June 21, 2021
Week of April 8, 2001 News ArchiveMonday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Weekend
Intel Releases 850 Mhz Celeron Processor
Intel today released the Intel Celeron processor at 850 MHz, the company's fastest offering for desktop value PCs. Intel Celeron processors include design features such as 128 KB of on-chip level-two cache with a high-bandwidth interface to the processor core. The Intel Celeron processor line continues to lead the value PC market segment worldwide. In 1,000-unit quantities, the Intel Celeron processor at 850 MHz costs $138. Intel Celeron processors are now available at 850 and 800 MHz (both with the 100 MHz system bus), as well as at 766, 733, 700, 667 and 633 MHz.
Adaptec Releases First USB 2.0 PCI Card
Adaptec, Inc., the global leader in data storage access solutions, today announced the shipment of USB2connect, one of the industry's first USB 2.0 host bus adapters (HBA). At a maximum speed of 480 Mbps, USB 2.0 technology is forty times faster than USB 1.1 and also maintains forward and backward compatibility with USB 1.1. That means that consumers save time and money by purchasing Adaptec's USB 2.0 card today for use with current USB 1.1 peripherals, such as digital cameras, and avoid having to purchase an upgrade for the new, high-speed USB 2.0 products that are arriving on the market. "Adaptec's USB 2.0 HBA is the safe choice for consumers because it powers the connectivity needs of today and tomorrow," said Pamela Schure, product marketing manager for of Adaptec's Desktop Solutions Group. "Consumers get long-lasting value when they purchase Adaptec's USB 2.0 HBA because it works with slower speed USB 1.1 peripherals, like keyboards and digital cameras, and also supports the newer high-speed USB 2.0 peripherals, such as high-speed scanners and storage devices, that are appearing every day."
USB2connect makes it easy for consumers to connect USB peripherals to their computers. From the thousands of currently available USB 1.1 devices to the new high-performance USB 2.0 peripherals, USB2connect is compatible with today's most popular peripherals and tomorrow's exciting new ones. USB2connect contains Adaptec's four-port USB2connect AUA-3100LP host adapter and a 10-foot high-speed USB 2.0 device cable. Adaptec's USB2connect is USB 2.0 ready and USB 1.1 compliant and backed by a five-year warranty and Adaptec's global service and support infrastructure. Links for the USB 2.0 drivers will be available on the Adaptec web site as soon as they become available. Offered at a suggested retail price of US$79, USB2connect is available worldwide through select retailers, resellers, mail order and Adaptec's web site at www.adaptec.com.
NSA Funding Will Help To Make Linux More Secure
The NSA awarded the two-year, $1.2 million contract to the PGP Security division of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, Network Associates announced Monday. The company will add more security features into a version of Linux the NSA already has paid for called "Security-Enhanced Linux" (SELinux). Network Associates also will help present the changes to the community of programmers who collectively produce Linux under the open-source method. The NSA is interested in a version of Linux that is kept more secure by restraining programs so they have only the bare minimum of privileges required to do their jobs. That would make it harder for attackers to take advantage of "buffer overrun" or "format string" vulnerabilities.
The NSA already has worked with Secure Computing to develop SELinux. It's also working with VMWare to create software that will divide a single computer into partitions so, for example, one person working on unclassified work couldn't get access to another's top-secret work. The changes will be released to the open-source community, Network Associates said. The General Public License that governs Linux requires that anyone who distributes changes to the heart of the operating system must publish those changes. CNET.com
Flaw Found In FTP Server Software That Is Standard In Many OS's
"In addition to the threat of data loss and attacks against private networks...these vulnerabilities could offer an easy avenue of approach for an attacker intent on defacing Web sites," said Jim Magdych, manager of PGP Security's vulnerability response team. The vulnerability occurs in a function that allows people accessing a file server to search for particular words, even when they don't know the complete file name. When attackers put in a specially crafted search term, they can cause the computer to execute malicious code, said PGP Security. According to PGP Security, the flawed FTP server software is part of the standard operating system package from Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Silicon Graphics. The FTP software packaged with NetBSD and FreeBSD, two open-source variants of Unix, are also affected, Magdych said. "FTP has been around a long time, so they use the same root code base," Magdych said. FTP software has been a common chink in the digital armor that many companies have erected around their networks. Flaws in the free file server created by Washington University, known as wu-FTP, led to a large number of last year's defacements. While wu-FTP contains the vulnerable function--known as "glob()"--it works in a slightly different way with Linux systems, leaving most of those systems protected from the exploit. CNET.com
Microsoft Kills NetDocs, Planned Centerpiece Of The .Net Strategy
The fierce battle between Microsoft's powerful Office team and its fledgling NetDocs challenger is over, with the company's top brass christening Office the winner. The battle pitted Microsoft Senior Vice President of Office Steven Sinofsky and his troops against Brian MacDonald, senior vice president of Subscription Services, and his forces. According to a story in Friday's Wall Street Journal, the NetDocs team has been shifted to Office and MacDonald has abruptly decided to take leave from Microsoft for family reasons. (Microsoft watchers wryly note that taking family leave is basically the equivalent of tendering one's resignation.) Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment. NetDocs is the internal code-name for the single, integrated application that Microsoft demonstrated at its .Net unveiling last June, and which was to include a full suite of functions, including e-mail, personal information management, document authoring tools, digital-media management and instant messaging.
