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Week of May 27, 2001 News Archive

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Weekend

Monday May 28, 2001 Top

ATI Releases PCI Version of All-In-Wonder Radeon Card

ATI Technologies Inc., today announced that it has shipped a new member of the ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON family. Now available in PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) format, the ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON 32 MB SDR (single data rate) PCI is the ideal solution to upgrade existing home computers to create a high quality multimedia solution. Availability in Europe is scheduled for beginning of summer 2001. With its unmatched graphics and home entertainment capabilities, the ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON continues to break feature and performance barriers in the high-performance desktop graphics retail market. The ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON PCI features 32 MB SDR memory, Personal Video Recorder (PVR) technology, a stereo TV tuner, DVD playback with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and video output. The graphics card offers video editing enthusiasts the ability to capture and edit MPEG-2 video for creating professional-looking home movies. The ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON also includes Gemstar’s GUIDE Plus+ interactive programming guide (North America only) at no additional fee, and TV-ON-DEMAND, which allows users to take control of TV viewing - live TV can be paused, controlled and archived, turning the PC into a PVR. With similar functionality the ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON AGP features 32 MB DDR memory and includes a digital visual interface (DVI).

ATI’s ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON family now includes new software features:
  • New TV Browser - With a TV player window integrated into Microsoft Internet Explorer you can watch TV while you surf the web without juggling with overlapping windows.
  • Video CD creation - When combined with popular CD creation software such as Roxio Easy CD Creator, you can create your own MPEG-compliant Video CDs for playback on a consumer DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) player.
  • Better sound performance - Pitch-corrected audio during TV-ON-DEMAND fast/slow playback allows you to follow along with the sound track, even when the video is playing faster or slower than normal speed.
  • Improved picture quality - With RADEON adaptive de-interlacing for both DVD and TV viewing, you can achieve improved picture quality.
  • More DVD player controls - Extended color controls in the DVD player allow you to get just the right colors for viewing your favorite DVDs.

  • Microsoft Release Patch For Word

    Word, like other members of the Office product family, provides a security mechanism that requires user's approval to run macros. By design, anytime a document is opened the user would be notified if the document contains macros. In addition, this mechanism checks secondary documents that the original document links to, such as templates, and warn if any of those contain macros. This feature works by scanning the document or template for the presence of macros, alerting the user of their presence, and then asking the user if he wants to allow the macros to run. By embedding a macro in a template, and providing another user with an RTF document that links to it, an attacker could cause a macro to run automatically when the RTF document was opened. The macro would be able to take any action that the user herself could take. This could include disabling the user’s Word security settings so that subsequently-opened Word documents would no longer be checked for macros.

    Version effected are: Microsoft Word 97, Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word 98 (J), Microsoft Word 98 for the Mac, Microsoft Word 2001 for the Mac.
    Word 2000 patch | Word 97 patch

    Makers of Cuecat Releasing Device For Use With TV's

    Millions of TV sets will be hooked up to new wires beginning this summer--if NBC and technology company DigitalConvergence have their way. On Monday, the two companies launched CueTV, a technology that acts like a remote control linking TV programming with the Web. The debut is set to kick off an NBC giveaway of $400,000 in prizes from June 13 to July 11. To ensure the promotion gets off the ground, beginning this week more than 7,000 RadioShack retail outlets around the country will start giving away millions of technology kits, which include a special cable and software for the PC. The new service is a first for television, but it mimics earlier efforts to link offline and online media. Last September, privately held DigitalConvergence started giving away millions of scanners through deals with Wired and Forbes magazines as well as with RadioShack to bridge print and online media. The mouse-sized scanners were used to swipe tiny codes, or "cues," in print ads and editorial to find information about a product or service online. Similarly, audio cues embedded in TV programming on NBC will send a signal to a computer in the same room. The sound will prompt the PC to load a related Web page even if the computer is not connected to the Internet at the time. The next time the viewer logs on to the Net, the pages will launch.

    The audio cues, which will be coupled with a small C icon in the corner of the TV screen, will first sound Thursday on NBC during a promotion for its NBCIQ sweepstakes. This giveaway, which begins June 13, will test viewers' knowledge of NBC shows via a trivia contest set up on a personalized Web site. General Electric's NBC is devoting between $5 million and $7 million in airtime to introduce the technology. The TV network and DigitalConvergence are banking on viewers' longstanding love of winning prizes to create a buzz for the technology. "They're going to want to win prizes," said Jay Feldman, executive vice president of DigitalConvergence's media group. "When people already have the computer and TV in the same room, which is a lot of people now, and they're watching television...this is the new thing that's not been done before and they'll want to do it." But if adoption of print-to-Web technology is any indication , it may not be that simple. DigitalConvergence has distributed millions of CueCats since September, but they failed to attract a substantial audience. At least one DigitalConvergence partner confirmed that demand for the CueCat has been extremely weak so far. Still, DigitalConvergence said that the NBC promotion is just the beginning of what consumers will see in the future. The company plans to link TV advertising and programs with the audio cues.

