In Brief

In Brief

Intel's Jansz moves on

Intel Australia is looking for a new boss, following Tony Jansz's promotion to the position of South Asian regional manager. Jansz will move to Singapore where he will take over responsibility for the region, which includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Australia and New Zealand.

As to who will take over in Australia, Jansz said: "We're in the final stages of identifying someone." He said a decision will be made sometime in November.

Novell announces latest version of intranet applicationNovell has announced the worldwide release of its intranet application, GroupWise Five. The product has been described by the company as an extended e-mail system, and the first in the industry to offer full management of documents and images, courtesy of a Universal Mail Box.

The box offers users single-point access to personal calendaring, group scheduling, tasks, voice mail, faxes, documents, images and other message types from the desktop and via the Internet using GroupWise WebAccess. WebAccess facilitates user access to the mail box using any HTML-compliant browser.

The product is currently available in Australia for $1,095 for a five-user licence and $49,772 for a 250-user licence. Upgrade prices are $569 and $22,885 for a five- and 250-user licence respectively.


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Sun shines brighter

Sun Microsystems has announced strong first quarter 1996/97 results that the company is attributing to its dedication to enterprise computing.

Revenues for the first quarter were $US1.859 billion, an increase of more than 25 per cent on last year's $US1.485 billion result.

Australian results reflected the company's strong US performance with bookings growing 19 per cent and revenue growth on target to meet company projection figures. Russell Bate, managing director, Sun Microsystems Australia, said: "We were particularly pleased with the outstanding performance of the enterprise server range, with the first quarter shipments almost equalling the first six months of fiscal year 1996."

Mitsui takes up the gauntlet for Allied Telesyn Australian company Mitsui has been chosen by Allied Telesyn to distribute the LAN networking company's full range of product offerings in Australia.

The deal will see Mitsui becoming the first local distributor to represent all Allied's products locally. "In an extremely important competitive networking market, it's important to have a major distributor who is prepared to commit to marketing our complete range of products," said Vic Whitely, Allied Telesyn's sales director Asia/Pacific. Whitely added that this is especially important to Allied's product offering which comprises LAN building blocks.

"The Allied Telesyn relationship fits well into our overall networking model. It provides us with a very strong networking portfolio that should be able to cater for any networking solution," said Mark Jackson, networking products manager, Mitsui Computer Australia.

Internet solution offers rental option for small companiesThe need for competitive advantage is pushing many companies to connect to the Internet, according to Paul McQuarrie, managing director of MUA, an Australian value-added distributor.

With the release of WebPack, an Internet solution aimed at small- to medium-sized organisations, MUA is claiming to provide companies with quick and cost-effective Internet access with no up-front fees. McQuarrie says customers complete 10 questions relating to their Internet requirements, which MUA then uses to plan a solution catering to specific corporate needs. Payment is one fixed monthly charge and includes all the hardware, software, installation and services needed to set up the connection.

"Besides being more cost-effective, the fixed price per month means customers will always know how much the Internet is costing them," McQuarrie said. Contained in the pack are a Compaq ProSignia 300 server, SCO Internet FastStart, dial-up or ISDN connection, Internet connection via an Internet service provider, unlimited Internet access and full installation of hardware and software.

CA to offer free training kit at expo

For those attending CA-Expo '96 (Nov 10Ð13) on the Gold Coast, Computer Associates has announced that it will offer free Software Developers Kit (SDK) training for CA-Unicenter, the company's enterprise management solution. Training courses each run over a day and attendees will receive one free copy of the CA-Unicenter TNG SDK. The SDK is designed to build the interface between hardware or software and Unicenter.

CA is inviting IT service providers, hardware and software vendors and systems management personnel to attend the SDK training. For more information on CA-Unicenter TNG SDK training call 1800 646 717. For more information on the expo itself, call 1800 800 237.

Jetsetters now have printing in their office away from officeQantas passengers travelling via Sydney's Kingsford Smith airport will now have access to a printing solution allowing them to print documents before flights and during stopovers.

The printing service is offered by Lexmark Australia, and the company has installed two Lexmark Colour Jetprinter 2070 printers and five Optra E laser printers in the business centre of the domestic Qantas club lounge at the airport.

