15th > January > 2003 Archive

Pipex in ADSL promo

Pipex - which has more than 50,000 broadband punters - has announced a brace of offers designed to tempt Net users to sign up to its service. The first promo is aimed at new broadband users and will set them back £23.44 for line activation plus a free Alcatel SpeedTouch 330 USB modem and two microfilters. Pipex's broadband service costs around £23 a month. For punters who already have a modem, Pipex is offering its standard Xtreme Solo ADSL product with free activation - a saving of £59. Pipex is also throwing in a month's subscription for free, worth £23. For more info check out Pipex here. For other recent ADSL promos check out the links below. ® Related Stories BT runs ADSL price promo Firstnet in 'me too' ADSL promo Eclipse cuts broadband costs Virgin.net, Demon, etc, cut broadband fees
Tim Richardson, 15 Jan 2003

49k sign up to Freeserve broadband

Freeserve had 49,000 broadband punters in the UK at the end of December, according to figures just released by parent Wanadoo. In the three months to the end of December the ISP added 21,000 broadband customers to its growing subscriber base. It's a marked improvement compared to the end of June 2002 when the ISP had just 15,000 broadband subscribers. Freeserve says it is happy with the growth, describing it as "pretty much on target". However, it insists that a fall in the wholesale cost of ADSL would help stimulate further demand for broadband in the UK. In total, Freeserve has 2.574m punters in the UK - an increase of 330,000 in the year compared to the end of 2001. However, in the last quarter of 2002 customer numbers rose by only 21,000. The number of pay-as-you-go customers fell by 70,000 to 1.6m during the last three months of the year, offset by an increase by 70,000 who subscribed to Freeserve's flat-fee unmetered service. A spokeswoman for Freeserve denied that the ISP's growth was a cause for concern saying: "Freeserve is still number one - we've held our own in a very tough market." ® Related Story Wanadoo eyes 'profitable performance' for 2003
Tim Richardson, 15 Jan 2003
cable

Intel grabs market share in Q4

Intel's Q4 revenue was $7.2bn, 3 per cent up on Q4, 2001. Net income was $1bn, advancing 108 per cent on the same period in 2001. Not bad at all, but is it enough to call a bottom on the PC manufacturing recession? Probably not, in a statement accompanying the results, CEO Craig Barrett says: "It appears we have increased our market segment share in microprocessors, chipsets, graphics, motherboards, flash, PDA microprocessors and LAN-on-motherboard gigabit Ethernet connections." So, Intel's sales uptick has come at the expense of competitors. And it shows little sign of relaxing, even though it is cutting its capex in 2003 by about a quarter. This year it is budgeting $3.5bn to $3.9bn, down from $4.7bn last year. Bad news for semiconductor equipment suppliers, but good news, short-term anyway, for investors. An competitors? Intel's capex remains huge, compared with, say AMD. Even at this reduced level, it continues to outgun the competition. In 2003, says Barrett, Intel will "continue to deploy advanced technology, further our silicon leadership, deliver industry-leading products, and improve our competitiveness and cost structure so we can continue to outperform now and when the economic picture improves.” There, in a nutshell, is why AMD and IBM are huddling together for capex warmth. Full year revenue in 2002 was up one per cent to $28.6bn, while net income was up $3.1bn, up 141 per cent from $26.5bn in 2001. ® Related story AMD, IBM pool chipmaking development
Drew Cullen, 15 Jan 2003

mm02 accused of euro price fudging

In Brief: A group of German consumers has accused mm02 of sneaking price rises when converting from deutschemark to euro. Now it is taking the mobile phone network's German unit to the European Court of Justice, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports, by way of Bloomberg. ®
Drew Cullen, 15 Jan 2003

