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Week of July 15, 2001 News Archive

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Weekend

Monday July 16, 2001 Top

Intel Cuts Prices On Pentium III and Celeron Chips

Intel has made double-digit price cuts on an assortment of Pentium III and Celeron processors. The chipmaker cut prices Monday up to 37 percent on mobile Pentium IIIs and more conservatively on desktop Pentium III and Celeron chips. An Intel representative said the price moves were part of the company's regularly scheduled price reductions, aimed at keeping prices current in markets such as laptops. However, the cuts precede the expected introduction of Intel's Pentium III "Tualatin" chips later in the month. Several new mobile Pentium III chips are expected. The company will also ship desktop and server Pentium IIIs. Tualatin is the code name for a Pentium III based on Intel's new 0.13-micron manufacturing process, which allows smaller circuits to be printed on chips, increasing speed and efficiency. Intel dropped prices on its 900MHz and 1GHz mobile Pentium III chips by 37 percent, from $423 to $268 and from $637 to $401, respectively. Price cuts on Intel's 750MHz to 850MHz chips ranged from 18 percent to 31 percent. Meanwhile, the chipmaker cut prices on desktop Celeron chips by as much as 14 percent. A 900MHz desktop Celeron, for example, now costs $89, down from $103. The sole desktop Pentium III price drop came on the 933MHz chip, which was cut 11 percent to $163. | Processor Price List

Microsoft Announces Add-On Packs for Windows XP

Consumers looking to rip MP3s using Windows XP's media player will have to pay as much as $30 extra for the capability. As first reported by CNET, Microsoft has changed its mind on MP3 support for its upcoming Windows XP operating system. The company originally planned to ship Windows XP with low-quality MP3 recording capabilities, leading to charges that the company favored its own Windows Media Audio (WMA) format instead. On Monday, Microsoft said it will work with third-party companies to deliver Windows XP's MP3 ripping and DVD playback capabilities. The company announced two Windows XP add-on packs, one providing full MP3 support and the other DVD playback. CyberLink, InterVideo and Ravisent, working with Microsoft, will offer the programs--the MP3 Creation Pack and DVD Decoder Pack--for download when Windows XP launches in October.

The companies will charge for the software, although pricing has not been determined. Raul Diaz, InterVideo's vice president of marketing, said pricing "between $15 and $30" would be a reasonable guess, "depending on the features." MP3 support might be only $15, while full DVD and MP3 capabilities could cost twice as much, he added. Microsoft could have added the features for a lot less, but this would have intensified accusations that the company crowds out potential competitors by bundling extra features into Windows, analysts said.

ATI Unveils Smartshader Technology

ATI Technologies Inc today unveiled SMARTSHADER technology, a next-generation graphics architecture that will narrow the gap in visual quality between the "big screen" and the "computer screen" by affording game developers the most advanced visual effects available on PC or Mac-based platforms. Incorporating suggestions from leading 3D application developers and researchers, ATI collaborated with Microsoft Corporation to improve the versatility, efficiency and usability of the existing Microsoft DirectX 8.0 Pixel Shader and Vertex Shader specifications, enabling 3D game developers to easily custom-program and then create the most finely-detailed and realistically-lit computer-generated images possible. The results of these efforts are available to developers for the first time with the release of DirectX 8.1, which enables the full capabilities of SMARTSHADER technology. The full feature set is also available in OpenGL, using extensions developed by ATI."By combining the speed and optimizations of a dedicated graphics processor with the flexibility and programmability of a CPU, SMARTSHADER technology provides a virtually limitless range of visual effects at interactive frame rates."

SMARTSHADER technology incorporates major advances in the area of Pixel Shaders, which are small programs that execute on every pixel rendered to the display device. With support for up to six textures in a single rendering pass, the memory bandwidth constraints associated with multi-pass rendering can be greatly reduced, which translates into better rendering performance. By doubling the maximum allowable length of the shader programs, more complex effects can be created to accurately model the visual properties of materials and surfaces, including hair, skin, wood, water and more. Additionally, SMARTSHADER Pixel Shaders introduce a simplified yet more powerful instruction set that lets developers design a much wider range of graphical effects with fewer operations.

SMARTSHADER technology also includes support for Vertex Shaders, which are small programs that are executed on the vertices that form the building blocks of all 3D objects. These shaders can actually modify the shape and position of objects and are useful for handling advanced character animation, objects that bend and ripple like cloth or water, particle effects like sparks and rain, and much more. "The programmability and intelligent design of SMARTSHADER technology will substantially reduce the time it takes to bring innovative new graphics to the end-user," said Mr. Okumura. "Developers will no longer have to wait for new graphics hardware or new versions of their preferred graphics API (application programming interface); they can now easily write a shader to implement their new creative ideas."

Iomega Relases Value Priced Zip Drive

Iomega Corporation today introduced Iomega's most aggressively priced external Zip drive ever: the Zip 100MB USB VL-Series drive, which will be available in August at a U.S. suggested retail price of $69.95. Iomega's new drive features a rugged design, reliable operation and unmatched ease of use while lowering the cost of portable storage for home and small business users and others. The Zip 100MB USB VL-Series drive is a low-power design that requires no power adapter, conveniently connecting to a host computer with a single USB cable. The drive is compatible with all Iomega Zip 100MB disks, and is designed for horizontal or vertical placement on a desktop, minimizing its footprint. It comes complete with USB cable and IomegaWareTM software tools for Macintosh, Windows and Linux computers. "Iomega's Zip VL-Series drive targets a new broader audience on a budget that needs dependable portable storage for their computer files," said Doug Collier, senior vice president, product marketing, Iomega Corporation. "By making a new Zip drive available in a wider range of outlets, including mass merchandisers, Iomega expects to reach untapped markets, growing its user base and sales of durable, reliable Zip disks."

