19th > November > 2001 Archive

US lands huge bootleg MS haul

American law officials have impounded $60m worth of bootlegged Microsoft goods - the biggest seizure of counterfeit software in the US. The seizure interrupted a "major counterfeit software distribution pipeline", Microsoft said in a press release. The counterfeiters shipped the bootleg software (very good fakes, MS says) from Taiwan and into the US through the port of Los Angeles. But they had been spotted - the US Customs Service kept them under surveillance for 18 months in a undercover investigation. A Taiwanese legal immigrant was arrested. A partial list of the seized good include 31,000 counterfeit copies of Windows ME and Windows 2000 Professional 4,300+ counterfeit Windows XP manuals 93,000+ counterfeit certificate of authenticity (COA) labels for Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows 98 and Office 2000 Professional 25,000+ counterfeit End User License Agreements (EULAs) for various software products Thousands of jewel-case liners and packaging materials Several thousand counterfeit Windows 98 and Windows NT manuals, including cover stock Thousands of counterfeit registration cards
Drew Cullen, 19 Nov 2001

VAT net closes in on AOL Europe

HM Customs and Excise has signalled that it is keen to create a "level playing field" on tax matters for ISPs operating in the UK. The comments come as the row over a tax loophole that allows non-EU based ISPs to operate without paying VAT (Value Added Tax) took a new twist this week when Freeserve threatened to sue the British Government unless the matter was resolved swiftly. HM Customs has carried out a review of the matter since the summer and has passed on its recommendations to Treasury ministers. Officials are unwilling to comment on the exact nature of its recommendations, but a spokesman for HM Customs The Register that the UK has made "every effort to persuade its European Union partners of the need to treat packaged services uniformly for place of taxation purposes". "However, the agreement of all member states has not been obtained but we are committed to making a level playing field on this issue," he said. While ministerial approval still needs to be sought, it seems likely that Freeserve - which has lobbied hard for a change in the tax law - will be heartened by the tone of the statement. However, the whole matter of indirect tax liability is devilishly complex and difficult to understand. Five years ago the Internet Service Provider's Association (ISPA) lobbied hard for a change to European tax rulings. Some American companies had claimed that they did not have to comply with European Union indirect taxation legislation as their services originate in the US. ISPA lobbied the Commission, arguing that this created an unfair situation with US companies effectively having a 17.5 per cent competitive advantage over European ISPs. In 1996, Shez Hamill, the then ISPA Chairman, said: "Such a loophole in the system cannot be allowed to continue. "Either it will mean that US companies will make enormous profits, or they will undercut prices to increase market share which could put our smaller Internet Service Providers out of business," he said. ISPA's lobbying did help to close the tax loophole for business-to-business operators, but not for business-to-consumer operations, such as AOL, operating outside the EU. ISPA has now written to HM Customs to seek clarification. In October a report by investment bank Merrill Lynch claimed that the "biggest challenge to AOL UK remains the possibility of losing its VAT-exempt status in the UK". The report claims that if this happened it would "either result in an immediate 17.5 per cent drop in margins or necessitate a price increase of the same amount (which would likely weaken the company's competitive position)". The report continues: "While it is not for us to comment on the legal minefield as it exists today - and, therefore, the outcome of the VAT issue - we would probably agree with the ex-MD of AOL UK, Jonathan Bulkeley, who said in 1996 when asked in an interview with ZDNet 'What about VAT. Many smaller ISPs claim that you should pay VAT?' He replied: 'It'll happen at some point. It could be five years from now. We'll live by the letter of the law.'" The Merrill Lynch report concludes: "That five years is now up." It's hoped that a decision by Ministers on the matter will be made by the end of the year, although it's possible it could be delayed until into 2002. ® Related Stories Freeserve threatens legal action against UK Govt Freeserve tackles AOL UK over '£2.5 million in unpaid VAT' AOL UK escapes £1.8m in tax in 22 days 'If AOL UK paid full VAT it could fund heart transplants' Freeserve takes swipe at AOL's tax free status Freeserve threatens to move operation to Algeria
Tim Richardson, 19 Nov 2001

HMV flogs digital downloads

HMV the High Street music and games retailer, is to sell digital downloads from its Web site hmv.co.uk. The company has selected UK supplier Tornado Group to provide the platform for downloading games and music from its site, and will offer the service in "the early part of 2002". Tornado has developed a digital rights management technology and has agreements in place with EMI/Virgin, V2, Electronic Arts, Rage Software, Midas Interactive, EIDOS and Virgin Interactive. ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Nov 2001

