Hat Linux to its offerings to the federal government. According to GTSI it is currently in talks with Red Hat, and for starters intends to offer Linux software and services as part of two government contracts, one of them with NASA. The company said it was near to a conclusion of its negotiations, and expects to finalise a relationship with Red Hat by the end of the week. GTSI is one of the largest IT suppliers to the US Government, and says it's one of the top ten resellers in the US. It already offers government departments Microsoft, HP UX, Novell and Solaris systems, and by adding Linux to its portfolio intends to "make it easy and convenient for the government to buy products," according to CEO Dendy Young. ®
John Lettice, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel, AMD, Rambus all gain

Share prices on chip companies AMD, Intel and Rambus all showed strong gains on Wall Street yesterday following up-beat and over-heated predictions by financial analysts. But, as we point out in a separate story today, a chimp may well perform better than a financial analyst in any head-to-head guessing competition. Intel (ticker: INTC) showed gains of $1 9/16 to close at $91 1/4 on Wall St, while AMD (ticker: AMD), leaped to $36 1/4, up 3/4 on the day. Rambus (RMBS), which has betrayed Marjorie Daw behaviour since June last year, rocketed by $5 1/4 on the day, to close at $82 7/8. Intel will report its Q4 earnings when its Satan Clara HQ opens for business later on today, while AMD will report its Q earnings on January 19 next. Many US analysts are predicting that Intel will do well when it reports its Q results. We will be watching, in particular, how well sales of its Pentium III microprocessors performed during the period. Readers who followed our advice to buy AMD stock last August will hopefully have made a killing -- for months Chimpzilla's stock bumped around at the $16 mark. ® See also Wall Street chumps lose out to chimp
Mike Magee, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Daily Net Finance News: Dec 1-31, 1999

31 Dec 1999 Millennium Madness: eBay takes no chances with Y2K bug
Team Register, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

C2000 suffers Gass leak

Computer 2000 is losing its long-standing deputy MD Andy Gass to Sage Tetra. Gass will take up his role of MD for the software company by the end of February. This will mark the end of his seven-year stint at the Basingstoke distributor, where he has spent the last two years as second in command to MD Graeme Watt. The company did not reveal who would replace Gass, but said it expected the position to be filled internally. Watt said: "We are very sad to see Andy go, he has been a key member of our management team and made a magnificent contribution to our success over the past seven years." Watt also hinted that there would be more changes in the upper ranks of the distributor. "Andy's decision comes at a time when we have been looking at our senior management structures with a view to preparing the company for the expected growth and new initiatives planned over the next couple of years," he said. Gass originally joined the group as financial controller of distributor Datech. In 1995 he became financial and operations director of Computer 2000 before his appointment as deputy MD in 1997. ® See also: C2000 sees Web sales triple
Linda Harrison, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

C&W coughs up to buy Euro ISPs

With the flu epidemic threatening to consign most of Britain to its sick bed, it's good to see that someone is coughing up something other than phlegm. Cable & Wireless (C&W) announced this morning that it had just filled the coffers of eight European Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in a bid to make its mark as a major player in the business to business Internet market. C&W wouldn't reveal how much the multi-country deal would set it back but together with three earlier acquisitions, C&W total investment in European business ISPs hits and impressive £300 million ($500 million). Collectively, the newly acquired ISPs have annualised revenues of £80 million ($130 million) and almost 1,000 data and IP-skilled staff. Customers include 3Com, BMW, Honda, Lufthansa and McDonald's. The telco also announced today that it is to invest and an additional £300 million ($500 million) in its European IP network build programme. In a statement issued today Graham Wallace, CEO of C&W said: "These ISP acquisitions and the extra network investment are a major step forward in our plans to lead the market in providing IP services to business customers. "We are already in the top three companies in the world in the business IP market. With current annual revenues in continental Europe of £300 million, and with the acquisitions and network investments announced today, Cable & Wireless is a leading European provider of IP services to business." Affirming C&W's preference for the business market as opposed to the consumer side, a spokesman for the telco said: "We believe 85 per cent of ecommerce will be b-2-b, whereas 85 per cent of the noise [currently being made about the market in general] is about consumer ecommerce." The eight ISPs acquired by C&W are: Xpoint (Austria), online internet (Belgium), ISDnet (France), UNIDATA (Italy), DSLogic-DSNet (Italy), grupo INTERCOM (Spain), agri.ch (Switzerland) and Petrel Communications (Switzerland). ® For the latest IT and Net-related finance news, check out Cash Register.
Tim Richardson, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Geekcast.com takes the floor at LinuxWorld Expo

