|October, 1997 Archive
Friday, October 31st
Sub-$1,000 Mac, Monitor Combo From Mactell
Although the $1,000 price barrier in the Macintosh market has been broken before, Mactell Corporation said this week they will begin shipping the first PowerPC-based clone and monitor combination for under $1,000. "The sub $1,000 category is the fastest growing segment in the computer market, we feel its time computer buyers have the opportunity to purchase a complete Mac OS system for under $1,000," said Pat Berry, Vice President at Mactell. The previously available XB Tanzania 200 (PowerPC 603e/200MHz, 16MB RAM, 16X CD-ROM, 2MB VRAM, and 1.2GB HD) will now be bundled with a 14-inch monitor at a price of $999 for the slim line design, with the mini-tower model coming in at $1,099.
PowerTools Announces World's Fastest Mac
X-Force line rocks MacBench 4.0 benchmarks with a processor score of over 1350
For a company who was often shielded from public recognition by the plethora of clone vendors, PowerTools couldn't have been happier to see such giants in the Mac OS field as Power Computing and Motorola make their departure from the market. Not only did this allow PowerTools to become the first vendor to offer a PowerPC 750-based machine, but they are basically now the only alternative to Apple systems at the high-end. And with the introduction of a new line of machines earlier this week, PowerTools will continue to hold on to the claim of having the fastest Mac OS desktop machine available. Dubbed "X-Force", the new line consists of both a PowerPC 750/250-MHz model and 750/275-MHz model, each with two different configuration bundles. Details of each configuration are seen below:
PowerPC 750/250-MHz 32MB RAM 2.1GB SCSI-3 Hard Drive 24X CD-ROM 1MB Backside Cache 4MB IMS Video Card 10-BaseT Ethernet Mac OS 8 FWB Hard Disk Toolkit
PowerPC 750/250-MHz 80MB RAM 9.1GB Fast-Wide SCSI-3 24X CD-ROM 1MB Backside Cache 4MB IMS Video Card 10-BaseT Ethernet Mac OS 8 FWB Hard Disk Toolkit
PowerPC 750/275-MHz 32MB RAM 2.1GB SCSI-3 Hard Drive 24X CD-ROM 1MB Backside Cache 4MB IMS Video Card 10-BaseT Ethernet Mac OS 8 FWB Hard Disk Toolkit
PowerPC 750/275-MHz 80MB RAM 9.1GB Fast-Wide SCSI-3 24X CD-ROM 1MB Backside Cache 4MB IMS Video Card 10-BaseT Ethernet Mac OS 8 FWB Hard Disk Toolkit
Apple Extends "Add-On Take-Off" Promotion
Apple Computer announced today that they are extending their "Add-On Take-Off" promotion, originally launched on October 13th, to include the entire Power Macintosh 6500 home and small business line of machines. The promotion, which previously only covered the 8600 line, gives customers purchasing one of the nine models before January 18, 1998 a variety of benefits, including cash back when the systems are paired with a monitor.
Press Release - Apple
TCI Files $42.75 Million Lawsuit Against Power
In the first lawsuit stemming from Apple Computer's $100 million license buyout of Power Computing in September, TCI Manufacturing has filed suit against the former Mac OS clone vendor claiming it was driven out of business by Power's decision to sell its Mac OS assets. The company, who was the exclusive provider of casing and internal power supply units for Power, is seeking $42.75 million for breach of contract, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, promissory estoppel, and fraud, all relating to orders Power placed for equipment from TCI and then abruptly canceled following the buyout by Apple. Subsequently, TCI was forced to shut down its offices in Austin, Toronto, and Tokyo, leaving only four employees (out of 40) working.
"Power Computing was put out of business by Apple, and they got $100 million," said TCI president Patrick Jabal. "Then they put us out of business, and they don't want to give us anything." TCI contends that Power failed to warn them of the cancelled orders, which left TCI with an unsold inventory of specialized parts for Power worth millions. "Power Computing relied heavily on us to develop customized products in short order and we delivered," said Jabal. "Now it's time for them to deliver by honoring their contracts and they've left us blowing in the wind."
Press Release - Power Computing
Unisys CEO Squashes Compaq Rumors
Responding to hearsay that claimed Compaq was interested in purchasing Unisys or any part of its assets, Unisys Chairman and Chief Executive Larry Weinbach said he was not aware of any impending deal. "If they're coming to buy, it I'm not aware of it," he said during a conference call with reporters. Weinbach commented further by noting of other rumored acquisitions by Compaq, including Digital Equipment. Since acquiring server specialists Tandem Computer this past summer, speculation has been that Compaq will begin using their large allotment of cash to purchase other firms.
Reuters Report - Unisys - Compaq
Interview With Riven Designer Robyn Miller
To coincide with today's nationwide release of Riven: The Sequel to Myst, the Riven Unofficial Home Page has posted an interview with the game's co-designer, Robyn Miller. Miller, who along with his brother Rand co-founded Cyan Entertainment, talks of the success of Myst, his philosophy of game designer, and of the development teams's use of HyperCard, which was an instrumental tool in the creation of both Myst and Riven.
The Unofficial Riven Home Page - Riven Home Page
Insignia Appoints New Chief Financial Officer
Insignia Solutions' board of directors has approved the appointment of Stephen M. Ambler as chief financial officer, the company announced yesterday. Ambler first joined the provider of emulation solutions in April 1994 as director of Finance and Administration for Europe. In March of this year he was named Worldwide Corporate Controller. "Stephen is an experienced financial executive, with expertise in the international technology and communications industries," said Richard M. Noling, Insignia Solutions' president and CEO. "He is well respected by his peers and he has an intimate knowledge of finance and general management in both the European and United States business communities. He is a valued addition to our team."
Press Release - Insignia Solutions
Thursday, October 30th
Salomon Brothers Restarts Coverage Of Apple
Brokerage firm Salomon Brothers said today that it has restarted its coverage of Apple Computer with an underperform rating. Changes in the company's business structuring, namely its approach to licensing the Mac OS, initiated the new coverage. In addition, Salomon analyst Richard Gardner Jr. commented in a research note that Apple needs a strong chief executive for a turnaround. For the day, shares of Apple were off 1 point, or 5.71 percent, on relatively low trading of 1.6 million shares.
Research Alert - Apple
Jobs Likely To Become Chairman, Ellison Tells
Apple board member and Oracle president and chief executive Larry Ellison said that is likely that Steve Jobs will become chairman of Apple and abandon his position as interim chief executive of the company, according to a published report in the Washington Post. Ellison, who was in Washington yesterday to attend a White House state dinner for Chinese President Jiang Zemin, told the paper that Apple is "still in an active search" for a permanent CEO, and that Jobs himself is especially enthusiastic about one unnamed candidate in particular. As chairman, Ellison says that Jobs' time at the Cupertino computer would be reduced to a day and a half a week and that he would "lead more by persuasion than authority."
But the man who floated the infamous Apple takeover "trial balloon" last spring doesn't believe his best friend will upgrade his current interim chief executive position to a permanent one. "I don't think Steve wants to be CEO of Apple," Ellison said. "He wants to spend a little time with his family and have a life."
Washington Post Article - Oracle - Apple
Java Standardization Attempt Struck Down
Sun Microsystems latest attempt in their continuing efforts to become the official standards-setter for its Java technologies was struck down yesterday by a U.S. advisory group to an international standards body. The company, who has insisted on remaining the submitter of standards for Java to the International Standards Organization, has been stormed with protest to such a move by companies including Microsoft, Intel, Compaq Computer, and Digital Equipment. Each of them said in an open letter last month that they would only support an ISO-certified Java standard if Sun agreed to relinquish rights to the technology.
Reuters Report - Sun Microsystems
Myst Sequel Ready For Halloween Release
After nearly four years of waiting, fans of the best-selling computer game of all-time will finally have the chance to experience the sequel. Red Orb Entertainment is hoping to follow in the footsteps of a game that has sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide with Riven: The Sequel To Myst. Scheduled to be in stores tomorrow morning, Riven, a five CD collection available for both Wintel and Power Macintosh machines, is already garnering rave reviews, with most saying that the game is as good if not better than original.
"Riven was inspired by many things, mostly subconscious, but it was a much more purposeful work than Myst," said Rand Miller, president of Cyan. "The creative effort entailed a much larger degree of asking ourselves 'why' before adding elements to the game. Before creating a building, for example, or an animal or tool, we wanted to know who built it, why it was built, what materials it would likely be made of and other details."
"The story of Riven picks up almost exactly where Myst ended, but after that, it's all new characters and environments," said Robyn Miller, co-designer of Riven. "It's our focus on the story that sets this genre apart from other types of computer games. I believe it is a more powerful genre in which the story has the power to provoke people into looking at the world in a slightly different way.
Press Release - Riven Homepage
New Program Eases Quake Internet Play
Scott Kevill's $15 shareware QuakeFinder 1.0, available for download from his Web page, is a program for finding, analyzing, and joining, Internet multiplayer Quake servers on the Macintosh. Kevill is also working on another Quake-related utility; a real-time level editor entitled "Quiver."
Scott Kevill's Homepage
Wednesday, October 29th
IE, Cyberdog Exposed To JDirect Security Flaw
Following our report yesterday which uncovered a potentially disastrous security flaw in Apple's JDirect technology, we were reminded that the same glitch could also affect Cyberdog users, as Mac OS Runtime for Java 1.5 is also used as that suite's JVM. Initially we highlighted Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the only browser susceptible to this loophole (when it's used with MRJ 1.5), but as Cyberdog uses the same fundamental Java engine, it too could fall victim to the glitch which grants any Java applet access to native Mac OS toolbox calls. For further information, we have moved the story to a separate page and have included instructions for disabling Java in Cyberdog.
WebObjects Nominated For Industry Award
Apple Enterprise's WebObjects has been nominated as one of 33 candidates for Open Systems Advisors, Inc's Crossroads 98 A-List Awards in the applications software category. The awards, which are "based on frank, in-depth, confidential interviews with customers who are deploying the products," will be presented on March 1-4, 1998 during the Crossroads 98 Conference.
Press Release - Open Systems Advisors - Apple Enterprise
Blue World Releases Beta Of Lasso 2.5
Blue World Communications today announced the availability of Lasso 2.5 beta 1, the latest release of their Web tool that furnishes Claris' FileMaker Pro databases with Web and Java capabilities. Announced original as 2.1, Lasso 2.5 provides even greater performance, enhanced functionality and interoperability between different tags and greater standardization in tag operations. "Lasso 2.5 enhances the integrated Lasso technology in FileMaker Pro 4.0, providing a comprehensive, sophisticated Internet business solution for users of the new FileMaker Pro version and allowing seamless Web database publishing for customers who continue to use FileMaker Pro 3.0," said Blue World President & CEO Bill Doerrfeld in a statement.
Lasso 2.5 is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 1997 at a price of $349 and $499 for the CGI/Plugin and Server versions, respectively. Customers who purchase Lasso 2.0 between now and the release of 2.5 will be entitled to a free upgrade.
Blue World Communications - Lasso 2.5 Beta 1
"Monster" 1.1-GHz PowerPC Coming From IBM
According to a report on TechWeb, IBM and Intel are expected to announce details of two "monster microprocessors" at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, scheduled to take place in February of next year. The online publication depicts IBM's monster offering as a 1.1-GHz 64-bit PowerPC integer processor that uses one million transistors and a wiring design rule of just 0.15 microns.
TechWeb Article - IBM - Intel
Metrowerks Ships CodeWarrior Latitude DR2
CodeWarrior Latitude DR2, Metrowerks' development tool that helps aid the process of migrating existing Macintosh applications over to Rhapsody, began shipping earlier this week. Latitude DR2 works in combination with the recently released Rhapsody DR1, making it possible for developers to begin immediately moving their applications over to the next-generation operating system. While Rhapsody made be the program's main selling point, the $399 Latitude also has the ability to take Mac OS code and produce applications for Sun's Solaris 2.3+ and Silicon Graphics' IRIX 5.2+ operating systems.
"Historically, we have made it our business to get the software tools for developing a new technology into the hands of product developers as quickly as possible," said Greg Galanos, president and CTO, Metrowerks. "When Apple introduced the PowerMac, we were there with CodeWarrior software development tools. Now, with Apple's introduction of Rhapsody, the next generation operating system, we are here with tools for programmers that will bring native Rhapsody applications to market quickly."
Press Release - Metrowerks Homepage
Pennsylvania Coin-Op Firm Follows Intel's Lead
Family owned Pennsylvania-based coin-op firm, PlayPak Systems, is following in the footsteps laid by Intel last week with plans for a computer-based arcade system. However, as reported by Next Generation Online, in PlayPak's case, the innards of the machine will be built around a stock Power Macintosh 7600. Similar to Intel's Open Arcade Architecture (OAA), which was rolled out at the same AMOA show in Texas, PlayPak's intentions are two-fold: one is the previously unsuccessful notion that arcades owners can have one system with many rotating games for it; two, by having one similar platform for both the arcade and home use, the belief is that development for the Mac will be increased. The company has four titles already lined up for release, including Ultra United's Battle Girl, MacSoft's Prime Target, The Untouchable, and Project Magellan. Six more are currently being negotiated.
Next Generation Online Article - Intel
MacTech Launches New 3,000+ Page Web Site
Xplain Corporation's monthly Macintosh developers journal, MacTech, now has a 3,000+ page Web site to go along with it. The company took the wraps off the new project today and as publisher Neil Ticktin points out, the site is just about the most encompassing resource outside of Apple's Developers World for Macintosh developers, especially considering it features every article dating back to the magazine's inception in 1984. Also apart of the site is the entire 29 issue history of develop, Apple's award winning technical journal.
Tuesday, October 28th
Jobs Story Rubbish, Cotton Tells MacWEEK
Apple has denied a story which said that interim chief executive Steve Jobs has decided to pass on the opportunity to become permanent CEO of the company, MacWEEK details. Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton told the publication that the Reuters story in question resulted from a "grapevine game" after a Pixar conference call Jobs held with financial analysts last evening. The report quoted Pixar chief financial officer Lawrence Levy as saying that Jobs would be back in the Pixar fold full-time by early next year. Instead, Cotton said that Jobs was merely reaffirming his position as interim CEO and the company's plans to appoint a permanent chief executive by the end of the year.
MacWEEK Article - Reuters Article - Apple Computer
Apple Technology Opens Java Security Hole
Based on the discovery of two major Internet Explorer security holes found over the course of the past month, it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before Macintosh users found themselves susceptible to similar security flaws. It looks like that time has come, following word that Apple's JDirect technology presents a glitch which allows any Java applet to make native Mac OS calls. As you'll recount, Apple implemented the JDirect subsystem in Mac OS Runtime for Java 1.5 to give developers easy access to the Mac OS toolbox routines (such as printing, saving to a disk, etc.) in their Java programs. However, the technology was meant to be limited to simply Java applications, and not the more restricted applets. Unfortunately, engineers overlooked this, making any Macintosh using Internet Explorer with MRJ 1.5 as its Java Virtual Machine vulnerable to malicious applets. [MORE...]