PlayStation emulator developer Bleem folds

UpdatedUpdated Bleem, the company behind the PC and Dreamcast-based PlayStation emulator of the same name, has closed down. At this stage, details are sketchy - the company's Web site simply displays a somewhat self-pitying graphic of Sonic the Hedgehog weeping over Bleem's grave. Bleem's life: April 1999 to November 2001. And a terse email sent the company said: "Thanks for emailing Bleem, but we're history. Vapor. Kaput. Splitsville. Extinct. Gone the way of the Dodo. In a word, Dead." Enquires for the company's prinicpals, it said, should be routed through "that kid from The Sixth Sense". Dead indeed... Bleem launched its PlayStation emulator just over two and a half years ago, only to be instantly sued by Sony for a mix of copyright infringement, intellectual property violation and brand degradation. Sony's case against Bleem followed a parallel action targeting Connectix, which launched a PlayStation emulator of its own earlier in the year, for the Macintosh. Unlike the Connectix case, however, Bleem won the support of the court, beating a temporary injunction against sales of its emulator and later defeating Sony's demand to ban the sale of the emulator permanently. Sony's failures in court went to its head, Bleem later alleged in a countersuit of its own. The emulation company claimed that the Japanese giant's US operation had initiated a dirty tricks policy which, in part, involved attempting to have Bleem thrown out of the May 1999 E3 show, one of the world's largest games industry shindigs. May 2000 saw the announcement of the Dreamcast version of Bleem - Bleemcast - at which point Sony sued the company again. Once more, Sony alleged that Bleem was violating its patents. Connectix, incidentally, later called it quits and sold its GameStation software and assets to Sony. Bleemcast was to have shipped in June 2000, but didn't actually arrive until April this year. Rather than ship the emulator as a standalone product, as it had with the PC release, Bleem licensed Gran Turismo 2 and bundled it with Bleemcast. At the time, Bleem was looking to offer Tekken 3 and Metal Gear Solid. Their success seems to have been limited. Certainly, Bleem accused Sony of threatening retailers will much-reduced PlayStation 2 hardware and software allocations if they stocked any of Bleem's offerings. Given the ongoing litigation between the two companies and, of course, Sega's decision to abandon Dreamcast production from the end of March this year, it's hard to believe that many retailers would have chosen to support the three Bleemcast releases, no matter what pressure Sony is alleged to have brought to bear. That, plus a shift in focus in the gaming world toward the PlayStation 2, is probably what did for Bleem in the end. With PlayStation and XBox code protected against emulation efforts, both legally, and through hardware- and software-based techniques, Bleem's scope for future expansion looked limited. And with sales potentially insufficient to support future development and ongoing legal battles with Sony, it's not hard to see why CEO David Herpolshimer and Bleem programmer Randy Linden might decide to call it quits. ® Related Stories Sony hits PlayStation emulator developer with patent suit Bleem to countersue Sony Bleem beats back second Sony strike Bleem beats Sony
Tony Smith, 19 Nov 2001

Zeus throttles app-level DoS attacks

Zeus Technology is upgrading its Web server technology to guard against application level denial of service (DoS) attacks. Exploiting concern about the security of Microsoft's IIS Web server, Zeus will today announce the addition of anti-denial of service extensions to Zeus Web Server version 4. According to Andrew Parker, vice president of corporate strategy at Zeus Technology, organisations can enhance the security of an organisation's web infrastructures by placing Unix boxes running Zeus in front of IIS farms. BT is trialling the technology. Zeus's technology, which includes load balancing, can be used to rate limit requests to IIS server and throttle CPU-intensive applications, Parker says. This will guard against the worst effects of recent worms like Nimda and Code Red which take advantage of well-known vulnerabilities in IIS, as well as guarding against more subtle application-level DoS attacks. It does not protect sites from network-level distributed denial of service attacks, of the kind which floored eBay and Yahoo! last year. Such bandwidth-consuming attacks, commonly generated by a network of Trojaned zombies, need to be defended against before a flood of traffic reaches a Web server, possibly by adaptations to routers or other network hardware. This is notoriously difficult. The Nimda worm outbreak showed that many organisations were running Web servers they never knew they had. So any hopes that Zeus's Technology eliminates the need to apply security patches are misplaced. Migration Route That said, Zeus has an enviable security record and its approach has merits in providing defence in depth from security risks. The firm also gains a useful toe-hold in organisations it is seeking to migrate off IIS. Web servers are commonly integrated with an organisation's applications and databases, and Zeus has the job of convincing companies to move onto Unix - for its strategy of getting users to migrate long-term to bear fruit. Also, it will have to convince people who, perhaps motivated by Gartner's recent advice, are considering moving from IIS why they should go with its technology, rather than iPlanet or Apache. Nonetheless, since the release of the latest version of its Web server (which improves the delivery of dynamic pages and makes Zeus even faster), the firm has broadened its appeal from the niche role it occupied in the web server market to become a more serious contender. ® Related Stories Netcraft Web Server Survey - October 2001 Zeus rips platform to splatter Apache Sun lures IIS defectors with iPlanet price cuts >Can IIS flourish post-Gartner? Ditch Microsoft IIS now, says Gartner Cowboy cracker nails Apache
John Leyden, 19 Nov 2001

