Sun has renewed its offensive blaming Intel for the abandonment of the Solaris OS for Itanic port. (Note to newer readers: Itanium is Intel's 64 bit chip, which was scheduled to revolutionise enterprise computing by 1998, and is apparently still in development somewhere at Zilla.) Sun VP John Loiacono told The Register that Intel had withheld key technical information and resources from Sun engineers, forcing Sun to shelve the project. He said that Sun was still sore that Intel had gone blabbing to the press with the news first, and spread the word that Sun was deliberately going slow because of its own interest in SPARC chips. But surely, we asked, you just need a prototype IA-64 box and a compiler, and off you go? No said Loiacono, Sun's channel of documentation and errata had dried up, leaving the porting team flying blind. Loiacono said Sun later surmised that Intel had made the strategic decision to bank on Linux as the Unix for the Itanic. Which, is what it is, after the parallel cancellation of the joint IBM/SCO Project Monterey to create a merged AIX/UnixWare for Itanic. Of course such scurrilous rumours don't gain currency unless they ring at least slightly true, and it remains a fact that Sun makes nothing from Slowlaris, and a whole heap of money from the expensive hardware boxes that Itanic was supposed to commoditize out of existence. IBM appears every bit as keen on Itanic as Sun these days, note. x86 axed Loiacono said the decision to shelve its loss leader Solaris for 32-bit Intel PCs was "simple supply and demand." "People have come back and said we'll pay for it, but the only way we'll get there if the business model changes." The Save Solaris on x86 Petition can be found here, and the Intel's own Save the Itanic petition here. ® Related Stories Intel says Sun just isn't trying hard enough Sun hits back at Intel Itanium tale...
BT is to be stripped of its title as Internet Villain after failing to make the short-list for the UK's "Internet Oscars". Last year, the title of "Internet Villain" went to BT CEO, Sir Peter Bonfield. This year, telecoms regulator Oftel, the Home Office and the Radiocommnications Agency are slugging it out for the honour. The award is part of the "ISPAs" - annual awards doled out by the Internet Service Provider's Association (ISPA). Choking back the disappointment, a spokesman for BT told The Register: "Far from being an Internet villain BT is working very hard to bring broadband to Britain." While the title of Internet Villain is the most coveted award in the UK industry other companies and organisations will have to fight it out for less prestigious gongs. AOL, BTopenworld, Freeserve, Plus Net and Telewest are all up for Best National Consumer ISP. Best National Business ISP will be decided from among BT Ignite, Cable & Wireless, Claranet, Pipex and Thus. ® Related Story BT is Britain's 'Internet Villain'
Akamai Technologies Inc is trying to have rival Digital Island Inc forced to turn off its flagship content delivery service, in the latest twist to the patent wrangle between the two firms, Kevin Murphy writes. The company yesterday filed a motion for an injunction against DI's Footprint 2.0 service, which a jury found infringed one of Akamai's most important patents. But DI lawyers reckon in less than a year the firm will be in a legal position to shut down all of its content delivery network rivals, Akamai included. "Akamai today filed a motion for entry of an injunction in the ongoing patent dispute against Digital Island," said an Akamai spokesperson. "This is as a result of a Boston jury's finding of Digital Island's infringement of the Leighton-Lewin patent." In December, a jury found DI's Footprint CDN infringes the parts of US patent 6,108,703, the so-called "Leighton-Lewin patent", which cover a "two-level DNS" method used by both Akamai and DI to route web traffic to edge-of-network caches. The two-level DNS claims basically cover the practice of rewriting the URLs of embedded objects in web pages so that the original URL is pre-pended by a CDN hostname. DI's general counsel Howard Lasky told ComputerWire that less than a dozen of its customers have implemented DI in the "legacy" way covered by the patent. "I'm going to have these customers rewriting in the more modern fashion tomorrow," Lasky said. He said that if an injunction is issued, by the time it becomes effective, no DI customers will be infringing the Akamai patent. The only possible setback for DI, he said, would be if an awkward customer decided they didn't want to rewrite their URLs. The Akamai spokesperson said the requested injunction would be "broad-based", and would cover Footprint 2.0. DI's Lasky claims any injunction would only cover the specific claims of Leighton-Lewin DI was found to infringe. He additionally claims that other parts of the patent are far more important. The same Boston jury that found DI infringed the first five claims of '703 also decided that three, arguably more important, '703 claims should be invalidated. Their reasoning was that a DI patent on Footprint "anticipated" the three Akamai claims, which cover CDN methodologies far more fundamental than the way a URL is rewritten. The Akamai spokesperson said: "We believe that finding was made in error, and we will appeal if the court does not agree with us." The three claims in question cover broad notions such as changing a URL to point to a cache chosen based on current internet conditions - the key behind every CDN. Lasky said that DI intends to have the US Patent and Trademark Office transfer these three claims to its Footprint patent, based on the jury's decision. He said that if DI, now a Cable & Wireless Plc subsidiary, manages to get hold of these claims "I believe I would be able to enjoin everyone I know of in the CDN space," he said. Lasky anticipates that the USPTO action should be complete in five to 12 months from now, though the overworked, understaffed organization is always difficult to predict. Whatever happens, it seems the two leading CDN players in the business will be arguing over their intellectualproperty for some time to come. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved. ®