Speculation Grows About New Apple Products at Macworld

In what has become a semiannual tradition, this week's Macworld Expo/New York has sparked a round of speculation about the Mac wares Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs will unveil at his Wednesday morning keynote. And while Expo reports generally reveal as much about the personalities behind the Mac Web as they do about Apple's future plans, this summer's crop of predictions seem even more contentious than usual. Jobs' Apple has been notoriously close-mouthed about the company's plans for new products and services. Mac-centric Web sites have risen to the company's challenge, ushering in each Macworld Expo with a spate of rumors about Apple's announcements. This time around, the stories are flying faster and more furiously than ever, although the sites have yet to reach any real consensus about what's in store.'s report seemed to dovetail with the physical characteristics of a Power Mac G4 system that one longtime Mac rumorologist--writing for as The Gay Blade--described as a project code-named Titan. By contrast, the venerable Web site predicted that Macworld Expo/New York will see the advent of a Power Mac G4 with a casing that will be "slimmer, sharper-angled, and quite likely bare metal or metal-styled plastics," taking its design cue from the recently discontinued Power Mac G4 Cube.

MOSR also reported that it had hints that all new Power Mac G4 models will feature dual processors in order to boost the performance of Mac OS X, which can take better advantage of the extra PowerPC chip than Mac OS 9 can. As for clock speeds, few oracles agree. While Ziff Davis Internet's Matthew Rothenberg said he expects to see 733 MHz, 800 MHz and 867MHz models and's Nick dePlume has uncovered reseller Early Order Shipment forms that also suggest a 733MHz model, other sites have predicted that models running at up to 1GHz will be announced, if not shipped, this week. Ironically, for an Expo that's been billed as the "coming-out party" for Mac OS X and a wealth of Mac OS X-native applications, there's little buzz about new twists on Apple's next-generation OS. According to Rothenberg's sources, the next major revision to Mac OS X--10.1 or "Puma"--will not be ready in time for Macworld Expo/New York. Meanwhile, however, dePlume and other observers report that Mac OS 9.2 (code-named Moonlight) will be launched quietly at the show.

Tuesday July 17, 2001 Top

Steve Jobs' Keynote to be Broadcast on TV

Steve Jobs is not only the highest paid chief executive in the United States, but a showman extraordinaire. Jobs typically wows the throng of Mac faithful with new products and exciting company news and this year's Macworld Expo in New York should be no exception. Tune into "Tech Live" on Tech TV at 9 a.m. Eastern to catch a live broadcast of his speech from the semiannual Macworld Expo in the Big Apple. Tech TV Station List

Microsoft's Universal Plug and Play Gets Industry Support

Microsoft's Universal Plug and Play (UpnP) software uses Internet protocols to allow devices such as computers, scanners and printers to automatically discover each other so they can communicate. Sun Microsystems builds rival software called Jini that is based on the Java programming language. Six companies, including Intel, Linksys and Nortel Networks spinoff NetGear, say they will support UpnP in their future family of home networking devices, called "gateways," that allow consumers to connect electronic devices, such as PCs and kitchen appliances, together and share Internet access. In the future, for example, people could use their computers in their bedrooms to turn off the oven in the kitchen. The UpnP software lies at the heart of Microsoft's strategy for the emerging home networking market.

Tech companies and consumer-electronics makers envision a future in which every electronic gadget is networked in the home and can communicate. Microsoft is supporting UpnP in its forthcoming Windows XP operating system, which will make it simpler for PCs and other devices to announce themselves on a network to exchange data. With UpnP, for example, consumers using the gateway products to connect their PCs will allow the PCs in the house to automatically find each other and communicate without consumers having to configure the computers. Microsoft executives say this will allow people in the house to do videoconferencing or play multiplayer video games.

New FireWire Hard Drive Reaches Internal Drive Speeds

Shopping for fast FireWire-based hard drive storage at this week's Macworld Conferences & Expo? Storage products maker LaCie announced today that it will use this week's Expo to demonstrate FireWire drives operating at sustained transfer rates of 35MB/s with burst performance up to 50MB/s. The drives are available in capacities ranging from 20GB to 75GB and utilize mechanisms that operate at 7200RPM. LaCie claimed the drives are suitable for exchanging audio and digital video, large files like graphics, and other demanding applications. The drives themselves function with any Macintosh with a native FireWire port, and are also compatible with Windows 98 SE or Windows 2000-based PCs equipped with IEEE 1394 interfaces. The drives utilize a fully ATA 100-compliant FireWire to IDE bridge that supports Ultra DMA mode 5.

LaCie VP of marketing and sales Guillaume Mazieres said that the biggest problem in moveable FireWire-based has been low performance. "Users are aware of the quality of digital video and audio that can be edited and quickly transported with FireWire drives. With our new two-chip, single firmware interface design we've virtually eliminated the performance barrier by producing drives that can consistently deliver 35MB/s sustained data thruput to the computer," said Mazieres. The drives come equipped with an integrated universal power supply and two 6-pin IEEE-1394 connections. They ship with a 1394 cable, and Silverlining Pro drive utility software. Prices range from US$229 for the 20GB drive to $429 for the 75GB models. LaCie noted that the 40 and 60GB models are available from the Apple Store.