According to sources , NetDocs was designed to be Microsoft's showcase for many of its .Net technologies. Sources who claimed to have seen alpha versions of NetDocs running inside Microsoft described Netdocs as a single, integrated application that would include a full suite of functions. NetDocs was expected to feature a new user interface that looked nothing like Internet Explorer or Windows Explorer. Instead, NetDocs was expected to deliver an integrated workspace based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML), where all of its application modules are available simultaneously. This interface was based on .Net technology that Microsoft, in the past, has referred to as "Universal Canvas." "If you think of what a hosted version of Microsoft Office would look like, if it worked properly, you'd have NetDocs," said one source, claiming familiarity with Microsoft's plans. ZDNet.com
Windows XP Will Not Ship With Support For USB 2.0
Microsoft said it will not include support for USB 2.0, the latest iteration of the universal serial bus connection technology, in Windows XP, its next-generation operating system expected later this year. Microsoft will instead throw its support behind IEEE 1394, also known as FireWire, which was developed by Apple. USB 2.0, which will succeed the current USB 1.1 standard, and FireWire are means of connecting PCs to peripherals, such as printers and digital camcorders, at high speed. USB 2.0 will deliver throughput of up to 480 megabits per second vs. FireWire's 400mbps or 12mbps for USB 1.1. That's up to 40 times faster than USB 1.1.
Microsoft's position further accentuates the debate over USB 2.0 vs. FireWire. It also creates strange bedfellows: Apple and Microsoft on one side pitted against USB 2.0's major backers on the other--Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent Technologies and others. Microsoft, too, is a founding member of the USB Implementers Forum. Microsoft's decision slams USB 2.0 at an important juncture in its development, a move that could keep the connectivity standard from finding a firm footing in mainstream computing, said IDC analyst Roger Kay. "The longer (USB 2.0) is delayed, the more traction FireWire gets," Kay said. "USB 2.0 on paper is great, but the lack of real USB is going to give FireWire time to entrench itself for those high-bandwidth types of applications, such as video." USB 2.0 becomes the second major technology not supported in Windows XP. Last week, Microsoft said it will not add support for Bluetooth, a wireless connectivity standard, to Windows XP. CNET.com
3D Content Becomes More Accesible Over The Internet
Macromedia, Inc. and Intel Corporation today announced that Macromedia Director 8.5 will include new jointly developed 3D authoring capabilities. Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio, the solution for interactive, rich media and 3D for the Web, also includes a new version of the Shockwave Multiuser Server and support for both Macromedia Flash 5 and streaming RealMedia content. The combination of Macromedia Director 8.5 with the Intel Internet 3D Graphics software will provide developers with a flexible, extensible, and robust 3D content creation solution. The studio is integrated with existing 3D solutions to ensure developers do not have to abandon their 3D authoring software of choice, but rather import that content into Director. Developers can then add interactivity to or incorporate that 3D content into new types of "magnetic" Web experiences to be delivered using Macromedia Shockwave Player, which is already installed on a majority of Web desktops and can be viewed by more than 200 million Web users.
The free, 3D-enhanced Shockwave Player will enable the next generation of bandwidth-friendly, interactive games, entertainment, education, and online shopping. For the first time ever, interactive, streaming, multiuser 3D capabilities will be available with a widely deployed multimedia player, finally bringing a standard way for the mainstream Web audience to experience 3D Web content. Interactive 3D graphics enrich applications such as e-merchandising and e-learning, and are at the core of online entertainment. Consumers will take active roles in designing, customizing, and personalizing their merchandise. For example, they will be able to model clothes, experience interactive product demonstrations, and learn how to do home repair using step-by-step examples. Macromedia Director 8.5 Shockwave Studio, available for both Macintosh and Windows platforms, creates highly scalable 3D content. The 3D capabilities of Shockwave Player are optimized to take full advantage of the high-performance Intel Pentium 4 processor, while still running well on basic systems. The Shockwave content is efficiently delivered to Web desktops through sophisticated compression and streaming capabilities. Director 8.5 can also create simulated natural effects such as smoke, fire, water, dust, sparks, vapor, and explosions.