Novell Inc is to receive product development input from Lufthansa Systems Infratec GmbH (Infratec) as part of a major security infrastructure deal with German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG. The deal will also see Provo, Utah-based Novell trumpeting its new-found credentials as a network solutions provider. Although details of the technology relationship are few, Markus Krauss, director of enterprise solutions Novell EMEA, suggested to ComputerWire that Infratec will have a significant role to play in Novell's future product developments, possibly in directory services, but more likely in extending Novell's skills with wireless technologies. Infratec was closely involved in creating a new wireless application-enabled business core for Lufthansa. Krauss described the overall deal with Cologne, Germany-based Lufthansa as "a very important deal for Novell, one of the biggest in our history." The project will last until at least until 2005 and will take in 70,000 Lufthansa personnel worldwide and around 600 applications that have so far required separate user administration. The Lufthansa contract includes provisioning Novell's own eDirectory product for user administration and authorization, Addison, Texas-based Entrust Inc's Entrust Authority PKI software and HR software from SAP AG. Krauss said Novell may offer the same package to other airlines if it meets their requirements but the solutions approach does not preclude the substitution of other third-party software offerings, for instance PKI solutions from Baltimore Technologies or RSA Security. Entrust's product is also used by several of Lufthansa's Star Alliance partners. Since the fall-off in its once core NetWare business, Novell has steadily switched its attention toward IT solutions based around heterogeneous products instead of packaged software, a trend capped off by its purchase of consulting and systems integration firm Cambridge Technology Partners Inc (CTP) in March last year. While CTP is involved in the project, Krauss would not say in what capacity. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved
Advanced Micro Devices Inc pointed to the way out of the woods yesterday as it turned in better than expected fourth quarter sales and said it expected to return to profit in the second quarter. The Sunnyvale, California-based company turned in sales of $951.9m for the quarter ending December 30, down 19% on the year. However, AMD had said back in November that it expected sales to be flat to up in the high single digits on the $765.9m it reported in the third quarter. Despite the unexpected sales boost, the company still turned in a net loss of $15.8m, compared to a $178m profit the previous year. Proforma loss per share was $0.05, compared to the $0.18 loss per share Wall Street had been expecting. Revenue was better than expected, the company said, because average selling prices for its processors "increased dramatically to $90" as it ramped up production of its Athlon XP family. For the current quarter, the company expects a decline in revenues to $900m, which would result in a "small net loss". However, it said it still expects to return to profitability in the second quarter, and to report a profit for the year as a whole. For the full year sales were $3.9bn, down 16.2%, while net losses were $60.6m, compared to the previous year's $983m profit. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved. Related story Intely cagey on recovery
MemoWatchMemoWatch Microsoft founder Bill Gates has finally noodled out the fact that his precious .NET initiative is never going to fly if the company continues turning out insecure products. Therefore, in a long-winded bull to all Microserfs issued Wednesday, Billg finally admits that the company has wrongly emphasized whistles and bells over security, and decrees that this shall change. "In the past, we've made our software and services more compelling for users by adding new features and functionality, and by making our platform richly extensible," Gates writes. And then he reveals the epiphany he's had: "We've done a terrific job at that, but all those great features won't matter unless customers trust our software." Hallelujah. He's finally arrived on the same page as the rest of the computing world. And he claims that things are henceforth going to be different in Redmond. "So now, when we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security." Sounds great, but then he goes completely off the rails: "A good example of this is the change we made in Outlook to avoid email borne viruses." Hello? Earth to Bill -- it took years of grinding public humiliation for MS to make a simple modification preventing malicious executables from launching automatically in Outlook. If this is Gates' idea of a security job well done, then all we have here is another PR smokescreen. But we'll leave that for you to decide. Below is the declaration in full. ® -----Original Message----- From: Bill Gates Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 5:22 PM To: Microsoft and Subsidiaries: All FTE Subject: Trustworthy computing Every few years I have sent out a memo talking about the highest priority for Microsoft. Two years ago, it was the kickoff of our .NET strategy. Before that, it was several memos about the importance of the Internet to our future and the ways we could make the Internet truly useful for people. Over the last year it has become clear that ensuring .NET is a platform for Trustworthy Computing is more important than any other part of our work. If we don't do this, people simply won't be willing -- or able -- to take advantage of all the other great work we do. Trustworthy Computing is the highest priority for all the work we are doing. We must lead the industry to a whole new level of Trustworthiness in computing. When we started work on Microsoft .NET more than two years ago, we set a new direction for the company -- and articulated a new way to think about our software. Rather than developing standalone applications and Web sites, today we're moving towards smart clients with rich user interfaces interacting with Web services. We're driving the XML Web services standards so that systems from all vendors can share information, while working to make Windows the best client and server for this new era. There is a lot of excitement about what this architecture makes possible. It allows the dreams about e-business that have been hyped over the last few years to become a reality. It enables people to collaborate in new ways, including how they read, communicate, share annotations, analyze information and meet. However, even more important than any of these new capabilities is the fact that it is designed from the ground up to deliver Trustworthy Computing. What I mean by this is that customers will always be able to rely on these systems to be available and to secure their information. Trustworthy Computing is computing that is as available, reliable and secure as electricity, water services and telephony. Today, in the developed world, we do not worry about electricity and water services being available. With telephony, we rely both on its availability and its security for conducting highly confidential business transactions without worrying that information about who we call or what we say will be compromised. Computing falls well short