Hardware sales carry on falling at Morse

Morse's Q2 sales to 31 December, fell to £92m (2001: #115m), contributing to a slump in interims of £185m (2001: £226m). Morse is, among other things Europe's biggest Sun reseller, and derived much of its growth in the late 1990s from flogging this hardware to the finance and telecom sectors. Fewer people are buying Sun kit lately, particularly in those benighted sectors. So Morse, in common with any publicly-quoted computer reseller, draws attention to its service revenues, - safe, recurring, higher margin and boring. Which is what investors want to hear. Of course, when it's computer dealers we are talking about, service business is often low rent and/or product sale-related - installs, post-sales maintenance and the like. In Morse's case, service revenues were £32m(2001: £28m) resulting in sales for the half year of £57m (2001: £51m). With half-year sales growth up 12 per cent, services are, by default, becoming ever more important to Morse. It supplies no revenue breakdown of the services mix. Here is Morse's Q2 press statement. ®
Drew Cullen, 15 Jan 2003

MS plays the security card in Gov shared source retread

Microsoft yesterday announced the Government Security Program, an initiative intended to provide governments and agencies with "controlled access... subject to certain licensing restrictions" to Microsoft source code. The announcement was accompanied by great amazement and astonishment in the public prints. Remarkably, this "unprecedented move" (Reuters) looks not entirely dissimilar to the Microsoft Government Shared Source Licensing Program, which has been available (to general disinterest) for some considerable time. So tell us why the GSP is not a respray into security livery, being spun to a ludicrous extent by the Redmond marketing machine. The earlier program, granted, has a more limited list of eligible countries, whereas the GSP is apparently aimed at everyone, aside from the usual suspects. But there are hedges to this that'll likely bring the numbers down. For example, a country's ability to participate will to some extent depend on that country's attitude to intellectual property, sniffs Microsoft. You could therefore see the GSP as providing Bill and the execs with a valuable carrot to induce change in attitudes to intellectual property. Russia is already signed up, as is NATO, and Craig Mundie says countries like Brazil, India and China are eligible. Of these, only Brazil is listed under the previous programme. Ah, we remember the times when the US would swipe European computer dealers selling DEC kit to the Soviet Union, fly them to the States and put them in prison for a very long time. But times change. Aside from eligibility, which would surely have broadened steadily under the New World Order anyway, and the liberal use of the S word, there seems little difference between the Government Shared Source Program and the Government Security Program. Companies, government agencies and educational institutions could already sign up to look at Microsoft source code, and one presumes that security would be one of the things they'd have in mind as they did so. Ah, but says Craig Mundie: "The program is not designed for government agencies at a state, or provincial, or local level. Nor is it aimed at government agencies that require source-code access for product support or development purposes unrelated to security matters. The needs of those agencies would likely be served best by the Shared Source Initiative program." It's therefore about who you are and what you intend. So you get kicked off the program if you start talking about anything other than security? And if you're not a national government agency. But more countries are eligible for the security version of shared source than for the lesser variant? Some tidying required here, we think. The repackaging of government shared source does however have some cute aspects to it. Simply by presenting a Microsoft software-based security program to governments, Microsoft is promoting itself a little further up the food chain. Sure, governments use Microsoft software, but for mission-critical national security? Not a lot, not yet. And if a government is using Microsoft software to any great extent, then it's going to feel kind of compelled to join in the GSP, which is free. Wouldn't it be negligent not to? But, if a government has set up a group with the specific brief of working with Microsoft staff and Microsoft source, ask yourself what that group is likely to come up with. It's not evaluating the security of Microsoft software with a view to acceptance or rejection (probably not, unless the government is as sneaky as Microsoft), it's working to improve the software's security with reference to deployments within its own government, and it will become proficient in the production and deployment of more secure Microsoft systems in government. What's it going to recommend, having acquired this knowledge? Trojan Source, you could say. Microsoft will apparently be giving online access to a strangely precise 97 per cent of the source, while the balance, which is really secret, and we don't know what it is, will only be available at Microsoft's offices in Redmond. The company, according to Steve Lohr of the NYT, will also be allowing governments to substitute their own security features for those in Windows. The significance of this, however, depends on what this actually means, and the level at which they're allowed to do it. We would not be at all surprised if this turned out to be yet another sales tool, perhaps for Palladium. ®
John Lettice, 15 Jan 2003