Newer Releases MAXpowr PRO Sales Estimates
Thousands of Macintosh users longing for the speed benefits of the PowerPC 750 processor aren't waiting around until November 10th (when Apple is expected to announce their line of 750-based systems), at least according to sales estimates released today by Newer Technology. The upgrade specialist said that they are on pace to ship more than 5,000 PowerPC-750 based MAXpowr PRO/PRO+ processor upgrade cards in the first 30 days since its release. Meanwhile, in a joint announcement, Newer announced the release of an upgraded version of the MAXpowr PRO's control panel. Several major design improvements have been made to the software -- motherboard cache switch and reduced DRAM wait states -- each of which provides increased performance.
Newer Technology - New Control Panel
Diamond Working On Monster 3D Mac Drivers
While Diamond Multimedia's PC 3Dfx Voodoo-based Monster 3D video card has no problems functioning with the Macintosh version of id Software's Quake, the company has neither supported the card for use with Macs nor provided native QuickDraw 3D RAVE and Glide drivers, making it unusable with any games that don't support OpenGL. Apparently, however, this is changing, as the company notes in a Monster 3D FAQ the following: "Quickdraw3D Rave and Glide drivers for Voodoo Graphics on PCI-based PowerMACs are under development. Stay tuned for more information on this."
Diamond Multimedia - Monster 3D FAQ
IBM Makes Copper Chip Technology Available
IBM announced yesterday that it has begun making its vaunted copper semi-conductor technology available to electronic manufacturers. Announced last month, IBM's copper technology enables the use of higher-performance copper in place of the aluminum wiring traditionally used in chip manufacturing. Design kits will be available in January 1998 for companies interested in using the copper technology in the creation of custom-built application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) chips. It's expected that the first copper-ASICs will be used in high-end servers, possibly beginning as early as late 1998.
Press Release - IBM Microelectronics
Apple's Slipping Market Share Continues
The recent erosion in Apple Computer's share of the worldwide personal computer market slipped again in the third quarter, MacWEEK reports, despite growth of over 16 percent in the overall market. International Data Corp.'s quarterly report says that Macintosh sales accounted for just 3.3 percent of the worldwide computer market, down 5.5 percent in the year ago period and 3.8 percent in the previous quarter. For the quarter, Apple shipped 650,000 computers globally, with domestic sales accounting for about half that amount, a number which will likely put the company near the bottom of the Top 10 PC makers list.
MacWEEK Article - Apple
Terry Morse Software Posts Myrmidon Update
Several bugs and compatibility issues are addressed in the latest update to Terry Morse Software's Web page generator, Myrmidon 2.0.1. Updates for the commercial version have been posted on the company's Web site, and a demo of the new version is available as well, although as the company notes, the 2.0.1 demo will not be installable if previous demos reached their expiration limit.
Terry Morse Software - Myrmidon Updates
Monday, October 27th
Microsoft Responds To Sun With Countersuit
Responding to the claims made earlier this month by Sun Microsystems, Microsoft today filed a countersuit "for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and unfair competition for Sun's repeated failure to live up to its obligations under the two companies' agreement of March 11, 1996." The lawsuit by Microsoft contends that is actually Sun who is at fault, in part because of their failure to deliver technology that passes the Java test suite and, at the same time, runs on the Microsoft Reference implementation. Moreover, Microsoft claims that Sun is breaking their obligation to treat all Java licensees on equal footing, as the Redmond, WA-based software giant seems to feel that they are being singled out because of their competitive role with the Java inventor.
Press Release - Microsoft - Sun Microsystems
Special Coverage: The Street's Monday Sell Off
Just ten years and one week after the infamous "Black Monday" in which the Dow Jones Industrial average fell 504 points, Wall Street saw its biggest loss in history today, bringing trading to an end nearly 30 minutes before the scheduled close of the markets. Fueled by early broad-based selling and concerns over the foreign markets, the Dow plummeted 554.36 points, enacting the trading curbs which ended trading in the day. Earlier, around 2:45PM/EST, the Dow hovered around a 300 point decline and subsequently reached 350 on the negative side, putting in place the first halt (the large downside curbs were put in place, ironically, following the crash of 1987). A half-hour later, trading opened and the selling spree continued, plunging the Dow to where it ended the day at 7,161.15, off nearly 7% since the markets opened this morning.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq also took part in this historic day, losing 115.43 points to end the day at 1535.49. Nearly every one of the industry stalwarts, companies such as Intel, America Online, Microsoft, Dell, Compaq, Sun, Oracle, Ascend, 3Com, Cisco, etc., were hit hard, although surprisingly, Apple escaped the day with a marginal gain. Below is a list of Macintosh-related companies and how they performed on this dark Monday.
|Adobe Systems, Inc.
- 3 1/8
|Apple Computer, Inc.
- 3 5/8
- 1 7/8
- 1 3/4
- 6 1/2
- 4 3/4
MetaCreations' Bryce Continues Evolution
When it first debuted, MetaCreations' Bryce was viewed by many as a "gee-whiz" application, one that created breathtaking output yet didn't have enough capabilities or features to make it a natural fit for the typical graphic toolbox of professional artists. But now, in its third incarnation -- "Bryce 3D", announced today -- MetaCreations has molded the program into a sophisticated 3D animation engine, complete with your typical support for QuickTime and AVI data formats, imported 3D objects, and of course, animation. Impressive, however, is the complete control Bryce 3D will give users. Any property, be it atmosphere, objects, imported 3D models or terrains, can be animated, and with the new Advanced Motion Timeline, artists will be able to simulate real-world camera motions, even going so far as to tailor specific key-frame and acceleration curves.
"We are pleased to announce our plans to deliver Bryce 3D to the marketplace, giving 3D artists a tool that allows them to create everything from breathtaking natural 3D worlds and abstract still scene files to fully animatable 3D," said John Wilczak, CEO of MetaCreations. "This version of Bryce will integrate powerful animation and file support, but retain its elegant, easy-to-use interface that it is so well known for. It's a true victory for 3D artists and animators -- both professional and the serious hobbyist."
Scheduled to ship near the end of November at $299 ($99 for registered owners), Bryce 3D will be available as a Windows 95/NT and Power Macintosh hybrid. It will take advantage of OpenGL and DirectX on the Wintel platform, although from the company's announcement today, it appears the Macintosh version will not support QuickDraw 3D, or any form of acceleration.
Press Release - MetaCreations Corp.
AG Edwards Upgrades Outlook On Apple
Brokerage firm AG Edwards issued an upgrade on shares of Apple Computer today, promoting shares of the company from "reduce" to "maintain". Mid-day trading has seen a fractional gain in the stock, up 5/8 or almost 4%, on moderately heavy volume of 1,681,900 shares trading hands.
Yahoo/Briefing: Upgrades & Downgrades
Macintosh World Awaits Jobs' Answer
As first reported last Friday afternoon, Apple's interim chief executive officer Steve Jobs is expected to decide today whether or not to take on the high-ranking position in Cupertino full-time, following his return from a week-long vacation in Hawaii. Long believed to be true to his current title, Jobs rattled the industry earlier this month at the Macromedia User's Conference in San Francisco, where he was the keynote speaker. The revelation that Jobs would consider taking on the CEO seat full-time drew an immediate response from Apple who, at the time, claimed that their search for a full-time replacement was continuing as scheduled.
However, that search might have lost its wheels since Jobs' pronouncement, as CNBC's technology correspondent Bruce Francis reported on Friday that Apple brought an internal halt to the three month search last week. Coincidently, this followed the events of the past two weeks in which two candidates (Joe Costello and Dave Dorman) who were reportedly to be on the company's short-list of prospects decided to join other ventures.
Reuters Article - Apple Computer
Apple's New "Experience The Revolution"
QuickTime VR enthusiasts now have the chance to win one of the limited-edition Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh machines, as part of Apple's QuickTime VR Authoring Studio "Experience the Revolution" contest, announced today. Entries for the contest are being accepted from now until January 31, 1998, and winners will awarded in the following categories: objects, animation objects, panoramas, multimedia, and Web. A panel of judges will select the four best entries in each category, with those winners each receiving a prize corresponding to their ranking. A overall "Best Of Show" recipient will win the aforementioned, prestigious Twentieth Anniversary Mac.
Press Release - QuickTime VR Homepage
Signed "Apple", MAXpowr Bundle From MacCPU
Beginning this week, reseller MacCPU will begin bundling an autographed copy of Jim Carlton's fascinating and candid new book, "Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders", with each shipment of the MAXpowr PRO 250 PowerPC 750-based upgrade card, the company said today.
Restructuring, Job Cuts Looming At SGI
Citing a source "close to the company," Friday's edition of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a large restructuring effort is looming over the head of Silicon Graphics, the prominent workstation maker. The reorganization, reportedly comprising of cuts to 300 of company's 11,000 full-time positions, will be the latest twist in the company known for their contributions to the animation industry. Last quarter, SGI surprised Wall Street with better than expected earnings, but the company's fortunes were hit earlier this month when chief executive Ed McCraken warned that its first-quarter results would be well below the Street's estimates, because of slower-than-expected sales of its network servers.
Silicon Graphics, for its part, had no immediate comment other than saying they will divulge their quarter earnings report and near-term action after the stock market closes today, as scheduled. Meanwhile, the Chronicle, citing the same source, also said that the company has begun looking for an outside corporate suitor, and is drawing some interest from IBM.
SF Chronicle Article - Silicon Graphics
Intergraph Takes Aim At Apple With "ExtremeZ"
Huntsville, Ala.-based Intergraph Corp. will extend their family of high-end Windows NT workstations with an offering aimed to directly compete with Apple in the publishing market. The company, who had a presence at the recent publishing-oriented Seybold Conference, is prepping the new "ExtremeZ" series as a product which can be easily integrated in a Mac environment, through the inclusion of AppleTalk software. The "basic" ExtremeZ configuration, outfitted with a Pentium II/300-MHz, 64MB of RAM, 4GB hard drive, and Intergraph's RealiZm II OpenGL 3D accelerator, retails for just under $10,000.
TechWeb Article - Intergraph
Friday, October 24th
Where Would The Computing World Be Today?
Dave Winer's Scripting News has obtained a letter from Microsoft's Bill Gates to then Apple chief executive John Sculley, dated July 29, 1985, that candidly captures Gates' willingness to help Apple evolve the Macintosh into the global computing standard. In it, Gates expresses his enthusiasm about licensing the Macintosh technology, and recommends approaching three companies in particular about doing so (Northern Telecom, Motorola, and AT&T;). Winer also includes a copy of another letter, dated June 25, 1985, from Bill Gates and Jeff Raikes which corroborate the idea of licensing the Mac technology to significant manufacturers for the creation of "Mac compatibles." The letter goes on to state, "Microsoft is very willing to help Apple implement this strategy. We are familiar with the key manufacturers, their strategies and strengths. We also have a great deal of experience in OEMing system software."
Scripting News - Cover Letter - Apple - Microsoft
Apple Halts CEO Search, CNBC Reports
CNBC's technology correspondent Bruce Francis reported late this afternoon that Apple has internally halted their search for a replacement chief executive officer, pending the return of Steve Jobs from the vacation in Hawaii he has been on this past week. According to Francis, when Jobs returns from his holiday on Monday, he will deliver an answer to the executive staff and board of directors in Cupertino regarding whether or not he will drop the interim title and officially take the CEO position.
Apple Computer - CNBC
PacBell CEO Dorman Leaves For Pointcast
As expected, Pointcast ended their five month search for a replacement chief executive today. The company announced earlier that David Dorman will leave his job as CEO of Pacific Bell to run Pointcast. The 43-year old Dorman will serve as president and chief executive and will manage all aspects of the company, taking the place of founder Chris Hassett, who remains chairman of the company. Dorman joined Pacific Bell in 1994, the biggest unit of Pacific Telesis, following a stint with Sprint where he helped build that company. PacTel was bought out by SBC Communications last year, leaving the door open for today's events. "With the merger, it was an opportune time," Dorman says. "But I wouldn't have left if not for my enthusiasm for PointCast."
Industry executives expect Dorman to face tough challenges in the wake of growing competition in the content delivery market, especially from Microsoft and Netscape who have built push delivery into the latest versions of their browsers. Dorman, however, sees a role for Pointcast as a tightly focused Web-based media provider. "Microsoft and Netscape are focused on being in the software business," he said. "We're going to be very focused on being a niche player in what we think will be a very big niche."
[UPDATE:] During this afternoon's conference call, Dorman, who was rumored by the Wall Street Journal to be on the short list of possible candidates for the vacant Apple chief executive position, said he gave the prospect of joining the Cupertino firm no thought.
Press Release - Pointcast
Power Computing Files Suit Against Reseller
The Austin American-Statesman reports that Power Computing is suing Education Access Inc. (which was incidently Apple's largest dealer to elementary schools before the firm decided to migrate to Power Computing and IBM machines) for an incident involving the sale of 30 computers to an Iowa school district. Power alleges that the reseller, also known as Computer Plus, Inc., was to be given a commission by a third company but instead billed the Akron Community Schools in Iowa for 30 machines and deposited the payment into its account. (As noted by Ric Ford's MacInTouch, the Computer Plus involved in the suit is apparently different than the one reportedly in association with the MacInsider Web site.)
America-Statesman Article - Power Computing - MacInTouch
Quicken 98 Availability Problems Reported
A Mac Observer reader sent a note earlier today detailing problems he had finding a copy of Intuit's Quicken Deluxe 98, which was released nationwide yesterday. Follow ups by others, however, report of distinctly different experiences.
"Just wanted to pass along that there might be some kind of a problem holding up shipping of Quicken Deluxe 98. Today I tried to locate a copy, to no avail. I live in Indianapolis and the list of stores I tried follows: Meijer, Wal-Mart, Staples, Elek-Tek, Comp USA, Best Buy, Electronics Boutique, Office Depot (which had the only copies of Quicken Basic I could find) and OfficeMax. Upon returning home I tried the MacWarehouse Online ordering system, which listed it as being in stock. I then contacted MacWarehouse by phone and was told that the program was on back-order until the middle of November!?."
"Just wanted to drop a note regarding the reported availability problems of Deluxe for Mac. Based on early reviews, I decided to pre-order a copy from Intuit directly about a month ago. I was promptly shipped Quicken 7 to get me started. Quicken98 arrived about a week ago (interestingly, before the official release date). Perhaps Intuit received more pre-orders than expected, and is filling those first."
"The availability problem for Quicken98 Deluxe is news to me. I ordered it from MacMall about 10 days ago and my copy arrived yesterday (just in time for your review!)."
Bare Bones Announces Collaboration With Uni
Bare Bones Software has announced a collaboration partnership with Uni Software Plus, the result of which will be seen via the integration of Uni's VOODOO version control system with BBEDit, through a BBEdit plug-in module. VOODOO provides a graphical interface and map of each project that reflects variants and revisions of single files as well as whole projects (multiple files, multiple users, multiple variants, access rights, project structure, project history, and more). Interesting buyers can begin purchasing the bundled solution from either Bare Bones or Uni at a special price of $258, a combined savings of $90.