Security Flaw Found In Alcatel DSL Modems
Computer industry security experts believe they have discovered a vulnerability in certain popular high-speed modems manufactured by French communications equipment giant Alcatel, one of the largest suppliers of such technology in the world. Though only theoretical so far, the problem makes the devices potentially vulnerable to malicious hacker attacks. The security problems could allow a hacker to bypass users' passwords and alter the devices, making them temporarily or permanently unusable, researchers said. A hacker also could potentially install code to gather unencrypted credit card information or read unencrypted e-mail messages, investigators said.According to these organizations, two models--Alcatel's Speed Touch Home ADSL modem and the Alcatel 1000 Network Termination Device, which are among the most popular broadband modems--could allow a hacker to remotely install new "firmware," the software embedded within the modems. For its part, Alcatel said it is working with U.S. researchers to determine the extent of the problems.
The popularity of Alcatel's modems increases the significance of the security concern. SBC Communications, the top DSL provider in the United States, and BellSouth, another of the nation's major local phone providers, are two customers of Alcatel's broadband modems, Alcatel's Murphy said. In November, the company said that more than 1.3 million Alcatel DSL modems were in use worldwide. In addition, a February study by market research firm Dell'Oro Group pegged Alcatel as the world's No. 1 DSL modem maker with a 34.9 percent market share. About 1.6 million people use an Alcatel DSL modem worldwide, Dell'Oro said. CNET.com
Windows XP Will Feature New Technology To Improve Security
Can Microsoft beat the security bugs? That's the intent of a multi-pronged strategy that the software giant unveiled Tuesday at the RSA Data Security Conference. If successful, the strategy will allow users to have the customizability they crave, while eliminating the security holes that have been a chronic black eye, said representatives of the Redmond, Wash. company on Tuesday. "The idea is, if you are a normal home user, to be able to turn on your PC, not do anything else, and you will be safe and secure," said Steve Lipner, manager of Microsoft's security response center. The project is aimed at waging what Microsoft is calling a "war on hostile code," according to Dave Thompson, vice president of Windows development for Microsoft. The goal: Secure Windows XP. The newest version of Windows is due out in this fall, and will come in several flavors: One for home users, another for business users and a later version able to run on 64-bit processors.
Microsoft intends to add a number of applications and utilities to add security to Windows XP. System administrators will be able configure systems' security using tools that will turn company policies--such as no personal Web surfing and no sending executables in e-mail--into specific settings. A personal firewall, or Internet-connection firewall, will give users a higher level of security right off the bat, Lipner said. And a "credential manager" will enable user to securely store their passwords for Internet sites on their computer in a digital vault. The manager will automatically give the passwords to the originating site, effectively letting people access all their accounts with a single sign-on. CNET.com
Intel Intodoces New Network Cards With Built-In Encryption Processing
Today at the RSA Conference, Intel Corporation introduced three new Fast Ethernet network adapters with integrated local area network (LAN) security capabilities. These new products are based on the Intel 82550 Fast Ethernet Controller with an integrated encryption co-processor, which offloads encryption from the processor to the adapter to help increase network performance. Today, Intel introduced the industry's first high-speed, dual port adapter with security capabilities. The Intel PRO/100 S Dual Port Server Adapter provides two network connections for added flexibility within a single adapter and enables up to twice the bandwidth per PCI slot. This is particularly important for slot-constrained or ultra-dense servers, in which space is limited. The second connection also supports advanced server software, which i includes load-balancing, fail over and teaming capabilities.
The load-balancing capability intelligently splits the traffic between connections, so that neither connection is overwhelmed. With fail over, if a connection is lost, such as a cable breaking or switch port failing, the second connection automatically handles the traffic. Teaming enables multiple adapters to work together, increasing the overall bandwidth for communications traffic. Each of the new adapters will be available this quarter. The Intel PRO/100 S Dual Port Server Adapter will be available for the suggested retail price of $299, the Intel PRO/100 S Mobile Adapter for $164 and the Intel PRO/100 S Combo Mobile Adapter for $264. All three products also feature exclusive Intel SingleDriver technology to simplify installation and maintenance.
EUV, The Next Generation Of Chipmaking Technology Moves Forward
A consortium of chipmakers and national research labs showed off a prototype Wednesday of a machine that will let the industry keep making faster chips for another decade, but work on the project is just beginning. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, showcased at a press conference at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Wednesday, will allow chip manufacturers to "draw" circuits as small as 10 nanometers wide. That's 1/18th the size of the features on today's most advanced chips, or 1/18,000 the diameter of a human hair. PC processors made with this equipment, expected to hit the market in 2005, will eventually run at 30GHz and contain billions of transistors. Moore's law states that the number of transistors on a chip, and hence its power, doubles every two years. Increasing the number of transistors comes from shrinking them. Just as important, the new process will make it easier to boost chip power than in the past.