The printing service will now be added to other facilities available at the Qantas business centre that was opened in August this year. The centre also offers meeting rooms, fax machines, colour and mono printers, laptops and stand-alone workstations. Each printer is connected as a stand-alone workstation to a Unisys PC, allowing passengers to print in colour and mono from working documents in Win95, Smart Suite and Microsoft Office. Lexmark says similar facilities will be set up in Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Canberra by April 1997.

Memorex Asia/Pacific safe from US troubles In a two-pronged announcement, Memorex Telex has revealed that it has filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code and is selling its US operations. The announcement comes five months after the company's Asia/Pacific operations were acquired by the huge Kanematsu Corporation.

Although the two organisations share the same name, there is little connection between them, according to Peter Thomson, chief operating officer, Memorex Telex Asia Pacific. "What is happening in the US bankruptcy court has absolutely no influence or bearing on our organisation's operations." Thomson added that the company has outsourced all of its product requirements over the last few years and established its own direct relationships with major suppliers as a result of the Kanematsu purchase.

MainControl release to keep PCs on trackTracing the lineage of thousands of PCs is like hunting down long-lost relatives - you get lots of stories but few hard facts.

Start-up company MainControl aims to change that tedious task as it rolls out MC/EMpower, a family of software packages to help users track PCs from the day they are installed until they are removed from the network.

But that's not all. The company says the new packages also offer multivendor software distribution and problem management capabilities for everything from desktops to mainframes. In addition, the first MC/EMpower packages include a distributed database for storing and automatically tracking enterprise resources and file-transfer support.

If these claims sound familiar, they should. Computer Associates, IBM's Tivoli Systems, Seagate and other management vendors have all promised to deliver integrated products in the next year or so that they claim can eliminate the expense, time and complexity of cobbling together multivendor end-to-end management systems.

"MainControl's uniqueness to the market is that its products will let users track the purchase of hardware and software from the beginning of a workstation's life cycle to the end," said Paul Mason, research manager for enterprise systems management at IDC.

MainControl officials agree. "Tracking a large enterprise with thousands of PCs and applications is getting too tedious to do by hand," said Alex Pinchev, president and chief executive officer of MainControl.

MC/EMpower includes five applications and smart agents that run on IBM's MVS and OS/2 servers or Microsoft Windows 3.x and Windows NT workstations. Unix versions are expected in early 1997.

Users do not necessarily need to deploy MainControl smart agents, however, as MC/EMpower products work with other agents, such as those found in Intel's LANDesk or Tivoli's TME10 environments.

At the heart of the MC/EMpower products is Enterprise Explorer. This object-oriented database includes an autodiscovery feature, which collects hardware and software information from agents in devices across the enterprise.

Enterprise Explorer's inventory information can be stored centrally on a large server or distributed among multiple servers. It can also feed data into other databases, such as those from Oracle, Sybase or IBM. by Michael CooneyCompaq and Microsoft move apartCompaq has stopped bundling Windows NT with its server products; instead, it is asking its cor-porate users to buy the OS directly from Microsoft or from resellers.

Compaq officials attributed the decision, which has come to light with the announcement of the ProLiant 2500, to an effort to let users strike a better deal directly with Microsoft. NT will still be supported by Compaq's SmartStart installation utility, company sources said. But Compaq will still be pre-installing network OSs from Novell and The Santa Cruz Operation.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Compaq's move has more to do with the costs of servicing and supporting NT users. "Microsoft may have suggested that [Compaq] charge more for their servers, but the move has nothing to do with giving users a price break," one source said. "It has to do with keeping Compaq competitive."

Apple posts surprise $US25 million profit Apple has surprised fans and detractors alike by announcing a net income of $US25 million, or 20 cents per share, for its fiscal fourth quarter, ended Sept 27. The struggling PC vendor was not expected to return to profitability until next year.

Although the past quarter's profit pales in comparison to the net loss of $US816 million Apple reported for the full fiscal 1996, the return to black came unexpectedly, observers said. Revenues during the quarter slumped by $US682 million to $US2.23 billion, as compared to the same period a year ago, but were up $US142 million over the immediately previous quarter. The revenue slump was reflected in unit sales during the quarter, which fell by 26 per cent to 932,000 on a year-on-year basis. For fiscal 1996, revenues reached $US9.83 billion, down 11 per cent from fiscal 1995, with a net loss of $US6.59 per share, as compared to the net income of $US424 million, or $US3.45 per share, the company reported last year.

