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Week of March 18, 2001 News Archive

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Weekend

Monday March 19, 2001 Top

Microsoft Releases Details on HailStorm

The software giant unveiled a set of software building blocks, grouped under the code name HailStorm, for its .Net software-as-a-service strategy . Along with HailStorm, Microsoft marshaled out new versions of its Web-based Hotmail e-mail service, MSN Messenger Service, and Passport authentication service. The Redmond, Wash.-based software company is positioning HailStorm as way of enticing developers to create XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based Web services deliverable to a variety of PC and non-PC devices such as handhelds and Web appliances. Microsoft envisions HailStorm as a way for consumers and business customers to access their data--calendars, phone books, address lists--from any location and on any device. That model closely mirrors AOL's model by which members access AOL's service via a PC, handheld, or a set-top box to retrieve their personal information.

Microsoft on Monday also disclosed five development partners for its .Net plan, including eBay, which announced its partnership last week. eBay and Microsoft entered into a strategic technology exchange that includes turning the eBay API (application programming interface) into a .Net service. Microsoft said it plans to tap end users--consumers and business customers--as the primary source of revenue from HailStorm services. The move could market a dramatic shift in how Microsoft delivers Internet services, which for the most part, have been free. The company envisions HailStorm as helping to move the Web to an end-user subscription model in which consumers pay to use a service. While advertising has generally subsidized Web content, Microsoft views that as a flawed model in terms of profitability and privacy. Microsoft chose this approach in part because of Internet privacy concerns. The software maker is betting it can not only provide tools that better protect privacy but return control of personal data back to individuals.

MPEG-4 Gets Increased Support From Two Major Technolgy Companies

Philips Electronics said Monday it plans to expand cooperation with Sun Microsystems on MPEG-4 data compression technology. The two companies have signed a non-binding agreement to share technology that will make it easier to swap broadband media such as video or film between a wider range of their products. The firms have already demonstrated how MPEG-4 content, encoded by Philips' WebCine Encoder, can be transferred to a Sun Enterprise server and then replayed over the network to a variety of clients, it added. MPEG-4 technology, the successor to MPEG-2, is a standard to shrink the size of multimedia files so that interactive video services can be transmitted more quickly to computers, mobile devices and television set-top boxes.

Newer Technologys Improve Quality of "Video On Demand"

The root of the problem with streaming video is data intensive, requiring significant bandwidth to operate smoothly. To obtain a high-quality streaming video experience, users must have access to a high-bandwidth, uninterrupted connection. The geographic distance between streaming source and user also affects the video's quality. For companies with hundreds or even thousands of workers scattered in dozens of locations on three or four continents, the costs of multiple, dedicated T1 or T3 lines would be prohibitive. Recently, companies offering content delivery networks (CDN) have emerged to improve consumers' experience with streaming media. The CDNs use a method called "edge networking," which places streaming content physically closer to users. The result is a higher quality, more reliable stream.

AOL Accidentally Block Some EarthLink Customers Emails

Hundreds of thousands of e-mails sent by EarthLink customers to America Online accounts were rejected and lost over a period spanning at least 10 days, EarthLink said Monday. A representative for the Internet service unit of AOL Time Warner said software designed to restrict junk e-mail, or spam, was to blame. He said the problem was brought to EarthLink's attention Wednesday after some of its customers complained that e-mail sent to AOL accounts was not reaching intended recipients--and no error message was returned. AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said the trouble was not limited to material from EarthLink. Weinstein said the problem was caused by anti-spam software that detects large amounts of mail from an account and then blocks material from that server. He declined to discuss how the system could be altered to discern spam from large, legitimate mailings. EarthLink said about 5 percent of its 10 million to 20 million daily e-mails go to AOL but that the problem affected only messages from the 60 percent of its customers with accounts. EarthLink also operates and addresses, having purchased both companies.

Adobe Premiere 6 For The Mac Will Soon Support Real-Time Video Editing

Premiere 6.0, Adobe Systems' digital video editing software, will now support real-time digital video editing on the Macintosh, Adobe said Monday. Macintosh owners, however, must still wait to use the time-saving software until Apple QuickTime 5 and real-time hardware cards are released this spring from companies such as Matrox Digital Video Solutions and ProMax Systems. "Rather than having to wait for the computer to make the change, you're doing it in real-time and you're seeing your changes as you go," said Adobe spokeswoman Cara Broglia. "This will be the first time that people on the Mac will be able to do this in real time." Adobe Premiere has offered real-time video editing on PCs for several years.

