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Volume 1, Issue 8: Friday, December 17, 1999

  • "Windows 2000 Set to Launch"
    Financial Times (12/16/99) P. 17; Kehoe, Louise

    Microsoft yesterday announced it has finished work on Windows 2000 and sent the operating systems to manufacturers. The company worked on Windows 2000 for three and a half years, and says the OS is its most complex and thoroughly tested product to date. Windows 2000 is a critical aspect of Microsoft's plan to remain the market leader as computing moves from PCs to the Internet. The Internet has allowed all types of systems to share data regardless of operating systems, and Windows is increasingly threatened by alternatives such as Linux and Unix. Microsoft has given manufacturers three versions of Windows 2000 for office PCs, small business or departmental servers, and large business or Internet servers. Retailers will start selling the new OS on Feb. 17, and PC makers at the same time will release systems with Windows 2000 preinstalled. Yesterday, Microsoft began a multimillion dollar ad campaign for Windows 2000. The success of Windows 2000 in the Internet and business markets for mission-critical applications will depend largely on reliability. Microsoft says it waited to release the OS until it was sure the product met its promised level of performance.

  • "Oracle Turns Its Gaze to the Web"
    Computer Reseller News Online (12/16/99); Taft, Darryl K.

    Oracle on Thursday announced that it is cutting prices on its Oracle8i database, and moving to a business model of conducting most sales over the Internet. The moves are part of Oracle's effort to gain market share and expand the market for database products. Oracle8i Standard Edition will now cost $15 per power unit, marking a 40 percent cut from the previous $25 per power unit. Meanwhile, the price of the Oracle8i Enterprise Edition will be reduced 50 percent from $200 per power unit to $100 per power unit. "Our customers say they would buy a lot more of Oracle and put more into our database if we lower the cost," says Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. However, Oracle plans to minimize its practice of negotiating lower-priced deals, so the net discount on Oracle8i products will be closer to 30 percent, says Ellison. Beyond the price cuts, Oracle announced that it will start conducting most of its sales through its online store as of Monday. "Going forward, by the end of 2000, we expect to have virtually all of our business coming off our Web store," Ellison says. By going after the low end of the database market, Oracle expects to compete more heavily with Microsoft, especially with regard to the Windows NT/Windows 2000 file system.

  • "NetWare 5.1 Hopes for Web-Savvy Customers"
    TechWeb (12/13/99); Glascock, Stuart

    Novell on Monday announced that NetWare 5.1, which manages enterprise-level e-business applications, will be released as planned in the middle of January. The new server operating system features directory-based networking products and will function as a Web server rather than a file and print server. NetWare 5.1 includes IBM WebSphere 3.0 Standard Edition, IBM WebSphere Studio 3.0 Entry Edition, and a five-user edition of Oracle 8i. The new product includes Novell's NDS eDirectory, which provides central administration of user/group profiles and helps tailor a site to specific customers based on personal data. In addition, NetWare 5.1 includes a NetWare Management Portal that allows administrators to monitor several areas of the network. Novell aims to appeal to a new audience that will use NetWare 5.1 for Web application delivery, especially with WebSphere products, says analyst Phil Schacter. Version 5.1 will improve users' ability to use open, Web-based applications and Web-based network management, Novell says. By shipping NetWare 5.1 in mid January, Novell gains a one-month lead on Microsoft's release of Windows 2000, which is scheduled for Feb. 17.

  • "Y2K and Viruses Could Be an Explosive Mix"
    Wall Street Journal (12/16/99) P. B6; Takahashi, Dean

    More than two dozen viruses have already been discovered that are designed to take effect as 1999 gives way to 2000, and more, possibly much more, are expected. The Anti-Virus Emergency Response Team (Avert), part of Network Associates, and others are preparing for this viral onslaught in an effort to track and fix problems as quickly as possible. Symantec chief researcher Carey Nachenburg says, "This is an opportunity for people to scare novice users, and clearly there will be a lot of activity in this area." Experts say viruses could be disguised as Y2K fixes or even as manifestations of the Y2K problem itself, or they could be designed to attack systems that are not Y2K compliant. Email is the main avenue for a virus to spread and many large companies are planning to shut down their email systems during the date changeover. Avert director Vincent Gulloto says, "A lot of companies I've spoken to are going into lockdown." The major virus fighting companies, including Network Associates, Symantec, and Trend Micro, are planning to be fully staffed during the date changeover to handle the expected large volume of calls and to deal with any emergencies.