Still, a lot of work remains. To commercialize the process, the industry will have to adjust to a completely new way of making chips, said Sunlin Chou, senior vice president of the technology and manufacturing group at Intel. With current lithographic techniques, circuit patterns are reduced through a series of lenses and then get printed onto a silicon wafer. In EUV lithography, the pattern bounces off a series of highly polished mirrors during the reduction process. The conversion will also cost a lot of money. EUV LLC has spent approximately $250 million to get to this point. To develop machines for the commercial market will take another $250 million to $750 in research, Chou said. Semiconductor companies are also going to have to invest in new, more expensive equipment. Machines that scan semiconductor images for EUV lithography, for instance, will sell for around $20 to $30 million, twice as much as today's scanners. Converting to new forms of lithography, though, is inevitable. Current optical lithography methods are close to their physical limits. The images simply can't be made much sharper, which limits how small manufacturers can shrink chip features. CNET.com
Windows XP Beta Causes Trouble For One Major Tech Company
Xerox has pulled the plug on employees running beta versions of Windows XP after the document company experienced several major outages over the past 10 days. Kara Choquette, a Xerox spokeswoman in Stamford, Conn., confirmed that the company last week sent e-mail to its entire 50,000-strong U.S. workforce warning them not to install Microsoft's Windows XP beta on Xerox computers. "We have experienced three major network outages in our El Segundo, Calif., office since Friday, March 30," Choquette said. "These were directly traceable to the installation of the Windows XP beta code on devices attached to the Xerox production network." And Xerox is playing hardball, barring all future installations of XP until further notice and informing staff to immediately remove all installed versions of XP. Employees who disregarded the order face possible disciplinary action and will have to bear the costs associated with removing XP from their systems. "All three network outages occurred in one building in our El Segundo offices and were the result of running XP on certain equipment from a third-party vendor," Choquette said. "As such, even though the equipment is the problem rather than the software, we decided that removing the software was the best way to resolve the situation." ZDNet.com
Adobe Working Toward It's Vision Of Network Publishing
Adobe Systems Incorporated, a leader in Network Publishing, today made several announcements that support the company's strategic vision of delivering visually rich, personalized content available anytime, anywhere on any device. "Over the last six months, Adobe has made great strides in turning the vision of Network Publishing into a reality," said Bruce Chizen, president and CEO of Adobe. "Beyond delivering tools that enable our customers to communicate their ideas in compelling and dynamic ways, we have solidified and expanded relationships with key partners to ensure that content can be managed, deployed and viewed exactly as intended." he company delivered against several key elements significant to Network Publishing, including the availability of the WML Suite for Adobe GoLive 5.0 software, developed through an alliance with Nokia. The WML Suite allows Web developers to author, preview, and manage content created for wireless devices. It provides a graphical user interface within GoLive showing an onscreen emulator of Nokia WAP enabled phones to ensure the optimal viewing of content created for wireless phones. The WML Suite for GoLive is available for download from www.adobe.com.
Additional announcements from Adobe involved the immediate availability of several products, including the new Adobe Streaming Media Collection comprised of Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, Adobe LiveMotion and Adobe GoLive that empowers users to create compelling websites that move; Adobe After Effects 5.0, the award-winning motion graphics and visual effects software; Adobe Content Server 2.0, an end-to-end software solution that enables publishers, online content distributors and resellers to secure and sell Adobe PDF-based eBooks; and Adobe Acrobat 5.0, the company's flagship product for producing documents that retain the fidelity of the original and increasing efficiency of business processes. In support of the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), Adobe has delivered the SVG Viewer 2.0, which allows Web browsers to render dynamic information-rich content that brings compelling, high-resolution graphics to Web publishing.
Microsoft Using Clippy As Part Of Office XP Ad Campaign
Software giant Microsoft is laying off one of its most controversial employees: Clippy. The software help system, a long-despised feature of Microsoft's popular Office suite of business software, is the star of a new Web marketing campaign launched Wednesday. The campaign and a companion Web site trumpet Microsoft's forthcoming Office XP software as so easy to use that Clippy is out of a job. The Web site, designed and hosted by Microsoft, serves as a mock layoff notice and resume for Clippy. "I've taken over this space to share my pathetic story and show off my skills as a Web designer. Not bad, huh? Know anyone who's hiring? Office XP works so easily that it's made Office Assistants like me useless. Obsolete. And, I'm told, hideously unattractive," Microsoft has Clippy saying on the Web site.
