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Week of March 4, 2001 News Archive

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Monday March 5, 2001 Top

  • Intel Cuts Processor Prices
  • Microsoft Office XP Will Begin Shipping To Selected Customers In April
  • New Tools Being Released to Stop "Web Bugs"
  • Apple Planning To Open Retail Stores

    • Intel Cuts Processor Prices

      Intel shaved prices on several desktop chips by up to 19 percent over the weekend as the slowdown in PC sales drags on.

    • 800MHz Celeron, which dropped 19 percent, from $138 to $112.
    • 766MHz Celeron, which dropped 8 percent, from $112 to $103.

    • 1GHz Pentium III, which dropped 10 percent, from $268 to $241.
    • 933MHz Pentium III, which dropped 7 percent, from $241 to $225.

    • 1.5GHz Pentium 4, which dropped 1 percent, from $644 to $637.
    • 1.4GHz Pentium 4, which dropped 4 percent, from $440 to $423.
    • 1.3GHz Pentium 4, which dropped 1 percent, from $336 to $332.

      Microsoft Office XP Will Begin Shipping To Selected Customers In April

      Within days of launching the Office XP preview program, Microsoft has released final, or gold, code to manufacturing. In past projects, a gap of up to two months has separated final beta, or preview, versions and the product's gold release. Microsoft's swift move means large corporate customers will likely get Office XP by mid-April, and some computer makers are expected to ship the software on new PCs as early as May 1. The product's official launch may not come until mid-June. The XP moniker, which stands for "experience," is part of a new naming strategy Microsoft revealed last month. Microsoft last year had already seen much slower Office sales than expected. During the company's second fiscal quarter, for example, desktop applications revenue fell 2 percent year over year, to $2.49 billion from $2.53 billion. Gartner estimates that more than 50 percent of Office users rely on Office 97.

      New Tools Being Released to Stop "Web Bugs"

      Many site operators and Net advertising companies place Web bugs on their pages to collect information, such as which pages are being read most often. Too small for readers to see, the bugs also can be used in more invasive ways, capturing a visitor's Internet Protocol address or installing pernicious files, for example. Concerned that visitors are often unaware that the bugs are being used to track their surfing habits, security companies are beginning to arm Web surfers with tools to find the pesky bugs.

      Internet tracking and security company Security Space issued a report last Thursday that identified Web advertising networks DoubleClick and, as well as, as some of the top sites that use Web bugs to track consumers on third-party pages. Illustrating the growing presence of such technology, Intelytics issued a report over the holidays on major e-commerce sites that uncovered nearly 16 million pages (out of 51 million that were scanned) with at least one Web bug that had been attached from a third party, such as an advertising network.

      Intelytics, in partnership with the Privacy Council, unveiled a similar Web bug-searching service in late January for companies to run reports on their own sites, assessing privacy risks to consumers. Intelytics plans to launch other corporate Web bug tools for e-mail and intranets.

      Apple Planning To Open Retail Stores

      As previously reported, Apple has been quietly working for some time on plans to open its own retail stores. Apple filed plans last year with the city of Palo Alto, Calif., for a store there. Apple has also reportedly made plans to open stores in Glendale, Calif., and Chicago. The latest spot is in Littleton, Colo., where Apple is planning a 6,500-square-foot store, according to the March issue of Shopping Centers Today, a publication of the International Council of Shopping Centers trade group. "They're opening lots of them around the country now," Terry McEwen, president of Memphis-based Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers, told Shopping Centers Today . McEwen said that Apple's store will be part of a 60-store mall that Poag & McEwen plans to open in the Denver suburb in November.

      Tuesday March 6, 2001 Top

      Details of Next Release of ePSXe

      ePSXe, the most popular playstation emulator, will have a new version released soon. Not many new items are there, but the run menu hides a new feature we already know pretty well from SNES emulators for example, the so called save states. ePSXe's savestates are also compressed before being written, so instead of getting files of a size around 3 MB, you'll be able to exchange files which're in a handy 1 MB size. ePSXe now takes advantage of the dual shock function some USB and parallel port converters use ! ePSXe has support built in for a special USB adapter, the so called 'Burutter'. Game compatibility has only lightly increased, there has been a nice speed increase of about 10-30% depending on the game. Screen Shot 1 | Screen Shot 2 | Screen Shot 3

      AMD Announces Price Cuts On Selected Processors

      After price cuts by rival Intel over the weekend, AMD cut the prices of its Athlon and Duron chips for desktops by around 20 percent this week. Under the new cuts, the 1.2GHz Athlon with a 266MHz system bus sells for $294 in quantities of 1,000. The 850MHz version drops to $120.