  • "Year 2000 Preparations Were Costly, Officials Say"
    New York Times (12/17/99) P. A25; Wald, Matthew L.

    Federal agencies yesterday assured the public that they were prepared for the year 2000 computer bug, but admitted repairs and upgrades had been an expensive effort. The Pentagon said it had spent about $3.6 billion to protect its computers from the millennium bug; while the DOE said that all of the nation's utilities, which had spent a total of about $2.5 million, were ready for the rollover into the new year. The remaining seven utilities--out of more than 3,000--that had not been ready recently reported their preparedness to the department. However, oil supplies could face a problem if exporting countries are not Y2K ready; and FERC Chairman James J. Hoecker said gasoline supply problems could persist if consumers begin hoarding for fear of a shortage. Meanwhile, the natural gas industry announced its final Y2K state of preparedness at a Potomac Electric Power meeting in Maryland. The Office of Management and Budget estimated that total federal Y2K expenditures would reach about $8.38 billion over a five-year period ending in September.

  • "Q&A: Steve Ballmer Discusses Microsoft's New Mission Statement"
    San Jose Mercury News (12/16/99)

    Microsoft President Steve Ballmer recently spoke with the San Jose Mercury News on a range of topics, including Microsoft's plans for the future, Windows 2000, and the antitrust trial. Asked where Microsoft is headed in the future, Ballmer points to the next-generation Web platform, which he calls "i-Windows," that consists of a client, server, and set of services that exist online. Around this Web platform, Microsoft wants to provide tools for business knowledge workers, consumers, and small businesses, Ballmer says. Addressing Windows 2000, Ballmer says users will not have a problem with the complexity of the new operating system, although he believes Microsoft will have to improve usability in some ways for systems administrators. He says software makers cannot take away existing functionality, and therefore software should get bigger every year. Noting that some companies will wait to adopt Windows 2000, Ballmer says, "Companies don't really orient their business cycles around our product releases." In terms of Microsoft's competition, Ballmer cites Linux, Windows middleware, thin clients, and Java as threats. Addressing the antitrust trial, Ballmer says the company acted lawfully and in the best interest of consumers. Microsoft was disappointed in the negative way in which Judge Jackson portrayed the company's relationships with other firms, Ballmer says. Although Microsoft would prefer to settle the suit rather than to resolve the case in court, Ballmer says the company will not compromise on its freedom to add capabilities to its products that consumers want.

  • "Which E-Tailers Will Survive the Holiday Test?"
    E-Commerce Times (12/15/99); Greenberg, Paul A.

    Online companies with something unique to offer consumers have a greater likelihood of longevity, while companies that offer mundane products may not survive after the holiday e-commerce boom. To survive, e-businesses could begin positioning themselves in the market to match consumer demand; some companies will focus on corporate sales and others will concentrate on selling to consumers. After the holidays many analysts expect merger and acquisition activity to increase among those companies that met their fulfillment and delivery obstacles. For support from venture capitalists, returns will have to justify output, and with little increase in returns among e-businesses, more merger and acquisition activity is likely. Toys, music, computer software, books, videos, and DVDs have great potential for online selling, while flowers, cards, home and garden supplies, sporting goods, and vehicles do not sell so well online, according to statistics from Goldman Sachs and PC Data.

  • "The Web: New Ticket to a Pink Slip"
    New York Times (12/16/99) P. E1; Guernsey, Lisa

    Employees caught surfing forbidden Web sites are increasingly being fired. At Xerox, for example, 40 employees were fired after software recorded them visiting Web sites pertaining to shopping or pornography and spending inordinate amounts of their work day online. Overall, the company monitors the online activities of all of its 92,000 employees worldwide. In 1999, 45 percent of employers admitted they monitor employees' phone calls, computer files, or email messages. The issue of privacy is therefore arising, but employers claim monitoring is needed to see if workers are sending hate email or wasting too much time online. As home life and work life join for many workers, it becomes unreasonable for privacy to be taken away. Employers can record and view everything done on a computer, which makes privacy obsolete in the workplace. The fear of sexual-harassment lawsuits makes companies feel the need to monitor its employees, along with the desire to make sure employees are getting their work finished. Many employees could be caught browsing unrelated Web sites with new software available. The consequences for misusing the Internet are great, and employees may not find any help in a court of law, since the judges usually handling the cases do not often rule in favor of employees. Mark Simons' case tried to use an unlawful search of his computer as a defense, but Judge James Cacheris did not agree. Privacy advocates feel that electronic surveillance is going to change the lives of employees, who may fear they have no privacy at all. Lawyers argue that employers should warn that they may read workers' email and review their Web use. Gov. Gray Davis of California disagrees about having a warning, feeling it could burden companies too much.

