Montreal-based Cognicase Inc. announced this month that it has accepted a revised acquistion offer made by outsourcing provider CGI Group Inc. CGI originally announced its plans to scoop up Cognicase back in early December and at the time, Cognicase was recommending to shareholders not to accept the bid, as reported on the company’s Web site in December.

Cognicase’s offerings focus on four main business solutions: financial processing; IT and outsourcing; enterprise relationship management; and public sector solutions.

Jobs unveils ‘fastest’ Mac browser

Apple Computer Inc. chief executive officer Steve Jobs introduced the company’s own Web browser, called “Safari,” earlier this month during his keynote address at the MacWorld trade show in San Francisco, and also showed off a dizzying number of new PowerBook computers and software applications, including one meant to compete with Microsoft Corp.’s popular PowerPoint.

“We have done our own browser and it’s awesome,” Jobs said. “It’s the fastest browser on Mac, period.”

Safari is available now in beta as a free download at the Apple Web site. It is built on open-source code and includes integrated Google search functions in the toolbar.

Sun opens Linux training facility

Touted as one of the first of its kind in Canada, Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. and Beonix Technology recently announced the opening of the Sun Linux Competency Centre in Belleville, Ont.

The Centre features Sun thin client technology and will offer Linux technical training, workshops and services to customers using the Sun Linux and Solaris platforms. It will be open to Sun personnel, Sun iForce partners and end-users, and service will also be offered on open-source productivity products available for the Sun Linux platform, including Sun’s StarOffice productivity suite software. Beonix Technology president Chris Heaven said the Centre will help the company offer a “viable alternative” to Wintel systems.

Sun Fires to sport more processors

Sun Microsystems Inc. appears to be readying a new 12-processor server that will bring some of the high-end features found in its more expensive systems down to its lower-cost line of products.

Details of a new server, called the Sun Fire v1280, are available on Sun’s Web site, which provides technical information for Sun users. A maintenance manual for the Sun Fire v1280 said the server will hold as many as 12 UltraSparc III processors running at 900MHz and include support for some of Sun’s most sophisticated partitioning and system reconfiguration tools. Bringing some of its top technology to less expensive systems is a natural move for Sun as it works to keep pace with rival IBM Corp., one analyst said.

Service firms team on ERP installs

Service provider NexInnovations and outsourcing specialist Siemens Business Services Canada Inc. have announced they’re teaming up. As a result, Siemens says it will design, build and operate ERP managed applications for NexInnovations’ customers, while the latter will offer Siemens clients help with infrastructure deployment, configuration and technical support services. To help get the service off the ground, Siemens says it will integrate it services with a wide variety of partners, including SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft.

McDonald’s nixes worldwide network

A proposed multimillion-dollar IT project that would have networked some 30,000 McDonald’s Corp. restaurants in Canada and around the world has been scrapped by the company’s new executive team as a cost-saving move.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast food company has cancelled its Innovate IT program, which was proposed in 1999 but had not yet been deployed in any restaurants, said spokesman Lisa Howard. “Tens of millions of dollars” will be saved this year by cancelling the project, as the company works to reduce short-term spending, she said. The total expected price tag for the program wasn’t released. Some 400 to 600 jobs were also to be eliminated under the changes.

Open Text acquires multimedia provider

Collaboration software vendor Open Text Corp. recently announced plans to acquire Eloquent Inc., a provider of rich media technology designed to bolster the effectiveness of sales and marketing teams.

Waterloo, Ont.-based Open Text plans to leverage Eloquent’s LaunchForce sales readiness software to enhance the Open Text real-time virtual meeting tool, dubbed Livelink MeetingZone, and to create a separate packaged application combining collaboration and sales readiness.

Eloquent’s platform unites video, graphics, audio, and slides into an integrated application designed to communicate complex product and training information to field sales organizations.

Happy birthday Internet…maybe

Like the age of the Earth, estimates on the age of the Internet depend on whom you ask. By the calculations of one industry pioneer, this week marks the 20th birthday of the modern Internet.

On Jan. 1, 1983, Internet-forerunner ARPANET (a system developed by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency) fully switched to TCP/IP. The transition came after a decade of development work on the new system, which replaced an earlier, clunkier set-up, the Network Control Protocol (NCP).

Of course, an Internet-like system was up and running long before 1983: Since 1969, researchers had been exchanging data over ARPANET, which connected hundreds of host machines at the time of the TCP/IP switchover. But the standardization of TCP/IP laid the groundwork for today’s massive, decentralized network.

Vendors step back from mergers

Software companies aren’t buying each other like they used to – that according to the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance’s annual survey of mergers and acquisitions activity in the Canadian software and computer services industry. It found the number of deals in 2002 was down three per cent, from 60 to 57, and their value was off 15 per cent, from $2 billion to $1.7 billion. Two big deals right at the end of the year, Cognos’ $248 million acquisition of Adaytum and CGI’s $329 million offer for Cognicase, boosted the numbers. CATA predicts that activity should pick up in 2003, but it will likely be some time before the market gets back to the 2000 level of 105 deals worth $11.4 billion.

Microsoft to drop its .Net branding

Continuing to fiddle with the name of its upcoming Windows server, Microsoft Corp. this month announced it will drop the .Net branding from the product’s name and will simply call it Windows Server 2003. The company announced it is dropping the .Net branding in its products and instead will name products and services that support popular Internet standards, such as simple object access protocol (SOAP) and XML, with a .Net Connected logo.

According to a company spokesperson, as support for Web services becomes “intrinsic” across Microsoft’s products, the company will gravitate to a more consistent naming and branding approach.

Banner year for Bugbear worm

Here’s a top 10 list computer users would rather avoid – antivirus software maker Sophos Inc. recently reported its most frequently occurring viruses and hoaxes for 2002.

According to Lynnfield, Mass.-based Sophos, the most recurring malicious code affecting end users last year was the pesky Bugbear, a mass-mailing and network worm. Coming in a close second was the Klez worm – a Trojan horse-type virus that sends e-mail messages with randomly named attachments and subject fields – which in December had been noted as the most prolific virus in 2002.