West LB ‘cans bid’ for BT phone network

German investment bank West LB has decided not to proceed with the £18 billion bid for BT's landline phone network. According to the Times, those working on the bid have been "stood down" and shunted to another team working on a multi-billion pound bid for failed UK rail infrastructure outfit Railtrack. West LB's decision means that Earthlease - a consortium led by Babcock & Brown and Chancery Lane Capital - is free to pursue its bid for BT's local loop. Last month it was reported that West LB was prepared to increase its offer to £20 billion once BT had successfully completed its floatation of its mobile phone business, mmo2. This coincided with claims that Earthlease was also preparing to increase its bid for the copper wires that link homes and businesses to the phone network. However, ever since these bids for BT's networks were made public back in the summer BT has consistently said - in public at least - that it is not interested in flogging the family silver. Pierre Danon, the CEO of BT Retail, told The Register: "I consider the local loop as absolutely the core business of BT. "And if there is one thing you don't do, you don't outsource your core business. That is the most stupid thing you can do." ® Related Stories BT Retail chief 'fiercely opposed' to sale of local loop Bidders for BT local loop put heads together West LB still sniffing round BT's network BT offered £18bn for phone network Related Links EarthLease in driving seat for BT bid - The Times
Tim Richardson, 19 Nov 2001

GameCube launches (in US)

Nintendo's GameCube hit US retail shelves yesterday (officially, anyway), just three days after the debut of Microsoft's Xbox console. Some gamers have been thumbing the controller to Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2 and Luigi's Mansion a little earlier though, as various stores leaked consoles before the due date. The arrival makes the competition tougher for the three main players. GameCube (GC) is priced $100 cheaper than its two big rivals: Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox, putting pressure on them to drop prices (and sell at an even greater loss than they do already). GC launches with just 12 titles in the bag (Xbox has 19), which pales in comparison to the PS2 with over 100 titles and many more when you add earlier PS1 games. While the consoles provide an engine to run on, it's the content that matters (and attracts gamers' dollars). Sony's got a big lead, having come out first; Xbox is only just getting going; but Nintendo, although the starting list doesn't do it much credit, is renowned for its top titles in gaming circles on earlier console platforms (think: Pokemon, Mario Bros., etc.). Game on. Xbox guts Meanwhile, back in Xbox land, Icrontic has followed TechTV's lead and has cut into the console's chest to reveal its guts. The site confirms that the device is definitely modifiable; it's just a matter of time before some boffin figures out how to jump over the various hardware hurdles erected by Microsoft. ® Related Stories PlayStation emulator developer Bleem folds Comdex cars, Radeon drivers, Itanium issues Piracy stops Xbox in China Xbox lands
James Watson, 19 Nov 2001

BMG to replace anti-rip Natalie Imbruglia CDs

Bertelsmann Music Group has had to back down on plans to force anti-rip technologies on British CD buyers. BMG released its first copy-protected CD, Natalie Imbruglia's new album White Lilies Island, earlier this month. However, a posting on the Natalie Imbruglia Web site this weekend, revealed the company's plan to issue unhappy consumers with replacement discs that lack the anti-rip encoding. White Lilies Island uses Israeli technology company Midbar's Cactus Data Shield to prevent the disc from being played in a PC CD-ROM drive. The encoding process systematically corrupts the music stored on the disc. A hi-fi CD player's error correction mechanism can compensate for the corrupt data and recreate the sound to a level that Midbar claims is undetectable by the listener. Put the CD into a PC, however, and the drive will pick up the corrupt and claim the disc is unreadable. One consumer, annoyed that the disc would not play on his PC, took his complaint to the Virgin Megastore at which he'd bought the disc. Virgin contacted BMG and, according to the retail chain's reply to the buyer, re-posted here, the music company said that it will re-issue the CD without Cactus protection. "BMG only informed us on 14 November 2001 that all European stock of Natalie's CD is protected by the Cactus Data Shield," Virgin wrote to the complainant. "Unfortunately, this stock has not been stickered to notify our customers of this encoding, and needless to say we are very disappointed that this has happened. At present, all European stock has been manufactured by BMG, therefore all retailers are in exactly the same position. "However, we will shortly be receiving non-encoded stock of this title." According to the posting, music fans who have already bought the CD can have their Cactus disc replaced for a rippable one. The hotline for disc replacements is 0151 225 1159. We called the number and can confirm that BMG is indeed replacing discs. The company will send CD owners a pre-paid envelope in which to return the Cactus-protected CD. Replacement discs should arrive "within days" of BMG receiving the original disc, we were told. Virgin Megastores, meanwhile, added in its email: "As retailers we do support the fight against copyright theft, however this should never be at the expense of the customer, and on this occassion clearly you have been left disappointed." Of course, whether BMG will release other CDs that have been protected by Cactus - or, for that matter, other copy-protection mechanisms, such as Macrovision's SafeAudio - remains to be seen. Given Virgin's stance, we reckon the company is most likely to try again but this time advise consumers through a sticker on the CD packaging. We asked BMG to comment, but as we posted this story it had yet to do so. We'll let you know what the company has to say for itself. ® Related Stories Natalie Imbruglia wins CD protection race Bertelsmann CD maker licenses anti-rip system US record label sued over anti-rip CD technology 'Hi-fi nuking' CD technology safe claims developer 1m anti-piracy 'hi-fi nuking' CDs hit Europe
Tony Smith, 19 Nov 2001