    ATI is Number One Supplier of Video Cards to Retailers

    Amongst U.S. retailers in the month of March, ATI had a 49 percent unit market share and 52 per cent revenue market share in the branded add-in-board market, according to NPD INTELECT, an increase of 10 per cent. ATI’s board products sold at retail were tops in sales in nine of the top 13 graphics add-in-boards, NPD INTELECT’s numbers show. (Data does not include configured-to-order add-in boards). “We are very pleased with our growth from 39 to 49 per cent of the retail market in the February 2001 to March 2001 time frame,” said Tom Ward, Vice President, Distribution Sales, ATI Technologies Inc. “We believe ATI will continue this market success when you consider our product road map which will see even stronger products introduced to the channel.” ATI products in the top 13 best-selling graphics cards include the RADEON series, comprising RADEON 64 MB board, the high performing card for gamers, featuring video in and video out, the RADEON 32 MB board, the best value in the mainstream market with leading 3D technology and the RADEON VE, the lowest priced card on the market to provide high quality 2D, 3D graphics and video as well as support for dual monitors. ATI’s ALL-IN-WONDER RADEON 32 MB combination TV tuner and graphics card, also continues to dominate multimedia cards sold at retail.

    A Pair of Playstation Emulator Updates created a new and updated version of the ePSXe Installer , which so far, more than 200.000 people have downloaded from PSXEmu - more often than they downloaded the original ZIP file from here ! Anyway, this new version comes with some changes. First off, a new version of the install creation program was being used, which should come with a bit more speed and which also removed that problem some people experienced with an incorrect directory being set. Of course, it also includes the latest plugin updates, like Lewpy's and Pete's new GPU versions and the new, highly compatible CD plugin Pete recently released. Furthermore, they also decided to add the latest version of the popular cheating utility [pec] to the installer, so you don't have to download that one. In case you experience problems using it, make sure to read the pec-readme.txt in the /docs directory coming with the installer.

    Pete is at it again with new versions of his 3 GPU plugins (Soft, Direct3d, and OpenGL). Now he's up to version 1.50 and these top notch plugins are looking as good as ever. The list of changes is pretty long so I suggest you download the zip and see for yourself. Here's a short rundown:
  • D3D plugins: sometimes there were disturbing lines in unfiltered mdecs on Matrox cards. Fixed.
  • SOFT plugin: a new stretch option: "scale to window, keep aspect ratio".
  • OGL/D3D: a new special game fix for FF9: "G4 polygon cache".
  • OGL/D3D: a workaround for horizontal wrapping display positions.
  • OGL/D3D: fixed a wrong clipping area which was caused by toggling between fullscreen/window mode.
  • All plugins: I've changed the gpu config dialogs, so now there is a better description for most options.

  • He also fixed some problems with Ridge Racer Type 4 and added his "save state pic" feature that looks very cool but won't be supported until the new version of ePSXe is released. Finally, he's hidden an easter egg somewhere within the plugins. Well that's my short synopsis, you'll find much more detail within the readme so be sure to download the plugin here.
    ePSXe Installer | Pete's Plugins |

    Tuesday May 29, 2001 Top

    Intel Cuts Prices for Celeron and Pentium III Chips

    Intel trimmed the prices of several Pentium III and Celeron chips. The chipmaker lopped as much as 38 percent from the price of its desktop Celeron and Pentium chips this week. It made smaller cuts, up to 24 percent, on its mobile Pentium III processor. The cuts, scheduled in advance by Intel, are designed to help Intel keep pace with the markets served by the chips, an Intel representative said. Intel introduces its Celeron chips, for example, at relatively low prices. Typically, a desktop Celeron chip starts around $150 and moves down the pricing ladder quickly. The 850MHz Celeron, introduced in early April at $138, was cut by 38 percent to $86 in the latest price moves. The 800MHz Celeron fell 20 percent, from $93 to $74. The company also dropped prices on its 667MHz, 700MHz, 733MHz and 766MHz Celeron chips by between 7 percent and 16 percent. Intel is expected to launch new 900MHz and 950MHz Celeron chips in the second half of the year.

    Intel also reduced prices for mobile Pentium IIIs, including its 900MHz and 1GHz mobile chips. The 900MHz mobile Pentium III was reduced by 17 percent from $508 to $423, while the 1GHz was lowered by 12 percent from $722 to $637. The largest mobile price cut made by Intel was on the 700MHz "low-voltage" Pentium III. The chip was reduced by 24 percent from $316 to $241. Several new mobile chips, including faster 1.06GHz and 1.13GHz mobile Pentium III processors, will be announced by Intel in July. Intel also sliced the price of its 1GHz desktop Pentium III chip by 14 percent, from $225 to $193. The chipmaker recently cut prices on its Pentium 4 chip by as much as 50 percent. | Processor Price List

    MSN Campaigning to Lure AOL Customers Angry Over Rate Increase

    Microsoft's MSN Networks is on a mission to poach America Online's Internet customers just one week after AOL announced a subscription price increase. MSN on Tuesday launched a $50 million nationwide advertising campaign designed to persuade customers to ditch their AOL Internet service and sign up for the Microsoft service. MSN is offering customers who switch to its service by June 30 three months of free Internet access as well as a $21.95 monthly rate guarantee until January 2003. Last week, rival AOL said it is raising its monthly subscription rate by $1.95 to $23.90 beginning this summer. The 9 percent increase to AOL's monthly unlimited-use plan was widely anticipated by Wall Street as the company attempts to reach near-term financial goals. Microsoft at the time said that its MSN service, which has 5 million subscribers, or less than one-fifth as many as AOL, did not plan to follow the New York-based media giant's lead with a price increase of its own. MSN Internet Access includes content and services from Microsoft's MSN portal site and from MSN Explorer, which combines the Redmond, Wash.-based company's various Internet products and services such as messaging and music software. The company said customers interested in its special offer can sign up on its Web site.

