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Technology / AI and automation

MINIGRAMS

Putting numbers on the Intel Corp P6 limitation that the thing is only faster than Pentium on 32-bit applications (CI No 2,731), PC Week Labs and PC Magazine’s PC Labs report that the 150MHz P6 showed significant performance improvements over a 133MHz Pentium only when running 32-bit applications under a 32-bit operating system and in the Winstone 95 test, which uses 16-bit Windows 3.1 applications, the P6 turned out to be only minimally faster than a 133MHz Pentium.

Digital Equipment Corp cut the US price of its entire 80486 notebook computer line by 14% to 30%, sayin the move is being taken so it can aggressively launch an initiative to capture leadership position in sales force and general field automation: price reductions for its HiN ote Ultra family range from 14% to 27%, or $440 to $1,330, and those for the HiNote family range from 15% to 30% or $310 to $1,170.

Computer Sciences Corp has signed a letter of intent with Seoul, South Korea-based Halla Business Group, a manufacturer of automotive parts and shipbuilder with annual turnover last year of $4,000m: both companies will own 50% of a joint venture to manage Halla’s information technology operations; the deal should complete in December, and the new company will be seeking to take in others’ washing as well.

Compaq Computer Corp has launched the LTE 5000 family of high-performance notebooks featuring true 64-bit Pentium architecture, PCI local bus graphics and memory expansion to 72Mb which, it said, Microsoft Corp selected to demonstrate Windows95, Windows NT and Microsoft BackOffice: developed through its joint development relationship with Inventec Electronics Corp of Taiwan, the LTE 5000 will ship, and prices will be given, in September.

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Texas Instruments Inc has unveiled its TravelMate 5100, a 90MHz Pentium-based notebook computer weighing 6.7 lbs with PCI bus, 256Kb Level 2 cache, a 1.2Gb disk and 10.4 active matrix colo8r display: bundled with Windows95 and Windows for Workgroups, it costs around $5,400.

Netscape Communications Corp says its Navigator Personal Edition for Microsoft Corp’s Windows95 will be available in the autumn for $40: it includes the features of the newly released 32-bit Navigator 1.2 Internet browser, and full electronic mail and remote communications, and easy Internet access Netscape said.

BSkyB Plc has signed for 16 digital transponders on the Astra satellites that will give it the potential to broadcast 256 channels: the move follows rumours that the company is planning to launch 16 digital television channels next year; BSkyB’s managing director, David Chance, is said to be in talks with Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures and its sister company, 20th Century Fox with a view securing programming rights that would enable the company to broadcast films as soon as they are available for video rental in the UK; Chance plans to transmit films at 15 minute intervals on several channels so viewers have more opporunity to see the same film; viewers will pay on a per film basis under a new payment system the company is said to be developing; BSkyB refused to comment on the plans and dismissed reported details as pure speculation; BSkyB’s taciturn silence could be due to the fact it does not want to deter potential customers who may delay their subscription until the new services become available.

General Electric Co Inc’s NBC news network is launching SuperNet, an on-line news service on the Microsoft Network which will include areas for all NBC stations and many affiliated stations: NBC SuperNet will offer breaking news from NBC News and the Associated Press, in-depth r eports about issues in the news, with maps and both video and audio clips; there will be interactive areas for news, sport and entertainment and an area called NBC Hyperchannel which will eventually offer new information and entertainment, partnership areas and non-NBC content, the company said.

Compaq Computer Corp seems to have a yen just now for people that cut their teeth with the US

operations of Japanese companies, and after picking up Toshiba Corp’s former US notebook chief, it has hired Michael Heil, a former executive with Sony Corp as senior vice-president and general manager of the Houston firm’s Consumer Products Division.

Look at future Hewlett-Packard Co line matrix printers closely: they could be from Irvine, California-based Printronix Inc, which has won a OEM contract for printers ranging from 475 lines-per-minute to 1,200 lines-per-minute; terms of the contract were not disclosed – but you can’t fool us fellahs, they include the ones that Hewlett launched earlier this month (CI No 2,730).

We could understand it if it were tickets for Wimbledon, the Sixth Test Match or Pulp, but a new operating system? Tandy Corp’s Computer City and Incredible Universe stores plan to stay open past midnight tonight so people can buy copies of Microsoft Corp’s Windows95 as soon as it turns Thursday.

Cameron Myhrvold, director of developer marketing at Microsoft Corp, now acknowledges that in late July he asked Softbank Exposition & Conference Co, organiser of the month-end Windows Solutions show in San Francisco to cancel the keynote appearance that was to have been made by IBM Corp’s Lee Reiswig, but tells the New York Times he changed his mind a few days later and agreed to let Reiswig participate; IBM says Softbank asked Reiswig to return, but not in his original role as a keynote speaker, Microsoft and Softbank said that Reiswig was offered the same slot as before, but the upshot is that there will be no IBM stand, and it was to have been one of the biggest, and Reiswig will not be appearing – and IBM scores something of a playground propaganda coup over Microsoft, although Myhrvold tells the Times I feel bad about my initial decision but I don’t feel bad about my integrity because I am willing to admit that I made a mistake.

Shares in Chicago-based System Software Associates Inc jumped to a new 52-week high on sharply higher-than-expected earnings for its fiscal third quarter – figures are in page seven: the company said that the results were driven by rapid market acceptance of its new BPCS Unix client-server software.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc has sold its entire stake in Seeq Technology Inc, developer of smiconductor memory devices: it says that it sold 1.333m Seeq common shares in July at $3 a time, and raised about $4m.

Is it really the first? Omaha, Nebraska-based MFS Communications Inc says its MFS Datanet subsidiary is now able to offer speech, video and data over an Asynchronous Transfer Mode network, and reckons it is the first company to make such a service available: called WAVE, for wide area voice exchange, and using Northern Telecom Ltd switches, it enables subscribers to consolidate the multiple networks it says were previously required to carry these different forms of data, and is available on the firm’s Metropolitan Area Networks in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

We’re glad the guy lards this one with scepticism: the PC Week gossip column reports that one of its most garrulous and unreliable IBM Corp tipsters is saying that IBM is ready to form an autonomous software company (much like it did for hardware with Lexmark International Inc years ago – yes fellahs, but IBM retained only a vestigial 10% in Lexmark) to rival Microsoft Corp – but first it has to make some more acquisitions beyond Lotus, and Borland International Inc, Sybase Inc and Novell Inc are supposedly on the shopping list; the time frame is November or December, with a kickoff in January, according to this under-30%-hit-rate tipster, says the paper, adding IBM is considering the name StarDivision for the spin-off – really? So it’s going to buy the German firm? IBM buying one of the companies named would make sense (Novell) but otherwise, give us a break fellahs!

A group of 23 stock exchanges in Latin America, Spain and Portugal will link up next month in an information network that is hoped will later be turned

into a huge Iberoamerican bolsa, the Caracas Stock Exchange said: the project, based on a proposal from the Rio Stock Exchange, would revolutionise transactions of issues in many Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of America and Europe, President Alejandro Salcedo said.

Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Ramtron International Corp has now added Toshiba Corp to NEC Corp and Hitachi Ltd as licensees of its ferroelectric random access memory chip patents: on completion of a joint integration and feasibility study, the agreement provides for development, production and sale of ferroelectric products by the two; ferroelectric memory chips are non-volatile, retaining their state when the power supply is cut off.

Compuserve Inc and the Time Inc division of Time Warner Inc have teamed to develop an Internet access and browsing tool for Pathfinder, the Time Warner Web site: using a custom Windows browser, users get direct access to Pathfinder and other Internet resources; no furth-er details of the deal were given.