Microsoft's tolerance for Linux expanded today via an alliance with open source server virtualization backer XenSource. Microsoft has pledged to let "Xen-enabled" Linux guest operating systems run on top of the virtualization software that will ship with "Longhorn" Server and to provide technical support for the guest OSes. The agreement to support Linux guests in partnership with XenSource builds on Microsoft's decision in April to provide technical support for Linux running on its own Virtual Server partitioning product. The deal also tightens the bond between Microsoft and XenSource, as the two vendors look to gain market share against clear server virtualization leader VMware. It's nothing short of heart-warming to see how much VMware bothers Microsoft. The software giant first bought Connectix, believing that Virtual PC and Virtual Server would let it challenge VMware. That plan hasn't worked out so well. Microsoft this year decided to give away its virtualization products for free and, as mentioned, has gone so far as to embrace Linux in order to keep up with VMware and customers. Starting with Longhorn Server, Microsoft plans to scrap its current Virtual Server attack and release hypervisor technology that should boost the performance of its server virtualization products and bring it closer to rival products from VMware and XenSource. Microsoft today said it expects Longhorn Server to ship at the end of 2007 and for the new hypervisor - code-named Viridian - to ship "within 180 days" of the server software. So, happy waiting. In the meantime, XenSource looks to keep going after Windows customers. The company has released a version of Xen fit for Windows boxes and, unlike VMware, has a license for Microsoft's Virtual Hard Disk format. The end result of the licensing deal is that customers can shift virtual operating system images from Virtual Server over to Xen. Why would Microsoft be so friendly with XenSource and Linux? Well, there's no way it can truly compete well in the server virtualization market until that update to Longhorn Server ships. Microsoft appears ready to promote XenSource in the interim if that means trouble for VMware. Microsoft SVP Bob Muglia put it another way. "Microsoft’s commitment to customers is to build bridges across the industry with solutions that are interoperable by design. Our work with XenSource, a recognized leader in open source virtualization technology, reflects that commitment and Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to bring virtualization solutions to the mainstream and help customers progress toward self-managing dynamic systems.” Microsoft's plan to bundle its next-generation hypervisor with Windows Server at no charge has caught the eye of many curious server industry watchers. Perhaps a Linux embrace will remove some of those familiar bundling feelings that have caused so much trouble in the past. ®
World Exclusive ReviewWorld Exclusive Review You don't have to have filled you hard drive with scandalous shots of your holiday to the fleshpots of the Far East to want to keep your files safe from prying eyes. Depending on your operating system, you can use built-in tools or third-party apps to protect the information on your computer, but what about back-ups and live data on external media? What if some crafty Herbert makes off with that 120GB hard drive all your business plans are on?
Shares in online gaming firm Betonsports have been suspended this morning to allow markets to digest news that David Carruthers, the outspoken chief executive of Betonsports, has been arrested in Dallas. Betonsports shares fell almost 17 per cent yesterday on news of his detention. The news hit the whole sector - most online gambling companies saw their value fall yesterday - Partygaming was the FTSE100's biggest faller - dropping 5.5 per cent. Carruthers was on his way to the company offices in Costa Rica and was detained when he was changing planes in Dallas. He was charged with racketeering conspiracy for participating in an illegal gambling enterprise. Charges were also filed against company founder Gary Kaplan and media director Peter Wilson. In total charges have been made against Carruthers and 10 other people. The US is also taking civil action to stop Betonsports taking any more bets and to get back the money in accounts held by US citizens. Carruthers has been a loud-voiced supporter of online betting. He has spoken against the gambling bill currently being considered by Congress. Despite the US government's efforts, about half of all online gambling and betting revenues are believed to come from the US. ®
CommentComment Smart suits, I've come to understand, are a sure sign of a business involving a bunch of phoneys. After this year's visit to the 1950s (otherwise known as the Farnborough Airshow) I've also discovered something just as important: I'm allergic to these guys. Aircraft are expensive, and once you've got the basics right (get off the ground, land again, don't run out of fuel half way) the stuff that matters most is dealing with people with big budgets... and big egos to match. Phoneys, in short. The hallmarks of a phoney business can be summarised, sadly: "Pompous, overweight men with gray hair attended by smart, blonde 'secretarial' gofers of the female gender." Back in the 1950s, that was what business was like. In the 60s, that was what the computer mainframe business was like (if you weren't an engineer, you could get fired by IBM if you wore a shirt that wasn't white). And in the 80s, when computer companies switched to open-neck shirts and woolly sweaters, it was the telco business where all the orders were for $600 million at a time, and they were placed by egoists in their late 50s, weighing about 50 pounds more than they were comfortable with, with smart suits. And they were attended by girlies who actually made all the serious decisions, but had to pretend to be obedient lackeys. The archetypal smart-suit business, of course, is banking. I'm not going to go there; we all have stories to tell, and the only one worth bringing into this piece is my quite recent discovery of a friend - a technology genius and a normally, an inveterate tee-shirt and sandals guy - dressed in a pin-stripe. "Had to see the bank manager," he grunted when I expressed my amazement. A bank manager, it is clearly understood, is someone who is incapable of understanding your real worth, and needs you to play the phoney game. There are, goodness knows, real technology stories to be told about aircraft. My own focus is wireless internet, and so I was really looking forward to chatting to people from Seattle. No, not Microsoft system engineers: people from Connexion by Boeing who are trying to find someone in the commercial airline business who understands them. "Take your airline online and upline," it explains, desperately trying not to sound patronising. "Discover how world-class airlines are differentiating themselves by adding in-flight internet service. Give your employees and customers the convenience of high-speed, direct connectivity wherever your flights take them." And it goes on to explain there are benefits to the airline, not just to the passengers (who cares about the passengers?) "Differentiation, cost-effective in-flight maintenance monitoring, security surveillance, passenger manifest transmission, entertainment content updates and remote medical evaluations..." Well, to cut a long story short, my journey down to Farnborough was a complete waste of time. Boeing had about two acres of corporate hostility buildings there, and not one of the 90-odd Boeing staff there, either corporate-suited or attentive bimbos, knew anything at all about Connexion. "There is someone here, I'm sure," sniffed one very cute gurly whose job it was to give the lie to the "Welcome to Boeing!" sign. "Try the Dreamcraft tent..." But there wasn't. I ran into a veteran of the flight business, a very experienced Washington DC hack called Elaine. "There are really no stories here," she confided. "Every year I wonder what on earth makes me come here." Of course, Elaine won't go back to her Washington editor empty-handed, she's too canny a hand at the trade. She'll do some stories which will entertain and probably inform her readers, and even make them say: "Gosh... did you know?" - but there's nothing there to rival the sheer excitement of the typical mobile phone show like 3GSM, for example. And when she says "There's nothing new..." she knows what she's talking about. Of course, if you aren't the sort of person who finds technology interesting, working for an aircraft company is "just a job." You have a schedule, you have contacts, you have management lines of reporting, you have meetings, you have memos, you have a Dilbert existence of surviving in the company of other time-wasters. Most of these people would be leading exactly the same schedule if the company they worked for sold pipelines to Russian gas companies, or concrete to big construction companies. What they do, is to pander to the egos of people who have the power to give them promotion. What we technolocrats do, is try to unravel which set of features best solves a set of problems, try to understand new problems, try to create a world in which things become possible which were not possible before. The moral, I think, is that if you find yourself trapped in a career where it's more important to know who is doing best, than to know who is doing the best work, you know you're in a business of suited phoneys. And if that's what you want to do, then take what comfort you can from the thought that maybe, you'll make a little more money there than you would risking everything for a technology idea. But for me, that's no choice at all. I just found a technology -My Perfect Picture - which takes an ordinary portrait photograph, and subtly modifies the face so as to make it look as if it caught you on a good day. It's something that requires a lot of studies, a lot of knowledge, and an amazing amount of inventiveness. It may, or may not, make its inventors wealthy... but that is almost not the point. The point is that it's interesting. Copyright © Newswireless.net