The site is part of a $30 million marketing and advertising campaign launched to promote Office XP, which Microsoft is expected to launch this summer. For Microsoft, Office is an extremely important product: Its sales make up more than one-third of the company's overall revenue. Microsoft is hoping to appeal to customers with a less-obtrusive, easier to use version of the suite. In Office XP, Microsoft plans to hide the Clippy character tool from view and help people in a less obtrusive manner. Gurry said if people miss Clippy, they can turn him back on by clicking the "help" tag on the Office XP task bar. ZDNet.com
New Mac Products Being Released
It's a busy day at Adobe Systems--they're shipping both After Effects 5, the video effects and motion graphics tool, as well as the Acrobat 5 PDF software. The former, which goes for $649.95 (or $199.95 if you're upgrading) adds improved 2D and 3D control for design and compositing, new output options and more. As for Acrobat 5, it gets new document collaboration features, the ability to repurpose to RTF and more.
Chromix (which proudly proclaims "This site powered by MacOS servers") has announced ColorThink 2.0, a new release of the company's color management toolset. This package adds Carbon compatibility, support for OpenGL-based 3D graphing, and integration with ProfileCentral.com for network- and world-wide color profile management. No pricing information has yet been released.
Code Line Communications has introduced ScreenShot Pro 1.0, a $14.95 utility for taking, as you'd expect, screen shots. It can save to Adobe Photoshop, JPEG, TIFF or other file formats and supports Mac OS X's Classic environment.
Apple has posted the Apple Macintosh Manager 1.4.1, which corrects various bugs in the previous version of the ASIP and Mac OS X Server administration tools for working with client computers. ZDNet.com
HP Will Integrate Adobe's PDF Technology Into It's Devices
Hewlett-Packard Company and Adobe Systems Incorporated today announced an alliance to improve digital publishing by reducing inconsistencies and inefficiencies in Internet printing workflows. As part of this collaboration, HP has licensed the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) libraries as a preferred file format for use in its products and services. "HP and Adobe have consistently provided leading products that enable customers to easily create, deliver and print high-quality documents," said Bruce Chizen, president and CEO, Adobe Systems. "It's exciting to be working together on our shared vision to help printing and publishing professionals develop Internet printing workflows that deliver consistent, predictable results every time." Printing and imaging devices, such as HP Photosmart cameras, scanners and all-in-one devices, will be among the first HP products to incorporate the Adobe PDF technology. HP devices incorporating the Adobe PDF technology are expected to be available in spring 2002.
New Connectix Software Allows Multiple OS's To Run At Once
Connectix Corporation, makers of the best-selling and award-winning Connectix Virtual PC family of products, today announced it is expanding its product line to Windows-based computer systems. Virtual PC for Windows will enable PC users to run multiple guest operating systems - such as Windows 2000, Windows 98/95, Windows NT or Windows Me - concurrently on a single PC. Designed for departments and enterprises that need to run applications within several different operating systems simultaneously, Virtual PC makes switching operating systems as easy as switching applications and provides much needed flexibility to the PC. Virtual PC solves a wide range of problems: A company may wish to deploy a new operating system, support groups may need to support customers across several operating systems, IS groups may need to test many configurations of a network prior to deployment and educators may need to use a single lab for classes covering many topics in several operating systems.
A single PC runs many operating systems - Virtual PC allows machines running Windows 2000, Windows NT and Windows Me to host virtually any combination of PC-based operating systems running concurrently, including: Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows 95, Windows NT, Linux and MS DOS. Virtual PC automatically detects and works with all the settings of the host operating system, this means there is no need to configure network settings and printers for the guest operating systems. And the Connectix Drive Container technology makes repartitioning the hard drive unnecessary. Because Virtual PC allows all the operating systems to run concurrently, users can switch to their desired operating system as easily as switching applications, without ever rebooting their system. The Drive Container feature stores each guest operating environment including data files, applications and operating system in a single file. This allows easy portability of the guest environments. For those users with existing operating system partitions, Virtual PC can be configured to use a dedicated partition for each guest operating system. Virtual PC for Windows has an estimated street price of $199 and will begin shipping in the U.S. in June 2001. The product will be available worldwide through International distributors in September, 2001.
Rambus Is Hit Hard By Continued Litigation
Escalating legal bills have deflated profits for chip designer Rambus, and its financial picture will likely only worsen. Excluding one-time charges, the Los Altos, Calif.-based company reported earnings of $8.2 million, or 8 cents a share, for its fiscal second quarter, which ended March 31. In the same period last year, earnings came to $4 million, or 4 cents per share. A consensus of analysts had expected the company to earn 11 cents per share, according to First Call. Revenue grew to $31.2 million, up from $15.7 million in the same period last year. The company's earnings were nicked by the $7.3 million it spent on legal fees during its second quarter--far more than the $600,000 spent in the same quarter last year and more than the $4.3 million spent in the previous quarter. Legal fees shot up toward the end of the quarter because of additional discovery in an ongoing legal battle between Rambus and German chipmaker Infineon.