Microsoft Ireland confirms job cuts

Microsoft Ireland on Tuesday confirmed that about 55 staff would be made redundant, as 113 positions move to locations outside Ireland. The cuts, reported first by ElectricNews.Net on Monday, follow a review of the company's Windows International Team. The restructuring in that business unit will impact 113 Ireland-based workers, the company said. A few staff not losing their jobs will be offered positions at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, while others will be encouraged to apply for various positions in Ireland and abroad. In total about 55 staff members will be made redundant. "This is more about flexibility than creating efficiency," Joe Macri, general manager for Microsoft in Ireland, told ElectricNews.Net "I want to say that Microsoft is fully committed to Ireland, and this has nothing to do with wage concerns or the cost of doing business here. The company has been here for 17 years and Ireland will increasingly play an important strategic role for the company," Macri stressed. In discussing the importance of Ireland to the company's plans, the Microsoft GM pointed to the creation of a number of new jobs in Ireland as part of a new EMEA Windows Engineering Team, which will be established in Dublin. This team will be responsible developing certain aspects of the Windows operating system, for sale in the EMEA region. "The decision to locate this new team within Microsoft's operations in Ireland is strategically significant, as employees will be involved in the design and development of core functionality for the Windows products for EMEA markets," the company said in a statement. "It is a further indication of Microsoft's Irish operations continuing to evolve in terms of strategic importance to Microsoft Corporation." In September 2002, the company cut a number of Irish-based, .Net project-related jobs, claiming that moving the jobs to the US would increase efficiency. Days after those cuts were made, however, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that Microsoft jobs will "come and go" in Ireland, but overall the company was committed to its base here. With about 1,700 employees, Microsoft operates three businesses in Ireland -- a European operations centre, a European product development centre, and its Ireland sales, marketing & services group. After its headquarters, the Irish facility is the company's second largest in the world, alongside an operation in Japan. Microsoft spends around EUR350 million each year in the Irish economy, and the software behemoth accounts for about 6 percent of national exports. The cuts in September and the job losses set to be announced on Tuesday, come at a time when Microsoft is outperforming the rest of the technology sector and has announced plans to up its global headcount. In July 2002, the company said that it planned to increase its R&D spending by 20 percent over the next year and would bring on an additional 5,000 workers as part of the move. Globally, Microsoft employs more than 50,000. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 15 Jan 2003

Ringtone royalties top $71m

Songwriters collected $71m (£44m) last year in royalties from the sale of mobile phone ringtones. Last year's performance was up almost 60 per cent on the year before, which saw global ringtone royalties warble in at $45m ($28m). Most of this growth came from the US and Europe. Total global sales of ringtones is estimated to be worth around $1bn (£630m). These figures come courtesy of Mobile Music, a report from Baskerville, which is part of the Informa Telecoms and Media Group. The authors claim mobile music offers a lucrative new market, which has expanded rapidly despite the drawbacks of playing music on digital phone. Even though there are many hurdles to overcome - such as battery life and network speeds - the report's authors predict that the ringtone market is likely to pave the way for the eventual take-up of more elaborate mobile music. Indeed, they claim this growing area could prove to be a neat fit for both the music and mobile phone industries. Said the report: "The music industry is looking at ways to find new revenue opportunities to make up for the massive leakage through fixed Internet applications. "Mobile operators are seeing voice ARPU (average revenue per user) eroded, and are looking to data services to generate an increasing amount of their income," it said. The theory is that with both the mobile and music industries currently seeing their traditional revenue sources being undermined, a tie-up could see both sectors singing all the way to the bank. ®
Tim Richardson, 15 Jan 2003
cable