Site News The Geekcast.com Network, Webcaster of The Linux Show, is taking up residency at next month's Linux World Expo, in New York. And it wants to interview The Register from the floor. We're honoured - how could we refuse an invite from the CNN for geeks. Geekcast wants to know what makes British geeks tick.
Drew Cullen, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Net blamed for new Columbine High School threats

A Florida teenager was suffering from 'Internet intoxication' when he allegedly threatened a Columbine High School student online, his lawyer claimed yesterday. The teenager, 18-year-old Michael Campbell, is accused of sending a message via AOL threatening to 'finish what begun' at the Colorado high school last April, when a dozen students and a teacher were gunned down. Campbell denies sending the email. But his lawyer, Ellis Rubin, told reporters his client was so intoxicated by the Web that he was actually hypnotised by it when he made the threat last month, the BBC Online reported. Rubin said his client meant no harm. The trial date has been set for 28 February, but the venue is as yet undecided, a federal judge in Denver said it would have to be changed due to publicity surrounding the case. Campbell faces five years in jail and a $250,000 fine if convicted. Witness reports from the Columbine massacre stated that the gunmen, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, used the Web to research and plan the 20 April attack, apparently posting threats on the Internet beforehand.® Related stories: US senate moves to ban bomb info on Web
Linda Harrison, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Red Hat founder quits management role

Red Hat's founders continue to distance themselves from all that tedious day-to-day running a business stuff, this time thanks to last year's acquisition of software development tool maker Cygnus. We've already had Bob Young pass on operational control of Red Hat to president and CEO Matthew Szulik in order to sit on the board as chairman and devote his time to loftier pursuits than ensuring the paycheques go out on time, there are plenty of bog rolls and so forth. And fellow founder Marc Ewing has handed over the Chief Technical Office badge to Cygnus' Michael Tiemann. Ewing will remain on the Red Hat board, and continue to direct the Red Hat Center for Open Source thinktank. Alas, no role seems to have been found for Tiemann's colleague, Cygnus CEO Alex Daly. So Daly wills soon be off to "pursue other opportunities", as Red Hat euphemistically puts it. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Taiwan semi firms left with no easy options

After a recent flurry of expansion, Taiwan's chip makers have no easy options left as they try to increase capacity, analysts say. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), and United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) are the world's largest contract chip manufacturers.
Simon Burns, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Vietnam ISP targets US

Vietnam's biggest ISP is opening an office in Silicon Valley as part of a five-year push into the US, Europe and Japan. The Vietnamese Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology (FPT) will offer services in banking technology, telecomms, the Web, ecommerce and business IT from its California office. It has plans to open at least one other office in the US and one in Canada, employing around 160 Vietnamese programmers, according to BBC Online. The company, which last year started business in India, aims to clock up a total of 14 offices worldwide by 2005. Vietnam is more recognised for software piracy than as a power in the technology arena, with Internet use relatively low among its 79 million-strong population. Last year the Business Software Alliance found that 97 per cent of business software installed during 1998 in Vietnam was done so illegally.®
Linda Harrison, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Viglen checks out Sainsbury's schools deal

Viglen has netted a contract to be sole supplier of PCs for Sainsbury's School Scheme for 2000. The London-based systems builder, yesterday named one of the government's chosen few for its Computers for Teachers programme, will be part of Sainsbury's scheme to give free kit to schools. It poached the deal - which has given away over £24 million of PC equipment since its start in 1996 - from rival company RM, according to Viglen. Viglen will swap its PCs and servers for Sainsbury's tokens collected by pupils and teachers. The supermarket chain claims to have so far supplied 380,000 items of IT kit to more than 20,000 UK schools. "The whole issue of IT in education is so important now," said a Viglen representative. "With the government putting more money into the area, let s hope the general enthusiasm keeps rubbing off onto this scheme." ® See also: School's out for Viglen as results show healthy growth Net uptake in schools fuels market growth
Linda Harrison, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Microsoft Mac man exposes Apple iTools security hole

