Global Dispatches

An international IT news digest

EC Sets New Deadline on Info From Microsoft

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission last week threatened Microsoft Corp. with daily fines of €3 million ($3.9 million U.S.) if it doesn’t submit overdue interoperability documentation for Windows by Thursday.

The commission said it “expects the remaining omissions and deficiencies in the technical documentation to be remedied by Nov. 23 so that by the end of November, the entire set of technical documentation will be available for potential licensees to review.”

The EC’s edict is the latest in a string of deadlines it has imposed over the past two years in an effort to force Microsoft to provide information that would allow rival vendors to develop server software programs that can interoperate with Windows.

Since the EC’s March 2004 ruling that Microsoft had violated European competition laws, the company has been fined €777.5 million ($995.8 million) for failing to submit all of the documentation sought by the commission.

Microsoft didn’t comment specifically about the new deadline in a statement last week. But the company said that it “is committed to full compliance with the commission’s March 2004 decision and [is] working closely with the commission and the monitoring trustee toward that goal.”

-- Paul Meller, IDG News Service

Intel Upgrades Its Plans for Vietnam Chip Plant

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam -- Intel Corp. this month announced that it will build a much larger and more expensive semiconductor test-and-assembly plant here than its initial plans called for.

The company now plans to spend $1 billion to build a 500,000-square-foot facility in Ho Chi Minh City. Last February, Intel had said that it would build a 150,000-square-foot plant at a cost of about $300 million.

According to Intel, company officials decided to increase the size of the plant after determining that the larger size would allow the facility to operate more efficiently. The plant in Vietnam will serve as a model for future Intel test-and-assembly operations, the chip maker added.

Construction is scheduled to start in March, and Intel expects the plant to open in 2009 and employ up to 4,000 workers. The Ho Chi Minh City facility will be Intel’s seventh test-and-assembly plant worldwide. The company also has operations in Malaysia, the Philippines, China and Costa Rica.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Microsoft, Indian Firm to Offer Hosted Apps

NEW DELHI -- Microsoft and Bharti Airtel Ltd., a telecommunications service provider based here, have agreed to jointly offer a set of hosted software and services for small and midsize businesses in India.

Bharti Airtel last week said the two companies will pair enterprise-class software with connectivity services and market the bundles to businesses that don’t have dedicated IT resources in-house. The hosted offerings are expected to become available in January, the telecommunications vendor added.

Microsoft’s software will be hosted and managed by Bharti Airtel, according to a spokesman for Microsoft India. Initially, the companies will offer basic hosted services such as e-mail, calendaring and scheduling, he said.

Later, Microsoft and Bharti plan to add ERP, accounting and customer relationship management applications, plus select applications from Microsoft business partners.

The pricing model for the hosted services has yet to be worked out, the Microsoft spokesman said.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Germany Gets Warning Over Proposed Measure

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission has sent a letter to the German government warning it not to grant Deutsche Telekom AG an exemption from European Union rules designed to improve competition in the tele¿communications business.

A proposed German law would allow Deutsche Telekom to deny rivals full access to a new high-speed broadband network while the company recoups its estimated €3 billion ($3.8 billion U.S.) investment in the network.

The EC has “serious concerns about the proposal,” commission spokesman Martin Selmayr said at a press conference this month. He added that if the law is passed, the EC will “have no choice but to open infringement proceedings” that ultimately could lead to legal action at the European Court of Justice, including a request for daily fines to be imposed against the German government.

The written notice from the EC expands on a verbal warning that Viviane Reding, the commissioner in charge of telecommunications issues, gave the German government in a speech here in June.

Deutsche Telekom has said that it will stop the planned expansion of its broadband network to 40 German cities if it is forced to comply with the EU’s competition laws. The network is based on very high bit-rate DSL technology, or VDSL.

-- Paul Meller, IDG News Service

Deutsche Telekom CEO Resigns After Meeting

BONN, Germany -- Deutsche Telekom last week named a new CEO from within the company after Kai-Uwe Ricke resigned from that job following a meeting with its supervisory board.

The Bonn-based telecommunications company tapped Ren¿ Obermann to replace Ricke. Obermann joined Deutsche Telekom in 1998 and most recently was head of its mobile phone division.

Ricke had been Deutsche Telekom’s CEO since November 2002. He reduced the company’s debt from more than €65 billion ($83.2 billion U.S.) to less than €40 billion ($51.2 billion U.S.) as of the end of September.

However, he was unsuccessful in his efforts to stop a decline in revenue in Deutsche Telekom’s traditional land-line business, where competitors with lower fixed costs have nibbled away at its customer base.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

SAP AG last week named Hans-Peter Klaey president of a new global unit that will target small and midsize companies. Klaey, previously president and CEO of SAP’s Asia-Pacific operations, reports to Leo Apotheker, an SAP executive board member and president of customer solutions and operations. SAP said small and midsize businesses account for 65% of its customer base.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Dell Inc. said it has acquired ACS Ltd., a London-based IT services firm, for an undisclosed price. ACS offers IT infrastructure consulting and customized application services to large businesses. It also has offices in Paris; Edinburgh; Glasgow, Scotland; and Pune, India. Dell said it plans to offer the ACS application installation service worldwide for projects such as upgrades to Windows Vista.

-- Ben Ames, IDG News Service

Microsoft last week named former Deutsche Telekom executive Achim Berg to head its German operations. Berg will take over as general manager of Microsoft Deutschland GmbH in Unterschleissheim on Feb. 1, the company said. Microsoft Deutschland has been run by an interim executive since J¿rgen Gallmann resigned as head of the German unit in October over differences with Microsoft executives in the U.S.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

EBay Inc.’s Chinese subsidiary and Beijing-based search engine developer Baidu Inc. have agreed to broaden their relationship in a bid to stave off growing competition from Alibaba.com Corp. in Hong Kong. Under the agreement, Baidu will promote the use of eBay’s PayPal online payment service and become the sole provider of text advertisements on eBay’s Web site in China.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

MediaTek Inc. in Hsin-Chu City, Taiwan, has bought an undisclosed stake in Beijing-based Pollex Mobile Software Co. just weeks after buying most of its products and intellectual property. MediaTek paid $1 million (U.S.) for a share of Pollex as part of an effort to expand its business to provide chips for ultra-low-cost handsets. In October, it bought the rights to several dozen Pollex applications for $13 million.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Global Fact

$4.2B


Projected spending on security software in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2010, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of 10.9% from last year's total of $2.5 billion.

Source: Gartner Inc.

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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