A legal spat between Creative Technology and Cyrix has been settled out of court, with the chipmaker being forced to stop using Creative's software drivers. Cyrix must also desist from making claims that its Media GX processors are compatible with Creative's Soundblaster technology.
Creative sued both Cyrix and Compaq - which used Media GX in some of its PCs - after Cyrix claimed the chipset was compatible with Soundblaster audio technology. According to Creative, Cyrix was actually making use of drivers supplied with Windows operating systems, rather than native technology in the chipset.
Cyrix had placed advertisements for Media GX that displayed Soundblaster trademarks. It has now agreed to remove them from marketing material.
Ministry of silly talk
We all know that we're in the middle of the silly season and this causes numerous rumours to be bandied around the industry.
One rumour currently being whispered in people's ears concerns Bay Networks and Nortel, which were keeping tightlipped about rumours of an acquisition deal.
Some analysts expected the Canadian company to announce its takeover of Bay this week. Speculation about a tie-up has intensified over the past few weeks, culminating in an admission by Bay chief executive David House that the company was 'actively pursuing close partnerships with telco equipment providers because of their relationship with the service provider infrastructure customers'.
Keeping the bidders at Bay
Last month, Bay was reported to have turned down a $27-a-share offer from Nortel, opening the gates for Ericsson and Lucent to consider bids. But it seems Nortel may still be in the running.
Analysts believed a tie-up with either Ericsson or Nortel would mean fewer job casualties than an acquisition by Lucent. Lucent has more home-grown and acquired products that would overlap with Bay offerings. However, a partnership with Nortel would leave question marks over the equipment vendor's relationships with Fore Systems, Cabletron and Shiva.
Sources have claimed that Lucent could lose out on buying Bay because under US law, the company is prevented from making additional purchases until October. There was even speculation that Lucent would also purchase Ascend in October. We love the silly season for acquisition rumours.
Living in a surfer's paradise
Following on from last week's column about the Teched developers' conference in New Orleans, Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief executive, laid out his vision for the future in the conference's closing speech.
The key themes were simplicity, scalability and the need to exploit the internet so users could adopt a so-called 'Web lifestyle' both at home and at work. The need to innovate was also given a high profile, with Gates making continual oblique references to the antitrust case being pursued by the Department of Justice and 12 US states against the software giant.
Gates stated: 'You currently take our innovation for granted. But over the next eight years, we'll bring you more - linguistic support, speech recognition, real-life graphical user interfaces to the Web, natural language interfaces and a computer that remembers what you've done.'
Big Brother Bill is watching you ...
Gates added: 'Currently, a computer doesn't see, listen and learn, but underneath our platform will be the necessary graphics, decision theory and international programming to do it. The hardware vendors are doing their part with memory and storage enhancements. It's hard to say when in the next decade this will appear, but it will be in the next decade.'
Such innovations were currently being held back by issues such as lack of bandwidth - particularly to the home - he explained, although developments were moving ahead in the corporate space. But it would be 10 years before the fibre-optic cable required to fulfil Gates' aim of pumping broadcast-quality graphics to US living-rooms would be available.
Sort your life out
Microsoft is also working on agent technology that can intelligently analyse the way users work. The first iteration of the software was included in Office 97, but more advanced versions will be incorporated into, among others, the Outlook 98 calendaring and scheduling package.
The technology is able to monitor users' typical behavioural patterns with applications such as email.
It tunes the system to respond to the user's individual needs and provides help and feedback via an icon that is able to understand the context of the message.
The icon, which is based on the now defunct 'Bob' real-world interface, then asks users whether they want to schedule an appointment, for example, and can make recommendations as to availability.
'In future, the computer will be a better tool than it is today,' Gates concluded. 'And this has implications for business and the way we entertain ourselves. Almost no-one will not be touched by this technology.'
Memory loss for Texas
Texas Instruments (TI) looks set to pull out of the memory market altogether after withdrawing from a joint venture with Acer earlier this year.
US reports say TI was in discussions with Micron to sell its existing memory operations in the US, Japan and Italy, with a deal likely to be worth over $1 billion. Micron is one of the bigger and more voluble players in the US market and has complained regularly that Far Eastern companies have been dumping static and dynamic memory chips into the market.
James Harding is US editor of VNU Newswire, based in San Francisco.
He can be reached at [email protected] or on 00 1 650 306 0879.
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