Shuttle has landed at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, after nearly a fortnight in space, and with one crew member less than when it took off. The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Reiter was not jettisoned unceremoniously when his team (Germany) exited the World Cup, but is now staying aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He will be the first space station inhabitant from outside either Russia or the US. He'll stay there for the next six months, working on the Astrolab mission, a series of experiments in human psychology and physiology. He will also conduct investigations into microbiology, plasma physics and radiation dosimetry. NASA has hailed the mission as a roaring success. "The mission, STS-121, succeeded in testing shuttle safety improvements, repairing a rail car on the International Space Station and producing never-before-seen, high-resolution images of the shuttle during and after its July 4th launch," it says in a press statement announcing the safe return of the crew. The space agency said its engineers were pleased with the Shuttle's performance following its big aerodynamic changes. The protuberance air load ramps, a section of the external fuel tank, were removed after Discovery's previous mission. During the launch last year, foam fell from this area, prompting huge concern and a long-running debate about the safety of launching any shuttle missions. However, with the crew home safe, and all the major objectives of the mission achieved, preparations are already being made for the next flight. The Shuttle Atlantis is due to launch in late August or early September, when it will deliver more parts to the ISS. It will be Atlantis' first mission since October 2002. ®
The Mac Pro may not be the only thing Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveils at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference next month: he'll pull the rabbit of iTunes Music Store movie downloads out of his hat too, one Apple-watching website claims.
Had enough of being beaten into the submission by other USB Missile Launcher-wielding workmates? Just had a bad day with the boss? Then it's time to fall back on the ultimate sanction: the USB nuclear armageddon button. One push and... boom.
Sky is the latest company to get on the convergence wagon by offering broadband internet access alongside other comms services. Aimed at existing Sky customers the service will be "free" - if you spend enough money on other Sky services. Punters can sign up to one of three packages - max, mid or base with download speeds of 16Mb, 8Mb and 2Mb. Monthly usage is capped at 2GB for base, 40GB for mid and unlimited for max. They can also include Sky phone package. The base service is free except for a £40 connection fee and a £50 installation fee. The max package costs £14 a month including phone line rental. Although it claims to be unlimited the max package will be "subject to fair use policy". A Sky-branded Netgear wireless router is included as are some McAfee security products. No mobile play yet - BSkyB chief executive James Murdoch said he didn't see any need to marry broadcasters to network companies. He said home phone and television services were its first target. Video on demand online will be part of the offer from day one, and it'll be coming through your set-top box in 2007. The company will invest £400m over the next three years and hopes the service will be adding to the bottom line by 2010 - excluding any pay-TV benefits. The press releases, and a video schmooze with James Murdoch, are available here.®
It's official: the UK office is a steaming cauldron of sexual desire in which colleagues exchange flirtatious emails and smouldering looks as a ritual prelude to forming the work-based beast with two backs. That, at least, is according to research by the Aziz Corporation, which concludes that not only have one third of Brits had a "fling" with a fellow worker, but that the majority of managers consider the practice "perfectly acceptable". Indeed, 83 per cent of big cheeses polled presented no objections to inter-staff rumpy-pumpy, and 53 per cent said they'd indulge in a bit themselves - even if it were with a junior colleague. Your average boss does not, however, simply pounce on the receptionist and drag her into the server room for some light executive relief. Forty-three per cent admitted they'd "fancied someone at work but were unsure about what to do about it" - a far cry from the days when scullery maids were considered a fair target for the master's cruel intentions. The hoi polloi, meanwhile, are apparently going at it like jackrabbits. In addition to the aforementioned 35 per cent who've enjoyed a brief encounter with a fellow worker, 29 per cent have formed long-term relationships with someone from work. This orgiastic Bacchanalia is fuelled by a heady mix of saucy email exchanges (28 per cent of pollees said they'd indulged in e-flirting), and good, old-fashioned sexual fantasising (44 per cent 'fessed up to light daydreaming about a colleague). Naturally, there is a downside to all this. Aziz Corporation supremo professor Khalid Aziz explained: "Whilst office life may have become more relaxed, people need to consider the possible repercussions of an office romance. A quick fling may not communicate a professional attitude and could stifle career progression. "Whatever the official policy may be, you can guarantee that directors will still want decisions to be made with the head – and not the heart." Which should act as a warning to the 13 per cent of Brits who claimed they'd enjoyed "intimate relations" in the workplace: mission-critical purchasing decisions should be made after extensive market analysis and financial projections; not after a quick shag under the desk with someone from accounts. ®
The European Commission would like its bureaucrats to have a better understanding of the real world, so it plans to send them them out on a terrifying expedition into the land of the SME. With a turn of speed typical of the Commission, over the next three years some 350 senior EC officials, up to and including Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, will spend a week working with the companies they draft legislation for. The idea is that the 'crats will get a better understanding of the challenges facing a small business, and the small businesses will get "highly motivated trainees to assist in their day-to-day work", according to Verheugen, as well as having someone on hand to explain the intricacies of EU policy making. Tech outfits might want to consider this an opportunity to bend a bureaucrat's ear about the dangers of software patenting. Or, you might just need a nice office ornament, that takes long lunches and doesn't really do much without arguing with itself for three years first. The division of the EC responsible, DG Enterprise, will work with UNICE (Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe), UEAPME (European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Seized Enterprises) and EUROCHAMBRES (Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry) to draw up the lists of candidate host companies. To qualify, a company must have fewer than 250 staff, and be in one of the 25 EC countries. There is no minimum size. Companies interested in observing a bureaucrat outside its natural habitat should point their browsers here to find out how to apply. ®
Intel will introduced its latest Celeron D budget desktop processor on 27 August - the day it ships 'Tulsa', the 65nm dual-core Xeon MP, incidentally - before slashing the line-up's prices on 22 October, it has been claimed.