    ATI Works To Win Back Market Share From Nvidia

    Graphics chipmaker ATI Technologies said Tuesday it's making progress in gaining market share for the first time in more than a year against rival Nvidia. ATI expects to sign as many as 18 contracts by "late fall," spokesman John Challinor said. The company expects five to eight contracts to include its chips in desktop PCs and eight to 10 contracts for notebooks. Challinor did not elaborate. Canada's ATI has been losing customers--mostly desktop PC makers such as Apple Computer and Dell Computer--to Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia over the last year. As a result, sales in its latest fiscal quarter fell 39 percent to $232.4 million from the year-earlier period. "This shows that ATI is at least holding its own in the notebook market, and it looks like they're starting to win back share in the desktop market," said Jonathan Hykawy, an analyst at Canaccord Capital in Toronto.

    Since January, ATI has announced contracts with six PC makers. Nvidia has announced five in the same period and said in February that others including Compaq Computer and smaller makers of PCs would be using its newest chip "in coming weeks." There's speculation "that some of those contracts have been taken away from Nvidia," Hykawy said. In the fourth quarter of 2000, Nvidia had its chips in 48 percent of all desktop PCs, compared with ATI's 34 percent, according to industry analyst Jon Peddie Associates. In the year-earlier period, ATI had 35 percent share and Nvidia had 18 percent. The new contracts don't include "wins" for ATI's newest chip, tentatively known as R200, which analysts expect to start shipping as early as August. Challinor confirmed a "late Summer" time frame for R200's release. ATI Chief Financial Officer Terry Nickerson said in March that winning back market share has become the company's top goal.

    Canadian Company is Trying to Bring Broadcast TV to the Internet

    A Canadian Internet company that hopes to put live TV on the Web is encountering new opposition from a pair of government agencies, again jeopardizing plans to move television online. Toronto-based JumpTV is hoping to take advantage of Canadian copyright law that may allow it to put television online without broadcasters' permission. A similar company went out of business last year after being sued by TV companies, but JumpTV is seeking Canadian copyright authorities' permission first. Media companies attempting to block JumpTV's plans have drawn some potentially powerful allies inside the Canadian government, however. Two agencies respectively devoted to national industry and culture have sent a letter to broadcasters saying that the law might need to be changed to block widespread Internet distribution. "The government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadian copyright law and policy continue to provide a strong foundation for the creation and the dissemination of Canadian cultural content and the promotion of the knowledge economy," read the letter, jointly signed by Industry Canada Deputy Minister V. Peter Harder and Canadian Heritage Deputy Minister Alex Himelfarb.

    Canada's copyright law includes a loophole that Net companies have hoped to exploit to bring live TV from U.S. and Canadian companies to the Web, over broadcasters' protests. Government action to change this law would shield broadcasters' businesses on both sides of the border, allowing them to keep control of their content. The coalition of media companies fighting JumpTV's plans welcomed the apparent bolstering of their efforts in official circles. "We are enormously encouraged by the fact that (these agencies) have recognized the seriousness of the threat to Canada's culture from unauthorized Internet exploitation," said Epitome Pictures Executive Vice President Stephen Stohn, speaking for the Media Content Coalition. That group includes Canadian broadcasters, movie studios and film distributors.

    "To suggest that delivering existing TV channels over an alternative medium is a threat to Canadian culture is ludicrous," Miller said in a statement. "It would be troubling that the federal government would so directly acquiesce to an industry's self-serving interest without regard to hearing from competing interests." JumpTV plans to offer the live TV service to Canadians only, using technology designed to determine Web surfers' location. Broadcasters are skeptical whether this technology can work well, however. The Internet company has not said when it plans to launch the live TV service, which would include U.S. broadcasts from networks such as Fox, ABC and NBC. Both sides have filed with Canadian copyright authorities seeking a decision on the law later this year.

    Apple Working To Provide Better Support Of Gaming on Mac OS X

    Mark Adams, president of Westlake Interactive, an Austin, Texas, game development and porting company which has brought such products as Tomb Raider, Alice and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 to the platform, said he's "very happy with where Mac OS X is right now." He said that "the functionality we need for games (especially DrawSprocket [a screen-drawing API]) is working well, and the last few pieces (gamepad support mostly) seem to be coming together." This represents a change from last year's conference , which left Adams saying he felt "disappointed and worried" that Game Sprockets, the set of networking, graphics and input APIs for games in the classic Mac OS, would not be included in Mac OS X. However, Adams said, "Apple has been more responsive, especially in the past couple of months" to the concerns of game and other consumer-centric developers.

