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Notes from the field: perfecting eavesdropping

Notes from the field: perfecting eavesdropping

Notes from the field: perfecting eavesdroppingSilicon ValleyI love summertime. Short of Comdex in Las Vegas, it's the perfect time to have my job. Everyone's outdoors. People congregate in public places. They talk. And I listen.

I did a fair amount of listening recently outside the San Jose convention centre during Netscape Communications' DevCon. Marc Andreessen's "Crossware" keynote pitch went over well with the IT crowd. A simple "hello" from me and one chap went on at length about his company's move to Netscape's technology, throwing out Novell and Lotus Notes in the process.

Two rather wild and unconfirmed rumours have come across my desk. They're usually the kind of thing I prefer to ignore, but the similarities suggest that a bit of public digging may be in order. One source said Hewlett-Packard is looking to buy Sequent at an offer price of $US36 per share.

A slightly more reliable source said HP was spending time in Roy, Utah, taking a look at Iomega.

I'm not putting a lot of stock into either of these whispered rumours, but both issues have showed upward movement.

Memphis - or shall I use its proper name, Windows 98 - is making the beta-test rounds, even as Microsoft recruits users to test a public beta version due in the third quarter. Many ISVs don't have stable versions of Memphis to use in development, and beta testers are reporting serious resource-management problems.

Microsoft Press, though, is ready to go. Among the new titles in its Q3 1997 catalogue are The Windows 98 Resource Kit, Windows 98 Power Toolkit, Windows 98 Step by Step, and others due for release, the catalogue says, in September or October. The catalogues may have hit the streets a bit early, though. Microsoft wants them back and plans to replace them later this month.

America Online has announced ambitious plans to increase membership, add new services, and charge for premium options. It'll be doing that without the benefit of the boost a CompuServe acquisition would have given it.

A deal between AOL and CompuServe's parent company, H&R Block, fell apart when AOL wanted to offer stock on trade and Block wanted cash.

The negotiations got even tougher, though, when the tax hounds at Block realised that new regulations would cut into their take.

With deadline past and a few hours until sunset, I'm heading for my favourite Silicon Valley cafe to wait for the after-work crowd to come, clamouring in full voice.


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