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Apple buys core of Power Computing

Apple Computer last week announced that it had bought the Macintosh assets of Power Computing, the first and largest Mac clone maker, in a deal worth $100m (pounds 62m). Its acquisition gives it control over Power's key resources, including 25 direct-marketing staff, the customer database and the licence to distribute the Mac OS. Apple claims that it bought the company because Power Computing had not expanded the market for the Mac OS. "When Apple originally designed its licensing programme back in 1994," Fred Anderson, acting chief executive for Apple, said: "The intent was for it to be expansionary ... the unfortunate reality was that the clone vendors did not sell very many systems to new customers. I'd guess 99 per cent of their sales represented sales to the existing customer base." Apple's move has come in for censure in Internet newsgroups. Critics wonder whether the company will offer performance improvements or keep prices low without competition from Power. Power Computing retains its manufacturing assets and its name. It will continue to sell Macintosh clones until the end of the year but will be switching its manufacturing capacity to building Intel and Windows-based machines.

Digital announces StrongARM tactics

Computing on the move has received a boost with the unveiling by Digital Equipment Corporation of the latest in their line of StrongARM processors. The SA-1100 is a low-power chip with performance up to five times greater than current processors, is designed to increase the capabilities of portable PCs, as well as help to fulfil the potential offered, but so far rarely realised, by subnotebooks, wallet PCs, smart cell phones and Web phones. One of the first devices to benefit will be handheld and pocket PCs running Windows CE. "The SA-1100 microprocessor really opens up the envelope for Windows CE performance," Jim Floyd, Microsoft's handheld PC product manager, said. "The SA-1100 and the Windows CE operating system have matching strengths and features that can bring desktop performance to handheld PCs." According to International Data Corporation, the total market for portable computing products will grow from 3.1 million units in 1996 to nearly 28 million units by 2001. Handheld computing devices are expected to represent the largest market sector with 16 million units in 2001. The market for smart cell phones, which combine electronic mail and Internet access with voice communication, is projected to grow the fastest - from 35,000 units in 1996 to 8.8 million in 2001.

Readjustment time for IE4

Three weeks before the release of Internet Explorer 4, Microsoft has responded to complaints and feedback about its preview versions of the new software by making changes to the interface of the final release. The browser was designed to integrate with the Windows operating system so that the desktop became a window on the Net as well as on files and programs stored on a local hard disk. The concept of active desktops (the ability to include Web applets in the desktop wallpaper) and many of the new interface features such as single-click navigation instead of the traditional double-click were not welcomed by beta testers. Microsoft will now release IE4 for download on 30 September in three versions. The 14Mb minimum-install version will not change the Windows system interface, it is a browser-only installation with no e-mail or newsreader software - a similar package to Netscape Navigator 4. The 15Mb standard version adds Microsoft Outlook to take care of mail and newsgroups while the 22Mb full version has a raft of extra features for the complete "desktop upgrade". All versions will have access to push channels. Double-click navigation will be the default in all three versions of the final release