    "Apple seemed so single-minded in just getting Mac OS X out they couldn't work on much else." He added that after the operating system had been released, Apple has been "making sure much of the feedback on Mac OS X 10.0.0 is addressed quickly." As a result, Adams said, "Mac OS X is a good platform to develop games for, and even though we're still learning a few things about it we think we've got a good handle on how to create commercial quality Mac OS X games." Apple seemed to lend support to this assertion in Monday's WWDC keynote, demonstrating the Tony Hawk skateboarding game on Mac OS X. In addition, Adams said that Westlake is currently finishing work on Mac OS X-native versions of that game as well as Alice and Tomb Raider Chronicles. "They look very nice," Adams said.

    Wednesday May 30, 2001 Top

    Fake Virus Warning Tells User To Delete Windows File

    A hoax e-mail warning people that their PCs may contain a virus called sulfnbk.exe tricks its victims into trashing a harmless, and potentially helpful, Windows utility. The e-mail, which was originally written in Portuguese and was reported to be making the rounds in Brazil last month, has been translated to English and is circulating in the United Kingdom. Recipients are advised to delete a harmless Microsoft Windows utility called sulfnbk.exe from their hard disks. Antivirus experts were quick to point out that the e-mail does not contain a worm and is being passed around by well-meaning people alarmed at its contents. As a result, it cannot be detected by virus-scanning software or junk email filters. "This is social engineering on a grand scale," said Symantec spokeswoman Lucy Bunker. "Whereas e-mail worms mass-mail themselves and cause destruction, this hoax message simply asks you to mass-mail it yourself and then delete the information on your computer. In essence, you're doing the work of a destructive virus yourself."

    The hoax message indicates that the virus is scheduled to trigger June 1, has been found on every PC in somebody's office, and is not detectable with virus software. In fact, the file is on every PC that has Windows installed and is not detected by antivirus software because it is not--and does not normally contain--a virus. "The file that people are being asked to delete is a legitimate file that is part of the Windows operating system," Bunker said. "We are working with Microsoft to find out what people should do if they have deleted this file; it is a useful file and you shouldn't delete it." Sulfnbk.exe is a Microsoft Windows utility that is used to restore long file names, according to Symantec, and deleting it could cause that feature to stop working properly.

    Itanium Receives High Scores In Performance Test

    Two key chip speed measurements using standards set by testing organization Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC ) show the 800MHz Itanium in some cases neck-in-neck with Sun Microsystems' newest UltraSparc III chip and in some cases soundly beating it. Sun is Intel's chief competitor when it comes to trying to win a place for Itanium, a chip Intel announced Tuesday. One measurement of "floating-point" mathematical calculations shows Itanium soundly beating UltraSparc III--even the delayed 900MHz version due to arrive shortly. But when it comes to more ordinary "integer" operations, Itanium is behind Sun's chip and even Intel's own Xeon server chip. "The SpecFP (floating-point) number was just phenomenal, but the SpecInt (integer) number was very weak," said MicroDesign Resources analyst Kevin Krewell. "Intel has not been able to provide a very good reason why that number was so weak." "We feel (integer performance) is competitive today with UltraSparc III, and we expect it to get better with McKinley ," the second-generation Itanium model due in the first half of 2002, said Intel spokesman Seth Walker, who said Itanium shines on higher-level benchmarks such as database performance or data encryption.

    But raw performance is just one of a host of factors Itanium faces in the marketplace. Of greater concern has been the fact that software must be completely rewritten to take advantage of Itanium's performance. Although older software designed for the earlier 32-bit chips will run, Itanium performance on such tasks is dismal. The situation hasn't escaped Sun's notice. "We think that this announcement actually enhances our competitiveness because it highlights the transitions that customers and vendors need to go through with the Itanium," said said Nancy Weintraub, director of marketing for system products at Sun. Customers must recompile their software for the new chip and re-certify it for the new systems, she said, whereas Sun customers are guaranteed that software written for earlier UltraSparc chips will run unmodified on the UltraSparc III.

    AMD Workstation Chips Shunned by Hardware Makers

    Advanced Micro Devices will try to reach out to new customers next month with a line of Athlon processors aimed at workstations and servers, but hardware makers so far are passing on the chips. IBM and Compaq Computer both have said they have no plans to adopt the new 1.2GHz and 1.3GHz Athlon chips and the accompanying 760MP chipset that allows the processors to be used in dual-processor machines. Analysts say it's not surprising for server makers to turn up their noses at any new chip, even one from Intel. "It's not surprising at all," said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. Manufacturers' responses, he said, will be based solely on their size: Large server and workstation makers will be reluctant to adopt the new chip, whereas smaller outfits might jump at the chance to use the Athlon product. "It has no reflection on AMD," McCarron said. "You see the same behavior with Intel products...a lot of (server makers) don't even use Intel's new products." The Athlon is a crucial step in AMD's efforts to branch out from the desktop PC business. The chipmaker has found acceptance for mobile versions of its processors aimed at the notebook market, but penetration of the high-end corporate market has remained elusive. Analysts believe that though AMD may find a footing in workstations--high-powered PCs used for data-intensive tasks such as scientific calculations and animated graphics--it will find servers a much greater challenge.