Apple's new iTools Web enhancements for Mac owners contain a major security flaw which exposes users' passwords, according to a member of Microsoft's Mac development team writing on MacInTouch. iTools offloads what are usually server-based operations onto client Macs via a Web browser plug-in that each user must download to use the Apple service. According to developer Brad Pettit, who works on the development of the Mac version of Internet Explorer, the plug-in communicates with the server using XML. Pettit discovered that the plug-in transmits the user's password, presumably held locally to ensure users don't need to enter it every time they visit the iTools Web site or to activate their 20MB of remote storage (dubbed iDisk), as plain text. "One could theoretically control the plug-in from any link that loads content into your Web browser. And you wouldn't even know it," he says. There's a privacy angle here too, says Pettit. His study of the plug-in has found software capable of "gathering and sending all sorts of machine-specific data to Apple, such as hardware ethernet addresses! Since the plug-in also contains all the function names (one is named 'ExplorerSucksTheLifeOutOfMe') and even an 'Apple Need To Know Confidential' resource". Of course, as a Microsoft employee, there's an element of pots calling kettles black here when it comes to snagging data about users' systems, but it's still worrying that Apple may well be getting up to the kind of tricks the likes of Microsoft, RealNetworks and others have been slammed for in the past by privacy groups. Apple's own policy statement reads: "If you browse Apple's web site, you do so anonymously. We don't collect personal information -- including your e-mail address." Even though the statement doesn't refer to iTools specifically, we presume that Apple will honour its word and not use the plug-in to swipe personal data. After all, they'd never do that, would they? ®
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Analysts warn of DRAM drought

The IT industry is about to see a DRAM drought spanning two years, according to the voices of doom and gloom at Dataquest. Average selling prices firmed up last year as the industry started to recover from years of slump which saw yearly sales plummet from $42 billion in 1995 to $15 billion in 1998. For 1999 worldwide DRAM revenue grew 40 per cent to $21 billion. But demand will start to outstrip supply by the middle of this year. For 2000, DRAM sales are expected to be up 43 per cent to $30 billion, topping the $60 billion mark by 2003, Semiconductor Business News reported. Dataquest was so impressed by the recent performance of the sector that it has increased its previous forecast on overall chip sales for 2000. Revenues are now expected to reach around $200 billion, up on the earlier $182 billion projection by the company. The shortages, caused by under-investment in the sector, are expected to fuel manufacturers' spend on factories to $16.4 billion in 2002, compared to this year's $8 billion. This compares to the low point in 1998 when DRAM vendors only spent $4.1 billion on keeping their conveyor belts rolling. But it is too little too late according to analysts. "Most of the spending in the last few months has been on limited upgrades, but we can expect to see a big uptake in capital spending over the next six months," said Richard Gordon, senior analyst at Dataquest. "There is a looming capacity crisis, especially in DRAM. Come Q2 or Q3, there will be actual shortages - not like now where the industry is still teetering on the brink of under supply," he said. ® Related stories: The chips were up in 1999 Chips hit four year high
Linda Harrison, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Third-party ad servers can undermine Web-site security