CA switches on to SAN management

Computer Associates Inc yesterday became the last of the big three systems management vendors to enter the burgeoning SAN management software arena, shipping a product which it promoted as offering application-centric views of storage networks, as well as integration with its existing systems and storage management products. Over a dozen other vendors are already competing in the sector, including CA's systems management rivals BMC Software Inc and IBM Corp subsidiary Tivoli, which entered in 2001 and 2000 respectively. CA has previously issued a framework with some abilities to discover networks, but that software - sometimes known as the Sanity framework - was only a very lightweight application. CA's presence in most high-end datacenters with its systems management and other storage management products will be a huge help selling its latest SAN management product. CA is already shipping an SRM product, as well as a storage management portal and backup management tools, and the SAN management tool will round out this portfolio. CA's vice president Chris Pitcher said: "We may be a few versions behind, but we have just as many features as the other products out there." He added that early versions of other suppliers' tools had had only limited abilities. "It's only relatively recently - a year or so ago - that SAN devices have had proper management APIs. So we're not really that late at all." Like other SAN management products, the CA software handles the hardware administration tasks which otherwise would have to be completed using the individual software tools - or element managers - supplied with the switches, hubs, storage arrays, HBAs and other components of a SAN. CA has licensed API access to these devices from their manufacturers, which include companies such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc, QLogic Corp, McData Corp, or EMC Corp. One advantage of a SAN management product is that IT staff need only learn how to use one multipurpose tool, rather than a set of point management tools. Referring to the ability to integrate SAN Manager with CA's Unicenter system management tool and other products, Pitcher said: "This is a tool that will not change the way that operations people will work, because they'll be using the same tools and policies to manage the SAN as they're using for the rest of the enterprise. The SAN becomes just another network. A switch on a SAN or on an IP network - a zone or a VLAN, it's the same concept." SAN management software also presents information about an entire SAN. The application focus of SAN Manager will allow administrators to call up views of a storage network which show only the elements that are associated with a specific application. Although CA described this as a unique quality of its product, other SAN management suppliers such as BMC and start-up InterSan Inc also claim to have taken an application-centric approach. Among the detail features of the CA software is the ability to incorporate into its interface digital photographs of wiring closets, and to link logical representation or layout diagrams to the elements in these photographs. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 15 Jan 2003

Capellas talks ‘outrageous urgency’ (after outrageous fortune)

Rallying the troops in a broadcast to 60,000 employees and a global audience of interested parties, WorldCom Inc's new chairman and CEO Michael Capellas yesterday outlined how he plans to get the beleaguered firm back on track, Kevin Murphy writes. Repeating the mantra of "outrageous urgency", Capellas said the company will file a plan of reorganization on April 15. He set twice-weekly milestones for between now and then, saying a three-year business plan will be finalized March 1. "We will define our future over next 100 days, we're going to do it with an outrageous sense of urgency," he said in an hour-long speech marking his first major pep talk since he took over the company last year. New product announcements will start as soon as this week, he said, explaining WorldCom's strategy as introducing new applications to better leverage its IP network and become a leader in convergence. He said the company will use its infrastructure to support wireless. Capellas also touched on IP voice portals, content delivery and streaming ("content distribution will be king", he said), edge computing, location-specific applications. "The competitive landscape is really going to change... The most important fundamental shift is convergence," Capellas said. "We know that voice and data will converge and this will bring us opportunities." Bowing to a "former competitor", in Sun Microsystems Inc's Scott McNealy, Capellas slyly admitted: "The network probably is the computer". He also identified the small-to-medium-sized business segment as "the greatest single opportunity around the world" and a missed ship that can still be caught up with. "We have a mass market business and we have a commercial business, and somewhere in between the SMBs got lost," he said. Capellas's main intention was apparently to portray WorldCom as a fast-moving competitive company with a concrete strategy, rather than a company pushed into the world's largest bankruptcy by crooked accounting. "Some bad things happened to us, we're not going to stress on it," he said, briefly alluding to the fact that WorldCom is "going to have to reduce structural costs". Capellas said the company will come up with a cost reduction plan on February 1, with a compensation plan coming two weeks later. This will be followed on March 1 by the three-year business plan. These milestones will all be rolled into a reorganization plan that will be filed on April 15. At the same time, the company will launch a branding program, which potentially could see the firm seeking to distance some of its services from the WorldCom brand, which is becoming synonymous with corporate corruption. © ComputerWire Related stories $32m man Capellas meets his maker (or Judge) Capellas vows to clean up WorldCom
ComputerWire, 15 Jan 2003

Counterpane receives $20m funding

Counterpane Internet Security Inc, which provides security-monitoring services, said yesterday it has secured $20m in series D funding from new and existing investors. The company will put the money towards growing its sales and marketing activities. The Cupertino, California-based firm said it saw over 30% revenue growth quarter over quarter in the fourth quarter. Counterpane said it managed to maintain in excess of 30% growth every quarter last year. The private firm does not disclose its revenue. The round was led by new investors, Comcast Interactive Capital and Meritech Capital Partners, and included contributions from existing investors Accel Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Dell Ventures, Morgan Stanley Venture Partners and Symphony Technology Group.
ComputerWire, 15 Jan 2003