"Our second fiscal quarter results show the effect of both declining SDRAM prices and costs associated with the continuing vigorous legal defense of our intellectual property," CEO Geoff Tate said in a statement. "Prices have continued down on RDRAM, but we anticipate that increases in unit volume will more than offset the price declines." Tate added that expenses will not decline in the current quarter. The Rambus-Infineon trial is slated to start April 20. Cases against Hyundai and Micron Technology are pending as well. Rambus designs high-speed memory and then licenses the intellectual property to manufacturers. Rambus memory, called RDRAM, is used in Sony's PlayStation 2 and Pentium 4 computers. CNET.com
MSN Explorer Gets An Update, As It Continues To Grow
Microsoft said Thursday that it will introduce a new version of MSN Explorer, its Web client software in the latest attempt by software giant to unseat AOL Time Warner for new media dominance. MSN Explorer, which was launched in October, is software that combines the company's various Internet products into one service. It includes the Internet Explorer Web browser, its MSN Internet service provider, the newly refurbished MSN Music software and client access to Microsoft's instant messaging service, MSN Messenger. The client software also features areas that link to Microsoft's free Web services such as its MSN.com portal, MSN Hotmail, financial site MSN Money Central and other content sites.
The new version of MSN Explorer, due next week, includes several minor upgrades and new features. For instance, people will be able to collapse toolbars for more screen space, use a Hotmail e-mail address as an Internet Access login, access e-mail while not online, and use a spell-check feature in Hotmail. Microsoft said the service has steadily been gaining popularity. The company said 6 million people now use MSN Explorer. Although luring that many customers since October may be a worthwhile achievement, MSN Explorer pales in comparison to America Online's 28 million paid subscribers. ZDNet.com
Large Price Cuts Coming For Pentium 4 Chips
Intel will dramatically cut prices on the Pentium 4 this month to stimulate demand for its new chip, as the processor market gets even uglier. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker will slash Pentium 4 prices by as much as 50 percent this month in two cuts coming Sunday and April 29, industry sources said. As reported earlier, the company also will introduce a 1.7GHz Pentium 4. The cuts will potentially fill a number of strategic goals. The company has already said it wants the Pentium 4 to displace the Pentium III on desktops by the end of the year. Demand is also slow, and rival Advanced Micro Devices continues to gain ground. The depth of the cuts, however, poses huge problems, according to some analysts. The Pentium 4 is a fairly large chip and expensive to make. Intel also continues to give PC makers rebates for each computer that includes Rambus memory and, for now, Pentium 4 systems work only with Rambus memory.
The discounts to some degree are inevitable. Large distributors and computer manufacturers have been dumping chips onto the gray, or secondary, market, according to several analysts and dealers. As a result, Intel has to reduce wholesale prices to stimulate demand. An Intel spokesman would not comment on either price move, citing the company's earnings quiet period. However, he did say it behooves Intel to establish Pentium 4 in the mainstream market. "We're continuing on our plan to bring Pentium 4 system prices into mainstream price points," said spokesman Seth Walker. "One way to bring computer buyers into stores...is to lower the bill of materials cost," therefore lowering overall Pentium 4 PC prices. Meanwhile, Pentium III will continue its run in notebooks and low-end servers for some time. But Intel plans to phase it out of the desktop market by the end of the year, Anand Chandrasekher, vice president of microprocessor marketing at Intel, said in a recent interview. ZDNet.com
Lastest High-Profile Virus Fails To Spread
A virus that monitors a PC's network connections and sends itself in response to any incoming e-mail has apparently failed to spread, despite, or because of, warnings issued by several major antivirus software makers. "We initially gave it a medium rating, but we expect to downgrade that today," Susan Orbuch, spokeswoman for antivirus company Trend Micro, said Friday. Though several of [see CNET Software: Protect yourself from a virus attack] Trend Micro's customers reported receiving e-mailed copies of the virus, only three companies were actually infected, Orbuch said. The mass-mailing worm, known as W32/BadTrans, appears attached to an e-mail message either as a screensaver (.scr) or Windows shortcut (.pif) file, with any one of a variety of names, including Card, docs, hamster, humor and 12 others.