of this, ranging from the individual user who isn't willing to add a new application because it might destabilize their system, to a corporation that moves slowly to embrace e-business because today's platforms don't make the grade. The events of last year -- from September's terrorist attacks to a number of malicious and highly publicized computer viruses -- reminded every one of us how important it is to ensure the integrity and security of our critical infrastructure, whether it's the airlines or computer systems. Computing is already an important part of many people's lives. Within ten years, it will be an integral and indispensable part of almost everything we do. Microsoft and the computer industry will only succeed in that world if CIOs, consumers and everyone else sees that Microsoft has created a platform for Trustworthy Computing. Every week there are reports of newly discovered security problems in all kinds of software, from individual applications and services to Windows, Linux, Unix and other platforms. We have done a great job of having teams work around the clock to deliver security fixes for any problems that arise. Our responsiveness has been unmatched -- but as an industry leader we can and must do better. Our new design approaches need to dramatically reduce the number of such issues that come up in the software that Microsoft, its partners and its customers create. We need to make it automatic for customers to get the benefits of these fixes. Eventually, our software should be so fundamentally secure that customers never even worry about it. No Trustworthy Computing platform exists today. It is only in the context of the basic redesign we have done around .NET that we can achieve this. The key design decisions we made around .NET include the advances we need to deliver on this vision. Visual Studio .NET is the first multi-language tool that is optimized for the creation of secure code, so it is a key foundation element. I've spent the past few months working with Craig Mundie's group and others across the company to define what achieving Trustworthy Computing will entail, and to focus our efforts on building trust into every one of our products and services. Key aspects include: Availability: Our products should always be available when our customers need them. System outages should become a thing of the past because of a software architecture that supports redundancy and automatic recovery. Self-management should allow for service resumption without user intervention in almost every case. Security: The data our software and services store on behalf of our customers should be protected from harm and used or modified only in appropriate ways. Security models should be easy for developers to understand and build into their applications. Privacy: Users should be in control of how their data is used. Policies for information use should be clear to the user. Users should be in control of when and if they receive information to make best use of their time. It should be easy for users to specify appropriate use of their information including controlling the use of email they send. Trustworthiness is a much broader concept than security, and winning our customers' trust involves more than just fixing bugs and achieving "five-nines" availability. It's a fundamental challenge that spans the entire computing ecosystem, from individual chips all the way to global Internet services. It's about smart software, services and industry-wide cooperation. There are many changes Microsoft needs to make as a company to ensure and keep our customers' trust at every level - from the way we develop software, to our support efforts, to our operational and business practices. As software has become ever more complex, interdependent and interconnected, our reputation as a company has in turn become more vulnerable. Flaws in a single Microsoft product, service or policy not only affect the quality of our platform and services overall, but also our customers' view of us as a company. In recent months, we've stepped up programs and services that help us create better software and increase security for our customers. Last fall, we launched the Strategic Technology Protection Program, making software like IIS and Windows .NET Server secure by default, and educating our customers on how to get -- and stay -- secure. The error-reporting features built into Office XP and Windows XP are giving us a clear view of how to raise the level of reliability. The Office team is focused on training and processes that will anticipate and prevent security problems. In December, the Visual Studio .NET team conducted a comprehensive review of every aspect of their product for potential security issues. We will be conducting similarly intensive reviews in the Windows division and throughout the company in the coming months. At the same time, we're in the process of training all our developers in the latest secure coding techniques. We've also published books like "Writing Secure Code," by Michael Howard and David LeBlanc, which gives all developers the tools they need to build secure software from the ground up. In addition, we must have even more highly trained sales, service and support people, along with offerings such as security assessments and broad security solutions. I encourage everyone at Microsoft to look at what we've done so far and think about how they can contribute. But we need to go much further. In the past, we've made our software and services more compelling for users by adding new features and functionality, and by making our platform richly extensible. We've done a terrific job at that, but all those great features won't matter unless customers trust our software. So now, when we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security. Our products should emphasize security right out of the box, and we must constantly refine and improve that security as threats evolve. A good example of this is the changes we made in Outlook to avoid email borne viruses. If we discover a risk that a feature could compromise someone's privacy, that problem gets solved first. If there is any way we can better protect important data and minimize downtime, we should focus on this. These principles should apply at every stage of the development cycle of every kind of software we create, from operating systems and desktop applications to global Web services. Going forward, we must develop technologies and policies that help businesses better manage ever larger networks of PCs, servers and other intelligent devices, knowing that their critical business systems are safe from harm. Systems will have to become self-managing and inherently resilient. We need to prepare now for the kind of software that will make this happen, and we must be the kind of company that people can rely on to deliver it. This priority touches on all the software work we do. By delivering on Trustworthy Computing, customers will get dramatically more value out of our advances than they have in the past. The challenge here is one that Microsoft is uniquely suited to solve. Bill