Receivers called in at Rage

Following the closure of its credit line yesterday and the suspension of its shares on the London Stock Exchange, embattled British publisher Rage has been in discussion with bank receivers today and a transfer of ownership could take place within the next 24 to 48 hours, according to sources within the company. However, the board is also said to be considering other options - primarily the possibility of obtaining new banking and financial facilities, but the sale of all or part of the company has apparently not yet been ruled out. Individual development studios and key products such as Rocky, Lamborghini and Team SAS are all considered to be "on sale", according to our sources - and any serious buy-outs of studios or products at this stage would undoubtedly help to safeguard some of the 150-odd jobs at the publisher. However, given the speed at which events have moved so far - with all the signs suggesting that the company could be in receivership within two days of its credit line being closed - serious bidders will undoubtedly have to emerge quickly if such a sale is to be on the cards. © gamesindustry.biz
gamesindustry.biz, 15 Jan 2003

My usability study is better than yours

A row has broken out over claims that the Web sites of many of the UK's top companies are 'wallowing in mediocrity'. The report by the Interactive Bureau published last week found that while the overall standard of the FTSE-100's Web sites had risen since last year, more than half the sites still have problems that need resolving. Sixteen sites are so bad the report's authors claim they need to be demolished and rebuilt from scratch. But the research has been dismissed by new media consultancy, The Usability Company, describing Interactive Bureau's research as "questionable". Marty Carol of The Usability Company claims the Interactive Bureau research judges Web sites on whether they possessed certain features, such as whether the Web site has a search facility on the homepage. Yet, this "one-size-fits-all" approach to the evaluation of the Web sites is misleading since it fails to take into account the actual usefulness of individual Web sites. Said Mr Carol: "The Usability Company has worked on some of the sites assessed and can say, without ambiguity, that some of those ranked lower in the report are more usable than those at the higher end. "It appears the methodology for this report did not include testing with real users. We would anticipate that some of the companies that were ranked low in the report would be dismayed at the results and rightly so." The author of the Interactive Bureau research, Adrian Porter, dismissed the criticism, insisting that the research was valid since it pointed out some basic issues, such as browser compatibility. He said first impressions were important and that if corporate homepages weren't up to scratch then it delivered a negative image of the company. ® Related Story UK's corporate Web sites 'wallowing in mediocrity'
Tim Richardson, 15 Jan 2003