      The cuts will help pave the way for the introduction of a 1.3GHz desktop version of Athlon, which sources say will be unveiled at the CeBit computer trade show from March 22 to 28 in Hannover, Germany. In addition, the first version of Athlon for notebooks will arrive March 19, according to sources. | Processor Price List

      Microsoft Plans to Start a Number of Fee Based MSN Services

      The plans to enhance MSN offerings come as Microsoft is working overtime to add .Net "software as a service" hooks to its various operating system and applications software. .Net is Microsoft's initiative for turning software into a service business, helping the company expand revenue sources beyond its traditional application sales.

      According to ActiveWin, these potential services include the following:

    • Email Plus, an e-mail consolidation, filtering and encryption service.
    • Buddies Plus, an instant messaging enhancement that would allow users to share music or files while online.
    • Phone Plus, a service similar to America Online's AOL By Phone that would allow users to have their e-mail read over the phone or have their voice mail read through their e-mail accounts over their computer speakers.
    • Music Plus, a service allowing users to create their own music channels and listen to four hours of online music per month.
    • Calendar Plus, an e-mail event notification and invitation service.
    • Download Manager, a software download service that would help users avoid interruptions in Internet service by scheduling downloads for off hours. Microsoft is contemplating making a number of these services free for those who subscribe to the company's MSN Internet service, said a source, who asked not to be identified.

      Microsoft Will Open Windows 2000 Source Code To Enterprise Partners

      Microsoft Corp. is extending the pilot program that allows its top U.S. enterprise clients to have access to the Windows 2000 source code. Only those large Microsoft enterprise agreement or upgrade advantage customers will be eligible for the source code. "The purpose of this program is to provide our largest clients ... with the source code for support and to help them deploy the Windows platform as effectively as possible," Steve Lipner, Microsoft's lead program manager for the .Net server group, said. "We expect their use to revolve around debugging, optimizing their internal applications and troubleshooting in a deployed Windows environment--essentially helping them better understand the Windows platform."

      An IT consultant in Oakland, Calif., said that while he could see the benefit of having access to the source code for the client, Microsoft was the ultimate winner as there would be many more people checking its Windows source code for bugs and other stability and reliability issues--which could then be shared with all Windows users in the form of bug fixes and service packs. "What interests me most is why they have chosen to do this with their Windows 2000 server and client offerings," said the consultant, who asked not to be identified. "Why not with Windows 98 or 95? Perhaps because the code was so convoluted, cluttered and full of bugs like the 'blue screen of death.' They were probably too embarrassed to have others look at it."

      No Suprise, Mac Owners Found To Be Most Loyal

      Apple Macintosh owners are the most loyal, according to a Harris Interactive study of more than 140,000 Web surfers. Fifty-three percent of Mac owners who bought a new home computer in the first three quarters of 2000 were repurchasing a Mac. Gateway's customer loyalty was highest among PC brands with a 45 percent repurchase rate.

      Wednesday March 7, 2001 Top

      ePSXe 1.2 Released Today

      Today, exactly one year after coding ePSXe started, another version of this great emulator is done. And like we already announced yesterday, there's some fantastic new features, and here's finally the partial list of changes.

      Added better analogic pad emulation and force feedback. It is now possible to configure the analogic axis and the effect of the force feedback motors. Now ePSXe includes savestates support. F1 = save state, F2 = increase slot (max = 5), F3 = load state. The savestates are compressed and saved to the sstates directory, with an average size of 1.5Mb. As of today this feature si only supported in the following plugins: Lewpy Gpu, Pete Gpu, Pete Spu and ePSXe Spu, support will be included in more plugins soon by the plugins authors.

      ePSXe Spu, support will be included in more plugins soon by the plugins authors) Partially re-writen the internal spu, it should be faster, have less sound glitches and better sound quality. Optimizations added in gte, mdec and core which makes some games work some fps faster than before. Fixes to the CD-Rom decoder and the core, which make some more games playable like for example Gran Turismo, Resident Evil, Ape Escape, Kingley Adventure, Legend of Legaia (use the "-legaia" command line), Final Fantasy IX PAL.