"blah blah blah giant hairball blah Microsoft Lookout blah Dell banana blah blah IBM unintegratable... OK, we'll assume readers are familiar with the down-home patter of Sun CEO McNealy, and appreciate that it's reliably funny and well-timed, etc. etc. Or at least it is the first seventy five times you've heard it. All you need to know are what new lines are revealed by diff-ing the new transcript against the old, and we can happily oblige here. McNealy gave an audience to an audience mostly consisting of European hacks in Santa Clara yesterday, and these are the significant others. IBM's push for royalty bearing W3C RAND licenses "IBM pretend that they're open. But they're fighting so hard in the standards bodies to makes sure that the technologies are royalty bearing, and not open. They want to have the interfaces, so if you want to implement an interface that's 'open', even by a standards body, you have to pay a royalty to IBM." Does the US have a better wireless infrastructure than Europe? "No. "Each company thought they could be a monopoly. Each thought they could win. They all made a run for it and they're all going to lose out." Linux "Linux is the next step beyond open interfaces. There's interfaces and then there's implementations to that interface. "Now the problem with 'FREE' is that it's really hard to give out stock options. It's hard to pay salaries on free, and really hard to get them to wear a bleeper on a Saturday night. "Nobody should own the interfaces - like the alphabet or the word 'Windows'. But you should be able to create proprietary implementations of open interfaces. "But I like the fact that people are willing to donate to the public domain. We love Linux, and the most wonderful thing about Linux is that it's a problem for Microsoft." Look out BEA "Novell was standalone directories business selling its directory service like it was an industry. No it isn't, it's a standalone feature, it's a feature of a webtone switch. "BEA is out there saying application servers are an industry. No, application servers are a feature of a webtone switch and they're going to find that out very shortly now. [our emphasis] "IBM is bundling WebSphere with their platform. Microsoft is bundling their iPlanet on their platform. We've got iPlanet now free and clear to bundle on our platform. So where are they going to sell to… a Mac? The Sircam merger "Bull, Siemens Nixdorf and Olivetti are just integrators. I'm not being derogatory here, they're good businesses to be in. But they've all been hollowed out by the IBM monopoly and the Wintel monopoly. Our competitors are R&D companies. "Take Dell. Dell is not a computer company - they're the world's best grocery store for computers. They might not even touch the computer, they might just be the website that takes the order, and IBM has gotten out of it altogether. "It doesn't matter what happens with Hewlett Packard and Compaq. They're just both out of the RISC Unix business and they're both Microsoft resellers. The last thing in the world needs is another company selling Microsoft-Intel computers. Bootnote: If the above proves anything, it's that Scott reads The Register even more closely than we do, and we're supposed to work here. (This we know from finding that 'Itanic' is now public slang for IA-64, and finding our more pernickety points - such as the difference between authentication and authorisation - recycled in Sun's notPowerPointSlides. No complaints here folks, we're just glad someone's paying attention.) The W3C RAND snippet was throw in unprompted, and highlights one of last year's most important, but least-read stories. Judging by our stats, very few of you seem to care too much if the web becomes pay-to-play, although McNealy was quick to spot the competitive advantage. As he should - it's IBM's dirty little secret. See here for our coverage of this story. The wireless question was ours, but despite his free market instincts, McNealy isn't now prepared to defend the ramshackle framework which underpins the US cellphone industry (even though some of them are his best customers). All in all, a sound performance, marred only by the hideous Ronnie Corbett jumper. ®
VIA has launched a new integrated chipset for the Athlon XP. It's called the VIA ProSavageDDR KM266 and the numbers at the end indicate that is supplied with 266MHz DDR DRAM i.e. it's got fast memory. The chipset is built on an S3 core, and the spec includes "effective AGP 8X bandwidth graphics and ultra fast ATA-133 at ultra-competitive price points". We'll have to take VIA's word for on price, as it's not saying how much the new chipset costs. According to VIA, Ultra ATA-133 delivers 33 per cent more bandwidth between the hard drives and chipset, so performance is cranked up again. High integration and lots of drivers minimise OEM costs, the Taiwanese company says. You can read the entire spec here. ® Related Story VIA eases P4 drama with VIARAMA
In the movies, it always rains at funerals. In Silicon Valley yesterday, Be Inc held its liquidation auction and although not a drop fell from the heavens, it was fucking cold. But that didn't lessen the sense of occasion, as the most romantic of all Silicon Valley start-ups finally ran into the auctioneer's hammer. The big freeze didn't stop several hundred geeks, gawkers, dreamers and vultures (where else could I be?) from attending to pick over the bones. Auctions aren't so much funerals as autopsies, where you really do get to rummage through the personal bric-a-brac. And there it was: from the cubicle partitions and the trade-show props to the coffee machine. Or as the liquidator's catalog described it, a "coffee machine with supplies". You could bid for the Be company shredder, too. While most shredders take one sheet at a time, this one could take five sheets in one go, or as the auctioneer put it, "it's the Richard Nixon Model!" (The "Arthur Andersen model" might have been more topical.) So more bodies were crammed into the upper floor of Be's Menlo Park premises than safety limits allow, and a collection of former staffers, recent and distant were arriving by the minute. "Benoit's here!," called out the receptionist. You see, the Be liquidation wasn't any old auction. The great Be adventure deservedly makes geeks go misty-eyed with sentiment, for a couple of very big reasons. For a start, it set out to do what we now know is impossible: create a great personal computer operating system