If opened, the worm first displays a dialog box titled, "WinZip Self-eXtractor," which reads, "File data corrupt: probably due to a bad data transmission or bad disk access." Then the worm will install a backdoor program, compromising the computer's security, and mail the victim's IP address to the virus writer. The worm also replies to all incoming e-mail messages, attaching itself to the outgoing message. The new message will have the same subject line and message body as the original e-mail, and the sender will be the victim's username. While it has some of the makings of a successful mass-mailer, BadTrans has effectively fizzled out, said Vincent Gullotto, director of Network Associates' antivirus emergency response team. [see special report: Year of the Worm] On Thursday the company received only 10 reports of the worm, he said. "There is a possibility that it was a bit more prevalent in the U.K. and Europe," he said. "But we consider it to be a low threat." CNET.com
Windows XP Will Provide Easy Way To Save Files To Online Storage
A new Internet feature of Microsoft Windows XP, currently in its second beta test trials, will be the ability to use an online storage service, Xdrive Technologies, through Windows XP's Web Publishing Wizard. Windows XP is the upcoming consumer version of the operating system that was formerly code named Whistler. The Web Publishing Wizard that is part of Whistler appears when the user chooses to "publish this file to the Web" in the task file pane on the left-hand side of the window. The Wizard then appears and helps move the file to the Web. One of the options is to store a file at Xdrive's site, where the user can retrieve it through any device that allows access to the site. ZDNet.com
Connectix Will Release Free Preview Version Of Virtual PC
Connectix Corporation, makers of the best-selling and award-winning Virtual PC (VPC) family of products, today announced a technology preview of its newly announced Virtual PC for Windows product. Later this month users will be able to download a preview version of Virtual PC for Windows free of charge. The technology preview is a full trial version of the soon-to-be-released product that enables computers running Windows 2000, Windows NT or Windows Me to run multiple guest operating systems concurrently. The technology preview will expire(time-out) on July 1, 2001. The preview will be available at www.connectix.com beginning in late April 2001. Customers can get more details about Virtual PC for Windows from the website and can register for the preview now. Customers who register early will receive an email reminder as soon as the preview is released. The release version of Virtual PC for Windows has an estimated street price of $199 and will begin shipping in the U.S. in June, 2001. The product will be available worldwide through International distributors in September, 2001.
New Dual-Processor Macs Could Be Coming Very Soon
Apple Computer has stopped selling the 667MHz Power Mac G4, possibly making room for new dual-processor computers later this month. In late March, several dealers, who asked not to be identified, said that distributors had informed them Apple would stop selling the 667MHz Power Mac in April. On Friday, the company pulled the model from its online store. Typically, Apple clears out older models before releasing new ones. More recently, Apple dealers slashed prices on the oldest dual-processor Macs--450MHz and 500MHz models--in yet another sign new models could be coming, analysts say.
"Mac OS X can take advantage of two processors in a way Mac OS 9 can't," Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal said. "Right now, Apple needs all the margins it can get from Mac OS X." Apple Vice President Phil Schiller told CNET News.com in March that "multiprocessing is really important, particularly to the Power Mac lines." Apple reintroduced dual-processor Power Macs last summer, touting the value of getting a second chip for free as the company kept prices level with older models. But Apple's postponement of Mac OS X's release limited the new systems' usefulness for the majority of Mac users, Deal said. Sources close to the company said Apple may be preparing to unveil a dual-processor 667MHz or 733MHz Power Mac G4, possibly during the National Association of Broadcasters show April 23 to 26. But other sources suggested Apple CEO Steve Jobs could announce new models during the company's first-quarter earnings conference call Wednesday. CNET.com
Corel Is Now Shipping WordPerfect 2002
Corel Corporation announced Tuesday that the new version of its flagship office suite, WordPerfect Office 2002, is now shipping and will be available to customers across North America beginning May 1, 2001. WordPerfect Office 2002 Standard Edition features the latest versions of the core applications - WordPerfect 10, Quattro Pro 10, Corel Presentations 10 and CorelCENTRAL 10. The Professional Edition also includes the powerful database Paradox 10 and the voice-recognition software Dragon NaturallySpeaking 5.0. The suggested retail upgrade price for the Standard Edition is US $159 while the suggested retail upgrade price for the Professional Edition is US $259.
WordPerfect Office 2002 now includes the new e-mail client built into CorelCENTRAL 10. CorelCENTRAL 10 also supports groupware, multiple e-mail accounts and features the ability to share address books. Corel customers can now also look forward to features such as the new Variables in WordPerfect 10, the only Reveal Codes available in a word processor, the much enhanced Publish to PDF, unchanged file format (backward compatibility), the enhanced Publish to HTML, the new Text to Tables to Text, a new charting engine in Quattro Pro, Macromedia Flash, MP3, WMA and animated GIF support in Presentations. The electronic version of The Pocket Oxford Dictionary, created by Oxford University Press, will be available with both the Standard and the Professional editions of WordPerfect Office 2002. Now, with the click of a mouse, users will have fast and easy access to more than 30,000 word definitions from this world authority on the English language.