      Download ePSXe 1.2 from

      ePSXe v1.2.0 Installer including plugins, memory card editor and docs
      ePSXe v1.2.0 ZIP only
      ePSXe Cutor v1.0.2

      Report Says That Via's Share Of Motherboard Chipsets Will Increase

      Via advocates double data rate (DDR) memory technology for new computers to process data at higher speeds. Via's chipsets, which manage the flow of information between a processor and other parts of a computer such as memory chips, have been among the first to use DDR technology. Lu predicts that the Taiwanese company's share of the market for chipsets will increase 42 percent currently to between 45 percent and 50 percent. Via competes with the world's largest chipmaker, Intel, in the chipset and processor markets. Via last year more than doubled its share of the chipset business as Intel missed release dates for its own products and recalled others that were defective. Currently, Pentium 4-based computers cannot use DDR. Instead, they incorporate memory technology from chip designer Rambus.

      EarthLink Raises Price of DSL by 10 Dollars, Others Likely to Follow

      EarthLink, one of the nation's largest Internet service providers, has raised its rates by $10 per month for high-speed Net access, making it the latest provider to hike prices to make broadband profits. Last week, EarthLink instituted a new $49.95-per-month fee for DSL (digital subscriber line) service, up from a previous monthly price of $39.95, executives said. The company will now waive its $99 setup fee, and the new higher monthly rates--which require a 12-month commitment contract--will only affect new subscribers.

      Tough times have befallen the broadband ISP market, particularly for many smaller DSL providers. Expensive equipment, intense competition, high marketing costs and a weak capital investment market are issues that have affected several providers, forcing some of them to lay off workers, sell assets or be acquired. The changing market and the high cost of providing DSL service has led some industry watchers to speculate that high-speed rate hikes may be on the horizon.

      Order Preview Copies of Upcoming Microsoft Office XP and Visio 2002

      Keep your organization on the cutting edge of technology. Be among the first to experience the next version of Office: Order the Office XP Professional with Microsoft FrontPage Corporate Preview Beta for $19.95 US. These preview kits, intended for evaluation purposes only, can be installed on up to 10 computers. Quantities are limited, so act fast. Get all the details at the: Office XP WebSite

      Discover how Microsoft Visio 2002 -- the newest member of the Office family -- can help you work and communicate more effectively. Order the Visio 2002 Beta today. The cost is $7.95 US, plus applicable sales taxes. Get all the details at the: Visio 2002 WebSite

      Mac OS X Code Has Been Finalized, But First Version Will Be Missing Some Features

      On Wednesday, the company released the final, or gold, code for the next-generation Mac operating system. From the gold code, Apple can begin manufacturing copies for sale at retail. But some analysts wonder if Apple isn't rushing Mac OS X out the door solely to meet the official March 24 launch date. Missing features, such as DVD support and notebook sleep functions, could mean the new operating system needs more time to ripen on the tree. Apple spokeswoman Alicia Awbrey confirmed that full DVD support will be missing from the new release. She deferred commenting on support for iTunes, iDVD and iMovie software to the March 21 press event.

      Apple has delayed Mac OS X several times. As recently as early last year, the company said the new OS would be released in summer 2000. In May, Apple announced that a public beta would come out in the summer and pushed back the final release date to January 2001. However, the company has maintained that Mac OS X's public beta met its commitment for a summer release. But with Apple's recent quarterly loss and sales woes, pressure is on to meet deadlines. For this reason, Apple has good reason for rushing Mac OS X's release, said Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal.

      Thursday March 8, 2001 Top

      • Intel Announces Technology That Allow Chips to Go At Speeds In Excess of 10ghz
      • DVD Decryption Can Be Done In 7 Lines
      • Microsoft Faces Tough Competition With Itself & Pirates Over Office XP
      • Apple Releases Cheaper Version of Its Fastest Mac

        • Intel Announces Technology That Allow Chips to Go At Speeds In Excess of 10ghz

          Intel passed another milestone this week in the development of a key technology for creating processors that run more than five times faster than current chips. The chipmaker announced Thursday that it has delivered the first standard-format photomasks for use with Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. The technology is designed to allow chipmakers to embed ever smaller features on silicon, beginning with chips at the 70-nanometer level. Current processors are manufactured on a 180 nanometer micron process. Smaller features mean more transistors can be squeezed onto smaller pieces of silicon, making for greater computing power. Because of EUV's relatively smooth road to development, most industry experts believe the technology will succeed today's Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) lithography as the technique used to manufacture chips running at speeds of 10GHz or more.