from scratch. Be created the "media OS", or "the Mac for Intel", or even the "poor man's SGI" with such elegance and style that even burned-out losers of previous OS wars, like the author, were converted. And we think today exactly what we thought we first used BeOS. Firstly, hey - this is pretty neat…. Then, this is really great, and really quite useful. And forever after... how did they make Windows/Linux/MacOS/[your OS here] suck so much? Why is this computer so slow? Can I have a real file system, please? When you've done Be, you can't ever really go back. (And then only under extreme duress, back to a "hyper-competitive and fast-moving Microsoft".) Secondly, and it's ironic when the assets go under a hammer, is the fact that Be Inc kept trading for quite so long. Investors sunk over $100 million into the company over a decade, but it never showed more than $3 million in annual revenues. And yet so great was the promise, investors kept returning, until the Microsoft squeeze became intolerable, that Be had to run for the niche appliance market. BeOS may well have been designed to become the successor to MacOS (only to find itself outbid when the moment came), but otherwise it played its hand brilliantly. After being spurned by Apple, and thrown off the PPC platform, Be styled itself as the alternative to a dual-boot Windows. Gassee was fond of pointing out that a PC could reboot into BeOS in less time than it took to launch Internet Explorer from a standing start. And Be had won the mindshare of the audio community, shortly before the shift into the appliance niche, which is remarkable considering how conservative that market is. We're not in that "creative" demographic, but by release 5.0 BeOS was useful enough to get through a working day without a hiccup, and without any of the ballsache that's required to say, get a scanner working under Linux, or get a CD burned under Windows XP. And if we got bored we could, as we gushed to Marco Niellsen [pictured here, with former ex-Be staff] start up 23 instances of Ennio Morricone's 'Once Upon A Time In The West' in MP3 format, play them all simultaneously at different speeds, and broadcast over the internet with one click. Just for the hell of it. Afternoon engagements called us, and we never got the chance to bid for the 29 Be mugs, the lot of a hundred Be T-shirts (we'd dearly one of either - will swap), or the iMac we'd promised shacker. Let alone the BeBoxes. Or, gasp! the Hobbit prototypes which preceded the PPC BeBox. Cruelly the only assets of real value - BeOS itself and the staff - now belong to Palm, possibly the stupidest technology company on Earth. You can mourn and catalog the injustices, but like counting sheep you'll fall asleep before you've reached double figures. We'll add one more irony: the Be liquidation took place on the day we revealed that SGI had transferred a big chunk of its 3D graphics portfolio to Microsoft. Hopeless, isn't it? ®
Compaq has announced fourth quarter results that provide evidence of recovery in its business, even though sales are well down on the same period last year. The IT giant reported Q4 revenue of $8.5 billion, an improvement of $1 billion - or 14 percent - on Q3, but down 26 percent on revenues of $11.5 billion recorded in the same quarter last year. Net income for this quarter was $92 million, beating analysts' expectations. Compaq's income for the year ending December 31 2001 was $33.6 billion, down 21 percent on revenues for 2000. Reported net income for the full year was a loss of $785 million. Europe, where revenue was up 31 per cent sequentially, was a high point for the firm during Q4. Gross margin, as a percentage of revenue, was up 1.2 per cent to 20.6 percent for the quarter. Operating expenses during the quarter fell to $1.54 billion, down $500 million from the same period last year, and helped to improve Compaq's bottom line. Compaq's services business now comprises 24 percent of its revenue, at approximately $2 billion, showing 8 per cent sequential growth and 4 percent growth over the prior year period. Revenue from the Enterprise Computing segment was up 15 percent from the third quarter to $2.7 billion. Losses in Compaq's PC business were down from $186 million in Q4 to $69 million this quarter, as volumes increased and revenues rose to $3.8 billion, up 16 percent sequentially, but down 31 percent year over year. During the quarter Compaq completed its plan for the worldwide outsourcing of portable computers and desktops for the indirect channel. Compaq is looking forward to stronger recovery over the next six months. It forecasts Q1 revenue of $7.6 billion, which is "consistent with normal seasonal trends", says Compaq CEO Michael Capellas. "While we did see some strengthening of the IT market in the fourth quarter, first half growth will be moderate and pent-up demand should drive a stronger recovery in the second half of the year." ®
Yahoo! Inc's president and COO, Jeff Mallett, will step down in April after seven years at the Internet giant. Some reports claim Mallett's decision comes after being overlooked for the job of chairman and CEO, which went to Terry Semel last year. Yahoo! insists, though, that his departure will enable him to "take advantage of greater flexibility for family and business interests". News that Mr Mallet has decided to bow out coincides with the publication of the latest batch of financial results from the company. In the three months to the end of December Yahoo! lost $8.7 million on revenues of $188.9 million. During the same period last year revenues topped $310.9 million against losses of $97.8 million. Revenues for the full year slipped to $717.4 million with losses of $92.8 million compared to net revenues of $1.1 billion in 2000 and earnings of $70.8 million CEO Terry Semel admitted that 2001 was a year of "challenges and transition" but said that Q4 revenues and income exceeded its expectations. Looking ahead, Yahoo! expects revenues for Q1 2002 to come in somewhere between $160 and $180 million, and between $750 and $800 million for the full year. On Tuesday online auction site, eBay, reported healthy figures, capping off what president and CEO, Meg Whitman, described as "an outstanding year". Q4 revenues hit a record $219.4 million - up 64 per cent on the same period last year - against net income of $26 million. For the full year, net revenues were up a whopping 74 per cent at $748.8 million with net income of $90.4 million. eBay also reported that its international business achieved operating profitability for the first time in Q4. Looking ahead, eBay predicts that H1 revenues will come in between $490 million and $510 million. ® Related Stories Yahoo! wrests HotJobs from Monster.com Yahoo! to! shed! 400! jobs! Yahoo! Sales! Down!
