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Channel Reg Weekly

By | Billy MacInnes 28th June 2007 12:55

Lots of rain and too much Sun: climate change is on its way

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Despite Britain being pelted by record rainfall over the past few days, there was a lot more Sun about than usual. Not that it was all bright. There was the 'shock departure' - that's what it said in The Reg, so it must be true - of UK president Trudy Norris-Grey and the appointment of Kim Jones as her successor. According to Sun senior EMEA vice-president, Peter Ryan, Norris-Grey left after two years at the helm to "pursue other interests".

Sun makes virtue out of necessity

Meanwhile, in addition to signalling its ambition to build the world's biggest supercomputer (it currently has the ninth largest system), Sun also took aim at Linux distributors with plans to provide support on other vendors' hardware running its Solaris OS. Analysts at Ovum said the plan could put Linux distributors on the back foot, as they cannot combine multivendor hardware support and OS support without the help of box vendors. HP, IBM, and Dell offer Linux support, but only on their own boxes. Sun's move isn't so surprising given that three-quarters of Solaris 10 deployments are on non-Sun hardware.

Avnet doubles Sun resellers

Keeping on the Sun-ny side, distributor Avnet said its Partner Solutions Sun Division had doubled its UK Sun reseller numbers after a six-month programme to get more dealers on board. Andrew Sayers, director of Sun division at Avnet Partner Solutions, said Sun's move to green computing and "arguably its best product range for many years" had helped improve sign-ups.

Green costs too much green

Talk of green computing brings us back to the rain, if only because the weird weather adds more fuel to the fire of those who believe climate change is already upon us. The good news is IT managers want to do their part, with 71 per cent claiming in a recent survey they would choose an IT system or product specifically because it is more environmentally friendly or energy-efficient. Sadly, nearly a quarter said cost was a key preventative factor to going green and almost a fifth pointed to difficulties in replacing existing technology, with 17 per cent claiming a lack of available green products.

Switch off and save the planet

Perhaps before they get too concerned about replacing their existing technology to help save the planet, they might consider turning off the stuff they already have. According to a new report, a typical mid-sized American business wastes more than $165,000 a year in electricity costs by leaving PCs on overnight - equivalent to $1.72bn in wasted funds across the country. By turning off machines during night hours, the average business could eliminate 1,381 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year - nearly 15 million tons nationwide.

Microsoft pulls Office from charidee PCs...

While we're on matters green, someone should have a word with Microsoft after it emerged the software vendor had withdrawn Office XP from its global community refurbishment scheme, two months after pulling Works 7. Authorised refurbishers will no longer be able to provide charities with old computers bundled with XP, Works and Office XP Standard. Instead, charities will have to go direct to Microsoft for software donations.

...and pushes Vista to anyone it can

Maybe, it's all part of a plan to give charities Vista instead. Certainly, Microsoft is having difficulty convincing people of the merits of its latest OS, so much so that it has reportedly opened a website for OEMs and customers to counter concerns about missing driver support and a lack of third-party hardware and software. According to APC Mag, the registration-only site promises to help OEMs and customers get the "real story" illustrating how Windows Vista is "ready today and tomorrow." Perhaps, but in May, Mike Nash, corporate vice-president for Windows product management, conceded a problem existed while also trying to downplay the issue, attributing 80 per cent of user complaints to 4,000 drivers.

I can't go for VAT

We would have thought that a fundamental question to ask when someone quotes you a price is "does that include VAT or not?", but perhaps it depends on the price. Europe's highest court has just dismissed arguments by telcos that the massive amounts they paid for their 3G licences (£22bn) included VAT (£3.3bn worth) that they could reclaim. Not so, according to the court. So now you know. The price for 3G licence was £22bn before VAT.