Intel looks set to fork its 'Conroe' Core 2 Duo desktop processor line-up in much the same way it's going to split its 'Merom' Core 2 Duo mobile family in two. Recently leaked roadmaps show a Core 2 Duo E4300 turning up in Q1 2007.
Details have emerged of the wide-ranging price cuts AMD is expected to implement later this month in response to Intel's launches of 'Merom' and 'Conroe' - the chip giant's next-generation architecture mobile and desktop Core 2 Duo processors.
Joan Ryan, Home Office junior minister i/c ID cards, has not exactly gained glowing reviews of her performance defending the wretched things in the Commons yesterday. And on top of all that hard-won opprobrium, she seems to have inadvertently called down the Curse of Blunkett on herself. The Curse of Blunkett is one of the most closely-monitored files in The Register's Department of Mispeaks & Hostages to Fortune. the Evil One may not have been a Minister for some time, and may not have been Home Secretary for longer than that, but in addition to the large numbers of departmental unexploded bombs he left behind (Prison overcrowding - Thud! Control orders - Kaboom! Immigration policy - Whump!) he has said the the most incredible numbers of crackers, reckless and certifiable things in his time. And the scribes at the Dept of Mispeaks have noted many of these carefully, and consigned them to the cellars to mature. So, yesterday. Tory Home Affairs spokesman David Davis asked Ryan, "can the Minister guarantee that the ID card will be 100 per cent secure against fraud - yes or no?" Ryan responded: "The right hon. Gentleman might next blame burglary on burglar alarms. It is a ridiculous contention. Can anybody say that anything is 100 per cent. secure? Opposition Members would have every reason to be sceptical if any Minister made such a claim." Fair enough (apart from the weird bit about burglar alarms, that is)? Can anybody say that anything is 100 per cent secure? Well, step forward David Blunkett, Home Secretary as was on 11th November 2003. Speaking on the Today programme, Blunkett said that biometric identifiers on ID "will make identity theft and multiple identity impossible, not nearly impossible, impossible." We will grant you that he was not directly speaking about security there, but it clearly relates. And anyway, Ryan wasn't speaking about security either yesterday, she was speaking about "anything". And there we have two 100 per cent anythings claimed by Blunkett - we even get extra points for them being ID card anythings. As we said at the time, "That one's tougher to stand up than you think, David, and we're going to hold you to it." So thank you Joan, we did. Enjoy your accursed status. Reidwatch We've been meaning to cheer everybody up with this one for a couple of days now. From The Guardian Corrections & Clarifications, 10th July 2006: "In a report headed Reid agrees British hacker can be deported for US trial, we confused the home secretary, John Reid, with the hacker, Gary McKinnon, at one point. We said: 'The case dates back to 2001, when it is alleged Mr Reid logged on from his home in Wood Green, north London, and hacked into computers belonging to the Pentagon...' It is Mr McKinnon, of course, against whom the allegations are directed." Suddenly, one sees circumstances in which the US-UK extradition treaty's speedy deportation features might be a good idea after all. Ah, if only... ®
Solid-state memory specialist SanDisk will this month ship its first 4GB SD card, based on version 2.0 of the SD standard, also known as SDHC. The company said it plans to bundle the card with a compact USB adaptor - handy given the paucity of devices with SDHC slots.
Increasingly developers are required to write applications that interact with database engines – typically Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, MySQL or Access. In many ways the database engine is pretty much immaterial; no matter what the flavour it’s still simply a matter of tables, columns, rows and a variety of data types; text, memo, BLOB, numeric, whatever. However if you work with Access, a completely new data type is on the horizon for 2007 – multi-valued. Unfortunately, this isn’t just-another-data-type; this is a whole different ball game and a dangerous one – more like rollerball than baseball.
Cingular yesterday claimed a US first for its new HSDPA phone, a skinny black clamshell from LG, dubbed the CU500. Cingular boasts that its new phone breaks the speed barrier, but given Joe Public's indifference, nay hostility, to mobile data, few people will be aware that there is a speed barrier to break. Still customers can always talk faster on their shiny new phones.
Microsoft has set the lawyers on 26 computer dealers for allegedly selling pirate software. The software giant has filed suit against 26 US resellers it accuses of pirating software or pre-loading hard disks with dodgy copies of Microsoft products. Lawsuits were filed in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and South Carolina. Microsoft says its actions to "combat piracy are aimed at leveling the playing field for ... honest partners". Microsoft sends out secret shoppers to buy hardware and software. The products are then tested to check they are genuine. Redmond also got information on some of the dealers through its US snitch line - 1-800 RU-LEGIT. Read the press release here. ®
Hynix will not have to pay Rambus as much for infringing the memory technology company's patents as it had expected to after the judge presiding over the case slashed the damages awarded against it.
NSFWNSFW Not content with dragging the good old US of A straight down to Hell with its public displays of mass masturbatory degeneracy, the San Fran-based Centre for Sex and Culture - organiser of the legendary "Masturbate-a-thon" - will in August travel to London for a similar event in which Brits will be invited to tug the trouser snake and pet the beaver for the benefit of safe sex charities and Channel 4 viewers. While the news that indie production company Zig Zag will be present in Clerkenwell on August 5 to capture the solo cumfest will come as great relief to C4 schedulers desperate - given the abject failure of Big Brother contestants to engage in live sexual activity for the gratification of the UK's viewing public - for footage of TV wannabes cracking one off for charity, we're pretty certain that Middle England is as we speak preparing to decry the utter collapse of British society to the highest authority: The Daily Mail. Indeed, the Guardian - which incidentally fails, like the exponent of free love and sexual immorality that it is, to roundly condemn the Masturbate-a-thon - notes that the Mail once declared former Channel 4 top dog Michael Grade "pornographer in chief". And not without reason. Those of you who can remember the early, heady days of Channel 4 will recall that the first signs of its eventual descent into the squalid mire were already evident. In 1983, some bright spark decided to commission Minipops - the highly-questionable showcase for kids dressed as adults flaunting themselves for the Gary Glitter demographic. In 1985, the channel broadcast Derek Jarman's homoerotic martyrdom spectacular Sebastiane, whose male full-frontal nudity and comedy Latin dialogue provoked outrage in equal measure. The rest, as we know, is history: Big Brother (social inadequates failing dismally to indulge in live sexual activity); "Penis week" (getting to grips with the penis, featuring lots and lots of peni); The Tube (remembered for its Jools Holland prime-time "groovy fuckers" scandal); and Jamie's Kitchen (unexpurgated Mockney geezer murdering the word "pukka"). The prosecution rests. The televised Masturbate-a-thon, meanwhile, will form part of a C4 "Wank week". Zig Zag declared in a press release: "This year it's time to bring the event across the pond to see if the great British public can embrace mass public masturbation. It's time to find out if the only things allowed to be stiff in Britain are upper lips." No, there's another thing that can be stiff in Britain: a fine from the Broadcasting Standards Authority. And if those of you in the Home Counties who are right now writing to David Cameron demanding the return of the birch, the cat o'nine tails and the Tyburn Tree for transgressions of the UK's television guidelines consider this inadequate punishment, what about tying the C4 commissioning editor and Zig Zag producer to a couple of crosses and pumping them full of arrows while naked Roman soldiers pleasure themselves to raise cash for AIDS charities? Now that's what we call TV entertainment. ®
Fujitsu Siemens today unveiled its latest Pocket Loox PDAs: a pair of models featuring integrated GPS receivers, route-planning code, a music player app and full personal information management functionality all in a unit weighing just 110g - a record, the company claimed.