HP Receives Patent For Molecular Computing

Hewlett-Packard scientists have received a patent on connecting a new type of super-small computer circuit to the outside world, dealing with a key obstacle in making such new circuits useful. HP's patent addresses one of the key hurdles: getting something as small as a molecule to communicate with today's computers. The wires that extend from grids of molecular electronics circuitry are only 6 atoms wide--about 2 billionths of a meter. The new technology has the potential to extend the current trend in computing that leads to new generations of chips twice as powerful as the preceding generation every 18 months, a march of progress called Moore's Law. However, unless there's a way for molecular electronics to communicate with the outside world, the idea will be merely an academic curiosity. "If we can't hook these things up, it isn't a very interesting technology," said Phil Keukes, a senior scientist in charge of the work at HP Labs. HP, focused on overcoming the engineering challenges of making molecular electronics feasible for mass production, said it's patented a way to wire molecular electronics to conventional chips. The company hopes the technology will be practical in some niche markets in 2006.

Current silicon wires are vastly larger, a comparatively chubby 130 billionths of a meter on today's newest chips. Molecular electronics aren't just useful for storing information, Keukes said. Small collections of the molecules, properly assembled, can act as the "logic" circuitry of chips that actually process instructions, not just store digital information in the form of ones and zeros. Logic circuits such as "and gates" and "or gates," assembled by the millions, let chips handle everything from multiplying numbers to encrypting messages. Because molecular electronics behave similarly to current silicon chips, today's programmers won't have to worry about adjusting to some radical new world where the basic rules of computing are rewritten, Keukes said. Instead, the people who'll have to worry are those in charge of building the molecular computing devices themselves. But other hurdles remain, Keukes said. Among them are making wires 6 atoms across, getting the molecular electronics to work quickly enough, and understanding the chemistry of the computing devices. One compensation, though: There are many different molecules that can be used to store data and process information, he said.

Apple Announces Strong Results Amid PC Sales Downturn

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2001 third quarter ended June 30, 2001. For the quarter, the Company posted a net profit of $61 million, or $.17 per diluted share. These results compare to a net profit of $200 million, or $.55 per diluted share, achieved in the year ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter were $1.475 billion, down 19 percent from the year ago quarter, and gross margins were 29.4 percent, compared to 29.8 percent in the year ago quarter. International sales accounted for 44 percent of the quarter's revenues. Apple shipped 827 thousand Macintosh units during the quarter. "We had a great education quarter, with significant year over year growth, and a great iBook quarter, shipping over 182,000 of our new wildly popular consumer and education notebooks," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Perhaps the most strategic event of the quarter was the launching of Apple Retail Stores, with the very successful openings of our first two stores, and plans to open 23 more in 2001." "We're delivering solid profitability while maintaining lean channel inventories in a weak economic environment," said Fred Anderson, Apple's CFO. "Our balance sheet remains very strong, with over $4.2 billion in cash, and we are targeting a slight sequential increase in revenues and earnings per share in the September quarter."

Wednesday July 18, 2001 Top

Full Macworld Keynote Coverage

This year's Macworld New York Keynote by Steve Jobs, was seen as a big let down by Mac faithful and investors. Rumors had predicted a secret new product, as well as upgraded systems. Both the PowerBook G4 and the iBook were not upgraded. Three new iMacs were announced: 500MHz G3 processor, 128MB SDRAM, 20GB hard drive, CD-RW; 600MHz G3, 256MB SDRAM, 40GB hard drive, CD-RW; and 700MHz G3, 256MB SDRAM, 60GB hard drive, CD-RW. Three new PowerMac G4's were announced: 733MHz G4, 256K L2 at 733MHz, 128MB, 40GB (5400 rpm) hard drive, NVIDIA GeForce2 MX with 32MB of SDRAM, CD-RW; 867MHz G4, 256K L2 at 867MHz, 2MB L3 at 217MHz, 128MB, 60GB (7200 rpm) hard drive, NVIDIA GeForce2 MX with 32MB of SDRAM, SuperDrive; Dual 800MHz G4, 256K L2 at 800MHz per processor, 2X 2MB L3 at 200MHz per processor, 256MB, 80GB (7200 rpm) hard drive, NVIDIA GeForce2 MX with TwinView and 64MB of SDRAM, SuperDrive. Mac OS X version 10.1 will provide major speed improvement, DVD playback, movable dock, CD burning in finder, increase printer support, improved finder. Finally, iDVD 2 was previewed, the upgrade features ability to record 90 Minutes of videos and motion menus. The 2 lower end iMacs and PowerMacs G4 are available now, the high end version of both with be released in August. Mac OS X version 10.1 and iDVD will be released in September. Mac OS X 10.1 Preview | Apple Hardware Released at Macworld(Coming Later) | Ten for Mac OS X Software Titles(Coming Later)

Intel Plans to Fully Transition to Pentium 4's by Years End

Intel is preparing a Pentium 4 blitz for the remainder of 2001, aiming to drive the chip into the heart of the desktop PC market before the end of the year, executives said Tuesday during a conference call after the chipmaker's second-quarter earnings announcement. Intel intends to accelerate its Pentium 4 road map, cranking the clock speed of the chip past 2GHz before the end of the year. Although 2GHz-plus speeds have been expected for some time, Intel will likely introduce them sooner. Introducing faster Pentium 4's sooner will allow the company to aggressively cut prices on existing chips, as its ultimate goal is not so much to offer the fastest PC processor but to drive Pentium 4 into all Intel-based desktop PCs priced at $800 and higher. The move will increase the chip's presence in the mainstream part of the PC market while collapsing the current pricing gap between PCs based on Intel's Pentium III and systems based on the Pentium 4 processor. The end result will be a full transition from Pentium III to Pentium 4 on the desktop before the end of the year, said Paul Otellini, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Architecture Group.