"Software developers, HTML authors and web architects all use BBEdit heavily, and must grapple with issues related to version control on a continuous basis," said Rich Siegel, President and CEO of Bare Bones Software, in a statement. "The integration between BBEdit and VOODOO provides a solution that is low-overhead and easy to use."
Bare Bones Software - Uni Software Plus
Microsoft Reaffirms Absence Of Active Desktop
A Microsoft representative confirmed with InfoWorld Electric news many learned something ago; Macintosh users will not see the TrueWeb Active Desktop integration of the PC variant of Internet Explorer 4.0 when the final version ships in December. Interesting, however, is the admission from the same representative that Microsoft is working closely with Apple to gain further access to the Mac OS APIs, in hopes of eventually bringing the highly controversial integration to Mac desktops. "The hope is we can work together and make the integration possible. The ultimate goal for the product is to give the Mac users the most functionality possible," the Microsoft representative told InfoWorld.
InfoWorld Electric Article - Microsoft
Special Pricing On EPSON's Stylus Color 600
Mail order warehouse Digitek is offering a limited number of EPSON Stylus Color 600 ink jet printers for a special discounted price of $249. The award-winning printer that has received rave reviews by everyone from MacWEEK to PC Magazine, provides unprecedented 1440 X 720 DPI resolution, resulting in photo-quality color and laser quality black text.
Digitek - EPSON
Thursday, October 23rd
Mac Observer Coverage Of Quicken 98 Launch
When financial management enthusiasts hear the often-used phrase "Fall Classic", a baseball diamond, Bob Uecker, Bob Costas, and Joe Morgan usually aren't the first references that spring to mind. Instead, it's the annual release of Mountain View, California-based Intuit's Quicken. And today that same group of people will be smiling ear to ear, as Intuit continues their customary fall tradition with the release of Quicken Basic 98 and Quicken Deluxe 98 for the Macintosh, the latest updates to the company's renowned financial management and planning software.
To coincide with today's official launch, The Mac Observer has prepared two special pieces; a full review of Quicken Deluxe 98 in addition to an interview with Adam Samuels, Senior Product Manager at Intuit. Read about the first product ever to garner an A+ Mac Observer rating, and hear from Samuels about such topics as Intuit's Rhapsody plans, the future of QuickBooks on the Macintosh, Mac and Windows Quicken differences, etc.
Quicken Deluxe 98 Review - Intuit Chats With The Mac Observer
Apparent Font Security Flaw Found In IE 4.0
Daniel Will-Harris forwarded information about an apparent font security flaw that he discovered in the OpenType font embedding implementation in Internet Explorer 4.0. The loophole purportedly allows any user "to capture embedded fonts from a Web site and install them into their system for use with all their software."
"Font foundries and designers have been vocal in their fear of font embedding on the web, and now it seems their fears were well-founded, at least in the case of Microsoft's new browser, Internet Explorer 4. The browser's new OpenType font embedding feature has a fatal security flaw that makes it easy for any user, even those without technical knowledge, to capture embedded fonts from a web site and install them into their system for use with all their software. No one other than myself has yet uncovered the simple steps to do so and I will not reveal the steps here, because I don't want people pirating fonts. Microsoft knows about the problem and has stated it will do nothing to correct it."
Further information is available from the Will-Harris Wire.
Will-Harris Wire - Microsoft Corporation
Pointcast To Announce New CEO Tomorrow
The five month chief executive search at Pointcast will end tomorrow when the prominent push-technology developer announces the new executive's name, The Mac Observer learned today. Company founder and former chief executive Chris Hassett will become chairman of the board following tomorrow's announcement. Hassett relinquished the position last July, in an effort to remove himself from the day-to-day operations. At the time, the shuffling was believed to be a possible precursor to an initial public offering, but no news has since surfaced.
Sales Of Norton Utilities Hit 300K In Q3
Symantec sold more than 300,000 copies of Norton Utilities 3.5 for Macintosh (NUM 3.5) in the third quarter of 1997, making it the best selling title behind Apple's Mac OS 8. NUM 3.5 has been a fixture in the top five slots on PC Data's monthly Retail Report throughout the year, and sales in August were especially poignant; NUM outsold the next most popular Macintosh business software title by more than 30 percent.
"Symantec is committed to supporting the Macintosh platform with the state-of-the-art products and high-quality support we've built our reputation on," said Enrique Salem, chief technical officer and vice president, Security and Assistance Business Unit, Symantec. "Our Macintosh customers can feel secure they are protected by the best tools and utilities available today."
Press Release - Symantec Corporation
Totally Hip Signs Series Of OEM Agreements
Totally Hip Software's WebPainter will begin showing up in numerous Macintosh applications over the coming months, as the company announced today a series of bundling agreements for the graphics and animation software package. The OEM licenses will have each of the following companies bundling WebPainter SE with their respective products: Symantec (Visual Cafe), GoLive Systems (CyberStudio 2), IXMicro (video cards), and Equilibrium (DeBabelizer).
"These agreements continue to increase our installed-base of users and provide direct revenues or revenue from upgrades to our premiere products," said Randall McCallum, CEO of Totally Hip Software. "We have always taken pride in our ability to create easy-to-use, award winning software and these deals continue to demonstrate our ability to move those products into the distribution channels on a finite marketing budget."
Press Release - Totally Hip Software
"It's Time To Move To A Longer Key Length"
Under the leadership of distributed.net, a distributed-computing effort was able to find the winning solution in RSA Labs' RC5-32/12/7 56-bit secret-key challenge this past weekend. Started over 8 months ago, the challenge was conducted to test the viability of 56-bit security, a level of encryption some experts previously deemed as sufficient, and although the key was discovered, it took the combined power of over 100,000 computers to do so. After processing over 34 quadrillion keys, the winning key was discovered by Peter Stuer with an Intel Pentium Pro 200 running Windows NT Workstation. The contents of the message read: It's time to move to a longer key length.
Of the $10,000 purse, Stuer will receive $1,000 while $1,000 will be retained by distributed.net to assist in funding of future projects. The remaining $8,000 will be donated to Project Gutenberg, an organization involved with converting classic literature into a publicly available electronic format.
Press Release - distributed.net
Upgrade Gives Life To Aging PowerBook
Newer Technology's NUpowr 500/183c, a processor upgrade card for the PowerBook 500 featuring a 183MHz PowerPC 603ev processor afixed with 128K of Level 2 cache, has begun shipping in quantity, the company said today. "There are thousands of dedicated PowerBook 500 users who are looking to extend its useful life and the NUpowr 500/183c makes it possible," said Frank Hopper, Product Manager, Newer Technology, Inc. The upgrade can be found at Ingram Micro and Merisel as well as mail order catalogs, dealers resellers and online sources.
Rockstar's Setup Monkey Gets Older
Rockstar Studios announced today the availability of the Internet Setup Monkey 2.0 (ISM), an upgrade to the company's software tool that gives Internet Service Providers and network administrators the ability to develop custom built Internet access kits. The predominant change in the new release is a new plug-in architecture, one that "provides flexibility in supporting unique configuration requirements." "With ISM 2.0, we're giving administrators more options in customizing the kit to their unique needs," comments Brian Chen, Rockstar Studios. "An ISP can now install just about any Internet application for the platform, configure it and the customer's machine--and do so with a personalized access kit which reflects the ISP's brand name."
Pricing for ISM 2.0 starts at $300 for a 200 user license, and continues up to $7,500 for an unlimited annual distribution license. A demo can be obtained from Rockstar's homepage.
Pace Appointed To SyQuest Board
Stanley L. Pace, the former president and CEO of American Trans Air has been named to board of directors at removable disk drive manufacturer SyQuest, the company announced today. Pace joins existing board members C. Richard Kramlich, New Enterprise Associates, Joseph Baia, Indigita Corp., Edwin Harper, president and CEO, SyQuest, and chairman Edward Marinaro, SyQuest.
Press Release - SyQuest
PAP Sets Up New Ircle Mailing Lists
Public Access Publications is sponsoring three new Ircle to discuss various issues regarding the Macintosh IRC client from Onno Tijdghat. Currently available are a dedicated Ircle Scripting list, a general Ircle Discussion list and a dedicated Ircle Announcement list. Subscription instructions are available from the Public Access Publications homepage.
Public Access Publications - Ircle
Wednesday, October 22nd
Newton Layoffs Begin, MacInTouch Reports
Much to chagrin of Newton fans who thought the fate of the Newton group was secure with the introduction of the MessagePad 2100 machine earlier this week, Ric Ford's MacInTouch Web site reports today that layoffs within the group began yesterday, leaving about 30 percent of the team jobless. Ford goes on to say that, apparently, both the MessagePad line of machines and the actual "Newton" name are on their way out, along with the entire sales force and Peter Canning, co-architect and only remaining expert on the NewtonScript internals.
Microsoft: Bundle Internet Explorer Or Else
Microsoft threatened to halt the supply of Windows 95 to Compaq, the world's largest maker of desktop computers, unless the PC manufacturer included Internet Explorer on its machines, CNN's Moneyline reported last evening. In addition, attempts by both Gateway 2000 and Micron to remove the Web browser or even the program's icon from its prominent placement on the Windows 95 desktop were dismissed by Microsoft, the report said.
[Update:] A Reuters story with comments from a Compaq employee confirms the above CNN report. In testimony to the U.S. Justice Department, Compaq's director of software procurement, Stephen Decker, said that if Compaq chose a Netscape icon over an icon for Microsoft's Internet Explorer on the pre-configured desktops, then Microsoft "would terminate our (Windows 95) agreement for doing so."
Adrenaline Preps Charts CE 1.0 Release
Adrenaline Software's Adrenaline Charts SE 1.0 will begin going on sale through the company's Web site sometime later this afternoon. As reported here before, Charts SE is a PowerPC-native stand-alone 3D charting application, based on Adrenaline's OpenDoc Live Object, that leverages a number of Mac OS technologies, including: QuickTime, QuickDraw 3D, Macintosh Drag & Drop and AppleGuide. A special launch price of $60 is effective through December 1st, 1997, after which point in time the product will return to its suggested retail price of $150.
"Adrenaline Charts SE is the first product of Adrenaline Software's efforts to bring a new level of efficiency and ease of use to the publishing and new media markets. It reaffirms Adrenaline's commitment to the Mac OS and to Apple's core markets. It's definitely not the last you will hear from us either," said Martin Bigonesse, President and CEO of Adrenaline Software, Inc.
Analyst Says Intel, Digital Pact Imminent
An analyst at Loewenbaum & Co said that an announcement of an out-of-court settlement, valued at around $1.6 billion, bringing to end the patent litigation lawsuit between Intel and Digital Equipment, is imminent. The settlement apparently will not be entirely monetary, as analyst Ashok Kumar told his clients the pact will include a license agreement allowing Intel to license Digital's Alpha processor technology. Further, Intel would also help Digital develop new Alpha-based products. In return, Intel would pay 50% of the settlement in cash and also give Digital deep discounts on their family of processors.
Kumar says that the announcement could come later today, in large part because of a scheduled hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Jose regarding Intel's countersuit against Digital.
NeoPlanet Aims To Organize Web Content Via Channels
BigFoot Partners' NeoPlanet, a newly introduced advertiser-supported Web shell, operates in conjunction with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 and 4.0 to present novice users with a more channel-like view of Web content, a structure similar to what is used in commercial online services, such as America Online. Currently available only for Windows 95 and NT machines, a Macintosh version is expected early next year.
MkLinux DR2.1 Update 5 Now Available
The latest version of MkLinux, DR2.1 Update 5, has been released, fixing problems related to various aspects of detecting the correct hardware installed. The update also provides drivers for the IMS Twin Turbo video card, support for audio on PCI PowerMacs, HFS filesystem support in the Linux server, etc. A complete synopsis of changes are documented on the MkLinux Updates page.
New Farallon Card Adds Ethernet To Newton
Farallon's new Ethernet PC card for Newton works in tandem with the recently introduced Newton Internet Enabler 2.0 to bring Ethernet connectivity to Newton OS 2.1-based machines (MessagePad 2000, 2100, and eMate 300).
Tuesday, October 21st
Speculation Crests, MacInsider Closes Again
Amid reports posted by MacCentral today, the MacInsider Web site has closed its doors yet again. The allegations made by readers suggest that the people running MacInsider were also the same individuals operating reseller Computer Plus. Some speculate that this dual-branded approach was what caused the site's "first" closure last week. Apparently, much of the information posted on the MacInsider site was gleamed from confidential Apple documents, which broke a standard agreement between all resellers and Apple.
Claris Reports Record Quarterly Earnings
Earlier today, Claris Corp., Apple's wholly-owned software subsidiary arm, reported record revenue of $91.9 million for its fiscal fourth quarter. The company accredited the record results largely to better than expected sales of Mac OS 8, which has become the best selling Mac operating system software in history, with 2 million "seats" -- finished goods and volume license sales - being filled since its release in late July of this year. Revenue for the quarter was up 61 percent from the $56.6 million mark in the year ago period. Annual revenue figures year over year were impressive as well, with the company reporting a record $281.7 million for FY97, a 19 percent increase compared with $236.2 million last year. As they are not obliged to, profits for the quarter were not announced, although Claris does contend that it has logged 20 consecutive quarters of profitibility, with record profits coming in the just reported fourth quarter and fiscal year.
Strong Office, NT Sales Fuel Microsoft's Q1
Microsoft announced yesterday revenue of $3.13 billion for the fiscal first quarter, a 36% increase over the $2.30 billion reported in the comparable quarter of last year, on strong sales of Microsoft Office 97 and Windows NT-based server products. The company said it had net income of $663 million, or 50 cents a share, compared with $614 million, or 47 cents, in the same quarter a year ago. Excluding a one-time charge of $296 million for the purchase of WebTV, the company's earnings per share of 72 cents represented a 53 percent increase in the year ago period, and beat Wall Street's estimate of 70 cents per share. Additionally, Microsoft once again warned investors (as they have done for the past several quarters) of slowing revenue growth due to the small number of new products in the works.
Adaptec/MAXpowr PRO Problems Resolved
Eric Dalingher of Newer Technology sent word today that as of this past weekend, all MAXpowr PRO and PRO+ PowerPC 750 processor upgrades shipped are fully compatible with Adaptec's fast and wide SCSI implementation and driver version 2.5. The Adaptec SCSI controller operates properly using MAXpowr PRO and PRO+, in all supported computers including: Apple 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500, 9600; UMAX S900 series, J700 series; Power Computing PowerTower Pro, and PowerWave. Any MAXpowr PRO/PRO+ customer who would like the update may obtain an RMA number by calling Newer Technology Technical Support, at 800-678-3726 or 316-943-0222, email at [email protected] or fax at 316-943-4515.
Costello Leaves Cadence, But Not For Apple
Joe Costello resigned from his post as chief executive at Cadence Design System Inc. late yesterday evening to pursue a position with Knowledge Universe, an educational technology company partly owned by former junk-bond financier Michael Milken. Costello was seen as a potential candidate for the vacant chief executive position at Apple after a report in the Wall Street Journal highlighted him as one of four potential prospects. But instead of pursuing the top spot at Apple, Costello will move to Knowledge, a company which, coincidently, was created and funded in part by Oracle CEO and Apple board member Larry Ellison.