A Web site's privacy policies can be undermined easily and secretly by any third-party ad service provider, thus leaving site operators open to legal action on privacy issues over which they have no control, Realmedia Chief Technology Officer Gil Beyda warned at a London press conference today. An opportunity for "privacy leakage" to occur is created whenever a Web site directs visitors to a third-party ad server such as DoubleClick, Beyda said. Unless contracts between Web sites and ad service providers governing the use of data are very clear, user details may be moved from the Web site -- to which the information was originally entrusted -- to a less secure environment -- namely the ad server's database -- without the visitors' or the Webmasters' knowledge, Beyda said. In addition to creating this invisible privacy liability, which in itself ought to be bad enough, such third-party data mining can prove expensive for high-profile, branded sites which provide the bulk of the information potentially being abused. The third party can easily gather and correlate a user's details across numerous sites which it serves, and then target the user for ads on behalf of any of those sites. The way it works is this: a user registers his details on a high-profile branded site which offers good content, in exchange for which he is willing to fill in a registration form and reveal his details. The ad server collects that demographic data, compiles it, issues a cookie, and targets the user for the sort of ads he is likely to welcome. The cookie-identified user then visits some third-rate chickenshit site also served by the same ad server, where he receives an ad targeted at him according to the information he gave to the previous, branded site which he had trusted. If he clicks on the banner, the third-rate chickenshit site gets the commission which the branded site had earned. In any case it is always lucrative for the ad servers, which earn their cuts regardless of who clicks which banner where. It's no wonder, then, that they collect vast reams of user data on the pretext of returning detailed reports to their clients, when in fact they are re-marketing the data to other sites which contribute little or nothing to the database. A solution to both problems, Beyda, believes, is the use of privacy proxies between the Web site and the ad server, which can make it physically impossible for the ad server to relate demographic information to specific users. By forcing the ad server to fetch ads via a proxy, the site gains control over the amount and type of information the ad servers receive, and so prevents them from exploiting the site's data base for their own purposes. While Realmedia does offer such a proxy service, Beyda mused that the threat of regulatory action mandating it might in itself suffice to inspire the sorts of contracts between sites and ad servers which would prevent misunderstandings between them and the subsequent abuse of data. Whether or not that's ultimately true, it's nice to see someone refraining from the assumption that all business people are universally intent on screwing each other unless physically restrained from doing so. We'd like to think he's got a point. ®
Thomas C Greene, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

ATI Q1 2000 profits, revenues up on rising Rage sales

An increase in the demand for ATI's Rage 128 and Rage Mobility chips boosted the 3D graphics specialist's first quarter 2000 earnings by 15.3 per cent, despite product line rejigs and increased costs. Driving that profit gain was 26 per cent sales growth, reaching $413.5 million from the $327.4 million the company --the world's largest 3D chip business - posted for the same period last year. After exceptional items, ATI posted a profit of $53.6 million for the three months ending 30 November 1999 - so it doesn't include the vital pre-Christmas buying period, traditionally a time of strong sales for the games hardware industry. For the same period last year, profits totalled $50.1 million. However, gross margins fell year-on-year, from 36.6 per cent to 34.1 per cent, primarily due to increased material costs. Clearly the last nine months' hike in the price of video memory has played a key part here. ®
The Register breaking news

Gates foresees ‘new pricing models’ for software sales

The IEEE Computer Society has just knocked a giant hole in its street cred by fawning to a certain William H Gates, whom it describes as the person "who enabled [sic] Internet use on a mass scale through software tools that turned PCs into Internet hosts". That's an interesting leap over Mosaic and Netscape, but the IEEE caps it by repeating the old canard that the aforementioned Gates "developed the programming language Basic for the first microcomputer", in an article "by" Gates published in its Internet Computing Online. There's something more scary: it's not fully spelt out, but we're given a glimpse of how Microsoft will control software distribution - to throttle the pirates of course. This great idea of Bill's comes from his visionary discovery that products are changing from being physical to digital, so we must have been mistaken when we thought that seismic processing began to go digital in the 1960s. We can be sure that the size of Microsoft's clunky software will not diminish, because "as bandwidth continues to explode, the size of programs that it's practical to download will grow exponentially". That's interesting, because during the trial Microsoft made a point of how easy it was for Netscape to download its monster browser after Microsoft had choked off most other practical channels. Then there's this "exponentially" business - but if you think back to those 110 baud days, growth hasn't exactly been exponential over the years for most of us mere mortals: it's just got steadily faster. Gates observes that "most" software will be downloaded, and that you'll have a choice of pricing models: one-time use, renting, lifetime use, whatever. The sure and certain point is that Microsoft will be controlling the use and extracting a tax for whatever pricing model the user chooses. Of course, he's obsessively concerned about his intellectual property rights, and observes that "digital rights management is an important focus for us at Microsoft". It is going to be a great opportunity for Microsoft to lock-in more users using the excuse of protecting its property. How long before we find that it's not possible to get Microsoft software without online updates to stop autodestruction? Fortunately for Bill, as he notes in his conclusion, he won't have to handle the cash, "because dollar bills are going digital too". ® Full Gates article
Graham Lea, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Corel takes strategic stake in Linux connectivity startup