Intel previously expected the Pentium 4 to dominate its desktop PC market in early 2002. Intel will rely heavily on its forthcoming 845 chipset, expected in September, and on demand generated by the introduction of Microsoft's Windows XP to help drive sales of Pentium 4 PCs. The 845 chipset will allow the Pentium 4 to work with standard SDRAM memory instead of with costlier RDRAM. The chipset "will begin volume shipment to customers within two weeks, well ahead of schedule," Otellini said. "We are poised for a high-volume introduction (of 845) to coincide with the back-to-school season." The lower price of the 845, combined with use of lower-priced SDRAM, will help PC makers shave the cost of their Pentium 4 PCs. Intel says the chipset has been designed into more than 250 motherboards worldwide. By pushing to higher clock speeds, Intel will increase its slowest Pentium 4 to 1.5GHz, cutting prices on the chip to move it into the mainstream of the market by the end of the year. Meanwhile, it will take the highest-performing Pentium 4 above 2GHz in the same time frame, Otellini said.

Microsoft Plans to Ease Product Activation Restrictions

Microsoft said Wednesday it will ease up on planned antipiracy measures in its upcoming Windows XP operating system amid fire from critics who say the measures will needlessly hassle innocent users. The change centers on a new feature called Windows Product Activation that asks for a unique code when first using the product, effectively tying the software to a single machine. Intended to prevent users from installing the software on more than one computer, the feature in essence takes a snapshot of hardware components in a user's computer. If the hardware profile changes too drastically, Windows will think it has been installed on a second machine and will stop working until the user calls Microsoft for a new key.But some testers have cried foul, pointing out that some PC users frequently update their machines with new parts like graphics cards or hard drives. There were also concerns that Microsoft could keep tabs on individual PC usage or use the data it gathered during activation for other purposes.

Responding to those concerns, Microsoft will alter Product Activation to allow a certain number of changes to a PC within a certain period of time, Shawn Sanford, group product manager for Windows, said in an interview. Windows XP will look at 10 different hardware components and will let users change four of them within a certain period of time before asking for reactivation, Sanford said. Microsoft was still deciding over what time frame the changes would be allowed. If four or fewer changes are made within that time, no reactivation will be required, and once that time passes, more changes can be made, Sanford said. "We haven't quite figured out what the right period is, 60 days, 90 days, six months, but once you get past that time period, the slate wipes clean," Sanford said. In the event reactivation is needed, users will still have to dial a support line to receive a new code to restart Windows. Sanford promised the process would be painless.

Microsoft Will Not Support Java In Windows XP

Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla said the company decided not to include support for the language so it wouldn't violate a legal settlement agreement. Java maker Sun Microsystems in January settled a lawsuit it brought against Microsoft three years ago in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, charging Redmond-based Microsoft with infringing a licensing agreement to use Java. Sun alleged that Microsoft violated the terms of an agreement signed in 1996 by creating a Windows-only version of Java that was incompatible with other software. Sun also claimed copyright infringement, but a judge later dismissed that part of the claim. Under an agreement, Microsoft agreed to no longer license from Sun any current or new versions of Java, but it would have been allowed to distribute products carrying outdated versions of the Java technology for seven years. "In the wake of the settlement agreement with Sun and the resolution of that litigation, this approach simplifies our implementation and adherence of that agreement," Pilla said. In light of the settlement agreement, which gave Microsoft just seven years to phase out Java, he said the decision should come as no surprise. "The reality is that (Java) represents a lot of code that the vast majority of users don't need," Pilla said. Pilla denied that the move was aimed at phasing out support for Java in Microsoft applications. He said Windows XP users will be able to easily download Java off a Microsoft update site if they come across a software application running on Java.

CD's With Built-In Copy Protection Are Now Being Sold

For the last several months, consumers in ordinary record stores around the world have unwittingly been buying CDs that include technology designed to prevent them from making copies on their PCs. According to Macrovision, the company that has provided the technology to several major music labels, the test has been going on for four to six months. Although it's not disclosing just which titles have been loaded with the technology, at least one has sold close to 100,000 copies, the company said. Although the labels can do little to stop consumers from "ripping," or digitally copying, the hundreds of millions of old CDs already on the market, they are looking for ways to protect new releases, which constitute the bulk of their annual sales. If the Macrovision tests prove successful and the technology is widely adopted, the ability to create personal music collections on PCs, or to create mixed CDs from purchased CDs, may significantly diminish. Analysts say this is particularly likely if the labels finally start selling protected downloads online. Record companies have toyed with protecting CDs against copying for several years. But the technology is a difficult one, because anything added to a CD risks degrading the sound on an ordinary CD player to the point where audiophiles--or even ordinary consumers--start complaining.

Previous efforts have largely foundered. A BMG Music trial in Germany was scrapped after many consumers said the copy-protected discs would not play on their CD players. An album release by country artist Charley Pride earlier this year misfired when unprotected versions were released in some markets, allowing songs from the CD to seep onto file-swapping networks. The Macrovision tests are based on a technology acquired from Israeli company TTR Technologies. Rather than blocking copying altogether, the technology introduces some digital distortion into a file. Macrovision says this is all but inaudible when a CD is played through an ordinary CD player, but when a song is copied into digital format on a PC's hard drive, the distortion shows up as annoying "clicks and pops" in the music. The company said it and the labels are in large part testing to see if the changes in the audio are audible to consumers. Reports so far have turned up no significantly higher number of CD returns or consumer complaints, a spokeswoman said.