Imagine CupImagine Cup We recently spent a week at the Microsoft Technology Centre in Reading. We had a great time, including an all-night code/debug-athon and copious amounts of Coca Cola. There were experts on hand and we had the opportunity to seek advice and some invaluable guidance from them. Martin Grayson one of the user interface/user experience guys spent the first few days showing us various WinFX/.Net 3.0 features.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is to provide funds for the development of unmanned aviation vehicles to support public services. The DTI announced that it would provide £16m to support a national programme for the safe operation of unmanned aircraft in civil airspace without the need for restrictive or specialised operational conditions. It forms part of the £32m Astrae, (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment) programme. Among the services that the vehicles could support are police and fire service surveillance, coastal surveillance and power and pipeline inspections. These currently rely on manned aircraft. Secretary of state for trade and industry Alistair Darling said: "Astrae is a significant programme for the UK in establishing our credentials in the rapidly growing field of UAV development. It will strengthen collaboration across industry, universities, and regulatory authorities, positioning the UK amongst the world's leaders in UAV technology. "This programme is an example of how leading private sector businesses and universities can work with government to deliver projects, which will lead to developments offering real economic and cost-effective solutions in areas such as environmental monitoring and security. "Astrae also represents a good example of collaboration between DTI and the regional bodies supporting technology programmes which will provide knowledge transfer and employment opportunities in the regions." The programme has also received £11m from the regional development agencies in the south west, south east and north west, and devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
The number of 3.5G mobile broadband subscribers globally will soar from around 2.5m to more than 300m in 2011 despite a shortage in compelling devices, according to a new study. Mobile operators are looking to supercharge mobile data access speeds with technology that puts 3G on steroids, offering download speeds of anything up between 1-2Mbps. These so-called 3.5G services use a variety of technologies, including High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) enhancements to the W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) 3G technology and Evolution-Data Optimised (EV-DO), an extension to the CDMA family of standards. Handset availability problems that affected the market development of 3G will be repeated in the case of the 3.5G market, according to a report by market analysts Informa Telecoms and Media. It expects a dearth of suitable handsets and devices to be a problem until at least the end of next year. "A lack of compelling devices and content led to delayed launches and slow take-up of W-CDMA and EV-DO services, and early HSDPA and EV-DO Revision A services are expected to suffer from the very same problems," said Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms and co-author of its Future Mobile Broadband Strategic Report. Most HSDPA services are launching with only PC cards and notebooks, although a number of early handsets are also arriving. The CDMA camp is even further behind in developing kit. "As of June no major vendor has unveiled plans for EV-DO Rev. A handsets, although data cards are on the way," Saadi said. A lack of compelling handsets will slow mass-market take up of 3.5G mobile broadband services in 2006-07, but handsets will start to mature in 2008, according to Informa. It reckons 3.5G handset sales and subscriptions will take off in 2008-09. By 2011, 85 per cent of 3.5G devices sold will be handsets, and the remaining 15 per cent will be notebooks and PC cards. Mobile WiMAX will compete with HSPA and EV-DO Rev A/B in mobile broadband markets but will be hampered to an even greater extent than those technologies from the slow arrival of compelling notebooks and handsets. "Mobile WiMAX will play a relatively minor role in the mobile broadband market through 2011, largely because Mobile WiMAX notebooks and tablets will not arrive in volume until 2008-09, and compelling Mobile WiMAX handsets won't arrive until 2010," said Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa and the second co-author of the Future Mobile Broadband report. "By comparison, HSDPA notebooks and handsets are already shipping, which means that the HSDPA device market is one to two years ahead of the Mobile WiMAX device market," he added. While WiMax might be slow off the starting blocks in the mobile market, the technology will do much better in the fixed, nomadic and portable broadband segments over the next five years. Many WiMAX subscribers will be using fixed indoor modems rather than mobile devices, Informa predicts. ®
AnalysisAnalysis The reaction of many people in the PC business to the news that Elonex Plc (UK) was in administration was a shrug: Elowho?