Inventor Of "56K" Brings Lawsuit Against Rockwell
Rockwell International unit Rockwell Semiconductor Systems is being sued by inventor Brent Townshend for its use of the 56K modem technology in their K56flex chipset, the company said today. Exact details of the nature of the lawsuit remain undisclosed, although Rockwell's comments suggest the Townshend is charging the company with using proprietary information belonging to him. Townshend, incidently, has an exclusive contract with 3Com, makers of the rival and non-compatible "x2" 56K implementation.
Scitex Shows Off New Tiling Solution For MicroSphere
Scitex Digital Video today previewed an advanced showing of TextFX for MicroSphere, an add-on to their desktop video editing system scheduled to be officially launched at Macworld '98 in San Francisco. TextFX is "the first and only titling solution offering realtime dynamic titling effects (dissolve, roll, crawl, reveal in or out, etc.) for a desktop digital nonlinear editing system." A company press release has more information.
Monday, October 20th
Apple Shares Continue Recent Nose-Dive
Last week's surprising earnings report provoked a downgrade in shares of Apple Computer by Standard & Poor's late last week, causing investors to continue their downward look on the stock. Today's session saw shares drop off 1 7/16, or just over 7% on 3.5 million issues traded, in the face of an overall positive market, which saw both the Dow Jones and NASDAQ rally in late day trading. Since Apple's fourth quarter report came out, shares of the company have sunk over 20% off their prior valuation.
MacInsider Demise Premature, Apparently
MacInsider's "retirement" last week appears to be short-lived as the Web site has replaced their good-bye message with a note saying the following: "Getting back on our feet! Today's news coming in the next few hours." For those of you unaware, last Thursday evening, MacInsider posted a message signaling the end of their efforts. Succeeding reports suggested that the editors of the site succumbed to mounting legal pressure from Apple, following stories that evidently didn't sit well with the company.
Justice Department Drops Bombshell
Foreshadowing a day in which Microsoft is scheduled to post better than expected earnings for their fiscal third quarter, the U.S. Justice Department dropped a bombshell on the company. The department asked a federal court today to hold Microsoft in contempt for requiring personal computer manufacturers to license and distribute its Internet Explorer Web browser alongside Windows 95. The department charges that Microsoft is in violation of a 1995 court order the government obtained to bar the company from anti-competitive licensing practices. In turn, the government is seeking a $1 million a day fine. "Microsoft is unlawfully taking advantage of its Windows monopoly to protect and extend that monopoly," Attorney General Janet Reno told reporters. Below is a list of articles pertaining to the news:
MessagePad 2100 Officially Announced
After last week's miscue by both MacConnection and PC Connection that preemptively exposed the product's details, Apple today officially announced the MessagePad 2100, the latest addition to their Newton family of machines. The new unit, slated for delivery in November and scheduled to be priced at around $1,000, offers added hardware and software features that enhance performance and communication, including 4MB of DRAM, up from just 1MB in the 2000. Users should see previous problems associated with a lack of system heap alleviated as a result of the upgraded memory, as well as the ability to run more applications. The latest version of AllPen Software's Web browser, NetHopper 3.2, providing proxy support and transferable Newton packages, is included with the 2100 as well. In addition, overall Internet support will be improved with Apple's Newton Internet Enabler 2.0. Scheduled to be available "immediately" for current Newton users, NIE 2.0 will introduce Ethernet and AppleTalk capabilities as well as support for PAP and CHAP authentication.
"The MessagePad 2100 is the sequel to one of the most successful new products in mobile computing history -- one that has spawned a legion of true believers," said Sina Tamaddon, vice president and general manager of Apple's Newton Group. "We know that our customers will be thrilled with our networking and performance improvements, making the MessagePad 2100 an ideal mobile device for individuals and corporations."
Meanwhile, in an effort to keep their previous promise of offering an upgrade path to MessagePad 2000 users, Apple announced an upgrade program that brings the same DRAM memory of the new unit to its predecessor. Available until April 30, 1998 (or while supplies last), the program will allow MessagePad 2000 owners the chance to send their units into the Apple Service Center for system memory expansion and software enhancements. Along with the service and upgrades, participants will also receive a copy of Newton Press 1.1 and, while supplies last, a 2MB flash memory card. The upgrade, which is intended to be completed within two five working days, will be offered for $99 to customers who purchase a MP2K prior to November 7th. For customers purchasing the unit after that date, the price will be $199.
PenTekk's New Information Retrieval Tool
PenTekk Software Technologies today announced WebXpress, a software application which gives Newton OS 2.1-based devices (MessagePad 2000 and 2100, eMate 300) the ability to schedule periodic downloads of content from the Internet. "WebXpress takes the continuing merger of Newton technology with the Internet to the next level," said Dave Russell, Director of Product Marketing for Newton Products at Apple. "The convenience of WebXpress' automated information retrieval and the powerful, compact form factor of Newton OS-based devices combine for a compelling business or educational solution." A 14-day demo of the $34.95 application is available from PenTekk's homepage.
Apple Pushes Back "Kanga" Release, PowerPage Says
The planned introduction of the PowerBook 3500 (aka "Kanga"), Apple's first PowerPC 750-based portable, has been pushed back from its originally expected launch on October 23rd until November 8th, O'Grady's PowerPage reported today. In addition, the PowerPage reports that the machine will ship with 1MB of backside cache, up from the previously expected mark of 512K.
Apple's "Gossamer" line of PowerPC 750-powered desktop machines is expected to be announced on November 10th, and presumably, this move is the company's way of introducing their new models in a more orderly fashion (not to mention the fact that an October 23rd launch would leave Apple with a laptop as one their fastest machines, processor wise).
Microsoft Teams With Inktomi, Search Engine Coming
Microsoft will throw their hat into the search engine foray early next year with "Yukon", an engine built around Inktomi's (of Hotbot fame) technology, the software giant announced today. Spanning across both the Web and the Microsoft Network, Yukon "will provide online users access to an index of more than 75 million Internet documents, as well as the most up-to-date search results of any online search engine."
AT&T; Appoints Armstrong As New Chief Executive
Ending a intensive three month chief executive search which, time wise, began right alongside of Apple, AT&T; today named C. Michael Armstrong, the head of Hughes Electronics, in hopes of reinvigorating the flagging fortunes of the perennial long-distance phone company. Armstrong will succeed chairman and chief executive Robert Allen on November 1st.
GoLive Systems Posts CyberStudio 2 Update
A CyberStudio 2.0.1 update, which adds spell checking functions to the regarded Web content creation tool, has been posted on GoLive Systems' FTP server.
Friday, October 17th
Apple Completes ftp.info.apple.com Update
Preston Gregg, Apple's Project Lead for info.apple.com, sent word today that Apple Assist has recently completed a major upgrade to the servers of ftp.info.apple.com. The FTP server group, which houses nearly all of Apple's software updates, now consists of 16 individual servers and has the capacity to serve 8,000 simultaneous high speed FTP connections. The exact makeup of the network farm is outlined by Gregg below:
"The servers are Apple Network Server 700 AIX based servers. Each system can handle 500 simultaneous connections, without breaking a sweat. Each server connects to a switched 100Mbs LAN connected by fiber to our high speed redundant WAN which connects to the Internet via an independent OC-3 connection in Austin, TX and a DS-3 connection in Cupertino, CA. The Internet connections are through separate Internet providers to increase performance and reliability for our customers."
A live view of the current traffic on the FTP group is viewable at the following URL: http://www.info.apple.com/ftpcount/.As far as the future in concerned, Gregg says that the second phase of Apple's upgrade is already underway and that they have no plans to stop at 8,000 connections for ftp.info.apple.com.
Flaw In IE 4.0 Allows For Malicious Activity
An Internet Explorer 4.0 security hole detected by Ralf Hueskes of Jabadoo Communications evidently makes it possible to view the contents of any text or HTML file, even those that are on a firewall-protected company intranet. The loophole, which is based around the use of Microsoft's implementation of Dynamic HTML (differing DHTML execution is apparently the reason why Netscape Communicator and Navigator are not susceptible to this), affects German and English version of the browser, but as reported by c't magazine, the platform preview release of Internet Explorer 4.0 for the Macintosh is apparently free from falling victim to this flaw. According Hueskes, Microsoft was tipped off to his discovery last evening, and they are expected to a post a patch curring the problem sometime today.
Newton MessagePad 2100 Details Surface
Details of Apple's unannounced Newton MessagePad 2100 have been exposed, thanks to PC Connection's advanced posting of the product's data sheet. Long rumoured to be the heir apparent to the highly successful MessagePad 2000, the 2100 won't be the sweeping metamorphosis many talked about (speculation was that the unit might use a version of Digital's new StrongARM and possibly even a color screen), but it apparently does pack a number of changes which address customer complaints. Paramount of those modifications is the increased amount of RAM. The unit will ship with 8MB of RAM (4MB of DRAM and 4MB of Flash memory) which should quell the heap problems that have faced the 2000. Included below is a copy of the description on PC Connection's page.
"It's true, good things come in small packages. Apple MessagePad 2100 weighs under a pound and a half, yet puts all the business applications you need: word processor, datebook, contacts and to-do lists, at your fingertips. Connect to the Internet or an intranet. You can even pair the MessagePad 2100 with your cellular phone or wireless modem, and connect from virtually anywhere. Configured with a 160MHz StrongARM SA-110 RISC processor, 8MB of RAM (4MB of DRAM and 4MB of Flash memory) and 8MB ROM. The user-controllable, transflective, EL backlit screen measures 480x320 pixels and has a 5.9" diagonal, viewable image size. The MessagePad 2100 displays sharp graphics in 16 levels of gray-scale at 100 dots per inch. Built-in to the MessagePad is an internal microphone and speaker for voice recording and playback. Expand your functionality using the (2) PC Card slots and the dual-mode infrared transceiver for wireless data transfer."
[Update:] At the request of Apple, PC Connection has temporarily removed information on the MessagePad 2100. They say they hope to have the product data sheet back on their site as soon as possible.
RealNetworks Announces Plans For IPO
RealNetworks, makers of the "Real" family of multimedia streaming software, hopes to raise up to $37 million in an initial public offering, as outlined today in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, formerly known as Progressive Networks, plans to offer 3.45 million shares at between $9 and $11 including an apportionment reserved for the underwriters. This would value RealNet at a minimum of $280 million and as much as $450 million if options are exercised by employees and Microsoft, who earlier this year bought a 10 percent stake in the company. Underwriters for the IPO are led by Goldman, Sachs & Co., Banc America Robertson Stephens and Nationsbanc Montgomery Securities.
Omni Releases OmniWeb 3.0 Public Beta
A public beta version of OmniWeb 3.0, Omni Development's perennial OpenStep Web browser that is now on its way to Rhapsody, was released earlier today. Both the Rhapsody Developer Release 1 and OpenStep for Mach are supported in this beta, although they are distributed in different binaries. (Developers receiving Rhapsody DR1 are asked to download this latest beta, as the version included as part of the 14 sample applications is quite dated, the company says.)
Hayes, Zoom Possible Suitors For Motorola Division
Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc. and Zoom Telephonics Inc. are quickly becoming the likely suitor for Motorola's Transmission Products Division, ZDNet reports. Motorola put the division on the selling table last week, just several weeks after substantially cutting prices on their modem line, one of the Division's specialty. Both Hayes and Zoom have publicly expressed their interest, and ZDNet notes of prior successful acquisitions by Hayes, making Motorola's division a nice fit for the company.
Ruling Expires, Leaves Cyber Promotions Net-Less
The Philadelphia court injunction put in place last month that forced Cyber Promotions' Internet backbone service provider AGIS to return service ended yesterday, leaving the self labeled "spam king" without a full time connection. The company's president Sanford Wallace, however, said today that he is still able to send spam messages through a temporary gateway he has lined up.
Thursday, October 16th
MacInsider Posts Message Calling It Quits
MacInsider, a popular Macintosh Web site believed to be run by former Apple employees who were laid off as part of last March's reorganization, has shut down. Left only is a puzzling message, which subtly changes every few minutes, that thanks visitors for their support over the site's four month existence. While the cause of this abrupt departure is unknown, a Mac Observer reader speculates tonight's closing followed a personal visit to the offices of MacInsider by Apple representatives.
Earnings Report Sends Shares Plunging
Fueled by yesterday's somewhat surprising earnings report (see yesterday's news below), Wall Street investors frowned on shares of Apple Computer in today's trading session, sending the stock tumbling nearly 10%, or 2 5/16, to end the day at 21 1/2. This followed an uncharacteristic and unexplained surge on Wednesday, which saw shares of the company rise roughly 5%, or 1 1/8, on volume of more than 7 million issues. Today's drop, however, is the latest in a long line of gradual dips that have hit the stock since its meteoric rise in early August following the announcement of Apple's long-term partnership with Microsoft. (As always, The Mac Observer's convenient Apple stock ticker, located in the left hand column of the main news page, tracks pricing and volume on a daily basis.)
Internet Explorer 4.0P2 Release Imminent
The next platform preview of Internet Explorer 4.0 for the Macintosh is "just around the corner", Microsoft notes on their Web site. Features absent from the initial preview release earlier this year, such as Dynamic HTML, Active Channel support (CDF-based content were the only channels viewable in the first preview), and user interface tweaks will be embraced in Preview 2, bringing the Macintosh version more in line with the Windows offering, features wise. Microsoft also makes mention of new "Security Zones" due to be included, although they fail to elaborate on the specifics of what seems to be a newfangled security model that, as they vaguely point out, allows users to set preferences "for sites you trust and sites you don't."
Amelio Slated To Keynote MacWest Expo
Gil Amelio, former chairman and chief executive at Apple, will be the opening keynote speaker at the MacWest Expo '97 Show in Los Angeles on October 24-25. Amelio, who recently briefed an audience at Seybold on the importance of his digital photography patent, will focus on the impact of new technology on the future of personal computing and the Macintosh during his keynote, entitled "Waves Of Change." The actual MacWest show will feature a wide array of exhibitors showcasing the latest in Macintosh hardware, software, and services, as well as an in-depth conference program of 48 seminars covering all aspects of Mac computing. Further information is available from the event's homepage.
PowerLogix Updates PowerForce Compatibility List
PowerLogix' has updated the PowerForce G3 Compatibility List "to include the full line of 601/604 Power Computing systems with processor slots, including the PowerWave, PowerTower, PowerTower Pro, PowerCurve, PowerCenter, and PowerCenter Pro." The company also says that the PowerForce has been tested to be fully compatible with the Adaptec 2940UW SCSI PCI Card, an interface card which caused problems with processor upgrades from other vendors. PowerLogix' PowerForce is currently the fastest shipping G3-based upgrade card, and the only one, thus far, to use a backside cache operating at a 1:1 ratio with the processor.
