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March 13, 2003--In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- EU: Still Months to Go on Microsoft Verdict
- Here Come the Centrino Notebooks
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* EU: STILL MONTHS TO GO ON MICROSOFT VERDICT
The European Union (EU), responding to rumors that it had already reached a conclusion in its investigation of Microsoft's alleged antitrust violations, announced yesterday that a decision is still "months away." The EU has been investigating the software giant for more than 4 years and had recently formed a so-called "devil's advocate" panel to debate the concerns that might arise in court should European courts challenge its decision. The EU instituted its devil's advocate panel last year after the courts overturned a major decision involving the planned merger of General Electric (GE) and Honeywell.
An EU spokesperson said yesterday that it has delayed the Microsoft decision, which involves alleged violations in the server and media-player markets, until roughly late summer. The EU had hoped to issue its decision in late 2002, then in early 2003. But the complexity of the potential charges and the decision's sweeping ramifications require more time, the spokesperson said. "At this stage, we've not come to a final conclusion."
Despite Microsoft's settlement with the US government in a similar antitrust case, the EU says that Microsoft's US case has no bearing on Europe, where Microsoft is charged with shutting out competition from RealNetworks, Sun Microsystems, and other companies by engineering its server products so that they work best with Microsoft's dominant desktop products and by illegally bundling Windows Media Player (WMP) with Windows. Meanwhile, Microsoft says that it's still working on a "positive resolution" in the EU antitrust case, although whether the company can settle any suit before the EU presents formal charges is unclear.
* HERE COME THE CENTRINO NOTEBOOKS
Intel unleashed its Centrino mobile computing platform yesterday, ushering in a new era of ultra-mobile, ultra-powerful notebook computers. Unlike Intel's previous mobile efforts, the Centrino chipset offers Pentium 4-level performance without any of the traditional trade-offs in heat, weight, and battery life. The Centrino chipset is powered by the new Pentium M processor, which can run at speeds as fast as 1.6GHz and has integrated wireless capabilities. Those two features, Intel says, make the Centrino perfectly suited for the mobile workforce.
"I think people are ready for this technology," Intel CEO Craig Barrett said at the Centrino launch in New York. "People want to use their computers anywhere at anytime in any configuration. There is a groundswell of desire, there is a need, and there is a coming together in the industry to provide this. This is really--after 20 years of talking about it--the most tangible evidence of the convergence of computing and communications."
The Pentium M processor runs at speeds of 900MHz, 1GHz, 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz, and 1.6GHz, but the chip is specifically designed to sense the processing needs of the system and change its output to match those needs, saving battery life and keeping heat down. As a result, the Pentium M features substantially better battery life than Intel's other mobile chips, the Pentium III Processor - M and the Pentium 4 Processor - M. However, thanks to a new processor design, the Pentium M can also perform at levels similar to the high-end Pentium 4 Processor - M, despite running at a lower clock frequency.
Integrating wireless capabilities directly into the chipset also reduces power consumption while freeing up space in the notebook, allowing for thinner and smaller designs. Current Centrino models ship with 802.11b wireless networking capabilities, but support for faster 802.11a and 802.11g is coming soon, Intel says.
At the launch, Intel also announced that numerous PC makers, including Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard (HP), and IBM, are shipping Centrino-based notebooks, effective immediately. Prices for the machines start at about $1400.
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