    New Alliance Hopes To Improve OpenPGP Interoperability

    Pretty Good Privacy, the de facto standard for secure e-mail, got a boost on Tuesday, when 11 organizations launched the OpenPGP Alliance, a group that will allow software creators to test their products with others' wares. "These companies didn't know about each other developing OpenPGP products," said Phil Zimmerman, founder of the OpenPGP Alliance and creator of the original Pretty Good Privacy program, which was released almost 10 years ago. "By putting them together in the same alliance and having them talk to each other, we can make sure that different secure e-mail systems work together." OpenPGP, an Internet standard for encryption, uses a "public" key specific to a certain recipient to scramble a message. When the message arrives at the recipient, the reader uses a "private" key--which is mathematically linked to the public key--to unscramble the text. Although 11 companies and organizations have signed on, one key company--Network Associates, the owner of the PGP trademark--has not joined the alliance. Members include secure-communications software company SSH, e-mail software maker Qualcomm, privacy technology company Zero Knowledge Systems and open-source software project Gnu Privacy Guard. The alliance--and better interoperability--could give PGP a much needed boost among computer users, he added. Though PGP is used widely among people who encrypt their e-mail, the vast majority of computer users don't use encryption at all.

    RealNetworks Software To be Included With Intel Motherboards

    Looking to strengthen its position in the streaming media market, RealNetworks on Wednesday said it has signed an agreement with Intel to ship its technology with the main circuit boards that power PCs. Under the terms of the deal, the Seattle-based company's RealPlayer and RealJukebox software will be distributed on CD-ROMs included with two new Intel desktop PC motherboards that support the chipmaker's Pentium III and Celeron processors, RealNetworks said in a statement. RealNetworks already has deals with branded PC makers such as Dell Computer. Wednesday's agreement attempts to extend that bundling to so-called white-box, or unbranded, computer makers, which command a large share of the PC market through resellers. By packaging its software with motherboards--the heart, brains and much of the muscle of a PC--RealNetworks hopes to entice these manufacturers to pre-install its RealPlayer and RealJukebox products. Some analysts, however, questioned whether RealNetworks' distribution on CD-ROMs accompanying Intel motherboards would translate into wider adoption of the software. "Just because something is distributed with something else doesn't mean it gets used," warned Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of systems software research at IDC. "When I get a PC, it comes with a whole stack of CDs, and I don't install a single one of them. It goes straight into my closet. What do you call that, closetware?"

    Thursday May 31, 2001 Top

    Microsoft Launched Office XP Today

    Microsoft tapped some some large corporate customers on Thursday to help launch Office XP, the first of three major products the company is releasing this year. The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker unveiled Office XP, the latest version of its business software, during a New York event hosted by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. Executives from, Ford Motor and other big businesses joined Gates to explain why their companies are moving to Office XP. Despite those endorsements, Microsoft may find Office XP to be a tough sell, said Gartner analyst Michael Silver. "Many companies just aren't that interested in Office XP," he said. "I'm hearing from a lot of people (using) Office 97--they're not going to XP because they don't see the need. Those that do see (the) benefit say they need more time to see how that's going to work for them." While Office XP is important to Microsoft-- Office products generate some 40 percent of the company's revenue--it is just one of three major releases this year. Also on tap are Xbox, Microsoft's entry into the highly competitive video game market, and Windows XP, the upgrade to its ubiquitous operating system.

    At the Office XP launch Thursday, Gates' pitch focused on how Office XP unlocks hidden knowledge and can transform personal productivity. Businesses create 740,000 terabytes of data a year--roughly equivalent to 7 billion copies of Webster's dictionary--and the challenge is to turn that information into knowledge, according to Microsoft. Lisa Gurry, product manager for Office XP, said a Microsoft study concluded that people spend "40 percent of their time creating content and 30 percent looking for information." Office XP's new features "can save people up to 10 percent of their time during their day." The partners assisting Microsoft with the launch told how they have benefited from switching to advance copies of Office XP. Many of the testimonials focused on Extensible Markup Language (XML), a way of formatting complex documents for delivery over the Web. Still, Gillett and Gartner's Silver see large businesses waiting as long as possible on Office XP, even though, by Microsoft's estimation, 60 percent of companies use the two oldest versions, 95 and 97.

    "We're hearing a lot of organizations are going to stay put with the version they have got," Silver said. "For many, the features they have are enough." Microsoft's response is to add more complex features, such as Smart Tags, Silver said. "Smart Tags can do a lot if you can figure out how to use them," he said. "If I have a feature I can use out of the box, maybe the upgrade would be more compelling. Smart Tags is like giving me a fishing rod, but I still have to figure out how to fish." Gillett agreed. "We'd all rather go home and play with our kids than learn a new version of Office," he said. To encourage upgrades, Microsoft made licensing changes that will compel the majority of companies to move to Office XP before Oct. 1 should they want to get the cheapest upgrade price in the future.