Piracy: Music, Software v. Hollywood

The music and computer industries have come out against any moves by the US government to embed anti-piracy technology in software and consumer electronic devices. This puts them in a different camp from Hollywood's mouthpiece, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which supports government-mandated technology. In a statement yesterday, its counterparts in the music and software industries, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Business Software Alliance (BSA), said they are "working to address piracy concerns while also seeking to embrace the digital age and meet consumer expectations". Educating the consumer about piracy is a key programme. Robert Holleyman, President and CEO of the BSA, says: "This is a landmark agreement because it shows that a broad cross-section of companies have come to the conclusion that government-mandated technology protection measures simply won’t work. The technology industry – more than anyone – knows this. And today’s agreement shows that the companies that are hard hit by Internet piracy understand this." And now for the RIAA's Hilary Rosen. "The digital transformation of the music business is not coming - - it is here. Now there are multiple ways for music fans to buy or subscribe to great legitimate music online. And consumers will enjoy even more new products in the coming years thanks to technological advances. "Our challenge in the public policy arena is to support that business development through enforcement, education and technical solutions that promote growth. This agreement keeps RIAA's focus on the tasks at hand and minimizes the distracting public rhetoric and needless legislative battles. It follows what I have always believed - - that our industries need to work together for the consumer to benefit and for our respective businesses to grow. Our responsibility is to seek common ground to foster that growth." From where we sit, this does not mean no Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. It merely means no government DRM technology. And note, neither music or software industries want to see the repeal of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and its arsenal of legal cudgels. But hurrah for some commonsense. The RIAA is on record as acknowledging that illegal music sites will never be eradicated. But a tough litigation policy against renegade P2P networks, coupled with more attractive paid-for music propositions online is only part of the answer. Having to shell out £13.99-plus for a CD, just for one or two songs is perhaps the biggest con perpetrated upon us by the music industry. By contrast, buying - not licensing - a recording of a song for, say, a dollar, represents good value, and an enticement to buy more songs. Good consumer propositions should be supported by a lightly-dusted anti-piracy technology, and it is good to see that the RIAA, and by inference, the BSA, at last seemed to have grasped this. Too aggressive, and customers will get pissed off in ever greater numbers. Poor technology and aggression have already alarmed many, annoyed more. Early cack-handed digital rights management (DRM) attempts, have seen CDs hobbled so that, for example, they can't be played on PCs. Some DRM concepts, notably Palladium, contain serious privacy implications which really do need to be addressed before their roll-out. So, will Congress heed the RIAA/BSA's warning to keep their tanks off the digital content lawn? Not if Hollywood has anything to do with it. The movie industry lobby has an influence far beyond its size would suggest. Today, for example, Disney won the support of the Supreme Court, which upheld a law that extends US copyright by 20 years. The MPAA shows no sign of falling into line with the music and software industry. In a statement yesterday, MPAA's Jack Valenti said: The film and music industries are separate, unique enterprises with different strategies for addressing the outstanding issues concerning digital copy protection. We are not prepared to abandon the option of seeking technical protection measures via the Congress or appropriate regulatory agency, when necessary, such as the adoption of the broadcast flag or closing the analog hole. Designing ways to protect valuable creative works is very much in the long-term best interests of consumers and indispensable to the nourishment of our nation’s economy. Because of this, we believe that no reasonable alternative course of action should be eliminated from consideration. The gloves are off. ® Links RIAA statement MPAA statement
Drew Cullen, 15 Jan 2003

Transmeta builds crypto into Crusoe

Transmeta yesterday said it has begun sampling versions of its Crusoe TM5800 processor embedded with proprietary security technologies. The chip designer claims its approach offers increased security for wireless computing, protects sensitive data, "deters intellectual property theft" (read Digital Rights Management (DRM) Inside) and delivers tamper-resistant, x86 storage environments. Putting security onto the main processor increases security over existing multi-chip solutions, it argues. Initially, the TM580 will feature technologies including "secure hidden storage of confidential information" (initially tamper-resistant storage of crypto keys) and crypto acceleration. Transmeta's hardware support for DES, DES-X and Triple-DES is designed to accelerate security applications such as file and disk data encryption and the Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) algorithm commonly used in VPNs. The company reckons its processor architecture will make an extension of this to support the recently approved Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) straightforward. Intel and AMD plan to introduce security functions directly into their microprocessors, but Transmeta argues its ahead in building these technologies into chips thanks to its combined software and hardware approach to microprocessor design. Transmeta plans to make its security-enhanced TM5800 microprocessors availabile to OEMS in the second half of this year. ® Related Stories Of TCPA, Palladium and Werner von Braun Crusoe blade strikes 1Ghz, fries Banias? Transmeta touts the ultra personal computer File swap nets will win, DRM and lawyers lose, say MS researchers
John Leyden, 15 Jan 2003

Goldman Sachs issues gloomy IT spending outlook

Pre-Christmas gloom amongst IT managers means technology spending is likely to decline this year, instead of growing, according to research released by investment bank Goldman Sachs yesterday. The bank said that average outlook was for a 1% decline in IT spending this year, compared to the 2% to 3% growth predicted as recently as October. Goldman Sachs said it was "surprised by the magnitude of the decline". Budgeting for 2003 probably was concluded ahead of the survey, it said, and "our results indicate a renewed determination among top management to control expenditures." Two thirds of respondents said they expected incremental budget tightening rather than loosening heading into early 2003. While 36% said they thought pricing was stable, 56% said they saw discounting on the rise. Goldman Sachs found 15% of respondents expected spending to accelerate before the second half of the year, compared to 28% in October, while the proportion of IT managers expecting acceleration to not occur till next year or later jumped from 26% to 43%. While analysts expect enterprise facing tech companies to show flat to up sequential revenues in the first quarter, Goldman Sachs said "seasonality in the March quarter is likely to be more severe than current estimates appear to suggest." The bank also said that the expectation for full year revenues to be up 7% is "overly optimistic." © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 15 Jan 2003