  • "Will Euro Taxes Hinder Net Growth?"
    ZDNet (12/14/99); Cooper, Charles

    The U.S. Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, a 19-person panel studying the impact of domestic and foreign taxes on the Internet for Congress, heard debates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission about Internet taxes and whether they stunt the growth of e-commerce. Andrew Marsland, head of an electronic working group at the OECD, believes an online consumption tax should be applied in the country where the product is consumed; that location is tracked through a buyer's email address. However, arguments for Internet taxes meet resistance in the U.S. because taxes could limit the growth of online business and many people oppose the regulation of the Internet. American Internet companies are concerned that European methods of taxation would force them to pay a premium as the U.S. economy moves from a focus on goods to a focus on services. Fred Smith, a policy advisor at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, believes Europe should redefine its current tax system to meet the demands of the future. Two more meetings will take place before the commission decides whether to propose an Internet taxation plan. However, it is unlikely that such a plan would appeal to two-thirds of the commission, which is what is needed to get a tax proposal started, says Virginia House of Delegates member Paul Harris.

  • "NetObjects Releases Authoring Server for Java Server Pages"
    InternetNews.com (12/14/99); Clark, Scott

    NetObjects on Tuesday introduced a new collaborative Web development and content management platform called NetObjects Authoring Server for Java Server Pages. The offering, which uses JSP and Java server technology from Sun Microsystems, provides an integrated rapid application development platform for creating enterprise Web applications. NAS for JSP lets users administer applications centrally and facilitates several major aspects of Web application design, including collaboration, control, rapid design and development, easy administration, flexibility, and connectivity. Applications designed on the program are compatible with Java Application Servers such as IBM WebSphere and BEA WebLogic.

  • "Internet Privacy Eroding, Study Says"
    Washington Post (12/17/99) P. E4; Schwartz, John

    Each and every one of the top 100 e-commerce sites on the Web fails to live up to all of the "fair information practices" of privacy protection, according to a new study from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The study, known as Surfer Beware III: Privacy Policies Without Privacy Protection, shows that online privacy risks to consumers are greater today than they were in 1997, says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. "Companies are posting privacy policies, but these policies are not the same thing as fair information practices," Rotenberg says. Rotenberg is calling upon lawmakers to produce legislation to enforce the practices. Although the FTC has established guidelines to protect the online privacy of children, no such rules exist for adults. The study finds that only 18 of the top 100 sites failed to display a privacy policy, although the policies were often confusing, incomplete, and inconsistent. The sites also failed in other respects. Thirty-five percent of the sites make use of online profiles in their advertisements and 87 percent use information-collecting cookies, according to the study. The FTC's associate director for financial practices, David Medine, says that the FTC plans a major privacy study in the spring.

  • "Siemens and Casio to Build Palm Device"
    Financial Times (12/16/99) P. 20; Rahman, Bayan

    Casio of Japan and Siemens of Germany have agreed to jointly develop a handheld computer with multimedia features, mobile phone capabilities, and Internet access. A number of partnerships have recently formed as the mobile communications market grows. For example, Microsoft and Ericsson teamed earlier this month in an effort to develop mobile phones and handhelds with Web browser and email capabilities. Mobile Internet communication is growing rapidly in Japan, with electronics makers such as Sharp and Citizen producing wireless Internet devices. Casio and Siemens plan to gain 20 percent of the global wireless Internet device market. The partnership provides Casio with a tie to Europe, and gives Siemens the technology it needs to make wireless devices. The new device will run Microsoft's Windows CE and will initially be available in Europe.