Corel has taken what it describes as a "strategic ownership stake" in Newlix, an Ottawa-based Linux start-up headed by John Hansen, who had 14 years at Intel, finishing up as technical sales manager for Canada and central USA. Newlix's first product is Omega, a Linux-based system for small-to-medium sized businesses for connecting up to about 50 PCs. It handles the connections, email, file and print, and has a firewall. Unlike rebel.com and Cobalt Networks (which filed for an $86 million IPO recently) who focus on distribution through ISPs, Newlix plans to bundle the software with hardware from partners such as IPC Direct, a subsidiary of PC Chips. Corel of course has its own deal with PC Chips, which Corel CEO Michael Cowpland said at the time was to get market share rather than royalty. This was just as well because some say that PC Chips is on the tight side when it comes to forking out cash. In remarks to the Ottawa Citizen today, Hansen said: "We're not trying to be everything to everybody. Our plan is to grow large, very quickly, by catering to computer makers who want to get into the business of offering Linux-based appliances." With Corel announcing its LinuxOS desktop last week, which it says will run Windows applications seamlessly over any connection with GraphOn Bridges, and with more than 100,000 copies of its Linux distribution downloaded, it looks as though the company is keeping up its momentum. Those shareholders who stuck with Corel may well be cheering Cowpland as he faces an inquiry into his trading activities. ®
Graham Lea, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel performs well in Q4, ramps up .18 micron

Intel turned in good gains for its financial quarter to the end of its fourth quarter, with revenues rising by eight per cent to $8.2 billion, compared to $7.61 billion for the equivalent quarter last year. Net profit for the quarter amounted to $2.11 billion, compared to $2.06 billion for the equivalent period in the last quarter last year. Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel, said that his company's networking, wireless and internet businesses were likely to grow by as much as 50 per cent during the course of this year. Barrett, however, warned that seasonal factors would make Intel's Q1 this year slightly weaker than the results for Q4. Those seasonal factors are likely to be insufficiency of Intel's new Coppermine processors. But chief financial officer Andy Bryant said that Intel's current inventory was not what the company desired during the period, although the .18 micron Coppermine process had successfully ramped during the period. Plans for the coming year included the introduction of .13 micron technology, he said in a conference call. Paul Otellini, executive VP of Intel's architecture group, said the company had set record shipments for chips, chipsets, and flash memory. Intel had shipped "millions" of .18 micron technology during the quarter. "Supply was tight all quarter," he said. Europe was helped by a surge in people buying PCs for the Internet, he said. The 800MHz Pentium III Coppermine was shipping in quantity, Otellini said. The 810 is now its highest selling chipset, he said. Software development systems for the Itanium were shipped to both software and hardware developers. Systems will be on the market in the second half of the year. He said Intel was buying more .18 micron equipment this year to ramp production. On 300mm (12-inch wafers), Intel said it did not want to transition both geometry and design change at once. Over the next years there will be investment with payback intended over the next several years. Intel thinks that the performance processors it is currently shipping are more than sufficient for Windows 2000 for most of this year. By the end of this year, transition to .18 micron will be complete and Otellini said .13 micron will be brought onstream gradually over the next two to three years. Otellini said that "supply tightness" on chips will ease over the course of this quarter. He said that Intel's Timna, system on a chip product, would appear in the peak selling season later this year, as a bulk product. McKinley, he said, it was hard to give an early date on. Intel would not say how fast or when the i820 chipset would move to the Solano chipset. Solano would replace the integrated graphics part of its product line, he said. There were no constraints on Pentium III Xeon processors or chipsets, Intel said. Larger integrated cache versions of the Xeon will appear during this quarter. For servers, the question was application specific, making cache important. Intel refused to comment on Gateway's decision last week to use AMD processors. The Celeron family will be taken to .18 micron during the first half of this year. Integrated Celerons will appear, with better performance and at lower prices. The company is setting up Intel Capital as a name for its equity investments in other companies. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Gates steps down as Microsoft CEO

News Flash Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates is handing over one of his jobs to Steve Ballmer, president and chief henchman. Ballmer now gets to occupy the CEO seat while His Billness takes on a new job-title, Chief Software Architect. This reflects his new company role which will see him "dedicate all of his time to helping drive the next generation Windows Internet platform and services." Gates continues as chairman of the company. Full story Gates steps down - DoJ deal pending? What Bill did next: Windows as universal Web platform The official Microsoft statement can be found here. ®
Team Register, 13 Jan 2000