15th > June > 2003 Archive

Microsoft gives IE for Mac the boot

Microsoft will not create a new version of Internet Explorer for Macs in a move that leaves Apple users in an uncomfortable spot. Jimmy Grewal, the Microsoft Mac IE lead, is fleeing Redmond and heading to Dubai due to the browser's termination. Microsoft is saying it will provide some updates to IE 5 for Macs but does not plan to release an IE 6. It reckons users are in good hands with Apple's own Safari browser, and so the trouble begins. When Apple first released the Safari beta in January, users could tell where things might lead. The five-year software development deal between Microsoft and Apple had lapsed, and it was obvious that the browser was going to be one of the first applications to go. Had Apple worked with inspired vigor since January to improve Safari, users might feel safe without IE. This hasn't happened. Plenty of improvements have been made, but Safari still lacks the widespread Web site compatibility needed to be the sole browser of choice. Apple wants its browser to be first class, and it will likely get close. The problem is that IE runs on 95 percent of PCs, and that is what developers care about. Tying a large chunk of your computer's usefulness to an ever-dwindling browser market share can be a risky proposition. There are plenty of reasons to think an IE-less Mac would be a good thing. Users tend to find a certain kind of purity associated with running a Mac sans Microsoft code. No IE. No Office. It's the way life was meant to be in Apple land. In addition, the horrid state of IE makes life without it seem a rather pleasant concept. Who needs a rectangle with no tools when add-blocking, fast, feature-rich options like Safari and Opera exist? Sadly, Apple users do. Unless Apple can prove without question that it can handle any Web site with its final release of Safari, users should start to get very nervous and hope Opera and Mozilla developers take charge. ®
Ashlee Vance, 15 Jun 2003

Transmeta exports Midori Linux to China

Transmeta is shipping its Linux expertise to the PRC. The company best known for its Crusoe processor has signed a deal with Chinese 2000 Holdings to use Transmeta's Midori version of the Linux operating system in mobile and embedded devices. The two companies plan to target markets in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan with co-created Linux-based kit. Some well placed industry insiders have long told The Register to keep an eye on Transmeta's Linux work. Linus Torvalds has his office at Transmeta HQ and a couple of technology trends are making Linux on low-powered computing devices a popular option. Transmeta is not taking over the world as once predicted, but it seems to have placed a pair of solid bets. First up, the use of Linux in embedded and mobile computing devices continues to gain steam. Whether its on watches, set-top boxes or handsets, Linux has secured a prominent place in a market that demands efficient, stable operating systems. Transmeta's Midori Linux clearly plays to this crowd. Despite its failure as a Pentium killer, the Crusoe chip is also helping Transmeta out in a couple of areas. The chip has managed to knock off Intel for numerous Tablet PC and small form factor computer designs. It turns out that consumers do care about their gadgets' battery life, no matter how hard the Wintel mob has tried to deny it. Transmeta's focus on low power processors has garnered the attention of server makers as well. Companies such as Sun Microsystems and IBM are looking into using low power chips to power blade servers and shrink the size of customers' data centers. Scientists at Los Alamos National Labs have been using Transmeta processor-powered servers to create a supercomputer that can fit in a closet. Linux has played a key role in these efforts with the Los Alamos group focusing in on Beowulf clusters. Transmeta appears serious about taking these skills to China. In addition to the product development and marketing deal, Transmeta has taken an equity stake in Chinese 2000 Holdings and formed a profit sharing agreement. ®
Ashlee Vance, 15 Jun 2003