  • "Privacy Concerns May Ground Pentium III in Europe"
    Newsbytes (12/15/99); Dennis, Sylvia

    Intel's Pentium III chip could be banned in Europe due to privacy concerns over its personal serial number (PSN) technology, say legal specialists at the Nabarro Nathanson law firm. The PSN technology, which allows users' movements across the Internet to be tracked, may violate the European Union's Privacy Directive, according to Nabarro Nathanson. The Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel has advised the European Parliament to initiate an independent review of the chip and consider legislation to prevent such chips from being placed in European computers, says Nabarro Nathanson's Dai Davis. The Pentium's tracking capability leaves open the possibility of data abuse by U.S. law enforcement agencies or the chip's manufacturer, Davis adds. After U.S. privacy advocates criticized the Pentium III's PSN technology earlier in the year, Intel decided to release a software patch allowing the serial number technology to be shut off.

  • "Survey Traces Huge Growth in Data Warehouse"
    PC Week Online (12/13/99); Hammond, Mark

    The data warehousing market is growing tremendously, with worldwide spending expected to rise from $37.4 billion this year to $148.5 billion by 2003, marking a 43 percent yearly growth rate, according to a Survey.com report. Also by 2003, the average amount of data that can be used for warehousing is expected to increase to 1.1 TB, up from today's 393 GB. In addition, the number of warehousing users will grow to an estimated 2,718 users per organization by 2003, up from the current 626. Fueling the warehousing growth is a rise in analyzing ERP data and Web-enabling this data for business-to-business e-commerce, says Survey.com's Peter Auditore. The adoption of CRM systems, especially customer profile analysis, is also driving the warehousing trend, Auditore says. In addition, Microsoft is contributing to data warehousing growth by offering useful and affordable products such as Windows NT, the SQL Server database, and related software, Auditore says. Small and midsize businesses are particularly attracted to SQL Server 7.0's built-in online analytical processing engine, OLAP Services, and data transformation and movement tool, says Auditore. In the survey most respondents listed Oracle as the data-warehousing leader, followed by Cognos, Microsoft, and IBM.

  • "GE Handles Medical-Parts Needs Online"
    Journal of Commerce (12/17/99) P. 14; Ogier, Thierry

    General Electric's medical equipment unit has established five depots that are electronically connected and can respond to equipment requests from hospitals throughout the world. One of the depots, located in Sao Paulo, Brazil, must be ready to dispatch 50,000 pieces of medical equipment and the facility typically receives about 2,000 orders each month. Only 5 percent of the medical parts are ordered on a regular basis, while more than 50 percent of the inventory is ordered less than once a year. Because a bulk of the medical equipment is ordered infrequently, it is not cost-effective to keep each depot fully stocked; therefore, the facilities are electronically linked and equipment requests can be transmitted online. GE, which does not charge customers for freight, said prices are the same for all countries before taxes.

  • "The Bazaar Touts Open Source"
    VARBusiness Online (12/16/99); Caponi, Joe

    While the E-Business Expo roared on downstairs at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, a more intimate gathering was being held upstairs. The Bazaar, hosted by Earthweb, displayed free, open source technologies to a small group of open source enthusiasts and curious Expo attendees. Linux was the main attraction of this show, with Linux vendors as well as more versatile IT firms displaying their newest technologies. IBM, for example, demonstrated its Netfinity 4000R servers, which come preloaded with a choice of four Linux brands, training programs, and its application software for Linux, including DB2, WebSphere, and Domino. "Linux is a tier 1 OS for us," says IBM's Jim Weiper. "It's what our customers are asking for, and we see it as a huge revenue opportunity."

  • "IBM Introduces New Storage Area Network Packages"
    PC Week Online (12/15/99); Lelii, Sonia R.

    IBM enhanced its storage area network (SAN) offerings on Wednesday, unveiling several new hardware and software solutions. IBM has released five new SAN solutions: Netfinity Disk and Tape Pooling, which allows various servers to share storage devices; Netfinity Server and Storage Consolidation, which allows nonclustered devices to share storage; Microsoft Cluster Service Extension and Netfinity Advanced Cluster Enabler for Oracle Parallel Server, to provide eight-node clustering; and Microsoft Distance Cluster with Remote Mirroring, which enables data mirroring among two nodes up to six miles apart. IBM has also upgraded its Netfinity Fibre Channel Storage Manager, adding automated device discovery and one-button configuration, and a new management console and GUI and storage partitioning, which allows storage from multiple Netfinity servers to be consolidated into a single RAID storage subsystem. Netfinity Fibre Channel Storage Manager 7.0 will be released as part of Netfinity Fibre Channel Storage Subsystems. IBM also unveiled a new interoperability lab to test SAN configurations. The lab will support 40 TB of data storage and 5,000 miles of Fibre Channel cable. It features processor, disk, and networking technology from vendors such as IBM, Sun Microsystems, EMC, and Cisco, as well as Fibre Channel equipment from IBM, McData, and Crossroads Systems.