As UK temperatures head for a possible all-time high, British unions have called for UK companies to adopt a more relaxed dress code, the BBC reports. Allowing workers to remove their clothing would, the TUC argues, permit a cranking-down of the air contitioning which - while quite possibly preventing a serious outbreak of office spontaneous combustion - does little for firms' electric bills or the environment. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber explained: "Not only will a cool approach to work avoid staff wilting at their desks, it could also save companies money as they should be able to turn down the air con a notch. Arctic-style air conditioning may stop the workplace from becoming like an oven, but its overuse is not good for the environment." Barber cited the example of Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has "urged his country not to wear jackets and ties during summer" - for Japanese business a concession pretty well equivalent to Brit managers suggesting employees sit naked in the office drinking beer and smoking marijuana. For the record, the BBC Weather Centre said "it expected London temperatures to reach 37C (99F) on Wednesday, breaking the July record of 36C (97F) in Epsom, Surrey, in 1911". BBC forecaster Tomasz Schafernaker added there was a 10 per cent chance that the UK's previous all-time record of 38.5C, notched up in August 2003, could be topped. ®
Residents close to a Buckinghamshire A-road are up in arms at giant roadsigns which are not only ruining views of the countryside but, far worse, blocking reception of Channel Five. According to a report on This is Local London, the powers that be in Bucks erected the monster signs along Bradenham Road, near Wycombe, in an attempt to combat speeding along a stretch of highway "notorious for accidents". The new signage indicates a new 40mph limit, but local resident Susan Carter reckons it's done little to improve matters. Rather, she is now unable to receive the top-quality programming discerning Bucks viewers demand. Carter explained: "These signs are huge. They are ruining the countryside views and since they were put up we cannot get Channel Five on our TV upstairs. It could be a coincidence but I don't think so. Wherever else you look there are smaller signs telling you the speed limit, so why do we need such great big ones?" Making the most of the time now freed up by the absence of Channel Five, Carter further elaborated: "There has always been a problem with speed in this road but it seems that since they put up these signs the problem has got worse. "The speed limit in this road is never enforced. People know they can get away with speeding. If the police were here with a camera I think it would make a big difference. I think there could be more accidents in the future. The new speed limits haven't made a difference at all." Dan Campsall, from the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership, noted that "enforcement" of a new speed limit zone would not normally start "for at least six months to give drivers a chance to adapt". And while the locals await the arrival of the Gatsos, Buckinghamshire County Council local area coordinator for transport, Ian Reed, said the council was "trying to establish whether these signs would interfere with somebody's tevlevision". He concluded: "We will be reviewing them and if there are issues they will be looked at." ®
Flash-based solid state drives could become the dominant storage device in laptops. It's early days yet: the first laptop with an SSD drive, built by Samsung, launched only last month. So when will we wave goodbye to hard drives altogether? Not today, not tomorrow, but by 2013, the SSD share of the mobile computer market could reach 50 per cent.
Mobile phone operators are missing an opportunity to sell high-cost multimedia mobile services because more than half their customers don't have a clue what phone they are using, according to research. A survey of 761 mobile phone users aged 15 and over, commissioned from Ipsos MORI by LogicaCMG, found that 49 per cent of mobile phone users didn't know what model they use. A further nine per cent were unaware of the make. Services firm LogicaCMG said this could mean mobile operators are losing money. If they knew what phones their customers were using, they would know what services they could try and flog them. It might also suggest that mobile phone operators are not doing enough to track the make and model of users' phones.Or it could mean all the punters want to do is talk to somebody. ®
You have more in common with E. coli than you may think. US researchers have demonstrated that DNA replication is triggered in exactly the same way whether you happen to be a bacterium, an archaeum or a eukaryote (that's modern bacteria, old bacteria, or cells with a nucleus, to you and me). The Berkeley-based researchers identified the same structure at work in both bacterial and eukaryotic samples. The structure, identified as a "helical substructure within a super family of proteins called AAA+", was spotted doing its replication initiation thing in both E. coli bacteria, and in a humble fruit fly. Previous research had identified this protein group as the culprit in archaea's replication, leading the various research teams to the conclusion that this trick must have evolved millions of years ago, before the three domains of life split off from one another. "The ability of a cell to replicate its DNA in a timely and faithful manner is fundamental for survival," said Eva Nogales, a biophysicist from the fruit fly study. "Despite decades of study, the structural and molecular basis for initiating DNA replication, and the degree to which these mechanisms have been conserved by evolution have been ill defined and hotly debated," she added. Biochemist and structural biologist James Berger was involved in both studies. His team discovered that when a particular protein, DnaA, binds with adenosine triphosphate (ATP - a cell's energy source) it forces AAA+ proteins to unwind from their ring shape into a right-handed spiral. This spiral in turn will wrap the double helix of DNA around itself, causing the DNA to deform, and begin the process of unzipping its two strands. In the study of fruit flies, the researchers found the same mechanism at work. Although it has been known for some time that a protein complex called the origin recognition complex (ORC) initiates DNA replication in eukaryotes, not much was known about the structure of the initiator. Now, thanks to the electron microscopy the group employed, it is clear that when bound to ATP, the ORC forms a helical structure that is very similar to that observed in the E. coli study. Nogales says that although the data from the fruit flies doesn't actually show the DNA wrapped around the ORC, the similarities in structure that can be seen "suggests that there are likely to be strong mechanistic commonalities" between the two processes. "The specialisation of DNA replication initiators took place a long time ago," NOgales concludes. "Through the millions of years, evolution has added bells and whistles around this highly conserved central engine." Both studies will be published next month in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. ®
Sony has launched a slimline DVR that allows viewers to watch one Freeview channel while recording another on the box's built-in 80GB hard drive. The consumer electronics giant also introduced the first of its 1080p HD Ready Bravia LCD TVs into the UK.
Children's Minister Hilary Armstrong was due today to outline what could become one of Project Blair's most ambitious, misguided and hubristic projects yet. The Government will attempt to identify children at risk of failure, violent behaviour or criminality at birth, and take the necessary corrective actions to steer them onto a law-abiding and successful path. Ironically, Armstrong is floating these proposals just as this same predictive approach to future behaviour patterns is becoming discredited. A couple of national newspapers, the Independent and The Observer, appear to have seen outlines of the plans. According to the Independent, midwives, doctors and nurses are to be "asked to identify 'chaotic' families whose babies are in danger of growing up to be delinquents, drug addicts and violent criminals." The plan will be backed up by "research" which "shows that children from the most dysfunctional families are 100 times more likely to abuse alcohol commit crimes or take drugs", and a "source" close to Armstrong says: "It is the 'supernanny' model.' There is no reason why midwives who ask mothers lots questions anyway can't ask a few more about the family circumstances and identify families where there may be problems. We need to intervene early to stop the cycle that leads to social exclusion." Actually there's every reason, as we will explain shortly. The point worth hanging onto here, however, is that there is a world of difference between taking action to deal with existing problems (which of course will usually grow if left alone) and predicting that problems will exist, and attempting to head them off via early intervention. If you're 'successful', how do you know for sure? And can you be sure that the 'clear' signs of developing problems you've identified have not to a large extent been generated by the monitoring systems you've put in place? This road leads into a swamp of junk science, hokum and voodoo, and down that road we find Tony Blair, who believes that it is possible to predict which two year old is going to turn out to be a troublemaker. But Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) points out that evidence is stacking up against early intervention, and says: "Far from being, at worst, ineffective, a growing body of research suggests that it can actively do harm." ARCH, produces an extremely useful breakdown of Government children's databases (which are far more numerous than you might think) in the form of a blog, and points to the contribution made to a recent LSE conference (Children: Over Surveilled, Under Protected) by Jean Hine of de Montford University, who is involved in a five university ESRC-funded research programme into "Pathways into Crime." In Hine's view the thinking underlying initiatives of this sort (which of course hadn't yet been announced) is approximately as follows. Police focuses on children as 'becomings', i.e. they are to some extent blank sheets that will develop into... Well, the Government tends to think of them developing into one of two categories, good or bad. Children are viewed as "passive recipients" of stimulus and intervention, and assessment tools can be used effectively to identify future offenders. Intervention programmes themselves focus on perceived deficits and problems, and tend to ignore strengths. Intervention, the Government policy wonks think, can successfully divert children from the problem path to the 'normal' one. Unfortunately for the Government (or more accurately, for the future generations now being herded into the labs), the output of the assessment tools is starting to look like voodoo, and in real life, when non-factual data (i.e., value judgments) is poured into data sharing systems, it breeds imaginative and semi-fictional narratives, and in the case of social work, invents whole cases. The problem with prediction is that although it is possible to identify 'tell-tale' signs in actual offenders, the presence of these does not necessarily identify future offenders. Start with the real villains and work backwards, and the signs were all obviously there, but studies that start with the signs and work forwards don't end up separating the serial criminals from the law abiding. So yes, it may still seem 'obvious' that you can figure out what made people bad and go back to childhood and fix it, but right now you haven't been able to prove it. So stop experimenting on whole generations until you have proved it, OK? The basic fallacies of the Government's data collection and sharing plans (in the case of children, the Information Sharing Index is central to these) were covered more broadly by the LSE conference. Eileen Munro of the LSE's Department of Social Policy described collecting data as "probably the least useful approach", and noted that although the Government describes information sharing as "the key to successful collaborative working", there is "no empirical evidence" to support this. The information they're sharing, meanwhile, will become more junk-like as the boxes they need to check and the fields they need to fill in multiply. Social workers, police, anyone who's given the job of spotting early warning signs will feel the need to put something in the box, for all too obvious reasons. What's it going to look like in five years time when some kid on your books gets beaten to death, and it turns out you didn't notice anything? The empty box clearly indicates negligence on your part. So the slightest, part-imagined 'signs' will go down, the people you're sharing the data with will see this 'concern' flagged and put in some 'signs' of your own. And as Brian Sheldon, Emeritus Professor, University of Exeter and former director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Social Work puts it, once social workers decide people need visiting, "they need visiting a lot." Or as Hine says, "if you're looking for problems, you will find problems." The cases will tend to build themselves, the effect much magnified by the 'share and deploy' approach, and they'll also tend to focus on the easier cases. The ones who're easier to get at and who're on the receiving end of self-generating warning signs will get lots of attention (despite quite possibly never having needed any in the first place), and quite possible acquire real problems because of this, while harder cases of real need may not get any attention at all. At ground level, midwives (and one presumes other professionals) are beginning to see the collateral damage of the Blair Project's data kleptocracy (Sheldon diagnoses this as symptomatic of a country suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder). Some of the women midwives are dealing with have noticed that their histories can be taken down and used against them, and that it does not matter whether or not they have successfully coped, or are successfully coping with whatever the problem might have been. If you tell someone, it will be flagged as a 'concern' and will breed more concerns, and turn you into a 'case'. So they're starting to withhold information, and as midwives, and other professionals continue to ask "a few more" questions, people on the receiving end of the data kleptocracy will start to go underground. Leaving systems built on junk science sharing junk data in pursuit of imaginary concerns and a pre-defined criminal underclass, while the rest of us hide. Welcome to virtual reality social work, welcome to Project Blair. ®
The creator of the Metasploit hacking tool has released code that can be used to find malicious software using specially-crafted Google search queries. The malware search engine created by H.D. Moore can be found here. Google's search engine indexes not only file types such as PDFs and HTML files (for example), but executable files as well. Many, but not all, of these hits will correspond to legitimate download sites. Moore's malware search engine has been coded with around 300 malware signatures (plans are afoot to expand this database). The search engine searches the web to find live samples of executable files associated with these signatures. The release of Moore's tool was partially prompted by recent research by net security firm Websense, which warned that Google can be used to search for malware. Websense (unlike Moore) didn't publically release any code but the findings of its research give some insight into the distribution of malicious binaries on the web. Websense was able to collect thousands of pieces of malicious binaries, mostly posted to newsgroups with bogus names designed to trick users into executing computer viruses that pose as software cracks or pornographic images. It also found malware on forum sites, as well as compromised sites or underground hacking and virus writing sites. Websense found several pieces of spyware on poker and casino sites. It also found variants of the Bagel virus and Mytob worms, various trojans, and many other malicious binaries. In a statement, Websense downplayed the threat posed by Google's malware indexing but it did warn that the feature might potentially be misused by malware authors. Google told IDG that it was working to block search results that pointed towards malicious executables. Moore said that Google was, in any case, a poor resource for hackers searching for malign executables. "Attackers have much better sources of malware, and the items in the Google index are not recent or useful," he told IDG. "If anything, the Google index is a great tool for determining who distributes malware; the actual malware in question is not that interesting." Metaspolit The Metasploit Project provides information about security vulnerabilities and develops tools that aid penetration testing and the development of signature files for intrusion detection products. Its code, such as that used for the malware search engine, is released under an open source framework. Used legitimately, the Metasploit tool allows security consultants and sys admin to identify and remediate against security vulnerabilities. But the tool can also be used by malicious hackers to search for security holes in targeted systems. ®