NetObjects' CEO, Pointcast Take Home IIA Awards
NetObjects' chief executive Samir Arora and Pointcast were named winners of the 1997 Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the 1997 Breakout Company of the Year Award, respectively, at the 1997 IIA Annual Conference earlier this month. Arora, a former Apple employee, has lead NetObjects to the forefront as one of the leading providers of new age Web development tools with its Fusion package. Pointcast, meanwhile, was recognized for their work with leading Fortune 500 companies.
PowerPage Reviews iREZ Research's Kritter Camera
O'Grady's PowerPage has posted a review of iREZ Research's Kritter Camera, a revolutionary $349 PC card/video camera combo that uses the Zoom Video implementation in the PowerBook 2400 and 3400 (as well as the soon-to-be-introduced PowerPC 750-based "Kanga") to directly deliver digital video to the video buffer, bypassing the PowerBook system bus. This leaves the machine free to work on more processor intensive applications, such as video conferencing software.
ClearWay's FireSite Offer Ends This Month
ClearWay Technologies' ongoing discount of FireSite Standard Edition and FireSite Multimedia Edition for owners of the Apple Internet Server Solution lasts until October 31st, the company reminded us today. Owners of AISS will be able to purchase either one of the FireSite variations for 50% off list price, A demo of the software is available from the company's Web site.
Mac OS 8 Issues Addressed In Kaleidoscope 1.7.3
Greg Landweber's Kaleidoscope 1.7.3, available from Eric Belsley's Macintosh Resource Page Software Mirror, adds a wide variety of general improvements, most of which are Mac OS 8-related. The new update also removes the "Scheme Updater", previously used to update schemes to newer Kaleidoscope formats, from the distribution archive.
Wednesday, October 15th
Special Charges Tarnish Apple's Quarter
As had been expected, the sea of red ink continued to flow in Cupertino as Apple Computer announced their fiscal fourth quarter results today, results which missed analysts expectations, in part because of weak overseas demand. The company posted a net loss of $161 million, or $1.26, a figure which includes $137 million in one-time charges; a $62 million charge to increase the company's restructuring reserves, as well as a $75 million write-off related to the asset buyout of Power Computing. Without the charges, a $24 million, or 19 cents per share, loss would have been posted, a sequential improvement over the company's previous two quarters. Even with that number, however, loses would have eclipsed the Street's expectation of $17.8 million.
Meanwhile, revenues for the quarter came in at $1.6 billion, a decrease of 30 percent from the fourth quarter a year ago, and a sequential decrease of 7 percent from the third quarter. Moreover, gross margins were 20 percent, compared to 22 percent in the year ago quarter and 20 percent in the June 1997 quarter.
Most importantly, however, Apple continued to lower its all important break-even level by reducing recurring expenses to $353 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $505 million in the year-ago-period and $408 million in the June quarter. Apple's chief financial officer Fred Anderson touched on this in a statement; "Apple's fourth fiscal quarter was marked by sweeping changes, from the resignation of our CEO to the installation of new board members to significant developments in our marketing programs and industry relationships. Amidst this change, we've continued to make excellent progress with our restructuring initiatives, having reduced quarterly operating expenses of a recurring nature by an additional $55 million since the June quarter."
"The July introduction of Mac OS 8 has resulted in record sales, covering two million seats to date," added Anderson. "Our U.S. education business contributed over half a billion dollars in revenues during the quarter, and we saw sequential improvement in both business and consumer sales in the U.S. However, we were disappointed by sluggish demand outside the U.S., particularly in Japan," Anderson continued.
"We remain focused on our primary goal of returning Apple to sustainable profitability," said Anderson. "Our goal for fiscal 1998 is to continue to reduce Apple's break-even point through a combination of further expense reductions and gross margin improvements."
Reason For Updegrove's Letter Uncovered?
As pointed out in Mike Lambert's latest AppleCORE, news surrounding Daniel Updegrove's outlandish letter that was sent to incoming freshman at Yale University earlier this year has cooled considerably since its surfacing, so much so that many view it as simply another biased belief by someone in power to influence the purchasing decision of thousands of customers. However, news coming out of Mac Home Journal points to a potential ulterior motive for Updegrove's reasoning, and a troubling one at that. Contributing editor Donna Ladd reports that, at around the same time as the infamous letter was sent, Updegrove filed a $3,000,000 grant proposal with Intel for a project entitled, "For the Utilization of Advanced Intel-Based Platforms in Computationally Demanding Tasks." The proposal was due June 16; Updegrove's letter went out in mid-June. Further, MHJ breaks word that the grant has gone through and Yale will be awarded the recipient of a three-year grant from Intel on October 17th as part of its Technology for Education 2000 program. The grant's purpose, according to Intel, is to help universities "migrate" to Intel-based computers.
As Ladd points out, the secrecy of this grant raises serious question about the true motives behind Updegrove's recommendations. Was he sincerely steering students away from the Macintosh platform for fear of its longtime viability or was he simply trying to do his best to win a $3 million grant from Intel for the university? Updegrove himself is remaining quiet on the subject, saying to Ladd that, "I don't think it's appropriate to carry on a debate about Yale in the pages of a national magazine." Further, a reference to Updegrove as the co-principal investigator of this grant appeared on his personal Web site, but has since been removed.
We urge you to check out the Mac Home Journal report along with Mike Lambert's latest AppleCORE column in order to get an idea of how Yale's medical department, a group which brings in about 42% of Yale's yearly income, has reacted to Updegrove's letter.
Costello Recalls Ellison's Planned "Crash"
Jon Swartz of the San Francisco Chronicle talked with Joe Costello, president and CEO of Cadence Design Systems Inc., and one of the people rumoured this past month to be on the short list of candidates for the Apple chief executive position. Costello, a man whom Swartz styles as a "gangly, animated and rubbery- faced, Silicon Valley answer to Jim Carrey", recanted an interesting tie to Apple, one that took place months before Gil Amelio was ousted from Apple. Earlier this year, Costello says he was approached by Oracle's Larry Ellison and was presented with Ellison's grand scheme. The plan was to crash an Apple shareholders meeting and offer the audience a new list of potential board members, including Ellison himself, Costello, Sun CEO Scott McNealy and 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou.
In addition, the article notes John Thompson, vice chairman of Heidrick & Struggles, the executive-search firm that is conducting Apple's chief executive search, as saying, "I've known Joe Costello for nine years. I think he could be president of the United States. He's that good."
Chalk Up Two More Departing Executives
Continuing the revolving door in Cupertino, Apple announced today the resignation of Dave Manovich, senior vice president of International Sales, and James McCluney, senior vice president of Worldwide Operations. "We don't expect to hit any speedbumps as a result of these changes," said Steve Jobs, Apple's interim CEO. "We wish Dave and Jim well in their new endeavors." The duties of Manovich, who joined the company just eight months ago, will be assumed by Mitch Mandich, senior vice president for North American Sales. Heidi Hedlund, Apple's senior director of Operations Product Management, will take over McCluney's role as head of Operations for the interim. The company said that is conducting searches to fill both positions.
Eudora Pro 4.0 Beta Test Begins, Mac To Follow
Qualcomm began rolling out the latest version of their venerable email client, Eudora Pro 4.0, this week for Windows 95/NT-based machines through an open public beta program. A Macintosh version of the product which was, incidently, originally developed on the Mac by Steve Dorner, will make its way to the platform shortly. Qualcomm notes the following on their Web site: "We are working on a Macintosh version. It's coming soon! Please stay tuned!" Highlights of Eudora Pro 4.0 include support for the IMAP4 protocol, LDAP, and viewing and composing of M/HTML messages, in addition to a revamped interface.
Ellison: Apple To Be 'Leader' In Network Computing
Earlier this week, Oracle chairman and chief executive Larry Ellison told a audience of Oracle shareholders that Apple will become "one of the leaders in network computing", Bloomberg News reported. Speaking at the Oracle annual shareholder meeting in Redwood Shores, California, Ellison's comments came following a question raised from an attendee. "Apple will be one of the leaders in network computing," he said. "You'll see Apple with wonderful low-cost digital appliances."
Clone Vendor Sees Cloudy Outlook For Macs In 1998
Umax Data Systems of Taiwan said in a statement yesterday that 1997 sales are on track to hit T$15.3 billion and the sales for the upcoming year will exceed that number by at least 50 percent, despite an uncertain outlook for their line of SuperMac Macintosh clones. Year over year, the percentage of total sales attributed to Mac clones is expected to fall 20 percent in 1998 from 25 percent in 1997, due to what the company characterizes as "clone uncertainties and the Macintosh's shrinking market share."
"Think Different" Brain Given NC Marketing Duties?
Tom Abate's Digital Bay column in the San Francisco Chronicle speculates this week that Apple's Jeff Martin has been given advanced access to the Macintosh-based Network Computers Apple is expected to launch next and will have the duties of marketing and branding the machine. Martin, who some say played a key role in the "Think Different" commercial, was anointed the position of senior director for design and publishing by Steve Jobs last week.
Tuesday, October 14th
Stagecast To Commercialize Apple's Cocoa
The ex-Apple employee lead Stagecast Software, a new software venture focusing on the education K-12 market, said yesterday that they are in the process of developing commercials applications based on Apple's Cocoa technology. Cocoa, an Internet oriented education tool, was long viewed as an instrumental part of Apple's Internet strategy under the Gil Amelio regime (as it tied together education and content creation), but recent changes at the company brought about the discontinuation of development and the exit of several employees who wanted to see the technology nurtured into a real product. Among those who left is Larry Tesler, a long-time Apple scientist whose last role was as director of the Internet group, had this to say about his new company: "A child having fun with Cocoa is exercising skills that will be useful in school, life, and career. Stagecast will develop cross-platform products that strike a balance between the fun factor required by children and the skill development factor desired by parents and teachers."
A free, unsupported prototype of Cocoa for the Macintosh is available from Stagecast's Web site, although it should be noted that this is the same DR2 version that was posted on Apple's Cocoa homepage back in July of this year.
MacTell Makes Additions To Low-End Line
MacTell announced late last week two new entry-level additions to their line of configurable Mac OS clones, including what the company labels as "the most powerful Mac OS compatible computer available for less than $800." The "XB Tanzania" family begins with a PowerPC 603e/200-MHz, 16MB of RAM, 2MB of VRAM, 8X CD-ROM drive, 1.2GB hard drive machine priced at $795. Minitower casing brings with additional expansion slots and drive bays for $55 extra. "With the new XB Tanzania systems Mactell Corporation has once again offered unparalleled price and value," said Pat Berry, Vice President for Mactell Corporation, in a statement. "Never before has this much power been offered to the home computer user at such an affordable price, in fact this price point exceeds current systems offered on the Wintel platform."
AOL Instant Messages Coming To Netscape's Browser
An agreement between Netscape and America Online, announced today, calls for Netscape to bundle a co-branded real-time instant messaging service called Netscape's AOL Instant Messenger with future versions of Netscape's family of Web browsing products. Netscape says it's planning to ship Instant Messenger as an included piece of their client software and as a separate downloadable item through a Netscape Smart Update within Netscape Netcenter before the end of the year. Available now as a individual application for both Mac OS and Wintel platforms, Instant Messenger allows AOL subscribers and Internet users to exchange direct communication back and forth.
Vendors Announce First Windows CE 2.0 Devices
Sharp Electronics debuted yesterday its first Windows CE-based handheld device, one of the first such machines to use the recently introduced Windows CE 2.0 operating system from Microsoft, NEWS.COM reported. Chief among its upgrades, CE 2.0 provides support for color screens, a feature which Sharp's Mobilon takes advantage of through a 6.5-inch, 256-color, backlit screen with 640-by-240-pixel resolution. Hewlett-Packard also announced a similar offering, while NEC Computer said they will unveil later this year a slightly enlarged device complete with a larger keyboard than current CE-based machines.
Buyout Speculation Sends InfoSeek Shares Soaring
Rumors that Time Warner is in bidding to buyout Internet search firm InfoSeek are false, a source close to the company's strategy told Reuters. Speculation by industry sources on Monday pointed to one of two companies -- Time Warner and CNET -- making a bid to purchase InfoSeek, sending shares of the company to their highest level since just after its initial public offering in June 1996. For CNET's part, a spokeswoman for the company says the speculation of a takeover bid was without substance.
Dantz' Retrospect Client Included With Rhapsody DR1
One of the fourteen included applications with the Rhapsody Developer Release 1 CD-ROM will be a beta of Dantz Development's Retrospect Client for Rhapsody, the company disclosed today. The beta client, which requires Retrospect already running on a Mac OS machine, makes Retrospect one of the first products to be migrated from the Mac OS to Rhapsody. Details about a pre-release program can be obtained by Dantz by contacting the company at [email protected].
Assembly Development Tool, Fantasm 5, Released
Lightsoft announced today the release of Fantasm 5, a Macintosh assembly language development environment for 68K and PowerPC development. Consisting of an advanced project manager with plug in architecture, integrated syntax colouring editor with multiple undo, powerful 68K and PowerPC assemblers, linkers and librarian, Fantasm aims to make the notoriously difficult and complex assembly language "easy".
Netscape Planning Java Tune-Up For Communicator
Next week Netscape is expected to release a patch that brings their Communicator suite one step closer to full compatibility with the Java Development Kit 1.1 standard. Even with the revision, however, Communicator will not be fully 1.1-compliant until the next major release, currently scheduled for the first half of next year, the company yielded.
Monday, October 13th
Apple Officially Announces Rhapsody DR1
Just seven months after merging the Apple and NeXT system software development teams, Apple announced today the shipping of the first true Rhapsody milestone; Developer Release 1 for Power Macintosh. A pool of 10,000 developers will be seeded the release this week and although rough in many ways, DR1 will provide everything needed to begin writing applications. Avie Tevanian, senior vice president, Software Engineering said, "Apple has made tremendous progress in shipping a developer version of Rhapsody only seven months after the Apple and NeXT software teams were first integrated. With the Rhapsody Developer Release, this team has delivered a powerful software development environment to the entrepreneurial companies and individuals who will create new classes of application software for Apple customers in business and education.'
To run the initial release, developers will need to have access to one of the following Power Macintosh models; 8500, 8600, 9500 and 9600. A second developer release with a more encompassing list of supported hardware was not mentioned by Apple, who merely said that "as Rhapsody matures" they expect machines shipped from early 1997 to be able to run the new OS. Meanwhile, the first developer release of Rhapsody for PC compatibles and "Yellow Box" for Windows will shortly follow today's announcement.
Further information along with a trio of screenshots detailing the Rhapsody desktop, Java programming environment, and text environment (along with a glimpse of Omni Development's OmniWeb), is available from Apple's official Rhapsody homepage.
Developers Give Rhapsody Thumbs Up
A select group of current Macintosh and former OpenStep developers, who were given pre-developer release distributions of Rhapsody in order to create the demonstration applications that will ship alongside the Developer Release 1, have spoken out about their experiences with the next-generation operating system from Apple. Below is a brief segment of some of their comments, all of which can be found in their entirety in Apple's press release.