Korea gets Xbox – in Oct 2002

Korean gamers won't get their hands on Microsoft's Xbox until the second half of next year, sources close to the software giant's Korean operation claim. Xbox launched in the US last week. Having initially promised to ship the console globally on day one, Microsoft more recently delayed the Japanese launch to February 2002. Xbox arrives in Europe the following month. But Korean buyers will have to wait until October 2002 - almost a year after the console's US launch, a Microsoft Korea source claimed, according to the Korea Herald. Curiously, Microsoft could be the first company to launch a next-generation console in Korea. Nintendo has announced no plans to release GameCube there, and Sony has still to decide whether it's worth launching the PlayStation 2 into the Korean market. Korean gamers, it seems, much prefer to play on PCs than consoles. Rates of software piracy are far higher there than those of Japan and Europe - a major disincentive to console companies, which subsidise hardware prices heavily on the back of software sales and licensing. Serious would-be Xbox owners probably won't have to wait until October, in any case. Grey imports from Japan will almost certainly satisfy their demand next February. And in South Africa… Speaking of late, South Africa won't be seeing any Xbox consoles on retail shelves anytime soon. A press release on Microsoft South Africa's site reveals that it only plans to offer the device in November 2002, writes James Watson. According to the statement, this is because the console is being released carefully around the globe to ensure that demand matches supply. Does this mean that there are not enough gamers in South Africa jumping up and down and demanding their consoles? Nintendo has never had an official distribution channel into the country, so it's not certain when gamers will get their paws on the new GameCube, although Sony's PS2 has been available for a long time in the region. ® Related Link Korea Herald: Xbox to debut in second half of 2002
Tony Smith, 19 Nov 2001

Scoot grinds through re-org

Scoot.com, the accident-prone online directory-cum-infomediary, has survived another quarter. And what a quarter. It's sold Loot UK and Ireland, the classified ads paper business, to the Daily Mail General Trust for £45m (admittedly a day after its Q3 books closed on September 30). This represents a huge loss - it paid £178m cash for Loot in June 2000, but the alternative was very bleak - at the end of Q3, the company had just £4.3m cash in hand to fund the business. Following the sale, Scoot.com has repaid a bridging loan to DGMT, settled disposal costs and redeemed the convertible debentures. As of 27 October, 2001 the group had £12.2m of free cash and it is shorn of long-term debt obligations. In July Scoot sold its continental European ops to JV partner Vivendi for the knockdown sum of one euro. And it lost ownership rights to the Scoot.com name. But this means it can concentrate on securing its UK and Irish business (also lossmaking - in the red to the tune of £ 3.3m in Q3, compared with a £5.8m loss in Q2 on EBITDA calculations). With all the write-offs, disposals and re-orgs, the company has declared a pre-tax loss of £174.8m for the first nine months of the year (2000: £ -£34.2m). This is kind of historic, as the comparisons are for Scoot, the company that was. The real test for Scoot.com, the UK business it is today, will come in Q4. These results will show if there really is a sustainable business. ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Nov 2001

Mobile phone sales fall

Worldwide mobile phone shipments declined ten per cent year on year for the third quarter. A total of 94.4 million units were shipped for the quarter, down from Q3 2000's 104 million. Gartner Dataquest says the industry has been buffeted by continued delays in GPRS (General Packet Radio Service - an interim technology on the road to 3G, referred to as 2.5G), as well as the global economic downturn. Nokia, flogging a slightly older portfolio of phones (although not quite old enough to make Carphone Warehouse's TV ads), showed a drop in shipments, although its share increased nearly three per cent. Motorola eagerly snapped up any slack, inching its market share up to nearly 16 per cent. Samsung also performed well, pushing past Siemens for fourth place and helped by its TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) and GSM launches across the Americas. Ericsson is positioned well for the future, bringing out good new handsets and launching a Sony/Ericsson mobile communications JV this quarter, according to Gartner. The Western European market, which accounted for a third of annual mobile sales in 1999 and 2000, showed an unexpected decline, contrary to all past trends, although the release does not give figures. ® Worldwide mobile terminal shipment estimates for 3Q01 (in thousands) Company 3Q01 shipments 3Q01 market share (%) 3Q00 shipments 3Q00 market share (%) Nokia 31,552 33.4 32,058 30.6 Motorola 14,770 15.7 13,903 13.3 Ericsson 7,532 8.0 10,100 9.7 Samsung 7,108 7.5 4,506 4.3 Siemens 6,769 7.2 8,966 8.6 Others 26,633 28.2 35,070 33.5 Total Market 94,364 100.0 104,603 100.0 Related Stories West LB 'cans bid' for BT phone network SMS pumps up Vodafone sales Trium Eclipse: fab colour, power guzzler Pogo: better than WAP or just as cwap?
James Watson, 19 Nov 2001