LettersLetters The faithful gather to worship at the altar of Ballmer in Boston. Perhaps we missed the importance of Microsoft's relationship with its partners. You were quick to set us straight: I find your lack of faith...disturbing. Microsoft understands the importance of third-party developers, and in fact has opened new markets to some, the anti-virus vendors for example. No business I have dealt with has ever treated its third-party partners so kindly and solicitously, which Microsoft goes out of its way to do right up to the morning of the day they slip the shiv between the vertebrae. Gumby A question about paraphrasing from the same story: "As it happens, Ballmer said Microsoft had been trying to figure out what its customers liked about its software and the answers could be condensed mostly into a single religious motive, which was that everyone else used it." Balmer actually said this? Latter Mr. Ballard will elucidate: "We're summarising for him. What he actually said was that when Microsoft looked into the why people buy their software, they discovered four common reasons: i) they think it's easy to use; ii) it connects with so many other software applications; iii) it's innovative; iv) it's widely used and supported. "In other words: i) it's familiar because everyone uses it; ii) because everyone uses it, everyone else makes their software connect to it; iii) do they know any better?; iv) everyone uses it." Clearer? Good. Moving on... "Microsoft had been trying to figure out what its customers liked about its software" Tough one, especially as the best answer seems to be that people use it because they have to. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it? JP "Seven thousand people sat in a Boston conference centre listening to a live band play soft rock while they waited for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to deliver his opening speech at the MS Worldwide Partner Conference this morning. He was running half an hour late because a woman had sadly died in a Boston road tunnel last night when a three tonne slab of concrete fell from the roof and crushed her car. " Followed by a deep voice heard muttering from on high, "Me dammit! Missed again!" Morely Now, now, Morely. Play nice. The US Senate is (probably as we speak) debating how to legislate for stem cell research. Most pundits are predicting that although the bills that would free federal funding for some embryonic stem cell research will pass, Bush will veto it, making that part rather pointless: Why is it always assumed that only federal funding will achieve scientific breakthroughs? And is there no room for the gov't to say, while we are not criminalizing a practice, or a research branch, we are also not funding it? Is not funding something in your mind the same as banning it? Some would argue not funding abortions for low-income women is the same as banning them from having them, but I feel there is a distinction. I am not a fan of EMBRYONIC stem cell research. I haven't read a single paper that showed any real progress in this side of it. unlike adult stem cell or umbilical cord stem cells, which have shown some great breakthroughs. Personally, I don't understand why people are so ramped up about embryonic stem cell research. Unless they have some motive not related to stem cell research. Or they don't know the distinction. And noone seems to want to make the distinction. In case noone's made it clear why a person could be against using a IVF embryo for research, since they are already going to be destroyed. All I can say is I am not comfortable creating a market for unborn child parts. The line is nice and clear at the moment, It would get blurred quick. How many cells do you let the embryo grow into? Six? Thirty? 3 million? What if it develops a pulse? a nervous system? I know the intent is to stop it before it reaches that point, but in a lab environment, what guarantees do we have some rather frightening and grotesque things won't be grown, in the name of research? Just my 37 cents. Dan I suspect you'll get quite a return on that investment, Dan... The world laughed when it discovered this week that US academics have cracked some of the codes Galileo has been using: So Cornell University, having been denied access to the codes for Galileo, set of to break Galileo presumably using tools outlawed by the Digital Millennium Copyright laws. I hope the full force of the American law is now thrust towards Cornell, with the Galileo team pushing, in a similar manner as it will no doubt be when the US gets their hands on Gary McKinnon. Alternatively the Cornell team could be extradited to the EU to show that the US will treat the extradition laws in the same way as they expect the UK/EU to. I’m not holding my breath however! Shepherd A quick clarification on the costs of a Sky TV installation, prompted news that the digital entertainment behemoth is pitching free broadband as part of its subscription packages: In your Sky broadband article you state "The base service is free except for a £40 connection fee and a £50 installation fee.". This isn't quite correct. - While you are correct in stating the connection fee, the install fee only applies if the customer chooses to receive the Home Installation option (whereby a Sky engineer visits to install the Netgunk router). By default, the product is 'self install' therefore the install charge doesn't apply. While I'd imagine a fair amount of people mahy go for the install option, it definately isn't mandatory (which internal documentation makes quite clear). Anonymous Sky contractor Good to know... Don't ask us for a serious tech angle, but when a supermodel stands accused of losing the plot aboard a luxury yacht, you can bet Team Reg will want to let you know about it: Two things. First of all after misreading your article I realised that if you insist on including ham in your starter, best not list it last: ...and served up a "simple tomato, mozzarella and dried hamster" Secondly, that blackberry attack (you think it wouldn't hurt until you read that it was encrusted with golden jewls) reminds me of that song we used to sing as children in the Woodcraft Folk about a wife throwing tomatoes, which continues: Now tomatoes are soft and don't injure the skin, Well these ones they did, they were inside a tin. Jamie Isn't Naomi due for some anger management program by now? Oliver Er, been there done that. This little article baffles and teases me. How can anybody not like antipasto? Did he serve bread with it? What do we know about the boat's wireless capabilities? Does "dried ham" here imply prosciutto (== "italian for ham")? How could *anybody* not like prosciutto? Great, now I'm confused AND hungry. (If any article ever needed a "discuss this" section, this one does.) Tom That Naomi, isn't she a hoot ;). It must be truly delirious to be so rich that you can set your standards to such heights that not even the gods could hope to attain them. And God created the heavens... IN THE WRONG SHADE OF BLUE, IT'S THE GODDAMN WRONG SHADE OF BLUE!!! WHERE THE HELL DID HE LEARN TO BECOME A GOD, IN AN ITALIAN KITCHEN?!?! It's nothing that a month in a warzone, with MREs to eat, real bullets to avoid and the smell of roasted human-a-la-tank wouldn't cure. Or better: a native tribe, no preference, that offers delicious worms and bugs to eat and who consider it an insult if you refuse to taste it :). Not that I want Naomi to suffer, I'm just siding with the Italian chef who knows his kitchen and has to waste his talent serving food to a brat. Who is ponying up the dosh to get the boat ship-shape again, is what I want to know. Jorge And finally, a small error of our own. Well, my own. Vulture eyed readers may have spotted that according to the pages of this esteemed organ, NASA had standby crews ready to receive the Shuttle at the Edwards Airforce base in Canada. This was not entirely accurate: So do the US Airforce know that Canada have nicked their Californian air base and moved it North? :) Mark I was stationed at Edwards AFB, California for two years , and watched two shuttle landings, but never saw any Royal Canadian Mounted Police running around, or moose crossing the runway for that matter. K. Boyd Ahem. Mea culpa. Sometimes the fingers type of their own accord. Thanks to the many (many) other gentle readers who pointed out this Britney-level geographical error. ®
Malware authors are adopting open source development models to develop more potent threats. It's well known among security experts that botnet clients such as SDBot are written in a modular framework that allows hackers to add features that, for example, facilitate its spread through IM networks or add more potent attack features. But open source development models are also playing a role in Windows rootkit development, according to a recently published study by net security firm McAfee. It says that open source principles, as practiced in the malware-writing community, are affecting the evolution of threats a phenomenon it describes as "good intentions gone awry". The first edition of McAfee's Global Threat Report also looks at how the introduction of financial incentives to malware development has spawned more potent spyware and Trojan threats. McAfee has a strong case when it argues that the chance to make money has fostered "more professional" malware development. However, it is on rockier ground with its contention that open source development is increasing the potency of malware threats. Aside from the obvious point that malware remains a largely Windows-only phenomenon, improved education or better software development tools could be just as much to blame. Since McAfee didn't blame Visual Basic for the creation of Visual Basic threats, such as the infamous Anna Kournikova worm, it's hardly in the position to point the finger at open source development models. But that's our take. Readers are invited to make up their own mind by reviewing McAfee's Global Threat Report themselves, which is available here (registration required). ®
