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Channel starts to suffer from Compaq's painby Dan BriodySAN MATEO -- Compaq's aggressive price cuts and promotional deals are starting to pour in, which usually means nothing but good news to customers. But US resellers are now feeling the financial squeeze, and Compaq service is starting to suffer. Could this reflect things to come for the local Australian market?

Reseller sources are complaining about the PC giant's inability to make good on its promotional packages and warranty programs, and thus Compaq's vast VAR network is scaling back on servicing Compaq PCs.

One source said several midsized resellers refused to service Compaq PCs that were not purchased from them directly because recouping the maintenance costs from Compaq has been challenging, if not downright impossible. Theoretically, Compaq's network of authorised channel partners is commissioned to service Compaq PCs regardless of the point of purchase.

The result is that Compaq customers may find their resellers are no longer offering discounts on new PCs, and they may encounter difficulty servicing existing systems.

HP, Toshiba upgrade small notebook linesby Dan BriodySAN MATEO -- Hewlett-Packard last week renewed its efforts in the notebook arena with the announcement of an ultraportable notebook, while the number one mobile PC supplier, Toshiba, refreshed its Libretto mininotebook line.

With the goal of cracking the list of top five vendors in the worldwide mobile PC market by the year 2000, HP is kicking off its aggressive notebook drive with a new OmniBook model and promises of a wide variety of products and services to follow. The HP OmniBook Sojourn includes a 233MHz Pentium MMX processor, 64MB of RAM, and a 2.1GB hard drive in a 1.36kg frame, measuring about 2cm in height.

HP also announced an encryption smart-card security system for its OmniBook notebooks.

Meanwhile, Toshiba last week refreshed its Libretto mininotebook with a 166MHz Pentium MMX processor, 32MB of RAM, and a 2GB hard drive. Australian release dates and prices have not been set.www.hp.com.auwww.toshiba.com.auNew windows to permit cloningby Nancy DillonFRAMINGHAM -- Microsoft is finally loosening the reins on users who see disk imaging -- known as cloning -- as a faster way to replicate workstations.

The company last week confirmed that it is building software tools that will let users incorporate disk cloning into their Windows 98 and Windows NT Workstation 5.0 deployments. Microsoft still frowns on cloning for Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0.

Analysts said the cloning reversal makes sense because Microsoft needs help persuading administrators with large installations of Windows 3.x to upgrade.

"For companies that think successfully upgrading lots of users to Windows 98 or NT might be akin to winning the lottery, cloning products are a possible answer," said Chris Le Tocq, a Dataquest analyst.

Cloning uses snapshot imaging to copy the operating systems, programs and data from one hard disk to another in a single repeatable procedure.

Shannon Perdue, a Windows product manager, said the upcoming tools won't change Microsoft's rule that technical support isn't available to Windows NT Work- station 4.0 users who have cloned systems.

Neither Windows 95 nor NT Workstation 4.0 was designed to be cloned, and concerns about hardware compatibility and duplication of system ID numbers remain, Perdue said.

But Microsoft wouldn't comment on whether it had postponed an announcement endorsing cloning software. For now at least, users who want to keep their Microsoft support agreements intact must endure the mind-numbing task of individually loading each system with Windows first and applications second.

HP ships Java virtual machine clone

by IDG staff writers

FRAMINGHAM -- Hewlett-Packard last week said it will ship a clone of the Java virtual machine technology and class libraries for the embedded-systems market. HP said it will license the technology to other vendors at a much lower cost than Java owner Sun Microsystems charges.

HP's "clean room" version of the virtual machine is compliant with Sun's Java Virtual Machine and is targeted for use in low-end electronic devices and consumer appliances. Sources at Sun said HP, like several other vendors, is essentially cloning its byte code interpreter, an engine that runs the byte code and represents about 15 per cent of the Java platform. Microsoft, which is the first licensee, said it will use HP's virtual machine technology to integrate Java programming language support into its Windows CE operating environment.www.hp.com.auNetwork Associates upgrades products, channelsby Gerald WeeSINGAPORE -- Network Associates has filled the holes in its network security strategy and is planning to dominate the Asian market.

According to James LaLonde, Network Associates' Asia-Pacific director, the company is targeting at least $US200 million in Asia-Pacific sales this year based on the strength of its products.

The vendor, the result of last year's merger between antivirus specialist McAfee and network management vendor Network General, has been on a recent acquisition tear, purchasing encryption vendor Pretty Good Privacy late last year, and firewall vendor Trusted Information Systems last month.

"We can package a bundle under our NetTools framework that can be sold at a substantial discount," LaLonde said.

NetTools is Network Associates' integrated network security and management system that manages the com-pany's myriad products from a standard console.

The company will begin rolling out the individual products that plug into NetTools during the coming months, beginning with the Sniffer Total Network Visibility (TNV).

In addition to its suite of products, Network Associates is also planning to announce more partners in the region.

"We sell our products 100 per cent through channels," LaLonde said. www.netassociates.comVerity sues Lotus over Notes search softwareby Marc FerrantiNEW YORK -- Verity last week filed a lawsuit against Lotus for copyright infringement of Verity's search software, and it is terminating its licensing agreement with Lotus.

Verity is alleging that Lotus is going beyond the scope of its 1992 agreement with Verity in adding new search features to the upcoming release of Notes.

Verity has been negotiating with Lotus for the last two months in an attempt to reach an agreement that covers Verity technology developed recently, but the talks have broken down, according to Nancy Tatum, a Verity spokesperson.

"There was an agreement way back in 1992, but lately they were not willing to negotiate with us in good faith," said Tatum. However, even though Verity has decided to bring a suit, it appears to be leaving the door open for an out-of-court settlement.

"We hope that a reasonable business solution can be made," Tatum said.

Lotus officials declined to comment specific-ally about the lawsuit, but said the company has only made very general statements about how it is enhancing search features in Lotus Notes release 5.0, due in the second half of the year.

The suit seeks injunctive relief and damages, among other remedies, according to a Verity press release. Verity also announced it has decided to terminate the agreement.

Verity's Tatum declined to specify what damages the company seeks, and was not able to say whether the injunctive relief Verity seeks would stop Lotus from selling current versions of Notes that include Verity software.

Lotus officials also declined to comment directly about the lawsuit. But one spokesman said the company has not specifically or publicly talked about how it will use third-party search software in the future.www.lotus.comLotus spurns some users on the HP-UX platformby Blaise ZeregaSAN MATEO -- Lotus is soft-pedalling on Unix support as its product strategy continues to embrace 32-bit Windows operating systems at the expense of others.

Lotus posted the non-support decision to its business partner database instead of sending out an announcement, sources said.

Analysts said removing that support is a mistake.

"If Lotus decided not to support that platform, it would be a poor decision because one of its key strengths in its battle against Microsoft Exchange is cross-platform support," said Mark Levitt, an IDC analyst.

3Com buys NIC player, Lanworks

by Elinor Mills

SAN FRANCISCO -- 3Com last week acquired Canadian Lanworks Technologies and intends to use the company's PC network boot products to develop network interface cards (NICs) that provide desktop management capabilities.

Lanworks' BootWare products include client-side boot firmware and software, and server-side boot services and management applications. The technologies let end users automate initial PC configuration, operating system upgrades and disaster recovery, 3Com said.www.3com.com.au


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