Gates preaches to the NHS converted

During negotiations over a massive software licensing contract with the National Health Service (NHS), Microsoft "offered the NHS the opportunity to be addressed by (Bill) Gates," according to Computer Weekly, citing no sources. The bargaining counter appears to have done the trick: in October, Microsoft won the day, (although the estimated savings of £50m over three years in reduced licence fees may also have had something to do with the win). And on December 6, the Microsoft chairman is to to "tell a select group of NHS chief executives how the software giant can help the NHS modernise its IT at an exclusive conference on 6 December arranged by the Department of Health". And the subject of his speech? "How Microsoft will be working with the NHS to improve NHS IT." You can read the full account at CW360.com, Computer Weekly's web site. ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Nov 2001

Quanta laptop dances in pole position

Taiwan has kept its crown as the world's number one notebook manufacturer - the country exported between 12.63m and 14.3m units this year. The figures come from a trade source speaking to the Taipei Times, who also reveals that Quanta exported 4.3 million notebooks, overtaking Toshiba to become the world's number one producer. If accurate, Quanta's figures are up on its forecast at the start of the year when it reckoned it would ship between 3.8 million and 4.1 million notebooks, an increase of between 40 and 50 per cent on last year's 2.7 million shipments. According to Taiwanese industry estimates, world demand for notebooks this year is 25 million units - which means Taiwan makes at least half of them. Overall the Taiwan numbers are down between 0.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent on last year. In sales value Taiwan will export between $11.47 billion and US$11.66 billion in notebooks this year, down 15 per cent from a year earlier, according to the trade source. Turning Taiwanese It has been uneconomical for some time for Japanese firms to make laptops in their home country, and both Toshiba and Sony have turned to Taiwan for OEM assembly. Taiwan is riding a position where it has the technical knowhow to assemble notebooks, combined with manufacturing affordability. This has made it the world's main base for laptops, but China is likely to overtake it in two to three years. The major Taiwan manufacturers have already turned to China for motherboard assembly, and Quanta announced in March that it was shipping its first "quasi-furbished" Chinese notebooks. This means its China plant will make notebook components and assemble the devices without installing key parts such as the processor. The division of assembly is drvien by Taiwan's regulations which limits local companies technology investments in China. Quanta has made notebooks for Compaq, Gateway, Dell, IBM, and Apple. It has probably made them for Toshiba and Sony as well, but thsse companies don't always announce these kind of OEM deals. Quanta does not manufacturer under its own name and only deals with companies that can order a minimum of 10,000 notebooks a month. Dell has signed up Quanta to produce 4.5-5 million high-end portable PCs. Production will commence Q1 2002 and stretch to July 2003. Quanta will ship 250,000-300,000 units per month through 2002 and around three million during 2003. Dell also planned to become Compal's largest client during the second half of 2001, taking over from Hewlett-Packard. Compal is Taiwan's number two notebook maker and was expected to make two million notebooks for Dell over the year - 88 per cent of its production. At the start of 2001 it forecast its annual shipments would rise to between 2.6 and 2.9 million units for the year. ® Related Link Taipei Times story Related Stories Dell signs Quanta to make 5m notebooks Taiwan needs to exploit China Compaq to sack two notebook makers? Dell notebook production explodes... Quanta to beat Toshiba as lead notebook maker
Robert Blincoe, 19 Nov 2001

ATI A3 Athlon XP chipset revealed

Mobo maker First International gave ATI's A3 chipset its first public outing at Comdex last week. And, as we've reported before, the chipset will support AMD's Athlon XP processor. ATI has held open the prospect of a PC chipset for some time - ever since it was granted a Pentium 4 bus licence by Intel. That deal, plus ATI's desire to compete with nForce, the Athlon-oriented chipset from arch-rival Nvidia, suggested that ATI's part would support Intel processors. However, internal AMD roadmaps revealed in October that the chipset, codenamed A3, will support AMD's Athlon and Duron chips, a fact confirmed by the First International demo board. (That's not to say that A3 won't support the P4 at some point, but AMD's line-up seems to dominate ATI's sights right now. Perhaps it feels that there's already too much competition in the P4 arena.) The A3 north-bridge chip will support PC1600 and PC2100 DDR SDRAM. Its integrated graphics core is based on the latest generation of Radeon chip, the Radeon 7500 - and not, you'll note, the Radeon 8500 (aka R200). The chip supports an external 4x AGP slot. Mobo makes are free to use any compatible third-party south-bridge. First International's board, the AT31, is expected to ship next month. ® Related Stories ATI A3 chipset to support Athlon XP ATI preps A3 alternative to Nvidia's nForce Related Link VR-Zone has a piccy of the A3
Tony Smith, 19 Nov 2001

