Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Network: Bytes

SUN MICROSYSTEMS last week unveiled its Jini software, a Java- based technology that allows easy plug and play of network devices from computers to printers, digital cameras, mobile phones, and intelligent domestic appliances such as light switches or washing machines that can be remotely diagnosed for problems by technicians.

A Jini-enabled device works by announcing itself to any network, which will understand what kind of device is plugged in and what software drivers it needs. "This is the 21st century computing model," said Ed Zander, chief operating officer.

Sun has made Jini's software source code available over the Internet, using a similar model to the way it has made Java available. The code is free to developers who are working in research. Commercial users will pay Sun a licensing fee, for the use of its Jini logo to cover the trademark costs, of either 10 cents per unit or $250,000 per year, per product line.

Microsoft earlier this month announced the extension of its Universal Plug and Play initiative, extending the capabilities introduced in Windows 95 to wider networks.

MARC ANDREESSEN, executive vice president of Netscape Communications, has agreed to become chief technology officer at America Online when regulatory approval of AOL's $4.2bn acquisition of Netscape is given, according to The Wall Street Journal. Andreessen, while a 22-year-old student, created the first practical browser to allow easy access to the Web. After co- founding Netscape, he was its charismatic chief strategist. He is expected to report directly to Steve Case, AOL's CEO, and take charge of a development team whose brief is to keep AOL and Netscape at the forefront of online developments.

INTEL SAID it would modify its plans to include identification features built in to its forthcoming Pentium III chip after privacy activists called for Intel products to be boycotted last week. The chips include encryption technology that makes e-commerce more secure, but could also be used to track Internet users and their browsing habits. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, JunkBusters and Privacy International said that Intel's planned identification features will significantly reduce the level of privacy available to computer users.

Intel responded by saying it will offer a software patch so the security feature can be turned off when a PC with a Pentium III is first booted up.

MICROSOFT WAS ordered last week to hand over to Department of Justice lawyers e-mails that undercut one of its key defences in the anti-trust case against it. The government argues that Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser was "welded" on to the operating system to harm rivals Netscape. But Microsoft executive James Allchin has testified that browser and operating system are inseparable. However Microsoft engineer David D'Souza found otherwise. His e-mail warned that this finding "may not be useful" to the company's case. Allchin will be cross-examined this week.