Tuesday March 20, 2001 Top

Intel Releases 900-MHz Xeon, Next Quarter 1.4 GHz Xeon Will Be Released

Intel on Tuesday released a 900-MHz Xeon processor for servers, the last member of the chip family that will be based on the Pentium III design. The new chip contains a 2MB secondary cache, a reservoir of memory close to the processor for quick data access. Most Xeon and Pentium chips contain a secondary cache of only 256KB. Although Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel comes out with a new desktop chip every couple of months, server and workstation chips are released on a more gradual schedule. Typically, corporate customers don't want frequent upgrades because of the time and expense involved in testing equipment before installation. As a result, Intel's last Xeon with a large cache came out about nine months ago. That chip runs at 700MHz and comes with 1MB or 2MB of secondary cache. The company will not be coming out with a 1MB cache version of the 900MHz chip.

The new chip also creates a high-water mark for Pentium III technology in the Xeon line. In the second quarter, Intel will debut "Foster," a new Xeon chip based on the Pentium 4 core. Foster will run at 1.4GHz. Initial versions will be used in one- and two-processor workstations while Foster processors coming later in the year will be used in eight-processor servers. Xeon chips are based on the same basic processor core as Intel's desktop and laptop chips, but the processors contain enhancements. In quantities of 1,000, the chips cost $3,692 each. The new Xeon is shipping to manufacturers, and servers will appear shortly.

HP Releases Four New "Internet Ready" Printers

Each of the four new models comes equipped with various Internet features, including abilities to remotely manage printers and supplies, print directly from wireless devices and scan documents directly to the Web. Of the four models, the Laser Jet 4100 is the most sophisticated. Targeted at large and medium-size businesses, it contains an embedded Web server and an embedded virtual machine. These technologies allow an administrator to access and control the printer from any Web browser by typing in the URL of the machine. This printer will also automatically notify an administrator by e-mail in the event of a problem. This machine, which replaced the HP LaserJet 4050, retails for $1,099.

The LaserJet 2200, targeted for small and medium-size business, comes with a built-in infrared port that allows people to point a handheld computer at the machine and print. This model, which replaced the LaserJet 1100, retails for $799. The other two models, the LaserJet 1220 and 3200, come with an optional snap-on scanner module, which allows people to scan a document directly to an e-mail message or Web site. The 3200 model also comes with a fax machine. The 1220 model retails for $529; the 3200 sells for $599.

Intel Switching Wireless Technology For Home Use

Intel, one of the first companies to sell technology that allows consumers to wirelessly connect their home computers to the Net, previously supported a wireless standard called HomeRF that is backed by Compaq Computer, Motorola, Proxim, Siemens and others. Now the giant chipmaker is supporting Wi-Fi, or 802.11B, a wireless standard backed by Apple Computer, Cisco Systems, 3Com, Lucent Technologies, and dozens of others. Analysts say the about-face by Intel gives Wi-Fi an edge to win out as the standard in the home. Analysts had previously predicted that Wi-Fi stands a better chance to become the standard in the home because it's the standard used in businesses. Hotels and airports are also installing Wi-Fi.

Dan Sweeney, general manager of Intel's home-networking operation, said it no longer made sense to support HomeRF. The company already builds wireless networking kits for businesses that support Wi-Fi, so supporting one single standard will allow workers to go home and have their work laptops easily connect to a wireless home network. Intel executives say they will continue to sell its HomeRF products that move data at 1.6mbps (megabits per second). But its next-generation Intel "AnyPoint" product, available as early as July, will support the much faster Wi-Fi technology that moves data at 11mbps. HomeRF supporters disagree, saying the next-generation HomeRF standard that reaches the same speeds as Wi-Fi is still on track and that companies such as Proxim plan to ship new products in the second half of this year.

Seagate Releases Two New High-End Hard Drives

Hard-drive manufacturer Seagate unveiled on Wednesday two new models for the business market. Seagate announced the Cheetah X15-36LP a 15,000rpm drive that comes with Ultra320 SCSI and 2-gigabit Fibre Channel interfaces. The X15-36LP will come in 18GB and 36GB capacities and will cost $395 and $750, respectively, when they become available in the second quarter of 2001. Seagate also announced the Cheetah 36ES for entry-level business use. The drive will spin at 10,000rpm and come in 18GB and 36GB capacities for $335 and $550, respectively. The 36ES is also expected to be available in the second quarter.