Govt fails the UK SME broadband test

The UK Government should use legislation to reduce the cost of broadband and speed-up its roll-out across the country, according to a hard-hitting report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). It warns that continuing problems concerning cost and the lack of availability of high speed Internet access is "inhibiting the development of ecommerce and ebusiness" in the UK. The report, BCC's priorities for E-Commerce 2001, by the BCC's E-Business Advisory Group, lists several issues voiced by small businesses concerning the Government's ecommerce policy. Uppermost is a call for Government to scrap its obsession with setting targets and instead focus its resources on improving infrastructure, online security and consumer confidence. The BCC - which monitored the views of 135,000 small businesses - claims that the Government's target to get a million small firms trading online by 2002 should be ditched. Pointing to the Government's own figures published in the Department of Trade and Industry's International benchmarking report, some 540,000 small firms are currently trading online although BCC points out that this figure is beginning to show signs of levelling out. Instead of focusing on targets - which may not even be met - the BCC argues that Government should concentrate on improving public confidence in e-commerce, invest more in tackling cybercrime, and improve access to broadband services. Sally Low, E-Business Policy Adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "British companies are not in the business of fulfilling aspirational targets set by any government. "They are however alert to the competitive benefits of trading online, and where these exist, businesses will drive and will respond. "The role of government should be one of enabling business in the most efficient and effective manner, and not to preoccupy itself with assessing and measuring targets," she said. The BCC is to meet ecommerce minister Douglas Alexander today to present the findings of the report. ® Related Links BCC’ s E-Business Taskforce Report - BCC' s priorities for E-Commerce 2001 http://www.ukonlineforbusiness.gov.uk/Government/bench/Bench2001/index.html International Benchmarking Study 2001 - DTI
Tim Richardson, 19 Nov 2001

Intel's Desktop Roadmap

UpdatedUpdated Intel will cut the prices of its desktop Pentium 4 line on 27 January 2002 by up to 18 per cent, we hear. By then, Intel's 0.13 micron P4 die-shrink, codenamed Northwood, will have been less than a month on the market, but that's Intel and pricing for you. The biggest cut is being made to the 1.6GHz P4, which will fall to $133 on 27 January. The 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz P4s are already at $133, as per October's price cuts. CPU New Price Old Price Cut Pentium 4 (0.13 micron Northwood) 2.2GHz $560 $610 8% 2.0GHz $364 $420 13% Pentium 4 (0.18 micron Willamette) 2.0GHz $340 $401 15% 1.9GHz $240 $273 12% 1.8GHz $193 $225 14% 1.7GHz $163 $193 15.5% 1.6GHz $133 $163 18% Intel will release a 2.4GHz version in Q2 and a 2.5GHz version in Q3 - all of them with a 400MHz frontside bus. During Q2, Intel will also debut the 533MHz FSB variant, dubbed Northwood B, at 2.53GHz. The following quarter, a faster, 400MHz FSB version - Northwood A - will ship at over 2.53GHz (2.6GHz?) Intel will continue to roll out Celerons through 2002, with the 1.8GHz 0.18 micron P4-based part appearing in Q3, as we reported earlier this week. It will be accompanied by a 1.5GHz 0.13 micron Tualatin Pentium III version. Expect a 1.9GHz or 2GHz P4-based Celeron in Q4. Come Q2 and Intel will release Tehama-E, the replacement for Tulloch. It will also offer (as we've reported before) Brookdale-G, which will add integrated graphics to the i845-D, the DDR200/266 version of the i845. Intel will also offer Brookdale-GL, which is essentially the same part but lacks Brookdale-G's support for an external AGP bus. Q4 2001 ·Mobo: D850MV - ATX, RDRAM, Socket 478 ·Mobo: D850MD - micro ATX, RDRAM, Socket 478 ·Mobo: D845HV - micro ATX, PC133, Socket 478 ·Mobo: D845WN - ATX, PC133, Socket 478 ·Mobo: Englewood - micro ATX, PC133, Socket 370 January 2002 ·2.0, 2.2GHz Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood A, 512KB L2, 400MHz FSB - Launch price: $420/$610 ·1.3GHz Celeron - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 133MHz FSB - Launch price: $120 ·Chipset: i845D - DDR200/266 (PC1600, PC2100) support Q1 2002 ·Mobo: Billings - ATX, PC2100 DDR, Socket 478 ·Mobo: Pendleton - micro ATX, DDR, Socket 478 April 2002 ·2.26GHz Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood B, 512KB L2, 533MHz FSB ·2.4GHz Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood A, 512KB L2, 400MHz FSB ·2.4GHz Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood B, 512KB L2, 533MHz FSB ·Chipset: Brookdale-G - PC133 and PC2100 DDR support - 400, 533MHz FSB - integrated 32-bit colour 3D graphics engine with AGP support - USB 2.0 ·Chipset: Brookdale-GL - PC133 and PC2100 DDR support - 400, 533MHz FSB - integrated 32-bit colour 3D graphics engine (no AGP support) - USB 2.0 ·Chipset: Tehama-E - dual-channel PC800/PC1066 RDRAM support - 533MHz FSB ·Chipset: Brookdale-E - PC133 and PC2100 DDR support - 533MHz FSB - USB 2.0 Q2 2002 ·1.4GHz Celeron - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 100MHz FSB Q3 2002 ·2.53GHz Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood B, 512KB L2, 533MHz FSB ·2.50GHz Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood A, 512KB L2, 400MHz FSB ·1.8GHz Celeron - 0.18 micron Willamette (ie. Pentium 4) - 400MHz FSB, 256KB L2 cache ·1.5GHz Celeron - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 100MHz FSB Q4 2002 ·2.53GHz+ Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood B, 512KB L2, 533MHz FSB ·2.53GHz+ Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood A, 512KB L2, 400MHz FSB ·1.8GHz+ Celeron - 0.18 micron Willamette - 400MHz FSB, 256KB L2 cache Q3 2003 ·Chipset: Springdale
Tony Smith, 19 Nov 2001