Wil Shipley - President - Omni Development
"Without Rhapsody, there would be no OmniWeb. The Yellow Box toolkits have, in effect, written 90 percent of our code for us, so we can concentrate on writing the parts of our app that are different from every other app, rather than spending our time fighting with the windowing system or writing the same data structures over and over."
John Brilhart - CTO - VVI Data Control Specialists
"Apple's Rhapsody is unique in that it is fast, robust and scales both in terms of performance and deployment base. Rhapsody also has first-class rapid application development (RAD) capabilities built into it."
Stan Jirman - President - Caffeine Software
"OpenStep and Rhapsody are the most advanced development tools I have ever used. TIFFany, our high-end image processor, was developed for Rhapsody in record time compared to other products."
Greg Galanos - President and CTO - Metrowerks Inc.
"We're extremely pleased with Apple's progress on Rhapsody and excited about the new opportunities that Rhapsody will provide Apple developers."
Newer's Citation: Low-Cost 604e Upgrade
Fresh on the heels of Friday's announcement of Apple's 233-MHz Processor Upgrade Kit comes Newer Technology with their MAXpowr Citation 200MHz and 233MHz upgrade cards, which at $359 and $449, respectively, is an offering which suddenly makes Apple's $700 product look prohibitively expensive. Set to ship in the last week of October, the Citation will include a software bundle featuring notables such as Connectix' RAM Doubler 2 and Speed Doubler 2, but the company concedes that the card will be not affixed with their Selectable Bus Timing technology. Newer says the Citation can be installed in the following machines: Power Mac 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500 and 9600; UMAX' SuperMac S900 and J700 series. A second version supports the Power Computing computers: PowerTower Pro, PowerTower, PowerWave and PowerCenter.
In a statement, Frank Hopper, MAXpowr product manager, stressed the Citation's entry level price point: "The MAXpowr Citation is the best possible processor upgrade value, offering users both low price and top performance. Newer has worked hard to deliver on the upgradeable processor promise made to users when they bought their computer. The Citation's low price should allow any user to maximize speed, while minimizing the impact on their budget," Hopper stated.
Apple Cuts Prices, Introduces New Promo
In conjunction with a new promotion which offers customers buying selected portable, desktop, and peripheral products from now until January 16, 1998, a variety of benefits, including cash back rebates, Apple also reduced prices on its PowerBook 3400 and Power Macintosh 8600 line of machines, the company announced today. Customers who purchase any PowerBook 3400 will receive 32MB memory or a QuickTake Camera, plus batteries and a coupon for a 50 percent discount on a battery charger. Prices on the laptop line have been slashed by up to as much as $1,000, presumably in an effort to clear inventory before the arrival of "Kanga", the first G3-based PowerBook.
PowerBook 3400c/180 - $3,200 ($4,000)
PowerBook 3400c/200 - $3,800 ($4,500)
PowerBook 3400c/240 - $4,500 ($5,500)
The Power Macintosh 8600 line has been reduced by $600-$800 in general, although considering in the new "Add-On Take-Off" promotion, which offers cash back to customers who buy systems when paired with any Apple monitor, buyers can save as much as $900 on the high-end 8600 model, when compared to former prices. (Rebates are $250 on the 8600/250, and $300 for both the 8600/300 and 8600/300/Zip). Price reductions are as follows:
Power Macintosh 8600/200/zip - $2,200 ($3,000)
Power Macintosh 8600/250/zip - $2,600 ($3,200)
Power Macintosh 8600/300/zip - $3,100 ($3,700)
Power Macintosh 8600/300 - $3,000 ($3,600)
And finally, cash rebates are available on other products such as LaserWriters, QuickTake 200, ColorOne Scanner 600, Avid Cinema Kit and TV/FM radio tuner cards. Purchased alone, product rebates range from $25 to $250, however, when coupled with the purchase one of the machines above, rebates are doubled.
Apple Adopts Microsoft Support Policy
Microsoft's long standing $35 per call method of tech support will be adopted by Apple, the company announced today, in the latest change to their support system policies. Earlier this year, the company abandoned its toll-free telephone support hotline (SOS-AAPL) in favor of AppleAssurance, a system that offers 90 days of free tech support after which a yearly subscription into the program is required for further assistance. The new policies are effective immediately and include:
- Free support on the Web http://www.info.apple.com
- Free support from Apple's automated phone response system
- Free phone support for the first 90 days of ownership
- Fee-based phone support at U.S. $35 per call after the first 90 days of ownership
"While Apple's support was rated number one in the PC industry this September by Consumer Reports, we can't rest there,'' said Steve Jobs, Apple interim chief executive, said in a statement. "Adopting Microsoft's $35 per call support policy will enable us to do an even better job of supporting our customers."
Shaman Announces Personal Edition Update
Shaman Corporation released an update (v1.2) to the Shaman Update Server-Personal Edition. The new version has increased profiling speed and provides an automatic option so you can update your software automatically after specifying a few preferences. The $69 Personal Edition is designed for home/small office users-it inventories the software, hardware and version information on your computer, tracks new software updates and then downloads the latest versions to your desktop. A free-trial version is available from Shaman's Web site. In addition, Shaman now is offering Personal Edition GOLD, a version that includes a monthly CD-ROM mailing, alleviating the need to download updates via FTP. The GOLD edition is retails for $269.
Opera Software Launches "Project Magic" Initiative
Through their unorthodox "Project Magic" initiative, Opera Software, developer of the highly regarded Opera 3.0 Web browser for Wintel machines, is seeking public funding to expand their browser to Macintosh, Linux, and OS/2 platforms. Basically, if the company receives 3,000 pre-orders (at $35 per each copy) from interested customers, resources to bring the browser to that particular platform will be increased through the generated funding. Opera is seeking response until November 30th, when they will report results.
Microsoft Denies It's Shopping Around MSN
Microsoft has no plans to sell its Microsoft Network online service and remains committed to the project, a spokesperson told Reuters, following reports from a new financial Internet publication to the contrary. The new site, TheStreet.com, which is run and operated by the famed Wall Street analyst Jim Cramer, reported that Microsoft's majority stake in MSN would be sold to one of four giants in the online industry -- AOL, Netscape, Yahoo!, or @Home -- at a price somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion.
Over the weekend, our service provider, Reprahduce, transferred Mac Observer traffic over to a new server. We are hoping this will alleviate any access problems one might have experienced over recent weeks. If access to the site remains slow, please don't hesitate to drop us a note at [email protected].
Friday, October 10th
Developers To Get Rhapsody DR1 Next Week
After its informal introduction at last month's BANG user group meeting, Rhapsody Developer Release 1 will make its way into developer's hands next week. MacWEEK reports that the Power Macintosh release will be seeded to a group of 10,000 developers on Tuesday, October 14, with a release for Intel machines and the Windows environment to follow before the end of the month. Meanwhile, Ric Ford's MacInTouch received a report from a reader which purports that Apple has cancelled plans to bring the "Yellow Box" runtime environment to the Mac OS, which if true, would be a reversal of plans earlier this the year to do so. The decision to include such a runtime was viewed by many developers as Apple's best move to ensure a smooth migration path to Rhapsody, and any such change would certainly disappoint a few.
Apple Introduces 233MHz Processor Upgrade
Owners of select Power Macintosh and Workgroup server models are now being offered the chance to upgrade their processor and cache via Apple's new Power Macintosh 233MHz Processor Upgrade Kit. According to the company, the kit can improve overall system performance by as much as 158 percent. The card contains a 233-MHz PowerPC 604e processor, and also includes a 256k level 2 cache module designed to work effectively with the processor. An auxiliary fan and grounding clip are bundled as well, although it is noted that neither are required to upgrade most systems. The kit, available immediately, is compatible with the following systems -- Power Macintosh 7300, 7500 and 7600 series, Power Macintosh 8500 and 8600 series, Power Macintosh 9500 and 9600 series as well as Workgroup Server 7350 and Workgroup Server 8550. Retail pricing is set at $700.
Jobs Keynotes Macromedia User Conference
Yesterday, for the second time in as many weeks, Steve Jobs, interim chief executive at Apple Computer, addressed an audience in San Francisco in an attempt to give an update about what is happening in Cupertino these days. This time the setting was Macromedia's 1997 International Users Conference and like last week's Seybold Conference before it, the packed audience was very receptive, giving Jobs huge amounts of fanfare and a standing ovation at the end of his presentation. Despite what some may think and what other may not want to think, a feeling of excitement surrounds the Cupertino campus these days, and clearly Jobs' mystical way of keeping a burning hope alive in people is working overtime. To find out more about yesterday's keynote, read our overview. Reprinted from yesterday.
G3 Card From Total Impact Due This Month
According to MacWEEK, Total Impact Inc. of Camarillo, Calif. will add their name to the growing list of vendors offering PowerPC 750-based upgrades with the unveiling of their PowerUP 750 line later this month. The line will be available in a variety of processor and cache configurations, including three high-end models (using 275-MHz, 266-MHz, and 250-MHz chips), which feature 1MB of backside cache running at a 1:1 ratio with the processor. The mid-line 266-MHz card, will also ship with 1MB of cache, albeit at a slower clock speed of 177-MHz. And lastly, the company will also have an entry level 250-MHz card with 512K of cache running at a 2:1 ratio. Pricing begins at $1,300 for the entry level card and runs to $2,800 for the top-of-the-line model.
Intel, HP To Make First Merced Presentation
Intel and co-developer Hewlett Packard will make the first public disclosures about "Merced", their next-generation 64-bit processor design scheduled to enter production in 1999, at the Microprocessor Forum next week in San Jose, Calif., Reuters reported. The two companies have been working on the "Merced" design for the past two years, and when production time nears, the processor will be produced on Intel's 0.18 micron process technology, which is currently under development, to create even finer tolerances for etching transistors on a silicon wafer, than the current 0.25 and 0.35 micron process technology.
Advice From Microsoft's Ballmer To Apple: Do An NC
When asked the customary "If you were the new CEO of Apple what would you do?" question in a recent interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's vice president and Number 2 man, had the following advice for the company:
"Apple has two paths it can pursue, or both. They can just completely innovate their way out of this issue. The other path is how do you leverage the Apple brand name, which is still amazingly valuable. Maybe (do) an Apple NC. You can also think about an Apple PC. If you ask me what I'd do, I think leveraging the Apple brand name, with a unique packaging of new devices, a PC or NC. I happen to have my preference of the two, and I think it would be better for Apple, actually. I think an Apple PC would sell well. We don't try to sell that strategy. We're not selling that to Apple, it's just a strategy decision they have to make."
Adobe's Warnock Comments On Java Situation
First spotted by our good friends over at MacCentral, Adobe's co-chairman and chief executive John Warnock has expressed his concern over the ongoing feud between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems and the apparent Java incompatibilities that have risen from it. (Comments taken from Adobe's What's New page.)
"With last week's introduction of Internet Explorer 4.0, Microsoft included what Sun Microsystems has determined to be a non-standard version of Sun's Java language. Specifically, Sun said the browser software did not include two components of the Java System Developer Kit 1.1 standard.
We believe that the wide availability of compatible Java platforms is in the best interest of the industry and our customers," Warnock said. "The Java Native Interface(JNI) and Remote Method Interface (RMI) are important components of the Java platform. We urge Microsoft to ship such a compatible Java platform for its Windows family of operating systems."
All-In-One Macintosh On Its Way To Japan
Apple Japan is readying the Power Macintosh 5500/225 for release in early November, the Thursday edition of the Nikkei Industrial Daily said. The new machine, featuring a PowerPC 603e/225-MHz processor, 32MBs of RAM, a 4GB hard drive, 24X CD-ROM drive, and 33K modem, will sport an integrated 15-inch monitor, although presumably, the enclosure is the same form factor as the Performa 5400/5500 Apple has pushed in the education market here in the US in recent years.
Vlahos' Campaign Idea: "Macintosh: It Just Works"
Bill Vlahos has begun a campaign which, he believes, simply explains why the Macintosh is the best computer to use and the best to buy. As Vlahos says, "Apple has challenged us to "Think Different." I think Apple's image needs to be polished, and that this new ad is a good start. However, we need to focus on the product, and we need to do it now."
Thursday, October 9th
Jobs Keynotes Macromedia User Conference
Today, for the second time in as many weeks, Steve Jobs, interim chief executive at Apple Computer, addressed an audience in San Francisco in an attempt to give an update about what is happening in Cupertino these days. This time the setting was Macromedia's 1997 International Users Conference and like last week's Seybold Conference before it, the packed audience was very receptive, giving Jobs huge amounts of fanfare and a standing ovation at the end of his presentation. Despite what some may think and what other may not want to think, a feeling of excitement surrounds the Cupertino campus these days, and clearly Jobs' mystical way of keeping a burning hope alive in people is working overtime. To find out more about today's keynote, read our overview.
Macromedia's User Conference Kicks Off
Macromedia's 1997 International User Conference in San Francisco kicked off yesterday with a number of additions to their Internet strategy and will run through tomorrow afternoon. Chief among those accessions is Macromedia's new "Universal Media", an initiative giving Director and Flash the ability to deliver Java-based multimedia without the use of plug-ins, meaning Internet users will be able to experience content created by these two programs across any platform that supports Java. Also new Aftershock utility helps Web page designers automatically deliver the highest quality Web multimedia, regardless of playback type.
The Mac Observer's own Pam Thompson will be at the User Conference throughout the day today and will have a full report later this evening, including news of a special keynote slated to be given by Apple's interim chief executive Steve Jobs.
Former Sun And Apple Execs Form New Venture
A group of former top executives at Sun Microsystems and Apple have formed Ridge Technologies, a Silicon Valley startup specializing in mass storage solutions for the Windows NT server market. The company was founded Sun's former Sparc division head Bob Graham, and the management team includes three former Sun marketing and operations executives: Ed Turner, Mark Jackson and Mike Moore, and five former Apple R&D; and marketing executives: Gregg Zehr, Chris Hamlin, Mike Williams, Mark Oney, and Barbara Cardillo. The company is expected to ship their first product in the first half of 1998.
Apple's Head Of Patent And Trademark Group Retires
Paul Carmichael, head of Apple's in-house patent and trademark group for the past 4 1/2 years, is retiring, according to Cal Law, a Web site focusing on legal issues in California. Nancy Heinen, the former alumnus from NeXT who was recently appointed general counsel at Apple, said Carmichael will stay on for several weeks to help the company find a replacement. And according to Heinen, the retirement did not come as a surprise, as Carmichael was negotiating his leave before she arrived at the company.
Apple's Japanese Unit Cuts Prices On Six Models
Preceding a raft of expected price cuts later this week in the States, wholesale prices of Apple's Power Macintosh machines in Japan have been lowered by as much as 26 percent, the company said today. A spokeswoman for Apple's Japanese unit said that six models fall under the cuts, including the 4400/200 and 8600/250 machines. The company hopes the reduced prices will boost sales in light of the upcoming year-end shopping season
Confirmation Of Dell's Switch To Microsoft Server
Reports from readers earlier this week stated that Dell had abandoned Apple Enterprise's WebObjects technology in favor of the Active Server Page system from Microsoft. And yesterday, Mac Observer reader, Adam Seigel, received a response back from a member of Dell's Webmaster staff confirming this to be true.