Details Of What Will Be Missing When Mac OS X is Released Saturday

The next-generation Mac OS X, which will be available at retail stores and Web sites Saturday, will not support CD-rewritable, DVD or DVD-recording drives, though the company will try to incorporate such functions in later versions. Sources have previously said the new OS will not permit DVD playback or recording, but its inability to record CDs was not clear until now. Even if Apple delivers an accompanying version of its iTunes digital music software, as is expected, Mac owners will not be able to burn CDs using it, according to sources who have tried the new operating system. Apple had indicated that a downloadable version of iTunes would add CD-rewritable abilities, but one developer who asked not to be identified said: "The software hooks for the hardware simply are not there."

Consumers who buy the new OS will get a free copy of Mac OS 9.1, which comes on a separate CD with the new operating system. By using Mac OS 9.1, they will be able to run older Mac applications and burn CDs. To do so, however, they will need to shut down a computer running Mac OS X and restart it in the older OS. However, any software that must access hardware, such as Apple's recently released Final Cut Pro 2 and some other video-editing programs, apparently has problems. Classic mode, testers say, does not fully support internal or external hardware. The only way to use Final Cut Pro 2 and other hardware-dependent software is to reboot back to Mac OS 9.1, testers say. The same is true for burning music or video discs or watching DVD movies.

Wednesday March 21, 2001 Top

Logitech Introduces New Optical Cordless Mouse

Logitech today marked another milestone in mouse technology with the introduction of Cordless MouseMan Optical, the long-anticipated mouse that offers both optical precision and cordless freedom. With no ball to clean and no cables to tangle, Cordless MouseMan Optical combines the two hottest features in today's mouse market. The product is scheduled to ship in early April and will be available at retail outlets worldwide and online for $69.95. In bringing Cordless MouseMan Optical to market, Logitech joined forces with Agilent Technologies, the inventor of the optical sensor, to create a proprietary optical chip that features a three-month battery life and 800 dots-per-inch (DPI) resolution -- twice the resolution of current optical sensors -- for greater accuracy on any surface. This optical chip was key in the development of Cordless MouseMan Optical, since an optical sensor requires an enormous amount of energy in order to capture 1,500 pictures per second of the surface, while a cordless radio-based device likewise needs energy for transmitting the signal between mouse and receiver.

In order to sustain its battery life, Cordless MouseMan Optical's power-saving system utilizes four modes of power consumption to conserve energy while in use, while its software allows the user to easily check battery life. The software also includes a low battery-life indicator to inform the user in advance when the battery should be changed. All of Logitech's mice include MouseWare software, with its innovative WebWheel feature that provides instant Internet access at the touch of a button. The receiver uses either a USB or a PS/2 interface and is compatible with Windows 3.X, Windows 95 and 98, Windows 2000 and Windows Millennium Edition, as well as Macintosh 8.6 or later operating systems.
Press Release

With Release of Mac OS X, Likely Return To Dual Processors For High End Macs

Though Mac OS X will probably influence Apple Computer's hardware designs for some time to come, one of the first effects is likely to be a return to equipping high-end machines with more than one processor. Apple introduced dual-processor Power Macs at last July's Macworld Expo in New York. The move was not well-received, even though the machines were priced at the same level Apple had been charging for a similarly equipped single-processor machine. Analysts criticized the lack of built-in support for more than one chip under Mac OS 9, and Apple said more users than it had expected opted for Apple's cheapest Power Mac, its only single-chip model at the time.

Apple pulled back somewhat, introducing Power Macs in January with a single, faster chip . A dual-processor machine remained an option from Apple's online store, and Apple executives hinted at the time that it was more a temporary retreat than a long-term shift in strategy. The arrival this week of the new Mac operating system, Mac OS X, brings added support for machines with multiple processors. The new operating system contains built-in support for symmetric multiprocessing--dividing most computing work between two or more chips.

Small Flaw Found in PGP Security

A flaw found by two Czech researchers in the popular OpenPGP digital signature standard is real but relatively minor, Phil Zimmermann, chairman of the open-source group, said Wednesday. "This is not a practical attack," he said. "Your adversary has to be able to modify your private key. That means they have to have access to your computer." Once an attacker has access, there are many other ways they can monitor the system. That makes the attack largely irrelevant, Zimmerman said. Two Czech researchers said Tuesday that they had found a hole in the widely used encryption and digital signature standard known as OpenPGP. They remained silent on the technical details, however, leaving many security experts wondering whether the flaw actually existed. The OpenPGP group, however, was able to reconstruct the attack from the details in the release and confirmed that it does exist. Both Zimmermann and Network Associates criticized The ICZ Group for putting people's security at risk for what amounts to a publicity stunt.