  • "Take on a New E-dentity"
    InternetWeek (12/13/99) No. 793, P. 51; Higgins, Kelly Jackson

    Digital certificates could solve the problems of security and authentication that are making corporations apprehensive about embracing emerging Internet applications. The next-generation ID card is designed to hold the electronic credentials of the user, and serves as the user's proof of identity as well. More secure than having to remember a password and other access methods, digital certificates, which are software-based IDs, will be able to give the financial industry the confidence it needs to rely more on the Internet to conduct business. For example, VPNs and extranets are in place for corporations to offer Internet applications to their business partners, employees, and customers. Some companies, through public key infrastructure (PKI) implementation and pilots, are already giving digital certificates a try. One of the reasons why companies are moving ahead with digital certificates is because Microsoft plans to imbed the technology into the Windows 2000 operating system. And users of the software giant's Office 2000 also will be able encrypt and digitally sign their email messages and Word documents because the application will be certificate ready. Still, the technology will be slow to catch on if issues such as cost and interoperability are not addressed. Nevertheless, digital certificates is the kind of technology that can generate a boom in e-commerce as well as interest in other competitive advantages that the Internet offers. "If you're talking to eBay or buying a book, then passwords and PINS are fine for now," says CyberTrust's Mike Yaffe. "But if you're talking about people's medical records, or bank-to-bank transactions of tens of millions of dollars, you want to know who's on the receiving end." Giga Information Groups expects more than 245 million digital certificates will be available between 2000 and 2002, up from 25 million today.

  • "The Fast Track to Becoming an E-Business"
    InformationWeek (12/13/99) No. 765, P. 42; Wilder, Clinton

    E-business became a top business priority in 1999, and companies are choosing between two main approaches to e-business. The first model, called immersion, involves the gradual implementation of e-business initiatives and applications throughout a company. A recent InformationWeek Research survey found that 46 percent of responding firms have already widely implemented e-business, while 34 percent intend to deploy e-business widely within 12 months. The second common approach to e-business is teaming with an Internet startup. In the survey, 34 percent of respondents say they have already joined with a Web-only company. Among large firms, 49 percent have already teamed with a Web-oriented partner. One company following the immersion model is Twentieth Century Fox, which is rolling out Web initiatives and applications in a range of business divisions. The company's Atlas project is a suite of applications that provides overseas video distribution licensees access to release schedules and business results by country or product. Atlas, one of company's early Web projects, encouraged other business units to start their own e-business projects. Meanwhile, Consolidated Stores, the parent company of KB Toys, chose to partner with a Web firm rather than implement Web strategies on its own. Consolidated realized that its KBToys.com Web site would not come out on top this holiday season in the highly competitive market for online toys. Since it lacked the Internet skills to make the site successful on its own, Consolidated partnered with BrainPlay.com, whose main business is selling games on the Web. By combining KB's respected brand with BrainPlay's Web expertise, the companies built a site superior to what either could have established alone. In partnering with a Web firm, large companies must provide financial and strategic commitment while also allowing the Web company sufficient control.

  • "Ready to Pounce on the Y2K Bug"
    National Journal (12/11/99) Vol. 31, No. 50, P. 3542; Murray, Mark

    Thousands of federal workers will spend New Year's weekend monitoring the nation's computer systems for Y2K failures. The Energy Department will have almost 1,000 employees working over the weekend to watch nuclear plants and weapons, electric utilities, and gasoline filling stations. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson says monitoring other countries, especially Russia with its many nuclear facilities, is a large part of the department's task. The Commerce Department will monitor weather satellites, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's systems, and census surveys and statistics. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency will watch drinking-water systems and wastewater treatment facilities, and the Defense Department will monitor overseas military bases. Federal Y2K efforts will be coordinated by the Information Coordination Center, which will determine Y2K's effects on the federal government and the nation as a whole. The center will be open 24 hours a day from Dec. 28 to early January, and will remain in operation until March. Since many Y2K problems are likely to occur after Jan. 1, federal agencies should not end monitoring efforts after New Year's, says Norman Dean, executive director of the Center for Y2K & Society.

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