"We used too [use Apple's WebObjects]. With the launch of the new retail store in September though, we moved to Microsoft's merchant engine. Thanks for inquiring."
Wednesday, October 8th
Be Ushers In BeOS Preview Release 2
The BeOS continues to take an active role in the Macintosh marketplace with Be, Inc.'s second public release of its alternative operating system for PowerPC-branded Macintosh hardware, BeOS Preview Release 2. The new release, to be shipped October 20th (slightly ahead of schedule), will feature improvements that reflect user and developer feedback from its original release in July.
"This release adds momentum to the BeOS," said Jean-Louis Gassee, President and CEO of Be, Inc. He commended Be's customers and developers for taking part in "building up the BeOS technology platform." As part of the announcement, the company reported that one hundred new BeOS applications have been released in the past two months and the number copies of the OS in distribution has passed the half-million mark.
Be is accepting advance orders for the new OS on a special section of their Web site. The $49.95 retail package includes a printed user's guide as well as the next two updates, the first of which is planned for Q1 1998. Customers may also opt for the $9.95 trial package which includes electronic documentation and no updates. The release's CD will include nearly 40 third party applications for the OS. The company is also planning to distribute a Web downloadable version of the software sometime in November.
Customers who purchased the first BeOS Preview Release after September 1st will be sent the BeOS Preview Release 2 CD without the new version counting against their two free releases.
The BeOS Release 2 boasts improvements in hardware support, user interface as well as additional application and networking features, and most notably, the ability to read from and write to Mac HFS partitions. With the latest release, the BeOS continues its reputation as being a more stable system than the Mac OS.
A Preview Release 3 is expected in the first quarter of 1998 and will be the first commercial release to support both the Intel Architecture and PowerPC machines, the company says. Much of their efforts for this release will be centered around support for Intel machines, but Be contends that it will also feature a number of other enhancements, including significant performance boosts and support for 3D hardware acceleration and 100 Megabit Ethernet.
Pioneer Exits Mac Market; Akia Next?
Pioneer Electronic Corp., the first company to sell Macintosh clones in the Japanese market, will close its Mac operations and withdraw plans to introduce a new line of machines later this year, the Wednesday morning edition of The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported. Pioneer told the paper their decision was made following the reversal of Apple's position on licensing. Meanwhile, Akia Computer Corp. of Tokyo, a Mac OS licensee through the IBM sub-license program, remains undecided about future Mac plans. Both vendors never did expand their business stateside and it's unclear whether they had plans to do so. Akia did, however, recently introduce their "Mystique Series", a line of somewhat radical desktop PCs that come equipped with an LCD active matrix monitor, in the US market.
Macromedia Deal Results In New Product
In an effort to further position themselves in the enterprise market, Macromedia announced today that it has acquired Solis Inc., a leader in open on-line learning management systems, and will use the company's Solis Pathway product line as Macromedia Pathware. "The heritage of our founders and our product is here at Macromedia, and it's great to be back," said Pat McKim, CEO of Solis, Inc., and now vice president of Strategic Business Development at Macromedia. "We're in a hot space with a wonderful ability to solve a major problem for customers: managing CBT (computer-based training) content from many developers using open standards." Further details are available in a company press release.
Internet Data Across Power Lines?
A new technology that allows data to be transferred over electricity power lines into the home at speeds of over one megabit per second has been jointly developed by Northern Telecom and NORWEB Communications. Recent testing of the technology, developed at Nortel's European Research and Development laboratories in Harlow UK, in co-operation with NORWEB Communications, is said to have been successful, and the companies will begin rolling it out across broader areas in Europe and Asia Pacific. It is expected to stimulate the introduction of Internet-based applications such as electronic commerce, teleworking, web broadcast media, entertainment and Internet telephony on a mass market scale.
Intel Extends Offer For Chips & Technologies
Intel's expiration date for the planned acquisition of Chips & Technologies, a manufacturer of graphics cards commonly used in laptops, including Apple's line of PowerBooks, has been extended until November 15th, NEWS.COM reported today. Back in July, Intel announced they would buy all outstanding shares of Chips at $17.50, which sparked an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into whether or not Intel violated antitrust statutes by attempting to monopolize markets; in this case, the portable computer graphics manufacturing market.
Power Computing Systems Continue To Fly Off Shelves
A status page on Power Computing's homepage notes "we sold out of our entry-level systems the PowerBase but also all of our low-profile systems and all PowerCenter Pro 210's", thus leaving the remaining inventory of Mac OS machines to only two models; the PowerTower Pro 250 Core ($2,699) and the PowerCenter Pro 240 ($2,299). In addition, the company's Trinitron-based 24-inch and 20-inch monitors have been substantially reduced in price, although supplies, like the remaining machines, are said to be extremely limited.
Tuesday, October 7th
Sun Sues Microsoft For Breach Of Contract
Sun Microsystems forged their intense relationship with Microsoft to new heights today by filing a lawsuit in the District Court against Microsoft for breaching its contractual obligation to deliver a compatible implementation of Java. As laid out in a conference call this morning, the suit centers around the Java implementation in the recently released version of Internet Explorer 4.0 and Microsoft's Software Development Kit for Java (SDKJ), which Sun executives contend failed to pass the contractually required Java compatibility tests. Sun says that because of these incompatibilities, applications written using the Microsoft development kit may fail to run when used on other platforms, and conversely, programs written using Sun's homegrown Java development tools may not function in IE 4.0.
"Sun's first responsibility as stewards of the Java technology is to preserve the significant investments that Sun and hundreds of companies have made. We are required to take this action on behalf of our licensees, the Java industry and Sun's shareholders," said Alan Baratz, president of Sun's JavaSoft division.
The complaint specifies that Sun is seeking "preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining Microsoft...from using the Java Compatible logo; from doing directly or indirectly any acts or making any statements that are likely to cause confusion, mistakes or deception in the marketplace as to the compatibility of IE 4.0 and SDKJ 1.1 with Sun's Java technology... from doing directly or indirectly any acts that are likely to diminish the value of the Java Compatible logo..."
Even With Charge, Motorola's Earnings Rise
Motorola reported yesterday earnings of $266 million, or 44 cents per share, for their third fiscal quarter, despite taking a one time pretax charge of $95 million for the closing of their Computer Group. Earnings rose sequentially over the year-ago results of $206 million, or 34 cents per share, and when excluding the aforementioned one time charge, earnings for the company beat the street's estimates by a penny. Growth in semiconductors, land mobile products, and cellular subscriber products were attributed as the three areas where sales increased most significantly. The company anticipates slower sales growth for their fourth quarter, and they will face further possible one time charges as they review each one of their business units. (As we reported late last week, Motorola is in the process of shopping around its modem division.)
Drive Setup 1.3.1 Posted By Apple
A new release of Drive Setup is available from Apple's FTP servers. Version 1.3.1 addresses the notorious "flashing question mark" startup problems that have plagued IDE hard drives in a variety of Macintosh models. According to notes posted on Ric Ford's MacInTouch and Ted Landau's MacFixIt, the problems affect ATA-based Macs (5xxx and 6xxx models) and cause data corruption which could ultimately lead to a loss of drive data. A combination of bugs in the ATA Manager, ATA driver and drive firmware, are said to be the root of the problem, which Drive Setup 1.3.1 partly fixes. The actual bugs in the ATA Manager will addressed in the release of Mac OS 8.1, the next system maintenance release due before the year of this year.
Apple Brings Back Olivo, Former Ad Exec
Advertising Age reports that Apple has brought back former advertising executive Allen Olivo to oversee the company's work with TBWA Chiat/Day. An official announcement signaling Olivo's arrival and the resignation of David Roman, current vice president of advertising and brand communications, is expected this week. Olivo first joined Apple in 1995 as director of worldwide corporate advertising before the company eliminated the position in last March's widespread reorganization. Roman, who headed the recent review that ended up with the rehiring of advertising firm Chiat/Day, will leave the company after a 15-year tenure.
Hotline Dials Up New Client, New Pricing
Hotline Communications has released the 1.2 version of Hotline, their popular and somewhat controversial client/server communication tool. With the release of 1.2, Hotline has abandoned their previous distribution model, and will instead push the software as a commercial family of products. The software remains downloadable, although until registered, both the server and client are affixed with a 15 minute time limit. The new pricing structure is as follows:
Hotline Client/Server bundle: $49.95US
Hotline Server: $34.95US
Hotline Client: $24.95US
Hotline Tracker: $99.95US
Hotline Client/Server, NetScrawl: $59.95US
Dell Forgoes WebObjects In Favor Of Microsoft Server
Yesterday's news piece regarding Michael Dell's outlook on Apple mistakenly assumed that his company was still using Apple's WebObjects technology on their Web site. According to a number of readers, however, this appears to be no longer the case. Apparently, Dell has made the transition to Microsoft's Active Server Pages -- a move some suggest was influenced strongly by Microsoft --, although several members of the Apple Enterprise team maintain that Dell is still using WebObjects in the background.
ClearWay Ships "The Web's Quickest Search Tool"
ClearWay Technologies announced today the shipping of WebArcher 1.0, "the Web's quickest and most convenient search tool, with built-in search expertise, automatic 'Push' updates, and instant access to Web searches, news, weather, phone books, on-line software, catalog shopping, stock quotes, and more." A special introductory price of $20 is being offered by the company, while a 30-day demo is also available.
Monday, October 6th
What Would Michael Dell Do With Apple?
Put in the shoes of Apple interim chief executive Steve Jobs, Dell's chairman and chief executive Michael Dell told an industry gathering today that he would "shut it [Apple] down and give the money back to the shareholders." The hypothetical question was raised by an attendee at an information technology symposium hosted by the Gartner Group, where Dell was a keynote panelist. Interestingly, if Dell were to shut down Apple, one has to wonder where he would get the technology that runs the Web site that brings his company over $3 million in sales each day.
Vendors Take Wraps Off DHTML Tools
The emergence of the Dynamic HyperText Markup Language (DHTML) as a standard component of Netscape Communicator 4.0, Netscape Navigator 4.0, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 has caused the inevitable raft of creation tools to follow. The language, whose capabilities have often been compared to what you normally see in CD-ROM titles, has up until this time been only useable through complex, arcane coding. The visually-oriented products announced today from mBED and Macromedia change that notion by combining the power of authoring environments with the control of HTML editors.
Meanwhile, mBED Software's mBED Interactor 1.1, available immediately, is a new version of the company's Web-oriented multimedia authoring environment that introduces Dynamic HTML capabilities. Like Macromedia's Dreamweaver, the code generated by mBED 1.1 will function in both Microsoft and Netscape browsers (an interesting feat for both products since Microsoft and Netscape conform to slightly different variations of DHTML). Support for Java-based creations is also included. The 1.1 upgrade is free for exisiting owners of mBED Interactor, while the full $249 version is available from a variety of retailers.
PowerLogix Unleashes PowerForce G3
Longtime developer of Macintosh acceleration products, PowerLogix, announced today a new line of processor upgrades built around the PowerPC 750 processor. Dubbed the "PowerForce G3", the cards feature 250MHz and 275MHz variants of the 750, each running with 1MB of L2 backside cache in a 1:1 direct ratio with the processor, a ratio only seen in the never to be released Power Computing PowerTower Pro G3. The company claims the PowerForce G3 to be the fastest Macintosh processor upgrade card available, and with MacBench 4.0 processor scores of over 1050, there's a little doubt in that hefty claim. Both versions of the product will begin shipping in mid-October at prices under $2,000.
"The introduction of the PowerForce G3 has put PowerLogix into a position of leadership in the acceleration market. PowerLogix clearly has the broadest processor product line, and the highest performing products at every price level in the market," said Robert Jagitsch, president of PowerLogix. "The extremely high performance of the 1MB backside cache, combined with our additional adjustment features, places the PowerForce G3 as the most desirable upgrade for any Mac user wanting ultimate performance."
DEC In Talks To Sell Alpha To Intel
In an odd twist of events, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Digital Equipment has gone from pursuing a patent infringement lawsuit against Intel to looking at the company as a possible suitor for their Alpha processor technology. The Journal, citing people familiar with the negotiations, says that the two companies are in talks to sell the Alpha processor for $1.5 billion. The pact would settle the patent fight, which originally heated up early last summer when both companies filed lawsuits claiming the other to be using patented technology, and would allow Digital to recover financially (at least somewhat) from a heavily-hyped processor that has largely been overlooked in the industry. In addition, the paper says that Intel would be obligated to sell Alpha chips for several years, although the company's fabled marketing machine wouldn't need to push the technology.
Macromedia Flash Integration In RealSystem 5.0
Flash 2, Macromedia's content creation tool for vector-based Web multimedia, will be integrated as a standard component of RealNetworks' (formerly Progressive Networks) RealSystem 5.0, the upcoming version of the popular client-server streaming solution, the companies announced today. "Flash is rapidly becoming the Web standard for interactive, vector-based animation and graphics," stated Phillip s, general manager of media systems at RealNetworks, Inc. "By incorporating Flash as a standard component of RealPlayer and RealPlayer Plus, consumers receive the best in streaming animation as well as the best in streaming audio and video."
[Update:] A public beta of RealPlayer 5.0 featuring the new RealFlash technology is now available for PowerPC-based machines. Besides the addition of Flash, RealPlayer 5.0 also marks a newly tweaked compression routine that RealNetworks says will result in better audio and video delivery over modems.
Sonnett Technologies Working On 6100 Upgrade Card
The hopes of early Power Macintosh adopters wishing to upgrade their aging machines were apparently dashed last week when news surfaced about MicroMac's "PowerBoy" PowerPC upgrade card for PDS-based machines (see Friday's new below). Now, however, comes word that Sonnett Technologies is developing a speedbump for the 6100 series, using straight PowerPC 604 processors. Called "Crescendo," the card is due to be released within weeks and will carry a price of "somewhere around $400." For the price, users will get the added benefits of a 604 processor and a doubled clock speed; machines at 60MHz will bump to 120MHz while 66MHz machines will go to 132MHz.
AOL Hoping To Simplify Things With "The Next AOL"
As a part of their tiered delivery of America Online 4.0, AOL announced today "The Next AOL" -- the latest overhaul of its content structure, to be released next Monday, which features further simplified "channels" centered around such topics as the workplace, lifestyles or families. And in an almost television-like fashion, AOL has developed the new setup so that channel content changes throughout the course of a day, ie. there will be a prime time, early morning, and late night time slots. The new content structure will be followed by the delivery of the AOL 4.0 client software near the end of this year.
Mirabilis' ICQ Available In Preview Release
After rearing its head on the Wintel platform as one of the first direct communication tools, Mirabilis' ICQ has finally made its way to the Macintosh. A public PowerPC-only (68K users can participate in an alpha evaluation) preview release is available, although as noted by the company, "this is a preview version and therefore doesn't include all the standard ICQ features."
LucasArts Reevaluating Development For Mac?