Real Will Bring Out New Platform For Downloading and Playing Computer Games

RealNetworks is putting the finishing touches on RealArcade, a platform for downloading and playing computer games that aims to compete with on- and offline retailers that sell CD-ROM versions of games. The streaming media company announced the product late Tuesday. Developers can download it right away, but it won't be available to consumers for several months. With the new platform, RealNetworks hopes to become one of the largest online companies to try to reach a mainstream audience of game buyers online. RealNetworks will partner with more than 30 game developers and publishers, including Zombie Entertainment, GameHouse, WEB and Daydream Software, for the venture.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs Introduced Mac OS X Today

Jobs took the wraps off Mac OS X during a press conference at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. It is the first complete overhaul of Apple's operating system since the first version came out 17 years ago, and Jobs said the new OS will have a similar life span. The new OS will be sold on its own as of Saturday and later will be included on Macintosh computers. A server version will be released next quarter, potentially expanding Apple's market. The new OS is based on Unix, the same technology at the center of many server operating systems, and adds a new graphical interface. In addition, a feature called Internet Updater will automatically send bug fixes and new features to customers, who will be able to accept or reject the changes. These features are coming soon, Jobs promised. CD recording will come in an update next month, and DVD playback will be available sometime in the spring, he said. Apple's OS X version of iDVD, software that lets people burn DVDs, will come out later this spring or early summer. Putting an operating system together takes time, Jobs said. Companies can wait until everything is perfect or get out early versions and obtain feedback.

The company expects to release this summer an OS X version of Final Cut Pro, a professional video-editing program. When releasing its Windows operating system, Microsoft often adds new features in subsequent "service packs." However, service packs generally concentrate on bug fixes or add secondary features. Apple's new OS goes on sale in stores Saturday for $129. Jobs reiterated that Apple will begin preloading OS X on new computers this summer. He also dismissed reports that Apple has disbanded the development team for its Power Mac G4 Cube.

Thursday March 22, 2001 Top

AMD Releases 1.33Ghz and 1.Ghz Athlons

AMD today announced its continued industry leadership position by introducing the 1.33GHz and 1.3GHz AMD Athlon processors. The 1.33GHz AMD Athlon processor-based platforms with Double Data Rate (DDR) memory outperform the Intel Pentium 4 processor-based platforms by up to 40 percent on a variety of benchmarks, including video encoding, audio, video and image editing, and 3D modeling and animation. "With its innovative and intelligent core design, systems based on the AMD Athlon processor and DDR memory continue to surpass all competitive PC processor systems in overall performance," said Dirk Meyer, group vice president for AMD's Computation Products Group. "The 1.33GHz AMD Athlon processor, in conjunction with DDR memory technology, provides performance unrivaled by any Intel Pentium 4 processor-based platform available in the market today."

With the launch of the 1.33GHz and 1.3GHz AMD Athlon processors and the growth of a long-lasting, stable infrastructure for AMD Socket A processors, AMD continues to take advantage of new technology, like DDR memory. In October 2000, AMD launched the AMD-760 chipset, the world's first commercially available DDR chipset for the PC platform. Since then, infrastructure for DDR has grown to include more than 50 different motherboards, either available or in development, based on four different chipsets from four different manufacturers, including AMD. The 1.33GHz and 1.3GHz AMD Athlon processors are based on the Socket A infrastructure, giving commercial customers a stable and reliable platform to design standardized software images, lowering the total cost of ownership and setting the standard for unparalleled business productivity. Designed to provide tangible performance benefits for users who create digital content, perform engineering or scientific simulations, use 3D modeling, animation, and rendering applications, or carry out complex financial analysis, the 1.33GHz and 1.3GHz AMD Athlon processors give you the all-day, everyday computing power you need.
Press Release

Second Beta of Windows XP Will Be Released Friday

In an interview with eWEEK, Valentine said it was "all systems go" for a Friday release unless a priority one bug, or "show stopper," was found. "But, as of now, there are none of these," he said. Beta two will be released to Microsoft's TechNet site, its MSDN subscribers and the internal standard beta test list, essentially reaching hundreds of thousands of potential beta testers. Corporate customers have criticized Microsoft's launch and marketing of Windows XP, saying the Redmond, Wash., company has done nothing to promote it to them or to explain why it is compelling in this space. Valentine said this was a deliberate strategy, as many of these users had already adopted Windows 2000. "We are intentionally not trying to make a big splash out of it in the business space, because it really isn't all that big a deal," he said.