Sharp to sell desktop PCs in US

Early next year Sharp will begin selling consumer-oriented desktop PCs in Japan and the US, according to reports in Japan.

The move would add Sharp to the growing list of Japanese electronics vendors entering the US desktop market. In June, Sony unveiled its first US-bound desktop PCs, while last month portables specialist Toshiba unveiled a desktop product line for the US market.

Japanese vendors, which dominate today's consumer electronics industry, have long shunned the US desktop PC market because of its cutthroat price battles. Now, however, they see it as a strategic necessity in developing a brand name in US homes to foster eventual sales of other digital consumer electronics. The Sharp desktop PCs will ship with 14-inch flat-panel displays instead of cathode ray tube displays in an attempt to leverage the company's market leadership in TFT LCDs, sources said.

In addition, the roughly priced $US3,000 PCs will house DVD-ROM drives, the high-capacity, read-only devices expected to replace CD-ROM drives.

WordPerfect update due early 1997

Corel plans to upgrade its Windows-based suite early next year. The upgrade, version 8 of the WordPerfect suite, is expected to be released in the first quarter of 1997, company sources said.

According to Corel, the next version will be further integrated with the Internet and offer interactive tutorials as well as a help feature similar to Microsoft's Office Assistant.

New features in version 8 of the WordPerfect suite include: speed improvements based on finetuning of the code; new user enhancements with a user interface that is closer to the look and feel of Windows 95; an editable property bar across the suite that allows automatic updating of objects by letting users click on an object and change its characteristics; a user assistant feature or a task-based interface that is consistent across all of the applications; and the capability to go to a Web site within an application.

The preview version of the Corel Office for Java suite includes Corel WordPerfect for Java, Corel Quattro Pro for Java, and CorelChart for Java. A beta version is expected to be available by the end of the year. Corel plans to release the Java-based suite next second quarter.

Corel CEO Michael Cowpland says the company is in the final stage of negotiations with Oracle, Sun and IBM to bundle the Java-based suite when those companies ship their network computers.

HP adds wireless e-mail package to palmtop PCsHewlett-Packard has introduced a wireless e-mail package to be bundled with its family of HP 200LX palmtop PCs. Citing customer demand for a hassle-free, less-expensive way to achieve wireless communications with the 200LX, HP says this package delivers one-stop-shopping for the three essentials: a wireless modem, a wireless network and a service provider.

The product allows users to forego the initial hardware cost of the modem and pay just the monthly service charge. "We're trying to make this more like the cell phone model, so the customer is amortising the cost of the modem into the service price," said Stacey Wueste, business unit manager for HP handhelds.

The HP 200LX has been capable of supporting wireless e-mail since its inception, but up until now it placed the onus on the user to buy a modem and track down a service provider and network, Wueste said.

HP is offering the new bundled solution in two tracks: retail for consumers and individual mobile professionals, and reseller for larger corporate buys.

And in each track, HP has partnered with different service and network providers and modem vendors.

On the reseller side, ARDIS, Motorola and RadioMail have teamed up to provide the wireless package of network, modem and e-mail software.

This solution will enable wireless Internet mail, faxing, paging, web page access, stock quotes and on-line news.


Compaq set to sign up another Taiwan OEM supplierCompaq is reported to be negotiating a major desktop PC supply deal with Taiwan's First International (FIC). A spokesman for FIC declined to comment on the deal, saying only that the company is talking to several prospective OEM customers. Compaq officials could not be reached for comment.

Compaq is looking for FIC to become a supplier for a new line of low-cost desktop PCs, sources close to the companies said. The order could be for as many as tens of thousands of units per month, which Compaq plans to sell under its brand name in worldwide markets, they added.

Compaq already sources a wide range of products from Taiwan, including notebook PCs from suppliers such as Arima Computer and the Inventec Group, as well as selected Presario desktop models from Mitac International Compaq hands over around 15 per cent of its production to other manufacturers, said Andreas Barth, senior vice-president and general manager of Compaq Europe. But although Compaq is a veteran buyer in Taiwan, Barth still cautioned against too much reliance on outsourcing. Although large producers of brand-name products often rely on OEM deals when they do not have a product ready in time, there are many hidden costs and difficulties that make it an undesirable business model, he added.

Austin brings made-to-order PCs to SingaporeUS-based computer company Austin Computer Systems, which is owned by IPC, has joined the customised PC market in Singapore.