          These new photomasks are critical to the success of EUV because they represent the technology necessary to use ultraviolet light to draw features on silicon wafers during the chip manufacturing process. Instead of transmitting light through the mask, as is done in current chip manufacturing, EUV uses its masks to reflect the ultraviolet light on to the wafer. To accomplish this, Intel and EUV LLC, a consortium charged with developing EUV technology, had to develop special coatings. The coatings consist of several layers of molybendium silicide, a mixture of molybendium and silicon. Intel executives said that despite requiring the new molybdenum silicide coating, EUV photomasks will be able to use most of the same manufacturing tools as used in its current chipmaking facilities, saving time and development costs.

          DVD Decryption Can Be Done In 7 Lines

          Last week, a Web site published the pair's seven-line program, which unscrambles the protection around a DVD so quickly that a movie can play at the same time, although the film appears choppy. It's the shortest program to break DVD defenses to date. "It is nice to have a short" program, said Winstein, an undergraduate in electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "You can write these seven lines of code on a piece of paper and give it to someone. It's ridiculous to say that that's not protected speech." The new code could add another ripple to the legal waters, said Gross, underscoring the assertion that the code is instructive. In addition, Winstein said that today no one would use the program for routinely watching movies. The unscrambling takes so much processing power, he said, that even on a 933MHz processor, movies appear choppy.

          Microsoft Faces Tough Competition With Itself & Pirates Over Office XP

          When Microsoft releases Office XP in a few months, the company will face off against its two toughest competitors: software pirates and, well, Microsoft. On one front, Microsoft must convince as many as 120 million Office 95 and 97 users to upgrade to the new version, an opportunity customers passed over with Office 2000. On the other front, the Redmond, Wash.-based company must combat lost sales to casual and professional pirates. In North America alone, potentially one out of every four copies of Office is pirated, meaning it was copied illegally.

          With the North American market saturated, Microsoft must expand Office sales in other geographic regions. But in many of those areas, the company faces stiff competition from casual and professional software pirates. Technology trade groups the Business Software Alliance and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) estimate about 25 percent of business software used in the United States is pirated. Worldwide, the rate jumps to 36 percent, but in some of the most important growth markets, the rate is much higher.

          "Microsoft clearly is being cautious with the locking feature and subscription scheme," LeTocq said. "That's why they're holding back on retail." On the one hand, the company wants to reap as much up-front sales of the full version as possible before fully exposing the subscription payment option. "The subscription thing is more a long-term play for Microsoft," Le Tocq said. Besides potentially cutting down Office-to-Office competition, the subscription scheme and activation wizards may be tools for thwarting piracy. The activation mechanism, which locks Office to a particular PC configuration, is expected to help combat casual piracy, such as friends sharing copies of Office or small businesses buying one copy for many PCs. "We found that the vast majority of piracy is this kind of casual piracy," said Lisa Gurry, a product manager for Office XP. "This Office activation wizard is designed to combat this casual piracy."

          Apple Releases Cheaper Version of Its Fastest Mac

          The new version of the 733MHz Power Mac features a CD-rewritable drive, instead of a SuperDrive that can read and write both CDs and DVDs. The new model sells for $2,999, $500 less than its SuperDrive-equipped counterpart. Apple said the move comes amid a greater-than-expected availability of the 733MHz G4 chips from Motorola. "With available quantities of the 733MHz processor now surpassing those of the SuperDrive, Apple is offering this new configuration with a CD-RW drive to provide its highest performance system to a wider audience, sooner," the company said in a statement. The other three Power Mac models introduced in January, which range from 466MHz to 667MHz, already offer a CD-RW drive.