But in the consumer space XP will be the "new revolution" that Microsoft seeks. "It's not just [Windows] ME version 2.0. It's radically different," Valentine said. Microsoft's goal with XP is to provide users with the best upgrade experience of any OS it has shipped. The home edition of XP will only upgrade 9x machines, while the Professional edition for business users will upgrade 9x machines and NT and Windows 2000 machines. A "very significant" number of home users still ran Windows 95 and 98, while the business mix is about 60 percent on 9x and 40 percent on NT/Windows 2000, Valentine said. He also admitted that Microsoft had created a somewhat confusing message by not delivering the same single code base across both enterprise and consumer Windows products until now.

But Shawn Sanford, group product manager for the Windows client, maintains there are actually a number of compelling new features in XP beta two for corporate users. These include tools for mobile users, new help and support mechanisms, networking configuration around wireless, as well as application and device compatibility, he said. The Remote Desktop feature allows users to access their primary desktop remotely, from home or anywhere on the road. "As long as the desktop into which you are dialing has XP loaded, you can connect to it from a version other than XP," Sanford said. "The idea is that you can always have access to your PC data, which is most compelling to business users." Other upcoming features that will appeal to the enterprise client include remote assistance, where support staff can access, and even take over, a user desktop remotely to find and fix problems. Additional networking features, like zero-configuration wireless technologies built into the operating system, will be found in beta two and post beta two builds, he said.

Beware of Fake Microsoft Digital Certificates

Two digital certificates have been mistakenly issued in Microsoft's name that could be used by virus writers to fool people into running harmful programs, the software giant warned Thursday. According to Microsoft, someone posing as a Microsoft employee tricked VeriSign, which hands out so-called digital signatures, into issuing the two certificates in the software giant's name on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31. Such certificates are critical for businesses and consumers who download patches, updates and other pieces of software from the Internet, because they verify that the software is being supplied from a particular company, such as Microsoft.

A Microsoft security bulletin issued Thursday states that the vulnerability could affect "all customers using Microsoft products." "The certificates could be used to sign programs, ActiveX controls, Office macros, and other executable content," states the bulletin. "Of these, ActiveX controls and Office macros would pose the greatest risk, because the attack scenarios involving them would be the most straightforward." According to Thursday's security bulletin, detecting the phony "Class 3" certificates is fairly straightforward. When people double-click a Web link to install a program, a "Security Warning" dialog box pops up with details of the certificate used to sign the code. The dialog box will appear even on computers where the person had previously said to trust all Microsoft code. People should click the hyperlinked "Microsoft Corporation" name to get more information on the certificate. If the "Valid from" field starts with either a Jan. 29, 2001, date or a Jan. 30, 2001, date, the certificate is fraudulent and the person should not download the software. (The time stamps are a day behind the issuing dates because certificates are based on Greenwich Mean Time.)

Infineon Is Predicted To Settle With Rambus

Transcripts of U.S. District Judge Robert Payne's decision to delay the trial to April 10 suggest the potential for Infineon to seek a settlement "has increased significantly," Morgan Stanley Dean Witter analyst Mark Edelstone said in a report. "The decision to delay the start of the jury trial (in Richmond, Va.) could have serious implications for Infineon's ability to successfully defend itself," Edelstone said in the report. Rambus spokeswoman Kristine Wiseman declined to comment on Edelstone's report. Infineon was not immediately available for comment but, in court documents, has denied it violated the patents. In delaying the trial, Payne required Infineon to search for additional documents and allowed Rambus to conduct a new round of depositions, Edelstone said in the report. The new documents could represent a "smoking gun," and Payne "clearly believes" that the documents "'could affect the defense of the case and the whole issue of infringement,'" Edelstone said in his report, quoting from court documents.