    ATI Plans To Create Partnerships With Other Graphics Board Makers

    Graphics chipmaker ATI Technologies is embarking on a new plan to boost its market share by working more closely with graphics board manufacturers. The Markham, Ontario-based company, which will detail the new initiative next week at the Computex computer show in Taipei, Taiwan, said it intends to focus on signing more partnerships with graphics board makers in an effort to increase sales and worldwide distribution of its chip products. The designer of graphics processors for desktop and mobile PCs said it has already formed agreements with manufacturers and plans to trumpet new partnerships at the show. The plan comes as ATI battles financial challenges and wrestles with rivals for market share in a highly competitive sector. The company has seen its fortunes dip amid strong competition from Nvidia, which recently unveiled its new GeForce3 chip. The GeForce 3 has garnered business from a number of top computer makers, including Apple Computer, a longtime ATI customer. Until recently, ATI had a lock on the Macintosh market, but the company's share has slipped there, as well as in the PC market. Meanwhile, Nvidia appears to be ahead of the pack; it's one of the few technology companies of late to churn out strong earnings and to stick by forecasts for upcoming quarters. The idea behind ATI's new strategy is to bolster its distribution channels to increase product adoption. The plan is intended to provide system integrators, retailers and distributors with a wide choice of suppliers of ATI desktop graphics chips.

    Microsoft Office's Clippy Lives in Office XP

    Clippy, the cute but much maligned animated paper clip introduced with Office 97, was given his walking papers by Microsoft recently as part of a $30 million marketing campaign promoting Office XP. The Redmond, Wash.-based company even set up a special Clippy Web site with his resume, an online poll for his next job, and Macromedia Flash movies starring the outgoing Office assistant. By retiring the Office assistant, Microsoft hoped to emphasize how easy Office XP is to use compared with earlier versions. But Clippy's demise is more myth than reality. Anyone installing Office XP will find Clippy and seven other animated assistants available with the new version. One of the assistants, Merlin, is even featured during the Windows XP Beta 2 installation. The difference: In Office XP, the software user must choose to install the Office assistants rather than getting them by default.

    PC Data analyst Stephen Baker described Clippy's apparent demise as a good marketing gimmick but nothing more. The animated assistant didn't add much value to Office in the first place, he said. Still, Microsoft made good sport of booting Clippy during Thursday's Office XP launch gala in New York, calling several times on an actor dressed as the talking paper clip. Clippy interrupted Gates' keynote speech, drawing cheers from the crowd. Noting the presence of Jay Leno and other notables at the Windows 95 launch, Gates said, "Today, we let Office XP speak for itself--Clippy is the only star." "Windows XP is too easy. Nobody needs me," the paper clip complained. "XP stands for ex-paper clip. Please ask Mr. Gates to make me a bigger part of Office XP." Then the forlorn Office assistant was dragged off the stage by a magnet. He chanted: "Bring back Clippy. Bring back Clippy."

    Chernobyl Virus Reapears In Email Promising Nude Photo

    By promising to display pictures of actress Jennifer Lopez naked, the destructive Chernobyl virus is again spreading across the Internet via e-mail. Antivirus-software maker Panda Software issued an alert Thursday after receiving about eight reports of the virus, including one from a major aviation company. The company discovered the problem before the virus could do any significant damage. Panda has given the virus its highest rating of potential risk, distribution and destruction. However, Panda competitor Symantec considers the virus less of a threat, saying it received only six reports through Wednesday, indicating that it was spreading too slowly to cause any real damage. While the distribution has been limited, the virus still poses a serious threat, said Steve Demogines, director of tech support at Panda. The Chernobyl virus can erase files and disable computers. The other factor that makes it dangerous, Demogines said, is that it uses a "social engineering" technique that could prove effective. The term social engineering refers to the practice of coming up with intriguing e-mail subject lines to fool the unsuspecting into opening virus-infected files. The Lopez file's subject line reads "Where are you," and the attachment is titled JenniferLopez_Naked.JPG.VBS. "Virus writers are still successfully using the social engineering technique to trick the unwary user," Panda said in a statement Thursday.

    Aimster Signs Partnership With Microsoft's MSN

    File-swapping company Aimster has struck a marketing deal with Microsoft Network that will co-brand the controversial service with the software giant's online site. The marketing arrangement, although small in the scheme of technology partnerships, comes at a potentially awkward time for Microsoft, which is trying to win major record company support for its MSN Music service. The major record labels sued Aimster last week, alleging that like Napster, the service allows people to violate copyrights by trading music online. The Aimster service can also be used to search for and download Microsoft software, such as the Office suite. The relationship was struck through an outside marketing agency and not directly by Microsoft itself, sources close to the companies said. Sources said that Aimster would release the MSN-themed "skin" for its service on its Web site Thursday, allowing Aimster members to change the look and feel of the music-swapping service to resemble Microsoft's MSN Explorer software. Featuring prominent MSN logos, it also provides a link to the MSN Internet service subscription page. A Microsoft representative declined to comment on the co-branding issue.

    Friday June 1, 2001 Top

    Faster AMD Chips to be Announced Next Week

    Advanced Micro Devices will rev up Athlon again with the introduction of its fastest desktop chip late next week. The chipmaker, as expected , will announce its 1.4GHz desktop Athlon processor and a new 950MHz Duron chip next week at the Computex trade show in Taiwan, sources familiar with AMD's plans said. AMD declined to comment. The new chips come during a busy period for the company. The Athlon launch marks AMD's fourth Athlon chip introduction for the year, including its new Athlon 4 mobile processor. The 1.4GHz clock speed is expected to help AMD battle back against Intel's recently introduced 1.7GHz Pentium 4 chip. Despite the difference in clock speed, and Intel's claims to the contrary, AMD says its Athlon chip is "faster" than the Pentium 4 on most applications. Meanwhile, the 950MHz Duron chip is AMD's third Duron launch so far this year. The Duron chip family, aimed at low-price PCs, offers many of the attributes of the Athlon but uses a smaller cache and comes in at a lower price. The 950MHz and 1.4GHz chips have long been anticipated. During AMD's recent first-quarter earnings call, CEO Jerry Sanders mentioned that the 1.4GHz chip would appear in the second quarter. The Athlon 4 and the new workstation and server chips are based on a new processor core with several improvements--most importantly, the ability to perform with far less power consumption. This core, known by the code name Palomino, will also give rise to new desktop Athlon chips running at 1.5GHz and above, scheduled for introduction in the third quarter of this year.