LucasArts Entertainment Company's Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, the eagerly anticipated sequel to the original, and highly successful, Star Wars-oriented 3D shooter Dark Forces, will be hitting store shelves this week for the PC, but as noted on the product's FAQ sheet, the fate of a Macintosh version is in question. The once staunch Mac supporter has the following to say:
"At the moment, LEC [LucasArts Entertainment Company] is reevaluating its Mac strategy and a final decision has not been made on whether or not the company will make available a Mac version of Jedi Knight."
Friday, October 3rd
Red Ink In Cupertino Likely To Continue
Three consecutive quarters of red ink will likely continue for Apple when they report their fiscal fourth quarter earnings on October 15, MacWEEK reported, although the expected loss is quite modest when compared to the bleeding in recent quarters. The consensus estimates of 23 financial analysts, compiled by First Call Corp. of Boston, predicted a loss of $17.8 million, or 14 cents per share. Individuals estimates, however, ranged from an actual profit of $12.7 million to a loss of $42 million. Predictions varied widely for Apple's third quarter results as well, a quarter in which the company beat the street's estimate by over $14 million. Losses for the year are expected to total over $300 million, although the company can look to next year with hope; First Call expects a profit of $45.8 million for 1998.
Microsoft Addresses Java Concerns
A letter sent to Bill Gates and Microsoft from Rick Ross, a Java developer and the founder of the Java Lobby, requesting that Microsoft adhere to the "write once, run anywhere" mentality of Java has been addressed by the company's "Java Evangelist", Brad Merrill. But devotees believing in the portability of Java won't like the answer, as Merrill told JavaWorld that such adherence is not forthcoming. The Lobby's dissatisfaction with Microsoft centered around two points, one of which being the Java 1.1 support in Internet Explorer 4.0. In response, Merrill said that full 1.1 compatibility would be included in the final version of IE 4.0 -- except for two APIs, RMI and JNI.
Jobs Says Search Includes A Dozen Candidates
Contradicting recent reports that said the search for a permanent chief executive at Apple has been narrowed down to four candidates (Samuel Palmisano, Ed Zander, David Dorfman, and Joe Costello), Apple's interim leader Steve Jobs told CNBC's technology correspondent Bruce Francis in an interview yesterday that the search includes as many as a dozen potential candidates. Jobs didn't comment on the names that have been surfacing, but he did surprisingly state that he would step down from his board member position, if Apple's new CEO made such a request.
Billboard Placements Not Actual Ads
The pictures of the new Apple "Think Different" billboard campaign seen on the "Ad Campaign Photography" homepage, which we noted of the other day, are apparently actual locations masked with conceptual advertisements designs. A reader in Toronto, Canada points the reasons why.
"I recognize the 'locations' for the Picasso and Graham billboards (at least) as Toronto. Both Photoshopped onto buildings on Yonge Street and in the Queen West area respectively. They are surely collages as the 'Picasso wall' has been hidden for a year behind a major addition to the building to the right..
Plans For MicroMac's "PowerBoy" Card Shelved
Recent inquiries about MicroMac's "PowerBoy" PowerPC upgrade card for machines outfitted with a PDS-style expansion slot yielded the following response from the company.
"Thank you for your interest in the [PowerBoy] PowerPC upgrade card. Unfortunately the product is dead due to our inability to obtain the necessary licensing for the PowerPC ROM chip. We've attempted to obtain this essential licensing agreement and part for over a year with no success. As a result, we are no longer pursuing this particular path in offering an upgrade for consumer's with older Mac systems."
Thursday, October 2nd
Jobs Addresses Audience At Seybold
Steve Jobs, Apple's interim chief executive and de facto leader for the past several months, was faced with the task of invigorating one of Apple's core markets -- content creation -- during this morning's keynote address at the Seybold Conference in San Francisco. Jobs focused on what Apple is currently doing to become profitable once again and also some of the Mac OS technologies and features that make the Macintosh the predominate player it currently is in the publishing world. And while Jobs didn't use Seybold as a place to talk about specific product plans (he reiterated dozens of times that the bulk of the work being done now will be announced throughout the next 90 days), the base of Apple's strategy going forward is beginning to show through, as least in some areas.
Ten specific points were highlighted in Jobs' address, although the first two -- the new board of directors at Apple and their partnership with Microsoft -- were touched on back in August at his keynote at Macworld in Boston. Jobs did say, however, that the bundling of Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser would begin near the end of this year, a curious admission since the Mac OS update due in December, is merely an update and not a full system revision.
The product roadmap for the future was touched on uneventfully during his actual keynote, but the question and answer session with Seybold founder, Jonathan Seybold, that followed provided several small tidbits of information. Contrary to popular belief, Apple will not hand over the low-end market to a clone vendor. Jobs said that the company has a line of low-end products (he even went so far to say that they're one of his "pet projects") in the works that will be announced within 90 days, and released early next year. In addition, Jobs spoke of new machines that he said will outperform anything that a Mac or PC clone vendor has shipped, or are working on, by a ratio of two to one.
On the software front, Jobs said that sales of Mac OS 8, in just 12 weeks of release, have reached 1.6 million copies, which makes it on track to become the biggest system software seller for Apple ever. Jobs went on to reaffirm that the Mac OS is the core of Apple. Rhapsody, which Apple will initially aim as a server and high-end client, will not become the focus of the company, at least for the time being, as Jobs expects Apple to use a strategy similar to what Microsoft has done with its Windows 95 and NT combination.
It would be a mistake for the company to issue "brain surgery" next spring and try and supplant everything Mac OS-related with Rhapsody, Jobs said. Instead of making the sudden customer change to the new OS (and their accompanying $7 billion business), Apple will position it in certain areas and energize software development before moving it into other markets. (As a side note, Jobs said that the developer release of Rhapsody went Golden Master yesterday.)
The keynote was also the first place where Jobs publicly addressed the touchy subject of Mac OS licensing. The "couple hundred dollar subsidy" Jobs previously talked about was pointed to as a prime cause of Apple's financial woes. To remedy this, a higher premium needed to be placed on licensing, and according to Jobs, he went to the clone vendors asking them to pay a "fair price", only to be told to go "pound on sand." This happened five times, Jobs said, which eventually brought about the changes that took place over the past 4-6 weeks. Jobs admitted that Apple was "not happy how that situation turned out."
Another subject drawing emotion from Macintosh fans is that of the Newton. And with today's news of Newton Group leader Sandy Benett resigning (see story below) the product line's future is now in more question than ever. Jobs didn't touch on specifics, but he did express his liking for the eMate 300, and went on to say that he couldn't believe Apple was selling the product only in the educational market. That will change, he said, although once again, specifics were not mentioned.
Jobs spent time talking about Apple technologies that were key to the professionals in the publishing market. ColorSync was one of them, and during his talk about it, he mentioned that Apple has cut a deal with Microsoft to implement the technology in a future version of Internet Explorer, thus widening ColorSync's coverage to nearly every area of content creation. Further, Apple will develop a plug-in that will enable PCs to use the technology on the Web, and presumably, Microsoft will bundle this on the PC.
Finally, Jobs proclaimed AppleScript, an unsung Mac OS technology to many, a "really important" product for the company. Resources for further development have been beefed up, and according to Jobs, a PowerPC-native version of the scripting subset will make its way to Mac desktops sometime next year.
"Trust me for a few months and you will see," Jobs eloquently requested of the audience.
Head Of Newton Group Leaves Apple
Sandy Benett, who headed up the newly reabsorbed Newton group at Apple, left the company earlier this week, Computer Reseller News reported this morning. Benett, who joined Apple in 1994, garnered the spotlight last spring when he was named chief operating officer of then newly created Newton, Inc. subsidiary. He was to lead the company's operations until a chief executive was found. The fate of that company, however, changed drastically when Steve Jobs decided to bring the subsidiary back into the Apple fold. One can only imagine that this event, when coupled with the inevitable changes to the Newton product line that are said to be taking place, was Benett's chief reason for leaving the company. No replacement has been named yet, but Sina Tamaddon, a consultant who recently joined Apple as a vice president, will be acting vice president of the Newton group.
Jobs Acknowledges Key Role Games Play
When Jonathan Seybold raised the question to Steve Jobs of how Apple is hoping to regain market share at the consumer level (which is, incidently, where the company has experienced most of its market share lost), Jobs responded by saying that the reason for this loss was twofold. First, the low-end machines that were being produced were only OK (and this problem will be addressed, as mentioned in the summary of Jobs' keynote). Second, Apple had a previous problem with attracting the developers who concentrate in this area, ie. game developers. Jobs acknowledged that it is key for Apple to attract this segment of developers, and even went so far as to say that many, if not most, are making a fundamental shift to accept the Mac, which will be evident this Christmas.
Microsoft's Antics Don't Amuse Netscape
When Netscape employees arrived at work yesterday morning, they were greeted by a gift from rival software maker, Microsoft -- a 10-by-12-foot blue stage prop in the shape of an "e", symbolizing the Internet Explorer logo. The final version of Microsoft's browser for the PC, Internet Explorer 4.0, was formally unveiled the day before at a party for 1,000 people. Netscape was not amused by the prank, unsurprisingly. "It seems awfully immature to resort to fraternity tactics to draw attention," Netscape spokeswoman Chris Holten told NEWS.COM. "We're winning the battle. It's something you'd expect from a startup, not the largest software company in the world."
Guy Kawasaki Planning Leave Of Absence
During this morning's Question & Answer session with Apple's Steve Jobs (which followed his keynote address), a question was raised by a member of the audience about the role Guy Kawasaki will play in the company moving forward. Jobs revealed that Kawasaki plans on taking a leave of absence from the company in order to write what will become the sixth book of his growing literary library. Jobs says that Kawasaki has recently been helping with some of the decision making at the company.
Motorola Reportedly Shopping Around Modem Division
PC Week reports that Motorola's Information Systems Group has begun shopping around its entire transmission products division, just days after slashing prices on its 56K modems by more than 40 percent. The report alleges that Motorola has hired Goldman, Sachs, & Co. to handle the sale, which will include the company's line of ISDN terminal adapters as well as their internal, external Surfr and Montana series of modems.
Wednesday, October 1st
Clone Vendor Planning G3-Based Upgrades
Confirming reports first seen on Eric Belsley's Macintosh Resource Page yesterday, The Mac Observer has obtained a copy of MacTell's "Master Indicator Price Schedule" (dated effective today, October 1st) indicating that the Mac OS licensee plans on offering a G3-based upgrade path for its customers. While specifics aren't known (partly because of the build-to-order setup MacTell uses to sell their systems), the price schedule, in conjunction with Belsley's report, indicates that the company will not ship any actual PowerPC 750 systems (presumably because of certification issues with Apple), and will instead provide upgrades using the widely available chip. Pricing for such upgrades are marked at $1,025 for the PowerPC 750/250MHz card and $1,795 for the 750/266MHz variation. Both upgrades will ship with 512K of backside cache, according to the document.
German Firm Said To Be Working On New OS
German software development house Omega has posted an overview of COS, a shareware operating system that claims to provide full compatibility with Mac OS 8, in addition to host of modern OS features. The company contends that COS will include pre-emptive multitasking, protected memory, performance four times greater than the Mac OS, and yet will only require 4MBs of memory and 12MBs of hard drive space. Even more impressive, Omega says that COS will function on everything from a 68030 processor to a PowerPC chip. Many have cast doubt on whether or not this product is one of reality (because of its truly remarkable spec sheet), but Omega asserts that the software will be posted on their Web site beginning November 13th. If anyone knows of more in-depth information or has actually seen COS running, please contact us.
QuarkXPress 4.0 Due Within 30-60 Days
Quark said today that the highly anticipated upgrade to their flagship product, QuarkXPress 4.0, will ship in both English and multilingual Passport versions within the next 30 to 60 days. The product, which will arrive simultaneously for Mac OS and Windows 95/NT, has more than 75 significant new features -- "including powerful Bezier-based drawing and design tools, clipping controls for isolating picture subjects, an expanded set of printing and color features, a suite of features geared to long-document producers and networked corporate workgroups, and a slick new user interface for easier navigation." Retail pricing will be set at $995 with the Passport version being $1,595.
"We believe no other single application can come close to the feature set, power and efficiency that we'll deliver in QuarkXPress 4.0," said Don Lohse, QuarkXPress product manager said in a statement. "It will set a new standard in the industry by which other publishing applications will be judged."
Oracle Begins Building NC Software Bridge
Oracle's Network Computing Incorporated (NCI) unit announced on Monday that it has agreed to bundle an application package from Star Division with its Network Computers -- a move which will likely help bridge the migration gap between Oracle-branded NCs and the popular array of file formats. The StarOffice 4.0 suite provides word processing, spreadsheet, presentation graphics, email, news, charting and graphics applications. "Users can access existing Microsoft Office files and data to create spreadsheets, presentations and documents and save all data in Microsoft formats or as HTML files to post on the Web or Newsgroup servers," NCI said in a statement."
Apple Pulls Plug On Fastest Machine
Problems associated with the supply of PowerPC 604e/350MHz chips from IBM have caused Apple to take their fastest desktop machine, the recently released Power Macintosh 9600/350, off the market, NEWS.COM reported. The company told the news service that the machine has been dropped from October dealer price lists, although this might not be the end of the 9600/350, however, as Apple says that when a sufficient supply of chips becomes available, there is a chance the machine may make an appearance once again. The company goes on to say that orders that have already been placed will be fulfilled.
MicroFrontier Announces Plans For IPO
MicroFrontier, a developer of several graphic software packages for the Macintosh, announced today that they have filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The offering will consist of 400,000 shares marked at an expected opening price of $6.25. The minimum purchase is set at 20 shares, although the company notes that investors who are interested must live in one of the following states Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington. Capital raised from the offering will be used to expand the company's product development and marketing efforts.
UMAX Extends Free Scanner Promotion
UMAX' scanner promotion in which customers receive a free Astra 600s flatbed scanner with the purchase of any UMAX C600 series computer has been extended until November 30th, the company announced today. "The response to this promotion has been fantastic," said Phil Pompa, vice president of marketing and strategic planning for UMAX Computer Corporation. "To help grow the low-end Mac OS market we have extended this promotional offer which provides our customers a powerful computer and bundled hardware and software, all at a street price starting well under $1,500."
Wozniak Joins Board Of Internet Software Company
Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, has joined the board of directors of Breakthrough Software, an Internet software company focused exclusively on developing and marketing point-and-click electronic commerce solutions for small to medium size businesses. Wozniak, whose role as a recent Apple advisor became uncertain with the resurrection of Steve Jobs as interim CEO of the company, has been active in Breakthrough since May, 1997.
Get A Glimpse At Apple's Billboard Advertisements
A series of photographs detailing the second phase of Apple's new brand advertising campaign are now available for viewing on the company's "Ad Campaign Photography" homepage. The ads span across billboards, buses, buildings, and bus shelters (although exact locations for the placements are not mentioned), and feature many of the same famous figures that were highlighted in the first television spot.
Our story regarding the planned G3-based upgrades from MacTell was taken from yesterday's news and placed at the top of today's update to ensure full viewing.