          Friday March 9, 2001 Top

          Proxim Sues Major Wirless Networking Companies Over Patents

          Wireless networking company Proxim has sued rivals Cisco Systems, 3Com and four other competitors, accusing them of infringing on three of its wireless patents. Proxim is claiming the companies are using its patented technology in their wireless networking kits, technology that lets people wirelessly link their desktop computers and laptops and share a Net connection. Proxim executives say they expect to file further lawsuits against other networking companies that use wireless standards 802.11B and 802.11DS in their products. The standards were created by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Proxim is claiming that it owns three patents that the companies use in building products that use the standards, said Kevin Negus, Proxim's vice president of business development.

          The Mac Version of Opera Is Nearing Completion

          The Opera 5.0 preview is far from complete. At launch, a splash screen warns: "This version of Opera is not for permanent use." When it was released in late February, the company dubbed it a "technology preview." Opera Software added that although the preview would not harm computers, it was likely to have numerous bugs and crash frequently. Tony Leggett, assistant editor of news and opinion Web site MacEdition , said that even the early, pre-test version of Opera had, in his testing, performed better than the established market leaders, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Navigator, as well as Netscape 6, the next-generation and long-awaited version of that company's browser. Several items are not included in Opera's latest release, such as Java support, file uploading, a full keyboard-based user interface, AppleScript support and cookies. In addition, there are oddities that could be expected early in the development process, such as the inability to quit the application if no browser windows are open. Opera Software already has full versions of its $39 browser for Linux, BeOS, EPOC and various versions of Windows.

          Ximian Working On Technology Needed To Use Web Services With Linux

          Ximian, an open-source software company formerly known as Helix Code, believes it can help achieve Web services compatibility by porting the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) distributed-computing protocol to the Gnome user interface for Linux and Unix systems. Ximian and the Gnome project were both launched by open-source evangelist Miguel de Icaza. The goal is to allow Web-delivered software--such as the much-touted Microsoft .Net strategy--from different companies to work on all operating systems, from Windows to Unix and Linux. Ximian has dubbed its resulting technology "SOUP," not an acronym but a play on the SOAP name.

          SOAP is an XML-based protocol designed to share data in a distributed computing environment. Just about all the companies creating Web services environments are backing SOAP and are making it a foundation layer for their software. XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a popular Web standard for businesses to exchange information via the Web. Microsoft, for example, is making upcoming versions of its software development tools and operating systems compliant with SOAP as part of the Microsoft .Net initiative. And Sun has made SOAP support part of its Sun ONE Web services initiative by including SOAP as one of the Web standards it will support with its Web-based office productivity applications, called Sun ONE Webtop (formerly known as StarPortal).

          Apple Anounces New Features That Will Be In Mac OS X

          Apple Computer executives are offering a small sneak peek into the company's highly anticipated new operating system, but are asking fans to focus on what OS X will have, not on what it's missing. Apple on Wednesday released final, or gold, code to manufacturing as the company readies the product for sale March 24. Mac enthusiasts looking for video streaming will find the final version of QuickTime 5 in the box. Apple also plans to offer its iTunes digital music-authoring package and iMovie video-editing software, although neither will come in the box with Mac OS X. But DVD playback will be missing in the initial release. Schiller, an Apple Computer executive, explained simply that the DVD player is not ready and will be available for download at a later time. Also missing will be iDVD, Apple's DVD authoring software. Schiller said Apple can't disclose iDVD's availability until the March 21 press event that will launch Mac OS X.

          Apple added many new features based on feedback from the public beta, Schiller said. After hearing the Aqua user interface was too streamlined compared with Mac OS 9.x, Apple made a number of functional tweaks. One change in the public beta had content opening within the same window. "But it now behaves like Mac OS 9 in that when you click on something it spawns a second window," Schiller said. Another streamlined feature kept disk drives from automatically showing up on the Aqua desktop, but they now appear by default as in Mac OS 9. Other Mac OS 9 throwbacks include an Apple menu bar on the left side of the desktop, which, among other things, offers access to recent applications and Apple's Location Manager. Apple also moved the clock from a toolbar-like feature called the Dock back to the menu bar. Apple responded to criticism that its popular Control Strip should not have been removed by adding commonly used Control Strip items, such as display and AirPort wireless controls, to the Dock. In one of the more significant changes, Apple is closely tying Mac OS X to its Internet suite of services, iTools. Other niceties include built-in features for PDF (portable document format) support and an e-mail client.

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