It will provide its appointed dealers, known as Austin Certified Configuration Centers, with a bare-bones system including basics like casing, motherboard, keyboard and mouse. At the point-of-purchase, users will pick and choose the CPU, RAM and monitor of their choice.

"In Asia, the point-of-purchase configuration model is an advantage, where the PC consumer is not as technologically mature as their counterparts in the United States," said Austin president David Fieldman.

To support its distribution channel, the company will set up an intranet infrastructure that links all its certified dealers. These dealers can then place their orders or check on availability of components electronically.

And Singapore analysts like Austin's strategy.

Mohan, editor/analyst at Datapro Information Services Group, said "Austin is doing quite well in the US With competitively priced PCs and good support, the company will do well here," he said. "But at the moment, the revenue stream is very small as users here are not used to this concept. But there is potential for this market to grow."

NEC, Sony interested in buying Olivetti PC unitJapanese companies NEC and Sony have expressed interest in buying Olivetti Personal Computers, according to reports out of Italy. For the moment the interest is general, but following the first offer from US financier Gary Klesch, more concrete offers are beginning to arrive on the desk of the new CEO, Roberto Colaninno. Apparently, the Japanese companies are interested in Olivetti's 4 per cent share of the European PC market. The company announced a month ago that it intends to raise cash by selling its troubled PC unit, along with other interests not related to its core telecommunications activities.

Asia looks favourably on Windows NT

Asian users are the most enthusiastic about adopting Microsoft Windows NT for their database management and software development needs, a new survey has found.

The survey concluded that the market is rapidly evolving to a dual Unix-NT environment, but that over 70 per cent of the workload will be Unix-based over the next two years.

Sixty-seven per cent of Asian users surveyed said they were using, planning to install or evaluating Windows NT. This was a higher figure than reported by US or European users.

The Asian region also had the best growth potential for vendors, with workstation acquisition plans here greater than in the other regions, according to the Datapro Information Services 1996 International User Ratings Survey of Workstations.

Asked what were the most important features in a workstation, users cited multivendor support first, followed by the ability to run Windows, support for a single operating system and symmetric multiprocessing. The rise in networking was responsible for the high priority on connecting both to other vendors' workstations through multivendor support and company PCs via the use of Windows.

Asian users in particular were concerned about industry standards, placing a high priority on a single Unix environment and support for the Common Desktop Environment (CDE).

The survey showed that five vendors - Sun, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Digital and Silicon Graphics - held over 90 per cent of the workstation market. Each vendor had its own favoured market: IBM in commerce and finance, HP in software development, Digital and SGI in engineering, and Sun in telecommunications, government and engineering.

Netscape defuses e-mail bombs

Earlier this month, Netscape quietly placed a patch on its Web site to address a security flaw discovered by developers in the Windows 95 version of the company's Netscape Navigator 3.0 Web browser.

Developers said they discovered a security flaw in Navigator 3.0 that crashes Navigator's e-mail reader when it receives certain e-mail messages. In some instances, this can lock up a user's entire system. Compounding the problem is that it is apparently difficult for users receiving these 'e-mail messages to delete them from Navigator's inbox without causing another crash, according to one developer.

"It would be pretty easy for a malicious person to send an e-mail that could crash someone else's system. We have nicknamed these messages e-mail letter bombs'," said a long-time Windows developer.

Before placing the patch on the company Web site, Netscape officials acknowledged the problem in a written response to developers, saying they would "give the bug immediate attention" and correct it in an "upcoming release of Navigator".

In their response to developers, Netscape officials said this bug fits into the "denial of service" category. They said these bugs are interesting in that they cause Navigator to "go off in the weeds" and make it appear the program has hung up.

Too easy

To create an e-mail letter bomb, developers said, e-mail senders need only compose an e-mail message in Navigator 3.0 that contains BOOM.HTM as an attachment. When the Netscape Mail program opens, Navigator locks up.

This lockup happens when the Mail program tries to display the attachment. The Netscape Mail program is supposed to automatically show e-mail detachments. Although more experienced users might typically kill Navigator when it has hung up, by hitting the Control-Alt-Delete keys, less experienced users may turn their machines off and lose some data.

Oracle to give new spin to network computersNetwork computers may not be just for networks after all, if Oracle has its way.

One of the most fervent of the network computer prophets, Oracle is developing a network computer version of its single-user database that would let users do some work while disconnected from the network. But industry watchers say such a move goes against the grain of the network computing concept.

