Network: Bytes: Microsoft anti-trust case delayed

THE ANTI-TRUST case brought against Microsoft by the US Department of Justice and a coalition of American states, which was due to start on 8 September, has been postponed by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson until 23 September, after both sides asked for a two-week delay.

This decision had looked inevitable following Judge Jackson's earlier ruling that depositions in the case should be made in public. Given the level of interest surrounding Bill Gates's making his deposition, the pre-trial examinations were temporarily suspended until media and public access protocols were worked out between both sides and the media. Microsoft appealed against that ruling and, last week, an appeals court opened the way for pre-trial testimony by Microsoft executives to go ahead in private. The appellate court did not find for either side, but refused to delay depositions.

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SALES OF IMACS were strong in the first week that Apple's latest computer became available in the United States. Many stores sold out in the first day and broke records for volume sales by up to 60 per cent.

"iMac has been the biggest computer launch we've seen in our history,'' said Jim Halpin, president of the superstore chain CompUSA. Initial small- scale surveys suggest that the machine is selling to a wider audience than just committed Mac fans. ComputerWare say that 13 per cent of their sales went to people replacing a Windows-based PC.

Market Metrics, a Californian market research company, said that 15 per cent of iMac purchasers were buying their first computer. The iMac is to go on sale in Japan on Saturday, with a European launch next month. In the UK, the machine will cost pounds 999 - about pounds 200 more than the equivalent price in the US. Apple says that shipping costs, VAT and localisation for the UK market account for the price difference.

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INTEL TODAY launches the first Celeron processors with the previously omitted integrated high-speed cache memory. The Celeron A will overcome the poor performance of its predecessors and bring them closer to the speed of Pentium II processors while costing about $200 (pounds 123) less.

The 300Mhz and 333Mhz Celerons are aimed at clawing back market share from fast, cheap chips, such as AMD's K6, which have outperformed Intel's low-cost offerings. Intel's market share in the fast-growing budget PC market sank to 35 per cent in June from 72 per cent a year ago, while AMD edged ahead to 51 per cent, according to the research firm PC Data.

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NEWS SITE servers on the Web came under pressure last week, as record numbers of users sought to follow breaking news of President Clinton testifying before a federal grand jury about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. US missile strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan led to further demands on resources.

Although last week was news-heavy, part of the record activity on the sites is due to the Internet's growth as a news medium. "Every time there is a breaking news story, more people turn to the Internet to find out about it," said Loren Pomerantz, of MSNBC online. "People who didn't go to the Net find out that others did; then they go, and pretty soon the whole thing just snowballs."

News sites are increasing server capacity to match demand or streamlining content. MSNBC last week added three new servers after receiving a record 1.1 million unique users on Monday. Records also fell last week at CNN and ABCNews.com. "We reached maximum capacity," said CNN's Kerrin Roberts, after news broke about US missile action. "We stripped down the pages so there was only one image and the main headline being updated." MSNBC reduced graphics and removed its welcome page as well.

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NETSCAPE COMMUNICATIONS reported a small third-quarter profit, and said its two main business segments showed strong revenue growth. The former leader in the browser market said it earned $88,000 (pounds 54,000) in the third quarter, which, on a per share basis, meant that they broke even. Most analysts had been expecting a small loss.

"We are pleased with the results we posted for the quarter," said Jim Barksdale, Netscape president. "We're seeing strong momentum in both the enterprise software and Netcenter businesses." Netscape's revenues rose to $150.2m (pounds 92.3m) from $136m (pounds 83m) a year earlier. Revenues from enterprise software and services business grew 16 per cent to $111.6m (pounds 68.4m)in the quarter ended 30 April. Revenues from Netscape Netcenter rose 24 per cent to $38.7m (pounds 23.7m).

Last week, Netscape released its latest Communicator Internet software. Version 4.06 includes some of the upcoming 4.5 features, such as closer integration with its Netcenter portal site, but is largely a maintenance release with bug fixes for potential e-mail problems.

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