Hailstorm Will Cost Consumers, But For What

The Redmond, Wash.-based software company on Monday unveiled HailStorm, one of the cornerstones of its software-as-a-service initiative known as .Net. HailStorm is a group of services, using Microsoft's Passport authentication technology, meant to provide secure access to e-mail, address lists and other personal data from virtually anywhere via PCs, cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants). The catch? Users of the services will be required to pay a fee to them. Analysts said that if the HailStorm model is widely adopted--and if people will pay a premium for security--the days of ad-subsidized Internet services, such as free e-mail and messaging, may be over. Microsoft executives are confident that the time is right for HailStorm. "There's been a lot of stuff (on the Internet) in the last couple of years that was free and interesting, but people weren't actually willing to pay for it," said Charles Fitzgerald, director of business development in Microsoft's platform strategy group. "We want to pursue a model that lets us deliver a lot more value in an economic fashion so that we all can get paid every two weeks like we're used to."

Microsoft is convinced that the company and its partners can charge for services and content if they deliver value to consumers and businesses. During its HailStorm launch event Monday, Microsoft disclosed five partners using the services. American Express, for one, plans to use Passport to authenticate Internet purchases made with its Blue card. At the same time, the company will utilize MSN Messenger, which also relies on Passport authentication, to alert customers when their bills are due. The instant messenger alerts, which include possible fraudulent-use warnings, would be dispatched to PC, pager or cell phone. "Today, there are roughly 230 million unique monthly users of MSN," Blodget wrote. "However, Microsoft has a billing relationship with only a tiny fraction of these users--specifically, the 4.5 million subscribers to its MSN Internet access service." If Microsoft can establish a billing relationship with these customers, the company could also pitch additional HailStorm services to them, he added. Still, convincing people to pay for services, such as MSN, after getting them for free could be a challenge, even for Microsoft, say analysts.

Friday March 23, 2001 Top

Hardware Manufacturers Working On Built In Copy Protection

Powerhouses such as Intel and IBM are taking early steps toward building antipiracy protections for music, videos and software directly into storage drives, memory cards, chips and other hardware parts. These technologies, some of which are nearing the marketplace, could block a song or any other digital material from being copied or saved--potentially welcome news to record labels and movie studios. A key problem is that partial measures aren't particularly useful. Security locks are foolproof only when all brands of stereos, computers and MP3 players use the same antipiracy technology, leaving consumers little choice but to accept it. When products with no protections have been left on the market, consumers have purchased those instead.

The group has created a technology called CPRM (Content Protection for Recordable Media) that would block certain types of files from being transferred to portable devices such as Zip drives, or microdrives, or the flash memory cards used in MP3 players. A similar specification is designed for prerecorded media such as audio DVDs. The 4C group sparked intense protest by taking their proposal to an industry standards group last year, asking that support for copyright protection be added directly into the rules dictating how data storage drives--including PC hard drives--talk to each other. Although the 4C proposal was ultimately withdrawn, another proposal that seeks much the same guards is being put to a vote by mail, with ballots to be tallied April 2. Whatever the outcome, the 4C group is pressing forward with the licensing process for its technology, and portable devices with the copy protections built in could emerge as soon as this summer.

Lion Worm Attacking Weaknesses In Linux Server Software

Dubbed the "Lion" worm, the self-spreading program attacks servers running specific versions of BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) server software. Because it can be so difficult to remove, victims may have to wipe out their entire hard disks. The SANS Institute said they have had five confirmed reports of worm infections: four companies and one university. Linux machines infected with the worm send encrypted administrator level, or "root," password files to, where hackers can potentially decrypt the password and use the information to gain access to various areas of a company's system. The worm also creates "back doors," which provide administrator-level access to hackers. The worm appears to be mutation of the Ramen worm that was discovered in January and infects only servers running Red Hat's version of Linux.

AMD Is Delaying Next Generation of Processors

At the same time, AMD has slightly delayed other products to suit market conditions and its own internal strategic plans. A desktop version of Palomino, an enhanced version of Athlon that will run faster, will now come out in the third quarter. Morgan, a similarly enhanced version of the budget Duron processor, also has been delayed until the third quarter. Originally, both chips were due in the fourth quarter of 2000, but later were pushed back to the first half of this year. AMD executives said the chipmaker chose to push back the desktop chips so that the company can first focus its efforts on bringing the chips to market in notebooks as well as in workstations and servers. The risk of delay is also not huge. The current Athlon desktop chip can be extended well past 1.3GHz, said AMD, which will allow the company to stay close to rival Intel in the speed race. Speed is only one factor in chip performance, but it is one of the most crucial when it comes to consumer marketing. The Pentium 4 tops out at 1.5GHz, but a 1.7GHz version is due in May.