Major Companies Working To Make MP3's Disapear
MP3, a popular format for downloading music from the Web, is encountering competitive pressure as leading technology companies such as Microsoft Corp. work to subtly wean consumers away from the technology. These companies, which have the music industry's blessing, are encouraging those who download music to use new proprietary software formats that make the audio sound significantly better but also make it harder to share copyright-protected songs. Microsoft, for example, plans to severely limit the quality of music that can be recorded as an MP3 file using software built into the next version of its personal-computer operating system, Windows XP. But music recorded in the Redmond, Wash., software company's own format, called Windows Media Audio, will sound clearer and require far less storage space on a computer.
RealNetworks of Seattle also is encouraging consumers to use proprietary software formats, such as its Real Audio 8, though RealNetworks' listening software can accommodate a variety of different formats, including MP3 and Microsoft's. Other formats gaining popularity are based on the relatively new Advanced Audio Codec created by AT&T Corp. of New York, Dolby Laboratories Inc. of San Francisco, Sony Corp. of Japan, and the Fraunhofer Institut Integrierte Schaltungen in Germany. All the new music-software formats include technology known as digital-rights management, which can "lock" copyright-protected songs and make it harder for consumers to share that music illegally. As the largest recording labels begin selling music online, they generally have shunned MP3, which "has been commonly regarded as an unprotected format," says Cary Sherman, senior vice president and general counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America. ZDNet.com
New Telecom Rules Could Raise ISP Rate's
An upcoming FCC ruling could free Bells from at least $1 billion in payments to competitors but may put some phone companies out of business while raising Internet service fees. The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote at its Thursday meeting on a change in the way one phone company pays another for terminating a local call, although a vote could be held behind closed doors before then. Wherever a local phone call ends, that phone company is paid to handle the call by the phone company where the call originated. Thus, when consumers use their BellSouth phone lines, for example, to dial an Internet service provider, BellSouth pays the phone provider hired by the ISP, which sometimes is the ISP itself. Bells such as Verizon Communications, SBC Communications and Qwest Communications International pay as much as $5 billion a year in such fees, known as reciprocal compensation, and claim it has become a subsidy for competitive local exchange companies, or CLECs. That industry has been reeling in the last year, with precipitous stock drops and bankruptcies.
Last month CompTel and the Association of Local Telecommunications Services (ALTS) wrote the FCC saying that while they continue to oppose any disruption to reciprocal compensation, if the agency was determined to act, it asked that no new payment structure be imposed without a transition period, perhaps three years. Meanwhile, ALTS wrote Tauzin and said that without reciprocal compensation revenue, CLECs could raise the fees they charge ISPs, and "this could force ISPs to increase the rates that 31 million consumers pay for Internet access by up to 35 percent." Not everyone believes that argument. "If ISPs are trying to compete in the marketplace, will it help them to raise their fees?" Cleland asked. He answered his rhetorical question with an emphatic no. But Dave Baker, Earthlink's vice president for law and public policy, said the FCC's upcoming action at a minimum "doesn't do anything to help affordable access to the Internet." CNET.com
Updates On Two Previous Stories
Microsoft has let it be known that it may in fact support USB 2.0 either during the release of Windows XP or soon thereafter. If a large amount of USB 2.0 hardware becomes available before Windows XP ships, Microsoft will try to get support for USB 2.0 into Windows XP. Another hot button for those interested in Windows XP is the support or non-support of the MP3 file format. By default, Microsoft media encoding software in XP will only support encoding of 56kbps MP3s, which are quite poor compared with the average 128kbps of most MP3 files in circulation today. Currently, Microsoft software doesn't support any MP3 encoding and MP3s are flourishing. It has been noted that Windows XP breaks some of the current MP3 ripping software, but Microsoft insists that there is no conspiracy against MP3 encoders and that with updates the encoders should work again.
After reports surfaced about Linus Torvalds referring to the Mach microkernel as "a piece of crap" in his new book, the creator of Linux clarified his statements in an ITWorld article. The Mach microkernel is the basis for Mac OS X. Torvalds stated that he "never commented on OS X," and further offered praise for Mac OS X: "All of the interesting stuff in OS X is actually outside the kernel: what makes Macs special is not the OS (which historically has had tons of design problems, even more so than Mach ever has -- so OS X is bound to be a big leap forward), but the UI and the ease of use. Which has very little indeed to do with Mach." Torvalds also stated that tech luminaries are often taken too seriously, and that people need to develop their own opinions.
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