Thursday July 19, 2001 Top

Microsoft Shows Off New Macintosh Products

Microsoft on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to the Mac, by offering details about a new version of Office, announcing a new streaming media client and releasing revamped instant messenger software.Kevin Browne, general manager of Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, introduced the products during a Macworld Expo keynote address in New York. Microsoft's increased Mac support comes at an important time for Apple Computer, which in September will release a key update to Mac OS X. This year, the focus is supporting Mac OS X, particularly with Office 10. "We want to make sure this product could be held up as a poster child for Mac OS X," Browne said. Microsoft still hasn't finalized the name for Office for Mac OS X. "We're working to close up all of branding issues right now," Browne said. "So we're working with the Office 10 code name for right now."

Browne refused to nail down a delivery date for Office 10, which includes four applications: Word; the Excel spreadsheet; Entourage e-mail, calendaring and contact software; and a PowerPoint presentation program. "We're still saying the fall for the delivery date, but we're going to get more specific on that down the road," Browne said. On Thursday, the company made MSN Messenger 2.0 available for download. The new messaging client is a major overhaul supporting Mac OS X and offering up new features not even available to most Windows MSN Messenger users. The software also runs on older Mac OS versions. Still MSN Messenger will deliver to Mac users a taste of Windows users' future. MSN Messenger 2.0 offers many features only found in the testing version of Windows XP.

"It's feature-for-feature compatible with the Windows Messenger client shipping with Windows XP in the fall," Browne said. "It offers full Passport support and is powered by Microsoft's .Net Messenger service. It also features the .Net Messenger Alerts you probably heard about with the HailStorm announcement." Microsoft also is completing Windows Media Player for Mac OS X, which "is fully native, fully Aqua adapted," Browne said. "We do see Windows Media Player as very important and serving the function of unlocking content Mac users can't get today." The product is not yet ready for delivery, and Browne would not give a date more specific than "soon."

Update on the Stripping of Java from Windows XP

Sun Microsystems said it is "disappointed" by Microsoft's decision to not include Java software in its Windows XP and Internet Explorer products, although analysts said the move could help Sun in the long run. On the surface, removing Java from Windows XP looks like a blow to Sun, cutting off an important distribution channel for Java. But Microsoft's practice of shipping outdated copies of the software has slowed the distribution of more recent and faster versions of Java, analysts said, and has hurt the software's reputation. While that would appear to be entirely bad news for Sun, it could also solve a major headache for the company: Microsoft currently includes outdated JVM copies included with Windows, Internet Explorer and other software that can cause problems for people using Java. "Microsoft is doing Sun a big favor," said Peter O'Kelly, an analyst with Patricia Seybold Group. "If you were Sun, you could go to Dell, IBM or Compaq and ask them to put copies of the virtual machine on their systems. They could download future JVMs from Sun, cutting Microsoft completely out of the picture." Indeed, Sun spokesman David Harrah said the company is "working with every conceivable way of distributing the JVM we can," including trying to persuade computer makers to pre-install the software.

However, Microsoft's decision hurts Sun's efforts to spread the software. "We would like everybody to use Java. We continue to feel that it would be better to have Microsoft distribute it than not. We're upset. We're disappointed." Sun countered, though, that the move hurts ordinary people who use Windows computers. "It's clearly a move intended to hurt...the millions who use the Java platform," Harrah said. But because most users get Java software either with the Web browser or operating systems--two segments where Microsoft is the market leader--"they get the older version and probably don't bother to upgrade," said Technology Business Research analyst Bob Sutherland. While it does not ship with a JVM, Windows XP does support Java. The operating system will work with JVMs currently installed on users machines, with new versions of the Sun JVM that are downloaded, and with JVMs distributed with other programs, such as AOL Time Warner's Netscape 6.1. The Sun JVM download also is 5 megabytes in size, which could inconvenience some people, particularly those with dial-up connections. Harrah predicted that 90 percent of computer users will balk when confronted with a dialog box informing them they'll need to download additional software in order to run some program.

"Code Red" Virus Has the Possibilty To Slow the Internet

An analysis of the fast-spreading "Code Red" computer worm reveals that infected computers are programmed to attack the White House Web site with a denial-of-service attack Thursday evening, potentially slowing parts of the Internet to a crawl. The worm has compromised more than 100,000 English-language servers running Microsoft's Web server software as of late Thursday. In addition, each of those infected computers are expected to flood the address with data starting at 5 p.m. PDT, according to an analysis by network-protection company eEye Digital Security. While the direct target of the worm's denial-of-service attack is, the indirect effect is that an avalanche of data will hit the Net. Each infection--a server can be infected at least three times--will send 400MB of data every four hours or so, possibly leading to a massive packet storm. "That's what I mean when I say, 'Boom!'" said Marc Maiffret, chief hacking officer of eEye. "If this goes along what it's looking like, parts of the Net will go down." He noted, though, that the code could have an error that causes the worm "to screw up and not work right."

Already, there are are reports that the worm's propagation is causing performance problems for some companies connected to the Internet. According to data from Internet performance company, the root domain servers--the central databases connecting numerical Net addresses to Web names--are showing 20 percent packet loss. That indicates a substantial increase in data flowing across the Net. According to the eEye analysis, when the coordinated universal time hits midnight on Friday morning--5 p.m. Thursday--every worm infection will start sending nearly 400MB of data every four hours. An apparent side effect of the worm seems to crash several varieties of DSL routers and higher-end network routers that direct data around the Internet, according to posts on the Bugtraq mailing list maintained by SecurityFocus. While apparently not an intended consequence of the worm, the problems could exacerbate the bandwidth problems once the data flood starts. In June, eEye found the security vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Information Server that is being used by the worm. Known as the index-server flaw, the security hole was detailed and patched by Microsoft more than a month ago. Although system administrators have had more than a month to plug the hole, a large number have not.

