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Apple sells online

Taking a leaf out of Dell's book, Apple has changed the way that it designs, builds and sells its computers by selling its G3 Power Macs direct to customers on a built-to-order strategy. Apple will also begin to sell software, printers and other accessories direct to customers, via the Internet or by telephone, in its drive to return to profitability. The Apple Store ( com) received over 4.4 million hits and took orders worth $500,000 in its first 12 hours.

"We're thrilled by this immediate customer response to our Apple Store and new G3 computers," said Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and interim CEO. "We're changing everything we do: the products we make, the way we make them and they way we sell them."

Although direct sales have been successful for PC manufacturers in the past, revenue is falling for many established manufacturers, with the exception only of Dell. "[Apple has had] an excellent start," said Lou Mazzucchelli, an analyst at Gerard, Klauer and Mattison.

Pentium flaw fix

Intel has released a software fix for a design flaw discovered last week in its Pentium classic and MMX chips. The flaw could be exploited to crash PCs and network servers. The flaw is an illegal instruction and therefore will not be coded into any commercial software. However, according to Robert Collins, whose Intel Secrets Web site tracks inside information on Intel, this instruction could be maliciously inserted into a small C language program and used to bring down a company's server computers.

A previous flaw in the Pentium led to a $475m write-off when Intel had to replace chips that could not do some maths functions. The person who made that flaw public, Professor Thomas Nicely of Lynchburg College, said the new bug is less likely to plague a Pentium user than the glitches in some of the more complicated software and operating systems on the market.

Java logo removed

The latest version of Netscape's Web browser contained in Communicator 4.04 is not fully Java compatible and the company has removed the Java logo "temporarily until we are back in compliance", according to Netscape's Web page. The problem lies in providing full support for the Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.1, which was released in February, and the company said it decided to remove the logo to make sure there are no misunderstandings among developers and users. "We are fully compliant with JDK 1.0.2," Chris Hoover, a Netscape spokesman, said. "But to keep the Javaa logo is misleading because developers are moving toward 1.1. We're just being cautious."

Lisa Poulson, a spokeswoman for Sun's JavaSoft division, said: "There is a contractual obligation to ship support for 1.1 in a certain time frame after we ship it, and that time has passed." However, Sun has accepted Netscape's promise of full compatibility and are unlikely to take any action, although Netscape's support for Java in Navigator will not be compliant until the company releases Communicator 5.0 in the first half of 1998.