Welsh virus writer to be sentenced next Tuesday

A 21-old Welsh Web designer who pleaded guilty to creating and distributing three mass mailer viruses is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court next Tuesday. Simon Vallor, of Llandudno, North Wales, last month admitted offences under section three of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 in creating the Gokar, Redesi and Admirer mass mailing viruses. Prosecutors have submitted evidence that these viruses spread to 27,000 computers in 42 countries. In early 2002, Gokar was the third most common virus on the Net. At a hearing on December 20, Bow Street Magistrates Court passed over responsibility for sentencing to Southwark Crown Court, for a judge (who has wider powers than magistrates) to pass sentence on the case. Charges against Vallor relating to the possession of indecent images of children were withdrawn during the December 20 hearing when the police presented no evidence. Vallor was arrested on February 14 this year and charged with offences under section three of the Computer Misuse Act 1990, by British police acting on intelligence from the FBI's Baltimore field office. Officers from Scotland Yard's specialist Computer Crime Unit assisted North Wales police in their investigation. ® Related Stories Welsh Web designer pleads guilty to virus creation Welsh Web designer charged with virus writing, child porn offences Linux rootkit hacker suspect arrested in UK
John Leyden, 15 Jan 2003

Freeserve abandons plan to change name to Wanadoo

Freeserve has shelved plans to change it name to Wanadoo. The move to bring Freeserve's brand in line with its French parent was floated six months ago and was backed by Wanadoo chief exec Nicolas Dufourcq. Had the makeover - estimated to cost as much as £30m - been given the green light it was scheduled to go-ahead early this year. But the move was blocked after a three-month evaluation. A final decision not to proceed was made this week. Such a move would also have meant that Freeserve's 2.5m users would have had the upheaval of changing their email addresses. Many customers and industry watchers believed any move to ditch the Freeserve name would have been pure folly on behalf of the ISP. A spokeswoman for Freeserve said they had decided not to pursue the issue of rebranding after an "extensive evaluation" with customers and stakeholders. "There is a huge strength of feeling for the Freeserve brand in the UK," she said. ® Related Story Freeserve punters to get Wanadoo email addys
Tim Richardson, 15 Jan 2003

Disk storage sales carry on slumping

With "just say no" the dictum for storage buying, IDC has estimated that total worldwide spending on external disk storage systems slumped to $13.3bn last year, down 24% on 2001. That marks the second year in which disk sales have fallen heavily. In 2001, IDC now estimates that they fell by 21% - up on an earlier estimate of an 18% fall that year. According to IDC, the rule for storage administrators has become "just say no to new capacity, and be more cost conscious when investing in other solutions for boosting storage utilization." The only good news is that according to IDC this will not last forever, and that between 2002 and 2006 external storage disk spending will show a CAGR of 1.1% The clamp on corporate spending in 2002 was abetted by the continuation of the storage price war that began the previous year, and a growing trend for buyers to move away from high-end storage arrays towards mid-range devices. "Users not only continued to drive price concessions but, in many cases, have also moved from enterprise-class to modular [mid-range] storage products in a make-do-with-less attitude," IDC said. As an example of storage administrators tightening belts on end-users, IDC cited limits applied by IT departments to email box sizes. Nevertheless, the fall in revenue came despite a 35% increase in the number of TB of new capacity purchased during the year. Customers are using their existing hardware more efficiently by consolidating storage and servers, using storage networks, and buying aftermarket disks to fill empty internal server disk bays and external arrays, IDC said. Another factor is the continuing increase in the density of data packed onto the disks inside arrays, which is reducing the cost of storage in terms of dollar per megabyte. Including the effect of the price war, IDC estimates that the average price per megabyte fell by 40% last year. IDC cited EMC Corp's slumping revenue as another factor for the overall revenue shrinkage. "As a top player in this market, EMC's performance has the ability to impact overall market results," the researcher said. 2002 was just as much an Annus Horribilis for EMC as 2001 was, as its revenue fell by 40% for the second year running. In terms of market share, EMC was pushed out of the number one slot by Hewlett Packard Corp, which post-merger took pole position with an 18.1% share. EMC took second place with a 17.9% share, down from 21.9% in 2001. IBM took third place with 13.6%, up from 12.1% in 2001 © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 15 Jan 2003