Microsoft Begins to Attack Parts of Latest Antitrust Decision

Microsoft on Wednesday petitioned an appeals court to rehear part of its antitrust case. The Redmond, Wash.-based company asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to readdress the finding that combining the Internet Explorer Web browser with Microsoft's Windows operating system violated antitrust law. "Through this petition we are making a good-faith attempt to seek clarification on the issue of commingling," the company said in a statement. "This issue is important not only to Microsoft, but the industry as a whole, so we are asking for the court's guidance on this matter." The company said it "believes there is no basis for the District Court's finding on commingling" and is "requesting the appeals court to review the record once more." Microsoft's 12-page petition comes just a few days after the government asked the Court of Appeals to move the case forward without waiting for any petition for rehearing. Microsoft had 10 days to respond to that request. "We conclude that such commingling has an anticompetitive effect," the ruling states. "The commingling deters (PC makers) from pre-installing rival browsers, thereby reducing the rivals' usage share and, hence, developers' interest in rivals' APIs (application programming interfaces) as an alternative to the API set exposed by Microsoft's operating system." While Microsoft had argued that combining Internet Explorer with Windows was a pro-competitive act offering benefits to users, the appeals court disagreed.

Commercial Version of Divx Nears Completion

A new version of the Divx video codec is online, helping to push the once-underground technology further toward a split personality. The Divx video codec, distributed by Los Angeles company DivxNetworks, is still best known online as one of the most popular ways to encode high-quality pirated videos and movies. Codecs are the mathematical codes that compress large audio files into smaller, more usable packages that can be streamed or downloaded over the Web. But the technology's creators are boosting the video format as a way to do professional film encoding and video-on-demand services, with funding from several high-profile venture capitalists.

The new release is a 4.0 beta, or test, version of the video technology. The company promises faster encoding and decoding, better resolution, and compatibility with all previous versions of the technology. While still in its final debugging stage, the 4.0 version will serve as the core of DivxNetworks' commercial release later this year, a spokesman said. No partners have been announced, but the company says it has secured several content providers interested in using the video technology for video-on-demand services later this year. The commercial version of the video-on-demand product, which will include anti-copying technology in part developed by Divx programmers, will be released in the third quarter of 2000, a spokesman said.

Friday July 20, 2001 Top

New "SirCam" Virus Classified as Severe by Symantec

Security experts warned Friday of a fast-spreading new worm that could delete files and fill up the hard drives of infected computers.The worm, "W32.Sircam" or "SirCam," arrives attached to an e-mail message with a randomly chosen subject line, according to a report prepared by the AntiVirus Research Center of software maker Symantec. The body of the message is also randomly chosen, although the first and last lines are always "Hi! How are you?" and "See you later. Thanks" in the English version of the message and "Hola como estas?" and "Nos vemos pronto, gracias" in the Spanish version. Once activated, the virus sends copies of itself to all e-mail addresses in the computer's Microsoft Outlook address book. The sent e-mail message also includes a randomly chosen document from the infected computer. The worm has several unusual aspects, according to Symantec, including the fact that it resides in the recycle bin of the infected PC, where people may not think to search for it.

The worm is also "network aware," Symantec reported, meaning it will search for network resources and attempt to propagate itself to attached systems. Symantec's AntiVirus Research Center classified the worm as a "severe" threat. It said several hundred computers at a handful of sites had been infected with the worm as of Thursday evening. Antivirus-software maker McAfee classified the worm as a "medium" risk and said 1,418 infected files had been reported in the last 30 days. "I think this is going to keep going at least for the next week," said Alex Shipp, anti-virus researcher for e-mail-service firm MessageLabs. "The fact that it does have different subject lines and different file names will help it grow." So far, the growth has been slow but sure, he said. On Wednesday, the company had encountered only a handful of virus-infected e-mails every hour. As of late Friday, however, there were nearly 100 every hour.

Western Digital Announces 80 Gig Firewire Hard Drive

Today at the Macworld Conference & Expo, July 18 - 20 at Jacob P. Javits Center in New York, Western Digital Corp. introduced the storage industry's highest performance 80 GB FireWire external hard drive. The new hard drive provides a quick and easy way to add storage in a space-efficient, stackable enclosure compatible with Macintosh and PC computers. Designed with Western Digital's 7,200 RPM WD Caviar drive and a new UDMA 66 1394 bridge card, this product is three times faster than previous WD models in terms of transfer rate.The 80 GB FireWire external drive is ideal for storing the mass data generated by digital video editing, digital camcorders, digital cameras, scanners and digital music collections and is a quick solution for backing up an internal hard drive in one step, on one drive. Hot swap capabilities allow users to share files between computers and provide easy connection of the new peripherals without turning the computer off.

"With the increasing popularity of data-rich applications, including the management of large data files and digital music, video and photography, WD's FireWire external hard drives provide the ideal, simple, storage solution," said Richard E. Rutledge, vice president of marketing for Western Digital. "Users can add mass amounts of high-performance storage by simply adding these plug and play external hard drives. If even more storage is desired, the drives stack together and can be daisy-chained."WD's FireWire external hard drives, available in capacities of 30, 60 and 80 GB, provide additional storage that can be easily detached from the computer and locked up for security, or shared from computer to computer. Widespread availability of WD's 80 GB FireWire external hard drives is expected in late August through Western Digital's retail partners, Internet resellers including catalog partners, selected distributors, and the Company's online store. Manufacturer's suggested retail price for WD's 80 GB FireWire Drive is $379.

