Restructuring at root of Novell losses

Novell, the world's fourth-largest software company and market leader in networking, made a net loss of $122m in their third quarter ending 31 July, with revenues of $90m. The company said the loss followed a decision to reduce product inventories in its indirect distribution channel, and a restructuring charge of $55m as it reduced its workforce by 18 per cent. The 1,000 redundancies are expected to reduce expenses by $100m a year. "The third quarter was an opportunity to take aggressive steps to stabilise Novell's business and set the stage for restoring revenue and profitability," Dr Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, said. "Lower operating expenses, realigned resources, and improved information systems make Novell a tighter and more accountable $1bn company. Our focus is to deliver Internet products to make Novell a pure Internet/ intranet software leader by summer 1998." He dismissed rumours that IBM would buy the company.

Mac users see Office 98 on the horizon

Microsoft last week showed its renewed commitment to developing software for the Macintosh platform by demonstrating Office 98 for Macintosh. The business suite, which needs System 7.5 or higher, has new versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but will not include the Access database. Attempts have been made to make it look and feel more like a typical Mac application. "We carried some of the interface [in current versions of Office] too far in order to be consistent with [the Windows version]," said Matthew Price, Office product manager. Office 98 file formats will be the same as those for Office 97 for Windows; Mac Word 5.1 and 6.0 files will also be readable. Installation will be simpler, too - drag the folder from CD-Rom to the hard drive icon, and it is done. Fewer components will be installed in the Extensions folder: six, compared with more than 20 in Office 4.2.

Security update for Navigator 4.0

A patch to fix potential problems with Navigator 4.0 in both the stand- alone browser and the version in the Communicator suite is due to be posted this week on the Netscape Web site (http://www.netscape.com). The problems are related to the way JavaScript is implemented. Two do not pose security risks, but one creates the opportunity for credit card numbers and other personal information to be captured by a "tracker" applet which sends it to a Web site. According to Andre dos Santos, a graduate student working on Internet security at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the problem was at the core of earlier security worries with Web browsers. Companies have been criticised for releasing software that has not been tested rigorously enough, thereby turning users into surrogate beta testers of their product. "The market is too competitive and [Microsoft and Netscape] have big pressure to release new versions," dos Santos said. "If it were an ideal or academic world, I would do a lot more testing for security problems."

Scoop! personalised news service

While push technology and active Webtops are current buzz-words, e-mail is an established method of receiving information that does not make big demands on system resources. Scoop! Direct is an e-mail based news service that will launch this month. Using 3,700 sources from newspapers and news feeds to research reports, the service will deliver tailor-made e-mails of headlines and summaries to users who have detailed the information they require. This part of the service is free; accessing the full text will be on a pay-per-view basis. A free 14-day trial is on offer via freetrial@scoop.comn

Correction: Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 is scheduled for release on 30 September, not 30 August as reported last week. A beta version of the browser is available in the interim at http://www.microsoft.com

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