US e-gov spending to soar

President George Bush signed the US E-Government Act of 2002 into law on Tuesday, potentially helping unlock Federal spending that could amount to $5bn a year by 2007. In a statement, Bush said the act is designed to set "strong leadership" of the government's information technology activities, including a comprehensive framework for security and uniform standards to protect the confidentiality of information provided by the public. The act will also assist in expanding the delivery of government services, in line with a "citizen-centered, results-oriented, and market-based government". More controversially, perhaps, the act authorizes "share-in-savings" contracts, under which suppliers to the government share in "savings achieved by agencies through the provision of technologies that improve or accelerate their work." Input, a research firm that tracks government procurement, predicts that Federal spending on electronic government systems and services will increase at a compound annual rate of 12%, from $2.9bn this year to more than $5bn by 2007. The firm forecasts that most of the spending will go into back office systems, and will focus on improving the federal government's internal efficiency rather than services for businesses or citizens. As consolidation and collaboration occurs between agencies, however, this will free up resources for customer facing initiatives. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 15 Jan 2003

US IT sales to hit $500bn in 2003

Hardware sales will increase by just over 2% annually between 2002 and 2006, the latest Aberdeen Group market forecast has proposed, with the expectation that in the same time frame IT services take up will show a 5% growth clip eclipsed only by software sales, which will see an 8.3% annual rate of compound growth. The figures are cited in Aberdeen's World IT Spending review, which attempts to measure the incremental recovery in the technology sector over the next three years. Currently, IT sales in the US are calculated to run to $482bn or around 4% of the gross domestic product. This makes it by far the single largest market with three times the expenditure of Japan, the next biggest spender. Domestic US sales should touch $500bn by the end of 2003, the forecasters have claimed, and should account for about 36% of the world market. By contrast, European sales of hardware, software and professional services are expected to have reached $387bn next year. Increased infrastructural efficiency, together with steady improvements in price/performance will slow the growth of hardware markets, the researchers said. However, strong demand will come from the uptake of software suites by small and medium-size businesses, who over the next couple of years will start to roll out enterprise application suites and then look for external integration expertise and professional services support. Between 2002 and 2006, Boston, Massachusetts-based Aberdeen estimates that hardware expenditure will increase by 8.3%, while software and services is slated to increase by 27.2% and 17.7%. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 15 Jan 2003

Friendly fire – Product Activation zaps new XP Plus! pack

Microsoft latest add-on for Windows XP, Plus! Digital Media Edition, has fallen foul of Windows Product Activation. Numerous purchasers are finding it impossible to install, and are being confronted by the comforting message "Plus! Digital Media Edition uses Microsoft Product Activation to help prevent software piracy. Please have an administrator run Plus! Digital Media Edition on this machine and go through the Microsoft Plus! Product Activation Wizard. Once that is complete, you will be able to run Plus! Digital Media Edition normally." Except, er, no you won't. Other users report an installation failure with "Error 2700." Numerous problems with DME are reported here, but the activation failure is pretty common, and Microsoft's techies concede it's a problem they don't yet have a fix for. As one writes: "Unfortunately, we have users seeing this problem on both Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition computers. As I said in another post, we're actively trying to find out what's causing this issue. One potential problem is that the registry permissions on the machine are not valid and we cannot write to the registry keys we expect." So he proposes a registry hack as a possible workaround. Plus! DME is currently only available as an online purchase, although it will be out on CD shortly, and it can also currently only be purchased with a US credit card. But Microsoft goofed with the rollout promotion, and forgot to mention to signers up that it was only valid in the USA. It will be available from online retailers outside of the US soon, say the ever apologetic support people. ®
John Lettice, 15 Jan 2003