    AOL and Microsoft Continue To Discuss New Deal

    AOL Time Warner and Microsoft are back at the bargaining table over whether AOL's software will be included in the soon-to-be released Windows XP operating system, after talks broke down late last week. "We're back at the table, we're happy to be back at the table, and hope to reach a mutually beneficial conclusion," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan. AOL was not immediately available for comment. A five-year deal that gave AOL coveted placement on the Windows desktop and made Microsoft's Internet Explorer the default browser on America Online's flagship service expired on Jan. 1 of this year. Published reports Saturday said that the talks to renew the deal were called off when the companies, both vying to become the dominant force on the Internet, could not agree to terms. Although the talks are back on, a source close to the negotiations said the companies are still "far apart" on key issues, "from technical questions to the overall relationship." One sticking point is whether AOL's software will support Microsoft's Windows Media Player in addition to its current support for RealNetworks' RealPlayer format. Microsoft and AOL have also sparred over instant messaging and other issues.

    Latest Version of Mozilla Released for Mac OS X

    Version 0.9 of Fizzilla , "Mozilla for MacOS X", was release yesterday.

    Fizzilla Update:
    We now have two paths to Fizzilla: FizzillaCFM -- fully Carbon, mac back-end, CFM based; FizzillaMach -- mac Carbon front-end, unix backend. Mach-o based Each path has its own build instructions and its own set of flaws and foibles and hence deserves its own page. The wonderful thing about open source is that both can get the attention they deserve. The big question, however, is "what is Netscape going to do with Netscape6?" Even though we like the idea of FizzillaMach for the future, the tools just aren't there yet. The benefits of being able to leverage the existing OS9 build system and tools for development are too great given the small amount of time we have to work on this on the side. Remember, Netscape's primary mission right now is to ship Netscape6 for OS9 and we cannot do anything to jeopardize that plan. So where you will probably see the majority of the work is with FizzillaCFM. We are not abandoning FizzillaMach by any stretch of the imagination. Now is just not the time for it to shine. These issues and other remaining issues are covered in a What's Remaining document. This is where you (the average Mozilla citizen) can help out!
    Download Fizzilla

    Alpha Version of AOL 7.0 Released on the Internet

    Some Web surfers got a sneak peek at an internal alpha edition of Version 7.0 of America Online Inc.'s client software Wednesday when it was made available for download from several Web sites devoted to AOL software and insider information. AOL quickly blocked the software from signing on to the service, but not before a significant number of people were able to log in and take screen shots of the software. What these users saw were changes to the ubiquitous "Welcome Screen" and Buddy List features. Other than those areas, most of the interface appeared to be identical to AOL 6.0. One feature not in the alpha is the much-hyped Komodo browser module, which would allow AOL members to use third-party Internet browsers, such as one from Netscape, instead of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer. As with all alpha editions of software, there may be many more additional features and changes to the software before it is released to the public. AOL 7.0, code named Taz, has been the source of rumors and speculation for several months. Internal AOL documents have indicated that Taz will be released in August barring any unforeseen technical issues. Taz is also expected to feature the Komodo browser engine by the time it reaches beta testing.

    Hole Found in Hotmail and Yahoo Mail

    Hotmail and Yahoo have left open a security hole that could be exploited to create a self-mailing worm that, while not damaging, could clog Internet mail servers, a security expert said this week. The vulnerability allows an attacker to create an e-mail containing an HTML link that can act as a worm. If clicked by a user of one of the vulnerable Web-based e-mail services, the HTML code will execute, making it possible to manipulate the person's in-box and send e-mail, said Matt Parcens, the independent software specialist who discovered the flaw. "The webworm has serious short-term danger, but less of a danger in the long term," he said in an e-mail to CNET "For the webworm to be active, a hole must exist on the same server that serves the mail. This limits the number of possible holes dramatically." If properly coded, the HTML link could forward itself to the sender of every e-mail stored in the victim's in-box, Parcens said. The result: a deluge of e-mail. On Friday, Microsoft confirmed that the security hole existed on its Hotmail Web-based mail service, but that it had plugged the hole by Friday afternoon. As of about 5:30 p.m. PDT Friday, Yahoo had not fixed the hole. But a company representative said it would be fixed by the end of the day.