Officials at other companies that are developing thin clients, including IBM, Sun and HDS, say devices with some disconnected capabilities aren't completely out of the question. But for now, they said, corporate interest in network computers is expected to come from customers who view the devices as the dumb terminals of the 1990s. The network computer release of Personal Oracle Lite should be ready next year, Oracle sources said.

End users with such a database could download data and Java applets to their network computers and do basic processing while disconnected from the network.

That would make it conceivable to have mobile or handheld network computers that would be less expensive to buy and support than full-fledged laptop computers, according to Oracle's vision.

BMC expands to WA, South Australia and Northern TerritoryDatabase management software developer BMC Software is expanding its sales and support network via the appointment of two distributors for Western Australia and South Australia/Northern Territory.

Perth-based Fundi Software will handle Western Australia and Adelaide-based Q4 Systems will handle South Australia and the Northern Territory.

"Both Q4 and Fundi are rapidly gaining reputations for providing quality services," said BMC Australia managing director Bill Dunn. Dunn points to Q4's and Fundi's ability to provide local technical support as crucial to their appointment.

Antivirus software to fortify Notes

According to its developers, NotesGuard detects viruses in e-mail before they enter users' Lotus Notes environments. According to manufacturer Dr Solomon's the product searches and cleanses files in Notes databases before checking the mail environment to ensure that viruses in e-mail messages do not infect the Notes system receiving them. Additionally, NotesGuard is able to scan signed mail without affecting signatures. NotesGuard will be available in Q4 of this year, retailing at around $800. For more information, call Loadplan on (03) 9690 0455.

Pearly Gates

At Comdex in Las Vegas in November, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates will demonstrate a raft of Windows CE-based hand-held devices from Compaq, Casio, LG Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and Philips, according to industry sources. After months of speculation, Compaq announced its intention to develop a hand-held PC based on the recently unveiled platform. It will be rolled out later this year in North America and introduced worldwide in 1997.

Greatest hits

Htmlscript has announced that it is implementing a Caller ID-type of technology into the latest version of its Htmlscript fourth-generation language (4GL). It was designed to recognise individual visitors to a Web site. By doing so, webmasters will not only have a count of how many hits a page has received, but also how many of those hits are return visitors. In addition, the feature tracks visitors as they navigate a site. It is available immediately as part of the Htmlscript 4GL package that is priced at $US495 per server.

Steve, mate, how've you been?

Sausage Software's Steve Outrim is being touted as the next Bill Gates after his firm's phenomenal public listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. Sausage shares were listed at 75 cents last week, but on the first day of trading leapt to $1.50 before settling back to $1. Outrim still owns 50 million shares in the company, making his personal worth around $90 million.

Equifax, IBM team in Asia-Pacific

IBM and financial software maker Equifax are teaming together to provide computer, management and software support for companies that process credit and debit cards in the Asia- Pacific region, Equifax's FBS software subsidiary will supply card-processing software to run on both IBM mainframes and Unix-based systems. The companies say they will enable financial institutions and other card issuers, such as petrol stations and department stores, to issue credit and debit cards as well as manage their front and back office card operations.

Red Brick to squash Kiwis

Red Brick Systems data warehouse software has entered the New Zealand market. Decision Support Systems has been given the sole distribution rights. The product is a relational database optimised for data warehouse applications. It's a read-only product and thus has performance advantages over other relational databases, according to the manufacturer. A year ago, Red Brick operated only in the North American market. The company has now established offices in the UK and Australia, and has appointed agents around the world. Red Brick Systems Australasia was formed in August to serve the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Bay of the world

Andrew Ludwick resigned last week as president and CEO of Bay Networks after the company posted disappointing earnings for the last fiscal year. Ludwick's resignation was expected, but he and Bay did not wait until a successor was found. Bay chairman Paul Severino will serve as interim CEO until the company completes its search for a permanent replacement, which is now under way.

APEC considers lowering IT tariffs

Members of the Asia/Pacific Economic Cooperation group are showing increasing support for lowering tariffs on PCs, software and telecommunications equipment. The move toward liberalisation of trade in the region represents a victory for the US, the biggest member of the group and the member that has been pushing hardest for reduction or removal of tariffs. Senior APEC officials have agreed with the US that low-cost access to IT products will be crucial for the region to maintain its competitiveness, sources said.

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