Microsoft Tries to Stop Open Source Version of .Net

A fledgling effort to replicate Microsoft's .Net architecture on Linux, called Mono, could quickly become mired in intellectual property difficulties. Tony Goodhew, a program manager in Microsoft's developer products group, has warned that licensing problems might result if open source code is mixed with Microsoft's .Net software. The Mono project founders plan to exploit key .Net technology specifications that Microsoft has submitted to standards body ECMA. However, Goodhew said ECMA allows technology submitters to license their intellectual property, to retain control over implementation. Goodhew said Microsoft will publish licence terms covering "all the intellectual property we believe will be required to implement [the core dot-Net] standard" prior to the ECMA general assembly in December. However, Jan van den Beld, ECMA secretary general, said the licence would cover only Microsoft's own implementation, not the standard itself. "There are no known rights owned by Microsoft that would require a licensing agreement," he said. Miguel de Icaza, Mono's founder, said, "The consensus is that [Microsoft] could stop someone from implementing the specs by using patents. [But] nothing in dot-Net is really innovative, so it would be simple to use alternative non-patented approaches."

ATI Announces Radeon VE Mac Edition

ATI Technologies Inc. today announced availability of the RADEON VE MAC EDITION graphics card for Apple users. Based on ATI's highly integrated, cost-effective and award-winning RADEON VE chip, RADEON VE MAC EDITION is specifically designed to provide dual-display capability, enabling any combination of VGA (video graphics array), DVI (digital visual interface) and TV. Featuring 32MB (megabytes) of DDR (double data rate) memory and ATI's patented HYPER Z technology, RADEON VE MAC EDITION delivers excellent 2D and 3D performance. Additional ATI features such as VIDEO IMMERSION and support of industry standards like OpenGL and QuickTime, ensure that the RADEON VE MAC EDITION delivers excellent value for its price range, and meets the needs of the mainstream PCI Mac market. RADEON VE MAC EDITION's support for dual independent displays allows users to set their system up with two CRT's (cathode ray tubes, or analog monitors) or a CRT and DFP (digital flat panel monitor) or a DFP and a TV.

This multi-monitor capability increases productivity by doubling screen space, making multitasking easier. Users can read email on one screen while working on a spreadsheet on the other or reference the Internet on one screen while writing an essay on the other. Multi-monitor capability can take advantage of extra, unused monitors that can be found in many homes, essentially doubling screen space without having to purchase a new, larger monitor or an additional video card. RADEON VE MAC EDITION is ideal for mainstream Mac users, both at work and at home. For the corporate market, RADEON VE MAC EDITION features solid 2D capabilities. For the home, RADEON VE MAC EDITION delivers solid 3D performance, integrated TV out and ATI's VIDEO IMMERSION technology for industry-leading video playback. RADEON VE MAC EDITION supports both Mac OS 9.x and OS X. RADEON VE MAC EDITION, with connectors for traditional CRT monitors, flat panel displays and TV out, features 32 MB of DDR memory and multi-monitor support. Boards will ship in September 2001 and will have a MSRP of (US) $129.

Microsoft Files Motion to Delay Antitrust Appeal

Microsoft on Friday filed a motion opposing a government request to speed its antitrust appeal. The Justice Department and 18 states last week asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to forgo the normal waiting period before returning the case to a lower court. Otherwise, the government would have to wait 52 days from the appellate court's June 28 decision. The move was seen as possibly clearing the way for the government to seek injunctions that could delay the scheduled Oct. 25 release of Windows XP, the company's new operating system. In Friday's filing, Microsoft asked the Court of Appeals to "deny plaintiffs' motion for immediate issuance of the mandate"--the order returning the case to the lower court. The Redmond, Wash.-based company asked that the court stay for seven days action in that case after rendering a decision on the petition for rehearing.

Microsoft said it is still considering whether to seek a Supreme Court review of the case. The government in its legal brief last week said that, at this juncture, it would not seek Supreme Court review of the case. Microsoft spokesman Vivek Varma said settlement is Microsoft's top priority. "As we move forward with the logical next steps in the legal process, we remain committed to working with the government to resolve the remaining issues in this case through settlement," Varma said. "This filing asks for a limited time period for Microsoft to address legal issues related to the Court of Appeals decision."

Weekend July 21 & 22, 2001 Top

Tech Radio Leaves the Air

If your tech person and you live in the DC area you have probably heard of Tech Radio. The show that had been on 2-5 Saturday afternoons was the most recent casualty of changes at radio station WJFK. The members of the show decided to quit doing the show after they were giving the 12-3 Sunday morning time slot during Redskins's football. The members of the show have expressed there wish to find a new station to do the show on. We are putting together a page in memorial of the show, if you have any clips from the show please send them in. Tech Radio Retrospective Page

Nvidia Discusses the GeForce2 MX Featured in the New PowerMacs

"Today, Apple launched the new Power Mac G4 complete with NVIDIA's TwinView capabilities, shifting the way end-users interact with their computers and monitors," said Jeff Fisher, vice president of worldwide sales at NVIDIA. "Our TwinView functionality is the perfect complement to Apple's Power Mac desktops and its family of matching displays-bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers alike.""The Power Mac G4, with its power, expandability and leading-edge digital solutions, is the system of choice for serious graphics professionals," said Philip Schiller, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "With NVIDIA's TwinView functionality for dual-monitor support, Apple's new Power Mac G4 gives the pro something they value highly--more screen real estate to be creative." This is the first time that NVIDIA's GeForce2 MX is being offered on all standard retail configurations of Power Mac G4, including dual monitor support via TwinView.  TwinView enables exciting display alternatives.