The rumoured transformation of the Xbox into a home entertainment hub is real, and will launch this year, according to Prudential Securities analyst Hans Mosesmann. Speaking to EBN, Mosesmann claimed that he'd picked up sufficient information at CES to confirm that the device, the HomeStation, will be given the go-ahead. HomeStation will be based on the Xbox, but will in effect be a cheap combination entertainment system and home gateway, including video recording and DVD. Adding the necessary capabilities to to Xbox isn't exactly going to be hard, given that it's a modified, closed, proprietary version of a PC anyway, so the only real constraints on launching it are manufacturing capacity and tactics. Presuming that Microsoft successfully rolls out Xbox in Europe and Japan, and meets demand, then an announcement leading to a HomeStation launch around Q3 this year would make most sense. If Xbox is a success, and if Microsoft can successfully transition it to HomeStation, then the company will have pulled off a spectacular and highly lucrative stunt. Many home users will be using closed boxes owned and specified by Microsoft for games, music, video, email, internet access etc, and Microsoft will be in a strong position to add "secure PC" features that will allow it to sell music and video, and to roll the .NET strategy out into the home. Pricing for HomeStation will however be an interesting issue. Xbox follows the games console model whereby manufacturers make their money back out of games sales, but the use of HomeStation for other purposes as well will muddy matters. Does it get subsidised, and if so, how confident can Microsoft be that it can make money back from music and video companies, or other .NET partners? ® Related links: Microsoft preps 'Xbox 2' as home entertainment hub
Yesterday, Aardman, the animation studio responsible for Wallace and Gromit, announced its intention to release 12 new one minute films featuring the plasticine idols on the Web. They will be available free from the Autumn. The shorts are intended as a promotional device. "Using a free CD Rom 'album', fans will visit chosen web sites to collect a series of short film clips. Each set collected unlocks a whole film for viewing from the CD. A new film will be available for collection onto the 'album' each weekend." Viral marketing at it's best - or a missed opportunity to charge for this content? Aardman is no stranger to the Web: its Angry Kid cartoon series has had more than seven million plays and downloads since release. Sponsorships and commercial tie-ins have recouped production costs., the company says. Yes, but what about the hosting and streaming charges? Where did they go? We think that Aardman's decision to not charge for the new shorties is an opportunity missed. Charging small amounts for frivolous entertainment represents one of the near futures for broadband. This is what we are trying to do with SalmonDays, our live-action, BOFH-inspired comedy streaming epic. Per Mobile Already, several thousand people have paid to see episode one - and paid using the reverse billing on the mobile phone. Clearly, we want several tens of thousands to watch Salmon Days, and we will be shortly introducing PayPal, which will enable people from all over the world to see the show, if they wish. But why make people pay by mobile phone in the first place? We have two reasons: the first is that mobile phone billing systems are much better than those available for PCs for charging and collecting small amounts of money; and punters are much more used to paying for mobile phone content than they are for PCs. OK, so in our case, it's PC content paid for by phone, but you see where we are heading. Our hunches over the future of entertainment as a chargeable broadband service, and mobile phones as the billing platform are not entirely vacuous: explanatory force is provided by a useful survey released today by Jupiter MMXI. Entitled Paid Content More Successful on Mobile than on the PC, the report notes that European consumers spent E590 million for content on their mobile phones in 2001, almost twice as much as spent on the PC. Ring Tone And they spend it on more things - such as ring tones, logos, sports scores and stock prices. By contrast, porn dominates paid-for PC content, accounting for 70 per cent of the spend. Games, finance and business news soak up most of the rest. By 2006 European consumers will spend E3.3 billion for content on their mobile phones, compared to E1.7 billion on their PCs. So, punters don't mind paying for content by phone - and they have no choice. But they do not like paying for stuff on their PC. According to Jupiter, 47 per cent of Europeans surveyed say they will never pay for content on their PC. More hearteningly, for the record companies anyway, 16 per cent of Europeans would consider paying for music online, by far the highest percentage in any category. According to Jupiter, broadband will drive paid-for PC content, with music, gaming and online video accounting for 67 per cent of the spend in 2006. However, "the vast majority of the Internet will remain free and there won't be a dramatic shift from a free to a paid Internet, especially among narrowband users. The only companies that will generate solid paid content revenues on the PC will be the ones that offer entertainment-related content," Jupiter notes. As for mobile phones, future content will include "enhanced ring tones and logos, multimedia alerts (with audio and images), and electronic greeting cards. Electronic greeting cards will remain a popular, mostly free service on the web, but consumers will actually pay for them on their mobile phones, as they have been paying for ringtones and logo downloads over the last 18 months." Punters will also shell out for news alert sent by SMS, so news publishers get cracking, Jupiter advises. ®