"They can take our revenue, but they'll never take our freedom!" That seemed to be the message handed out by Intel and friends today as they dangled the new dual-core Itanium 2 processor in front of press and analysts at an event here in San Francisco. Despite HP eating up 90 per cent of all Itanium server shipments, Itanic backers continue to bang on with the idea that the chip offers more freedom than IBM's Power or Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu's SPARC. It's the freedom plus performance combination that makes Itanium a real winner, we were told. Don't believe us? Well, here you go. "Today is about freedom," said Kirk Skaugen, an enterprise VP at Intel. "Everybody who is anybody in mission critical computing is participating with our efforts here," added Pat Gelsinger, an enterprise SVP at Intel. "Really that is what the Itanium architecture is about. It's about the presence we have with the mission critical computing companies of the industry." To back up these statements, Intel showed off seven, massive boxes from HP, Hitachi, SGI, EC, Bull, Fujitsu and Unisys. All told, close to a ton of hardware was displayed on the stage at the Four Seasons Hotel, requiring the stage platform to be reinforced. The impressive hardware parade helped pull attention away from the fact that Montectio is close to a year late. It will ship in volume next month. There are six flavors of the new chip – all quite zippy. At the high-end, Intel has the monster 9050 that runs at 1.6GHz with 24MB of Level 3 cache. That chips costs $3,692 in volume. Next is the 1.6Hz (18MB) 9040 at $1,980, the 1.6GHz (8MB) 9030 for $1,552, the 1.42GHz (12MB) 9020 for $910 and the 1.4GHz (12MB) 9015 for $749. There's also a single-core version 9010 that runs at 1.6GH with 6MB of cache for $696. All told, Intel expects customers to see double the performance with the new chip and a 20 per cent reduction in power. The performance benchmarks dished out by Intel appear to show Montectio having a slight edge over Power5+ and a significant edge over SPARC. IBM may close the gap later this month with its update to the Power5+ chip. You can understand the OEMs' excitement for Montecito. They've been waiting an awful long time for this chip, and the delay has come close to crippling a few vendors' high-end server lines, as evidenced by SGI's bankruptcy woes. Still, we find the "Itanium ecosystem's" giddiness hard to swallow given HP's dominance in the market. It's fine to say there's freedom, but difficult to defend the claim when market share figures don't support the premise. When pressed by us, Gelsinger seemed hopeful that the Itanium market would expand beyond HP. "We expect the shipments will become greater for the vendors moving forward," he said. Just last month, Gelsinger confessed that he hasn't always been "an Itanium backer", although he's now more fond of the chip due to rising sales at HP. HP's Itanium guru Brian Cox told us that Montectio will soon be available across the company's Integrity line and that a new blade might emerge by the end of the year. Cox also bragged about Itanium's obvious success in Japan. Gelsinger too celebrated Itanium's geographic prowess. "We are literally embarrassing Sun in Russia," he said. Grr. There's no question that HP's enterprise team will sleep easier tonight, knowing that Intel has finally shipped the impressive Itanic upgrade. And we expect HP's Itanium sales to spike in the coming months due to the flashy chip and pent up demand. We will not, however, back Intel's notion of freedom or the idea that all the important players in the mainframe world are behind Itanic. Intel may be able to ignore Sun and IBM, but the rest of the world can't. ®
Nortel has signed a four-year deal with Microsoft for the development and installation of integrated voice and data communications products running on Windows. Under the Innovative Communications Alliance, Microsoft and Nortel will form joint teams to develop products due in 2007, cross-license intellectual property and participate in sales and marketing activities. Additionally, Nortel will become a strategic systems integrator of products and services developed through the union. Agreement with Nortel is a major piece of the Microsoft's unified communications jigsaw. Microsoft unveiled its plan for unified voice, email, IM and video communications in Office 2007 and Windows last month, and immediately nailed down the mobile portion of the strategy by announcing backing from Motorola. Motorola earlier this year ended a joint product development deal with Cisco Systems, which competes with Nortel. Announcing the Nortel deal, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said Nortel's systems integration focus would provide customers with "excellent transition from the traditional phone system and corporate PBXs of today to unified communications based around software that spans phones, PCs and servers." The goal of Nortel, meanwhile, is to move 20 per cent of its own existing install base to newer systems. Both companies believe they can add more capabilities such as voice, presence, contacts and video to Microsoft's' Office and Dynamics business applications, and embed more next-generation communications in networks and devices. "This is a real inflection point," Ballmer said on the timing of the Nortel deal. "Within a very few years all of us will be have next generation devices for voice and video communications in our hands, desks and pockets. The combination of technology, service and support offerings will allow enterprise customers to deploy unified communications." ®
IBM could solve two problems at once by getting its global services division to fix the server division's manufacturing woes. The IT giant today reported that weaker services revenue coupled with a derailed server supply chain hurt second quarter revenue. All told, however, IBM beat out analysts' expectations and pleased investors. IBM reported revenue of $21.9bn, which marks a 2 per cent decrease from the same quarter last year. The last year figure includes PC sales, and IBM has since spun off its PC unit to Lenovo. With the PC results factored out, IBM's revenue rose 1 per cent year-on-year during the second quarter. The grizzled tech warrior also posted a profit of $2.02bn or EPS of $1.30, which is a healthy increase over the $1.83bn profit and EPS of $1.12 reported last year during the same period. Both the revenue and EPS figures beat out the consensus analyst expectations by a whisker. IBM's results would have been more impressive, according to CFO Mark Loughridge, had the vendor's server manufacturing system worked as planned. "In servers, execution issues in our supply chain left some orders unfulfilled," Loughridge said, during a conference call with Wall Street analysts. IBM's hardware revenue fell 3 per cent during the second quarter to $5.1bn, excluding PC sales. Unix server revenue dipped 10 per cent with customers apparently waiting for the expected Power5+ upgrade. IBM hopes to complete the shift to faster Power5+ chips and four-core modules by the end of the third quarter, Loughridge said. Sales of x86 servers were flat, mainframe sales were up 7 per cent, and storage fell 2 per cent. Services revenue dipped as well, falling 1 per cent to $11.9bn. IBM called on analysts to appreciate its diverse business rather than focusing on the lackluster hardware and services units. "While our hardware and services didn't perform to expectations, we had solid software performance," Loughridge said. The WebSphere and Tivoli lines carried IBM's software group to a five per cent revenue rise or $4.2bn in sales. The results from IBM seemed to comfort investors who have seen SAP, AMD and others lower their forecasts in recent weeks. Loughridge, however, noted that enterprise customers in the last month have grown more cautious about making large purchases. That's bad news for the IT giant set. "We have seen that the sales cycles for enterprise clients appear to have lengthened," he said. IBM provided little insight into the supply chain problems that affected the server unit other than to say midrange shipments were particularly hard hit by the snafu. You can expect some more dirt on the supply chain debacle to emerge in the coming days. Investors sent IBM's shares slightly higher in the after-hours markets, following the release of the second quarter results. At the time of this report, IBM sat at $75.47 per share. ®