Ceci n'est pas une Xbox

René Magritte, Belgium's most famous Surrealist artist, painted a picture of a pipe with the caption: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" -translation: This is not a pipe. Quite correct, it's not a pipe. It's a picture of a pipe. In the same noble tradition, a picture of a box with an X pasted onto the top was put up for sale last week on eBay with the disclaimer below: "This is not an Xbox." Eager Xbox buyers clicked in the offers, with 16 bids, chasing the box with X price to $130, before eBay officials pulled the plug on the playful prankster. Sadly, the eBay URL is no longer available, but our thanks to reader Stephen Roberts for pointing it in our direction. In January, an unlucky buyer picked up a PlayStation 2 box for $425. The seller put up a picture of a PS2 box (the original packaging) and offered it as a: "PlayStation 2 Original Box and Receipt," which is exactly what it was. Update And the winner is... As can be seen here, one lucky fellow placed the winning $366 bid for a brand new Xbox, uhh, box. As the description reads: You are bidding on a brand new Microsoft Xbox box, it does not contain the system, this is just the box and is for collectors only. This is the original box that that the systems will ship in, it's is not a promotional display the box actually contained an xbox unit that was set up at a local retailer for display. Once again for the really thick headed out there, this is just the box, the system is not inside. Shipping will be $7.00 to the 48 continental US states only. I accept Money Orders, Cashier's Checks, Billpoint and Paypal only. Happy Bidding! ® What am I bid for these auction stories The L7NUX number plate The (almost original) Trojan Room coffee pot? Timothy McVeigh death T-shirts PS2 for sale: It won't ship though Related Stories Student selling everything he owns in world on eBay eBay pulls Kevin Mitnick trinkets PlayStation 2 auctions net sellers 4900% profits
James Watson, 19 Nov 2001

Dell touts budget server

Dell is shipping the 1500SC, the latest addition to its budget range of PowerEdge servers. Prices start at £999 (without an operating system). The dual-processor capable unit, powered by a 1.13GHz PIII chip in its base configuration, also features Intel's PRO/1000 XT network connection on its motherboard, enabling up to 1Gb per second transfer rate. Other features include ECC memory and hot-pluggable hard drives, typically found on Dell's mid-range servers. Aimed at SME companies, buyers can choose between Windows 2000 server, NT 4.0 or Red Hat Linux 7.2 to run the machine. Dell's PowerEdge page has some more information on the 1500SC. In a recent Gartner survey, Dell was the only major server vendor to increase its market share, now sitting at 25 per cent for the UK, behind Compaq's 36 per cent. M40 The company also made available its 'mobile workstation', which we first heard about in October. It is ready to hit the UK market at a price of £2,445 (excl. VAT and delivery). The M40 is essentially a souped-up laptop built to handle high-level graphics, aimed at designers and other graphics professionals. Dell describes it as a combination of performance hardware and portability. The most important components are its NVidia 4X AGP 32MB Quadro2Go graphics card and 15-inch screen, able to support resolution up to 1600x1200. No lightweight on any of its specs, the notebook is based on a 1.2GHz Pentium III mobile processor and has 512MB SDRAM, a 48GB hard drive and a combo DVD/CD-RW drive. (See the full specs here.) ® Related Stories Western Europe server sales down, again Dell: Profits down, market share up Redmond's Tablets don't work - not for Dell, anyway
James Watson, 19 Nov 2001