Former federal agents and police officers in the US are prepared to stalk women and tap phones so that wealthy bachelors can get a date. A US Web site - Coincidencedesign.com - claims its team of crack private investigators can carry out discreet surveillance on a potential partner before setting up a "coincidental" meeting with a suitor. The combination of in-depth background information about an individual's likes and dislikes, coupled with a chance meeting has, according to those behind the site, the potential for a fruitful encounter. The service costs an eye-watering $78,000 (£54,000) although the cash doesn't guarantee marriage or a long-term relationship. However, it does buy the kind of covert surveillance that is practised by the secret service. The shadowy people behind the site are adamant that security is key to their activities. Nor do they claim that their operation is illegal in any way. According to the site's Q&A: "Since our job is getting at other people's data, we are all the more aware of the need to protect our information. Customer data, along with investigative reports, personnel records and other sensitive data, is stored on hard disks which are hard-wired to physically self-destruct when tampered with." If this sounds more like Mission Impossible than missionary position impossible then you might be onto something. The reaction of many people who've come across the site so far has either been one of incredulity and horror at such a surreptitious service, or one of amusement and admiration for such a beautifully crafted hoax. Unfortunately, those behind Coincidence Design refuse to talk to journalists for reasons of "security". However, one clue to the authenticity of this unique matchmaking service might be found via the link "Webwork Credits" that appears on the site. This takes you to Saberworks.com which describes itself as "developers of cutting edge concepts". As well as Coincidence Design, there's also a link to The Sensation Zone, whose mission is to ease "sexual frustration" in the world by creating a series of sex hotels for consenting adults. Curiously, all sexual activity is carried out in the pitch dark to ensure the anonymity of those engaged in this intimate stress-busting workout. "The Sensation Zone could be considered as the hi-tech dotcom culmination of the free love movement of the Sixties," the site explains. Unfortunately, to find out where your nearest "Sensation Zone" is located you'll need to complete a mathematical puzzle. This is not a test of your numeracy skills so much as an indication that you're serious about the Sensation Zone. However, expect to be disappointed. Clear this final hurdle and you'll discover that there are no Sensation Zones up and running yet but that the venture is seeking investors who could earn huge profits if they're willing to take a risk. Who knows, maybe enough to recruit the services of a CIA-trained private investigator who'll stalk potential wives for you - and all in the name of true love. ®
Antivirus firms are enjoying the benefits of heightened security awareness, and viral outbreaks, with extas sales of their security software. Helped by a recovery in consumer spending, Symantec yesterday posted Q3 revenues of $290.2 million, compared to $241.8 million for the same quarter last year. Net income before one-time charges and the amortisation of acquisition-related charges, primarily from the Axent acquisition, came out at $59.4 million. Including these one-time charges, Symantec reported earnings per share of zero cents. During the quarter Symantec shipped 5.3 million packaged products to consumers, a record for the firm and nearly two million more than has it has ever previously shipped. Symantec's enterprise business, which includes security management, firewall and intrusion detection software and accounts for 60 percent of total sales, performed "solidly". But it was sales of antivirus software - up 53 per cent from the same quarter last year - which contributed most to the overall growth in Symantec's business. Things are also looking up at McAfee.com, the security ASP subsidiary of Network Associates, which yesterday reported fourth quarter of fiscal year 2001 was $18.6 million up $6.5 million from the same period last year. Net income for the quarter was $904,000. McAfee's revenue for the full year, during which it made a loss of $854,000 as it expanded its business, was $62.0 million. A quarter of a million people signed up to McAfee.com over the quarter, giving it a paid subscriber base of 1,345,000 people, the firm said. ®
Hewlett-Packard wants to outsource its PC manufacturing facility in France, and it has a buyer already lined up. This is Sanmina-SCI, the contract electronics manufacturer which last week, announced its intention to buy IBM's PC manufacturing business in the US and Europe. The deal has to be squared with the French unions, but there is always the unspoken threat of closure. HP says it is also considering outsourcing other PC ops, but it does not say where. HP is keen to emphasise that it's been outsourcing aspects of its PC operations since 1993. In other words, it's business as usual, the company would have you believe. This is true, in the respect that PC maker do not need vertically-integrated operations to retain their status as "manufacturers". In the networking equipment world, no-one questions, say, Nortel's position as a manufacturer, even though its enterprise and wireless parts are made by Sanmina-SCI. But HP's outsourcing plans, like IBM, shows the huge pressure on the major PC brands to contain costs. Slack markets and mighty Dell are to blame for this. HP of course wants to build economies of scale by merging its PC business with that of Compaq. Even if shareholders vote in favoure of its proposed takeover, the deal may be on hold for four months, while it is scrutinised by EU regulators. Presumably, one of the cost-efficiencies - of combining PC production - will be lost. Unless Compaq flogs its manufacturing facilities to Sanmina-SCI too. IBM outsources Netvista PC ops Compaq shows signs of recovery
It is up to industry - and not Government - to ensure that Europe capitalises on broadband, according to ecommerce minister Douglas Alexander. Speaking at the Europe21 conference in London yesterday Mr Alexander said that access to broadband would be "delivered primarily by market players, and not necessarily by governments". He added: " (The) enduring challenge is now making widespread broadband use a reality. This is both a common challenge being faced by governments and businesses throughout Europe, and a common opportunity." There is a real need to "interconnect European citizens, industries and governments by rolling out broadband networks" but that "this is primarily a matter for the private sector". Last month the UK Government rejected calls for tax breaks to help subsidise the deployment of broadband in areas believed not to be commercially viable. According to Alexander, the Government's role is to "promote broadband demand through policies to aggregate procurement of infrastructure and service requirements where appropriate." On this issue specifically, he said that work has now started on how the Government can best use its broadband buying power to aid the roll-out of high speed Internet access. Based in the Treasury's Office of Government Commerce (OGC), a newly created group will meet potential broadband suppliers and work with public sector buyers to identify and evaluate different procurement options. Said Mr Alexander: "As a high spending organisation, the Government wields enormous purchasing power. The OGC team will identify the most effective means for the public sector to buy broadband services so ensuring that schools, hospitals and libraries can have better access to state of the art Internet services." ® Related Story UK Govt rejects tax breaks for broadband