The chipmaker also plans to introduce a Palomino chip for single- and dual-processor workstations and servers in the second quarter. This chip is expected to offer a larger cache. AMD will pair the new chip with its 760MP chipset, which it also plans to ship in the second quarter. AMD says its Palomino desktop chips will now ship in the third quarter at speeds of 1.5GHz and higher. The chips, according to a statement by AMD CEO Jerry Sanders during the company's recent fourth-quarter 2000 earnings call, were expected in the second quarter at speeds of 1.4GHz and later 1.5GHz. The launch of Morgan chips was moved from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2001. The chips are now slated to run at 900MHz or faster.

Microsoft Will Add New Privacy Technology To IE 6

Microsoft's plan to add privacy technology to its new browser is getting mixed reviews from privacy experts, who say the proposal is a good first step but still doesn't go far enough in protecting consumers from snooping companies. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) on Wednesday unveiled detailed plans for inserting Platform for Privacy Preferences, or P3P, technology into the upcoming version of Internet Explorer 6.0. P3P is a Web standard, originally backed by Microsoft competitor Netscape Communications, that enables an automatic, computerized reading of a site's privacy policy. With P3P, Web surfers can configure their browsers to dictate whether they will relay personal information to specific sites based on those sites' privacy policies. Michael Wallent, product unit manager for Microsoft IE, said the company chose P3P because it gives people the option of accepting or rejecting cookies depending upon a site's privacy policy. Thus, people can opt to visit only sites that promise a certain level of protection.

Because Microsoft is the lead browser provider, its decision to insert P3P into IE could vastly broaden the technology's reach, in part because marketers and other third-party companies will be forced to adopt it if they want IE users to visit their sites. In adding P3P, Microsoft is responding to an increasingly tech-savvy base of consumers, who are wary of privacy fiascos ranging from plans by ad network DoubleClick to merge online habits with personally identifiable offline data to the recent apprehension of a man who allegedly stole the identities of countless high-profile business leaders. Andrew Shen, a policy analyst at the Electronic Privacy Information Center , said he would like to see more than just cookie management in the new IE. He said people can already change cookie settings on a site-by-site bases with alternative browsers such as Opera. "I don't think Microsoft's IE 6.0 will add anything to how consumers protect themselves online," he said.

New Versions of Software For Mac OS X Are Not Ready Yet

Apple Computer said this week more than 350 applications compatible with OS X have already shipped. The Aladdin Systems' StuffIt Deluxe 6.0 is as an example of one such application, according to a company newsletter. Microsoft Office, probably the most widely used Macintosh program, isn't scheduled to ship until fall at the earliest, said Kevin Browne, general manager of Microsoft's Mac business unit. Adobe Systems, which makes the widely used PhotoShop and Illustrator software, has offered no timetable for its OS X compatible releases. A number of other software developers have given the summer and fall as approximate release dates. Microsoft's Internet Explorer for OS X is planned for summer, although a preview version of 5.1 will come with OS X on Saturday. Quark's upcoming release of Quark Xpress 5.0, which the company said it hopes will be released by the end of the year, will not be optimized for OS X but will run in Classic mode. The subsequent version of Quark Xpress, however, will be optimized for OS X, the company said. There is no timeframe yet, said Quark representative Cori Keeton.

Macromedia said it will ship Freehand 10 this spring, but Dreamweaver is not quite as far along. Filemaker, an Apple subsidiary, said it will deliver a Mac OS X version of Filemaker before the end of the year, but the company cannot offer a more specific timetable. Corel will release OS X-optimized software this summer and fall. Bryce 5, a landscape creation tool, will be the first such product to ship this July. It will be followed by Corel Painter 7 and CorelDraw 10 this summer. In the fall, KPT 7 and Corel Knockout will be released. ZliasWavefront plans to release Maya, its 3D animation and effects software, in June.

Weekend March 24 & 25, 2001 Top

Micron Is Getting Out of The PC Business

Micron Electronics on Friday said it is putting its computer operations up for sale, but the history and dynamics of the industry indicate that the company will likely fade away instead. Nampa, Idaho-based Micron ranked No. 12 in U.S. PC sales last year, with 1.3 percent market share, according to Dataquest. That put Micron behind Acer, NEC and Sony. In terms of worldwide sales, Micron ranked No. 18, with 0.5 percent share. How Micron is divesting itself of its computer business reflects, to a certain degree, the reluctance PC makers feel toward acquisitions: Micron is not selling the division to another PC company. Instead, Micron is selling it to an undisclosed investment group, which will streamline operations and peddle the division to other buyers. Typically, this is even less efficient than a straight merger.