Europe brings procurement to a standstill

Still on matters European, the European Parliament has voted to give businesses powers to challenge public procurement decisions if they consider a public authority has awarded a contract unfairly. According to the proposed Directive, contracting authorities would have a 10-day standstill period after deciding who has won the public contract before it can be signed. The 10-day delay is designed to give bidders time to examine the decision and assess whether it is appropriate to initiate a review procedure.

What's in a name? £250,000

An unnamed UK firm that operates in the infrastructure and public services sector has agreed to pay a record fine of £250,000 for running unlicensed software and keeping its name out of the papers. An investigation by the Business Software Alliance discovered the company was running unlicensed copies of Adobe, Autodesk, and Microsoft software on hundreds of PCs across several UK locations. An out-of-court settlement was reached late last month.

MD and FD leave Evesham Technology

Moving on to the channel - it's why we're here after all - there were big changes at Evesham Technology as managing director Brad Walker and finance director David Hards left the company and owner and chairman Richard Austin confirmed several parties were looking to buy the business. The company was badly affected by the government's surprise decision to end the Home Computer Initiative programme, which provided tax breaks for employees to to hire purchase PCs through their pay packets.

Torex shareholders get nothing

While Evesham was waiting for a buyer, shareholders at Torex Retail were busy venting their anger at the manner in which the company was sold in a private equity deal to Cerebus for £204.4m. With debts of £200m, the sale of Torex will pay off the banks but leave shareholders with nothing. A pressure group - UK Shareholders Association - is calling for an extraordinary general meeting to be held within three weeks to decide the fate of the company.

Comet blazes support trail

On the support side, Comet has launched an IT support service for home users and small businesses. Comet On Call offers customers technical support at home and in-store via a website, in-store "drop and collect" points and a helpline for customers.The service includes wireless network support, PC health checks and setting up new computers and is open to any home-computer owner.

Just who is financing financing?

Businesses in the UK are wasting nearly £500m on administration costs and inflated interest rates in poor IT financing deals. A survey by Smartfundit found English businesses were wasting £425.7m and companies in Wales and Scotland were throwing away £40m and £19.3m. Businesses in Northern Ireland were wasting £11.3m or 12p in every £ borrowed to lease IT products and services.

Things we had to leave out

The sky may have been grey but Dell did its best to brighten things up with the launch of Inspiron laptops available in a choice of eight "vibrant" colours. Sadly, we don't have space to mention it here, but the laptops have lids that are coloured in a choice of black, red, pink, khaki, white, yellow, brown and blue. There's also no room for Dell's announcement that purchasers of its Dimension desktops and Inspiron laptops could choose not to have bloatware pre-installed on their computer. The company has also launched a software uninstall utility in the US for Inspiron and Dimension systems. Dell's Software Uninstall Utility comes pre-installed with computers to uninstall pre-installed software. Much as we'd like to, we can't even mention the news that a jury in Kentucky has ruled that Lexmark "unreasonably restrained competition" in the way it ran a used-cartridge return program in a court case involving Static Control Components (SCC). The jury also agreed with SCC that Lexmark had a "substantial ability to exploit customers".

The one we couldn't leave out

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison may well have reaffirmed the company's plans to use acquisition as a means of achieving 20 per cent annual growth for the next 10 years, but that doesn't mean he's addicted to buying companies. Addiction is an easy term to bandy around, but harder to justify. The American Medical Association recently refused to classify excessive gaming as a mental illness. Some doctors claimed excessive gaming was akin to alcohol, drug and other addictions because sufferers were unable to stop playing but denied their addiction. Others took time out from Halo to argue that playing games for long periods was nothing like substance abuse. If you're looking for excitement - and let's face it, what's addiction but a quest for thrills - you might do worse than take on a job in the Microsoft Security Response Centre. Popular Science rates it as fifth in the Ten Worst Jobs in Science , claiming it is "like wearing a big sign that says 'hack me'... It's tedious work... to most hackers, crippling Microsoft is the geek equivalent of taking down the Death Star, so the assault is relentless". But look on the bright side - whatever else happens, you'll always be busy.®

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