OpinionOpinion By now, you've seen the news articles. Microsoft Founder and Chairman Bill Gates announced that security would have the 'highest priority' in MS products and that security is now 'more important' than any other part of the company's work. This is Microsoft's latest public attempt to address security concerns with its products and services. Undoubtedly, history will remember 16 January 2002 as Microsoft Security Day -- harkening back to that wondrous day in 1995 when Chairman Gates announced that the Internet was to be part of all Microsoft products and services. That proclamation produced such well-known Redmond innovations as Melissa, I Love You, Code Red, SirCam, Code Red II, BadTrans, UPnP, and VBScript, among other notables, resulting in burned-out system administrators and a flourishing information security industry. Gates is also reported to have said that the September 11 attacks are a major reason to stress security of America's critical infrastructures, including its computer systems. Huh? Has Chairman Gates been asleep at the keyboard for the past several years, knowing that while his bloated, buggy, and exploitable products were achieving marketplace dominance -- and monopoly status -- they were becoming a self-inflicted vulnerability on the wired world we currently inhabit? Security all of a sudden is important to Microsoft? Perhaps this sudden change of heart has to do with the recent BBC report that the US National Academy of Sciences is calling for laws to punish software firms that produce insecure products. Or, could Microsoft's legal team be afraid that what the company produces and sells as "products" -- in actuality, shrink-wrapped denials of service and prepackaged network compromises -- could contribute to electronic criminal or terrorist acts against America's critical information resources? Could it be that Microsoft is actually scared of something? Possible, but unlikely. Remember, this is the same company (a proven monopoly) that tried to settle an anti-trust case by offering to donate software that would increase its market penetration in a class of customers (K-12 schools) that otherwise couldn't pay full price for its products! The simple truth is that Microsoft has a serious image problem when it comes to the reliability, security, and stability of its network services and products. As a security professional and skeptic, I feel this statement -- the Gates Declaration -- is simply a public relations blitz. We are, after all, as Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge constantly says, in a state of "increased security" -- and Microsoft finally decided to ante up and join the popular pro-security bandwagon. (By the way, has anybody seen Dick Cheney this week?) But perhaps there's more here than meets the eye. I'll be the first one to say that security needs to be improved in Microsoft products across the board, but let's not forget that Microsoft is staking its future on Windows XP and its .NET series of network-centric, subscriber-based ventures. Reportedly, neither venture is selling as well as the company anticipated, despite Microsoft's claims of "7 million XP licenses sold." (Incidentally, 'licenses sold' does not necessarily translate into copies of XP actually in-use by customers -- I'd be surprised if there are 1 million installed copies of XP in-use today, an amount that in no way makes up for its development and marketing costs.) It doesn't take a business school graduate to figure out that until Microsoft proves both XP and .NET to be secure, trustworthy environments, few if any users or corporations are going to seriously consider using them. Thus Microsoft has a vested financial interest in wooing people to the ventures it is staking its corporate future on. Microsoft's spin-meisters must believe that appearing to address security concerns with its products is not only the patriotic thing to do, but the smart one, if the company ever hopes to accomplish its corporate strategy. We should also remember that a good part of Microsoft code is developed overseas. From a security perspective, that's a significant risk, and one that must be addressed in an effective fashion as well. Unfortunately, there's really only one way to deal with this and other software security problems at Microsoft. Given the decades-old proprietary patchwork of many Microsoft products, the only way to truly certify that Microsoft's internationally-developed products are indeed 'secure' and 'trustworthy' is to release the code to the security community at large for analysis. (Otherwise, we're stuck with the status quo....which goes back to my previously-published statements on the importance of community-based, public, and responsible full-disclosure.) However, in a small act of penance, Microsoft could consider firing those product managers that repeatedly sacrifice security and good quality assurance for new product features, convenience, and marketshare, thus setting the example for corporate accountability instead of problem perpetuation. According to an AP article, "compensation plans of Microsoft product engineers, such as raises and bonuses, will also be tied to how secure their products are." My questions to Microsoft is this: how can you prove a negative? Do you plan to review the number of Microsoft exploits making headlines on Slashdot, The Register, News.Com, Wired, etc., and compare that with previous years? Then, do all your engineers get their bonuses? What if there's an exploit discovered a year later? Do the engineers have to give some or all of their bonuses back? Next year, are we going to have to take your word that things are better than they were? How are you going to prove it? Are you expecting us to continue accepting your statements on faith alone? This has the makings of a great comedy sketch. Security professionals I've spoken with have shared two reactions to yesterday's news -- "too little, too late," or "we'll see how well it happens, if it happens." I tend to agree with them, and am believing more and more that Microsoft Security Day is the software giant's latest attempt to cheaply use public policy concerns as propaganda for product marketing while hopefully currying patriotic kudos along the way from both the government and consumers. While I am always hopeful that 'security' and 'Microsoft' will one day be seen not as an oxymoron, past observation leads me to believe the Gates Declaration is full of marketing sound and fury, but signifying nothing. We can only hope for the best -- time will tell. © 2002 InfoWarrior.org, all rights reserved. Richard Forno is Chief Technology Officer for a Dulles, Virginia firm providing information assurance support to the national security and intelligence communities.