    Weekend June 2 & 3, 2001 Top

    Bill Gates Optimistic Of Office XP Sales

    The co-founder of the world's biggest software company sees plenty to be bullish about, telling Reuters in an interview on Thursday that updates to Microsoft's key products--the Windows operating system and the Office suite of business applications--were big steps for the company this year. Microsoft is to launch its new operating system, called Windows XP, this fall, touting it as the biggest improvement to the product in five years. Gates said Windows XP will be such a step up that it will roust languishing PC sales. "We do think that Windows XP will help drive hardware demand," Gates said. "It shows off a lot of the new hardware advances that previous operating systems were not designed for." "If you look at what people spend on knowledge workers: their salaries, the network, the equipment, the support, you know, getting them the latest software with the new features and reliability, then (buying Office XP) is a huge payback compared to most things that people look at," Gates said.

    "You've got three parts, Office XP, Windows XP and then PCs themselves, and advances in Office XP sometimes will motivate somebody to go ahead and upgrade the operating system or upgrade the hardware," Gates said. "We see this upgrade as moving very rapidly," Gates said. Sales of desktop applications, of which Office is the most crucial, rose less than 7 percent in the three months ended March 31, totaling $2.26 billion. Sales of desktop platforms--i.e., Windows--rose 16 percent to $2.05 billion. Gates said Office XP was also a step toward delivering on Microsoft's .Net strategy, which aims to meld its products with the Internet and eventually turn software into Web-based subscription services. Key to that strategy is XML, or extensible markup language, a technology that describes different kinds of data so different networks can easily talk to each other. "XP is about the sharing capabilities and the XML support, and those are making Office a key part of what we're doing with .Net," Gates said. "So every release we do, the .Net strategy comes that much more into focus for all our users," Gates said.

    Broadband Reaches 9 Million Residential User Mark

    Despite a recent decline in the number of U.S. homes with Internet access, 119,000 North Americans are signing up for high-speed Internet access to their homes per week, according to a study released Friday. A survey conducted by Kinetic Strategies found there are 9.3 million residential customers of broadband Internet services in North America, which includes 8.2 percent household penetration. In addition, the study found that cable is outpacing digital subscriber line service, with 70 percent market share. Cable modem providers continue to dominate DSL providers, with an estimated 6.4 million cable modem customers in the United States and Canada, equal to 70 percent of the market. In comparison, DSL providers served 2.9 million residential subscribers, according to the survey. Kinetic Strategies President Michael Harris expects broadband to continue to grow despite the recent price hikes and economic slowdown, albeit at a slower rate. "We expect additional broadband subscriptions to grow despite the economic slowdown," Harris said. "But the acceleration of this growth will be affected by the downturn." "With DSL providers raising prices, we expect cable modem providers to see growth," Harris said. In addition, cable came out of the gates offering bundled packages with Internet access, voice and video applications, making it an attractive buy compared with DSL, Guglielmo said. "Cable has done a good job in bundling applications. This hasn't been the case with DSL, which has raised its prices while cable prices have remained low."

    Linux Makes the Jump to the Sony Playstation

    After high demand for Sony's Japanese release of Linux for the PlayStation 2 game console, another company is leaping into the fray. The Czech company Blokman Trading has released a test, or alpha, version of the Linux 2.4 kernel for the original PlayStation console--now dubbed PSone. Sony has strictly controlled its release of PlayStation 2 Linux, building 1,000 of the kits that are set to go on sale this summer and will work only on the Japanese version of the console. The PlayStation 2 LinuxKit includes a DVD with software, a 40GB hard drive, a keyboard and a mouse. In response, the Czech company said it will make its Linux port, called Runix, available for free. In addition, the company intends to publish the software as open source under the GNU General Public License . Vadim Veshchezerov, Blokman's co-founder and CEO, said the aim is to "transform (the) Sony PlayStation and Sony PlayStation 2 into a low-priced desktop computer." Blokman said it will provide a beta version of Runix in July and a final version in October. By the end of the year, it plans to release a software development kit and office software for Linux on PlayStation. A port for PlayStation 2 is also planned, although Blokman did not announce a date. Sony released its PlayStation 2 Linux after high consumer demand, including a petition with thousands of names. The Runix kernel is available in a 26MB download on

    Internet News to be Rated by Consumer Reports

    Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and, says it plans to rank online news sites. The Yonkers, N.Y.-based nonprofit named Beau Brendler, former editorial director and a founder of, as director of the Web Credibility Project, which aims to create editorial standards, examine trends, and assess credibility of online information. Funded by grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Open Society Institute, researchers will expose potential mislabeling of advertising and analyze the reliability of financial, health, business and general-interest news sites. "Now more than ever, with Web ventures shutting down every week, consumers need to know that the sites they are relying on for news, vital information and business transactions aren't hiding anything and are doing their jobs in an honest, credible way," Brendler said.

    Tony Hawk 2 Released for the Mac

    Aspyr a top publisher of Mac Games has Released Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 for the mac. It is one of the first games to support Mac OS X and can be played on any system with a g3 or g4 processor. Ollie, Grind and skate the way you always knew you could! Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is the ultimate extreme sport experience, with a hip hop and punk soundtrack, skate as the legendary Tony Hawk, one of 12 other pro skaters or create your own pro from scratch. Go head-to-head on terrain that would make even a novice skater drool. Players can also design their own dream park, using a variety of ramps and more. Original levels from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater are included in the single-player mode and the multiplayer play modes include single-player career and free skate modes as well as 2-player modes such as trick attack, graffiti, tag and horse. Skate or Die! Aspyr Tony Hawk Site

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