Hercules New Gamesurround Muse™ XL Sound Card For Budget Users

Hercules is thrilled to announce its new Gamesurround Muse XL, the exciting follow-up to the award-winning Maxi Sound MUSE. With an extended list of features, Gamesurround Muse XL is the sound card for gamers who want the best without blowing their entire budget on one sound card.

Gamesurround Muse XL , based on a CMI-8738 audio chipset, is the first card to offer an amazing list of features as well as full Sensaura 3D Positional audio technology on its 4-speaker outputs, at such a low price. Sensaura’s technology allows for optimal compatibility with most advanced 3D audio games (includes A3D 1.0, EAX 1.0 & 2.0 API support). High fidelity music playback is also guaranteed with the integrated Yamaha S-YXG50 SoftSynthesizer. Compatible with both General MIDI and Yamaha XG standards, this new processor reproduces excellent quality MIDI sound.

The Gamesurround Muse XL also offers some exciting new software to make the full PC experience that much more intense. The sound card includes: Game Commander 2 SE, an exciting voice command software, with a hand-free microphone, MUSICMATCH Jukebox and Siren Xpress for maximum MP3 enjoyment, as well as a PowerDVD 3.0 trial version. For home studio music buffs, the Gamesurround Muse XL also includes the virtual home studio Storm Hercules SE, Acid Xpress and Kool Karaoke Lite. Gamesurround Muse XL will be available to at the beginning of April 2001 for $29.99 (USD).

Trio of ATI Updates

ATI Technologies Inc., a world leader in the supply of graphics, video and multimedia solutions, and SONICblue Incorporated, a leader in the converging Internet, digital media and consumer device markets, today announced the proposed sale of SONICblue’s FGL Graphics division to ATI for up to (US) $10 million. The intent to acquire FGL Graphics by ATI represents the Company’s formal entry into the workstation graphics market. ATI expects the acquisition of FGL Graphics to be neutral to earnings this fiscal year. FGL Graphics, which develops and markets the technology-leading Fire GL brand of OpenGL-based graphics accelerators, is a leading provider of solutions for the NT and Linux workstation markets. This would be its second major purchase of a computer graphics company, with the purchase of Art-X occuring last year.

ATI Technologies Inc., a world leader in the supply of graphics, video and multimedia solutions, announced today that it has received the coveted Peak Performer award in the Best System Builder Program category at the most recent System Builder Summit in Orlando, Florida. ATI was selected from more than 100 vendor corporations from the United States and Canada. The Company was identified as having the most targeted and comprehensive system builder strategy in support of its RADEON VE product. Vendor nominees and winners were selected based on confidential surveys completed by system builders during the Summit, and based on presentations given during the event. Congratulations To ATI for winning another award.

Within the last few weeks ATI has released a the lastest version of its multimedia center, and new drivers optimized for DirectX 8.0.
Download ATI Multimedia 7.1

The windows 98/ME Display Driver version 4.13.7075 for the Radeon series cards:

  • fixes an issue where items are invisible when dragged or drawn in Macromedia Flash 4 or 5
  • fixes an issue where multi-colored lines appear down the right hand side of the screen in some programs when Anti-Aliasing is enabled
  • fixes textures from the track flickering on the rear view mirror in Grand Prix 3
  • fixes Homeworld appearing in the upper right portion of the screen if OpenGL Full-Scene Anti-Aliasing is enabled
  • fixes an issue where the sky and pointers are corrupt in Midtown Madness 2

    The windows 98/ME Display Driver version 4.13.7078 for the Rage and Xpert series cards

  • fixes an issue which causes "No One Lives Forever" to exit to the desktop
  • optimized for DirectX 8.0

    Latest AMD Processor Prices

    This listing reflects pricing for direct AMD customers in 1000-unit tray quantities as of March 22, 2001.

    AMD Athlon Processor for Desktop:
  • 1333MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $350
  • 1300MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $318
  • 1200MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $294
  • 1200MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $294
  • 1133MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $265
  • 1100MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $241
  • 1000MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $224
  • 1000MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $204
  • 950MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $182
  • 900MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $172

  • AMD Duron Processor for Desktop:
  • 850MHz $120
  • 800MHz $90
  • 750MHz $72

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