Dell begs for mercy after ditching desktop Linux

Dell has published an open letter to its Linux customers 'clarifying' its position as regards the insurgent OS. Actually, the letter is headed "Clarifying Dell and Linux", but either of these would be a massive task, and we think we know what they meant to say. In any event, the letter reads like it's an apologia from a company that has been taking heavy fire from mullahs... er... enthusiasts and is making a desperate but futile effort to salvage its position. Weirdly, the letter has banners saying "Linux is everywhere" above and below, whereas it not being everywhere is the problem that caused the outrage that caused the letter. Dell pulled the plugs on Linux preinstalls on desktops and notebooks back in August, citing lack of demand. The Register has no experience of buying from Dell, but our experience a little earlier this year over an IBM ThinkPad gave us an indication of how "lack of demand" works in the PC business. We asked for one with with Linux on-board, and the vendor said he'd check availability. We asked him to check availability on the Win2k version at the same time. When he got back to us it was three weeks for the Linux machine, the Win2k one we could have tomorrow. So guess which we bought? This is how lack of demand builds up in the Windows world. But back to the letter. "Dell continues [Memo to marketing: stress continuity of Dell Linux offering] to support Linux customers on a variety of client and server products [make it sound like a lot] both through factory installation and Linux vendor certification [lob it back into Red Hat's lap]. Dell offers the latest release of Red Hat®  Linux 7.2 on its Precision Workstation and PowerEdge Server lines to customers who range from corporate professionals to performance computing enthusiasts [don't mention home users] through multiple ordering mechanisms, including over the internet. For customers who develop their own Linux image using Red Hat or another Linux distribution, Dell will install their image on OptiPlex desktop and Latitude portable computers through Dell's custom factory integration services [don't piss off the big customers who want Linux]. In addition, Dell has Linux available across its other product lines (Dimension and Inspiron) through DellWare to support the many Linux user's who are installing the operating system themselves [lob it back to the users]." Our itals and annotations throughout, naturally. Amazingly, this whinge from Dell in no way contradicts a posting we've just noted from the Cleveland Linux User Group, made at the time Dell pulled the plugs: "I'm pissed off. I just tried to order a workstation from Dell's 'Home' division and I don't have the choice to have Linux installed on it. Last year, when I ordered a box, I was able to get RedHat with it. This was good. It meant that I wasn't forced to by a license for MS software that I wouldn't need or use. Now, Dell has removed that choice. I do NOT have the choice of ordering a system unless it comes with Windows, which means I have to line Microsoft's pockets despite the fact that Windows will never run on this PC." So there. Even if you were feeble-minded enough to believe Dell's protestations through most of the letter, you might well change your mind (we use the term advisedly) when you get to the bottom. "Dell believes that Linux enables an excellent migration platform for customers with applications previously restricted to proprietary Unix platforms, such as workstation and internet applications. As such, Dell will continue to support Linux as outlined above." So there you go. It's not an alternative to Windows at all, it's a "migration platform" for customers who need to get their apps away from "proprietary Unix platforms." All it needs is for Dell to precede it with "And now for a word from our sponsors." ®
John Lettice, 19 Nov 2001

VIA in talks with Intel to settle P4 chipset fight

VIA is close to settling its legal battle with Intel over the Taiwanese firm's P4 chipsets, according to the Commercial Times of Taipei. In the meantime it is signing a number of distribution deals to handle the P4 chipset- in spite of the legal threats from Intel. Both stories come courtesy of EBNonline. It reports that big distie name Ingram Micro has, according to VIA marketing director Frank Jeng, signed up to sell the P4x266 chipset. Lesser names jumping on the VIA P4 chipset bandwagon include Eprom, Leadman Electronics, Leadertech Systems of Chicago, Eastern Data, Agaman and Daiwa. Some Euro disties are also lined up. The companies will sell unbranded mobos built around the chipset in the hope that the non-branded products will be less likely to get caught up in VIA and Intel's legal fight. As for the resolution of the legal spat between the the chip firms, the Commercial Times cites an unnamed industry source who claims that VIA President Chen Wen-chi met Intel execs at Comdex in Las Vegas last week to discuss the payment of a $2 royalty per chipset. As this is half of what Silicon Integrated Systems and Acer Labs are paying, there may be some way before settlement is reached. ®
Robert Blincoe, 19 Nov 2001

Nvidia Xbox win lands staff with insider trading suits

Eleven Nvidia staffers and four associates stand accused of making $1.7m through insider trading, after the company told employees it had won the contract to supply Microsoft's Xbox games console with graphics chips. Five staff face charges of criminal insider trading as well as civil fraud. The employees, mostly engineers, played the stock market after receiving a company-wide memo headed "X - it's ours" in March 2000 from CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges. All but two of the 15 are contesting the charges, the SEC says. Two have settled civil fraud charges by paying $70,000. Robert Mitchell, head of the SEC's San Franciso enforcement unit, said the case "highlights the danger of executives' disseminating confidential information so broadly", Bloomberg reports. ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Nov 2001