For example, a user could configure a Mac to surf the web on their primary monitor while simultaneously watching a DVD movie on a television screen. Based on the award-winning GeForce2 architecture, the GeForce2 MX GPU with TwinView ensures razor-sharp, crystal-clear 2D graphics, even at extreme resolutions as high as 2048 x 1536, in 32-bit color on a primary display screen. The GeForce2 MX GPU also offers advanced 3D performance by delivering over 25 million sustained triangles per second and 800 million texels per second.In addition to blazingly fast 2D and 3D graphics, GeForce2 MX provides unparalleled display flexibility with its new TwinView display architecture. Through TwinView, GeForce2 MX supports a dizzying array of multi-display configurations. Various combinations of multiple monitors, flat panels, and TVs can be connected to a single GeForce2 MX GPU. TwinView even supports two independent digital flat panels, an industry first, providing relief for severely constrained desktop environments.

Connectix Releases Beta of Virtual PC for OS X

During Apple CEO Steve Jobs' Macworld New York keynote yesterday, Kurt Schmucker, Connectix's vice president of Product Manager, demoed a "technology preview" of Virtual PC running on Mac OS X. Schmucker showed AutoCAD, an engineering application not available for the Mac, running in VPC on Mac OS X. Registered users of Virtual PC 4.0 can download the Virtual PC Test Drive for Mac OS X from the Connectix Web site. The Virtual PC Test Drive is a timed-out early preview of Virtual PC 4.0 running on Mac OS X that will expire on Jan. 31, 2002. "The Test Drive demonstrates our strong commitment to the Mac market and to our Virtual PC customers. Its goal is to allow Virtual PC customers to prepare for their migration to Mac OS X," said Mitchell Cipriano, Connectix vice president of marketing, "By providing these early Mac OS X users with the VPC Test Drive and the user forum for feedback and discussion, these users will influence the future direction of Virtual PC and Connectix will be able to deliver a better product for Mac OS X."

Some features of Virtual PC 4.0 are limited or not yet implemented in the Virtual PC Test Drive. There is not yet full USB implementation. Any USB devices that require drivers won't work under Test Drive. And while Shared IP is implemented for networking, Unique IP Address isn't. Both of these will be ready by the finished version, Cipriano said. Cipriano said that porting Virtual PC to Mac OS X wasn't too difficult. About 80 percent of the Carbonized version has the same code as the previous version. "We're working to get it to run fast and make it integrate the way customers expect it to run," Cipriano said. "That's the hard part."

Imation Announces Set of Portable Storage Products

Imation Corp. will feature its complete portfolio of personal storage solutions offerings in Booth #1601 during Macworld Expo at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in New York, July 18-20, 2001. The show highlights Imation's expanding product portfolio of personal storage solutions offering—including digital devices, drives, media, and accessories. Among its storage media offerings at the show, Imation will preview Imation DataPlay™ digital media—the affordable, miniature optical media the size of a quarter. Imation DataPlay digital media is designed to let users download and record 500MB of digital content—music, books, games, computer files—on a single disc and play it back on any DataPlay-enabled device, such as digital music players, e-books, portable games or digital cameras. A single disc is capable of holding a staggering amount of information, whether it's hours of music, hundreds of photographs or volumes of written information, all with an estimated archival life of 100 years.

In addition, Imation will preview the Imation FlashGO! device, the world's first USB single-slot flash memory card reader/write that supports all five flash memory card formats, including Compact Flash, Smart Media, Multimedia Card, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick, and is also compatible with IBM's Microdrive. This bus-powered device allows multi-device owners to rely on one read/writer for all their memory card digital information download and upload needs. By combining the speed of FireWire with the vast storage capacity of Travan™ technology, the Travan FireWire 20GB Tape Drive for the Mac or PC delivers a world-class solution for backing up digital video, graphics and other storage-intensive applications. Designed for digital video and graphic art professionals, the Travan FireWire 20GB Tape drive is ideal for backing up "in-process" files as well as archiving completed projects. Additionally, the 20GB compressed capacity provides the perfect solution for backing up high capacity hard drives without the user intervention required with lower capacity removable media products.

Apple Continues to Try to Destroy the "Megahertz Myth"

In an October conference call with analysts, Jobs said the company would unveil machines with faster G4 processors in an effort to close the "megahertz gap" with Intel chips during the first half of 2001 and would look to "make substantial progress in the remainder of the year." Although Apple has indeed introduced faster machines, including an 867MHz Power Mac on Wednesday, Intel's chips now run at up to 1.8GHz--or more than double the clock speed of the fastest Mac. Perhaps as a result, Apple is again making the pitch that megahertz doesn't matter and that its machines are still faster at the tasks many people perform. During Wednesday's Macworld Expo keynote speech, Apple did some now familiar demos showing its chips outperforming the fastest Intel Pentium 4 at tasks such as video and photo editing. However, to further drive home the point, Jobs brought out Apple hardware guru Jon Rubinstein to get into some of the nitty-gritty of chip design, including latencies and dependencies that can slow chips down.

Apple said it is not giving up the effort to close the gap with Intel, even as it works to educate consumers that megahertz is not the only measure of performance. "We try to do both at the same time," Apple Vice President Phil Schiller told CNET "We want to do what we can to close the gap of perception with (regard to) megahertz," Schiller added. At the same time, he noted that Apple's speed increases for the Power Mac are among the largest ever in terms of the number of megahertz. Until Wednesday, the Power Macs ranged in speed from 466MHz to 733MHz. The machines now range from 733MHz to 867MHz. Analysts praised Apple for trying but questioned its effectiveness. "It was important to get the message out, but I think it fell flat by the looks of the crowd," said Michael Silver, a Gartner analyst. Added Chris LeTocq, an analyst at Guernsey Research: "I think they got closer this time, but they missed the punch line."

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