Sun to hire in chip division

While Sun Microsystems Inc. announced it would slash its workforce by nine per cent less than a month ago, the company vowed to continue hiring in its processor division over the next nine months, Sun announced recently. Sun has been punished by slowing hardware sales in the U.S. and elsewhere. Sun was one of the last among its peers to announce layoffs due to faltering sales in this time of economic downturn.

“Even with this economy the processor product group is not affected and is still growing,” said David Yen, vice-president and general manager of the Sun Processor Products Group, during a recent speech in San Jose, Calif. Yen didn’t specify how many new people Sun plans to hire in its processor product group.

CA reduces staff

Computer Associates International Inc. announced recently that it is reducing its worldwide headcount by approximately 900 positions across all areas of the company. These reductions, which are primarily in North America, are effective immediately and reflect a five per cent decrease in the company’s worldwide staffing levels. This will bring the company’s total worldwide headcount to approximately 17,000.

“The changes we are making reflect the complex realities that our company and many other companies are faced with today, and our staffing levels will be more appropriately geared to the new business model we introduced last year,” said CA president and CEO, Sanjay Kumar. “This was a very difficult decision for us. For all employees affected by this decision, we have created a special separation package.”

No formal European investigation into XP

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said that it has been in informal talks with Microsoft Corp. concerning Microsoft’s latest operating platform, XP. European Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said Microsoft “always informs antitrust authorities when it is about to launch a new product and that includes the European Commission.”

However, she emphasized that the Commission is not conducting a formal investigation into XP. The European Commission confirmed on Aug. 30 that it was merging two antitrust investigations into Microsoft’s operating systems , but that it would not seek to block the launch of Windows XP. The two investigations both covered accusations that Microsoft had violated European antitrust rules by using illegal practices to extend its position in the market for personal computer operating systems into the market for low-end server operating systems.

Gates upbeat on PC industry

Slowing world economies and the knock-on effects of the September attacks in the U.S. could impact the PC business in the short-term, but long-term prospects are bright, said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft Corp., speaking recently in Tokyo.

“There could be a period of time here where the kind of sombreness that comes with this tragedy affects business,” he said, referring to the attacks. “I’m not somebody who can predict that. However, I can say that, already as the economy was slowing down, Microsoft was one of the few companies that was able to continue to increase our R&D on products such as tablet PC, speech recognition, Xbox or Pocket PC,” Gates said “Throughout the history of the PC, it has been underestimated again and again,” he said. “This is not the first year we have had people saying, What about the PC?” He cited new applications yet to be fully realized, such as real-time communications, note taking and as a music storage system, as reason for his optimism.

Court reinstates guilty verdict on computer saboteur

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia recently reinstated the guilty verdict in the case of a former network administrator who had been convicted in May 2000 in the first prosecution of computer sabotage. Tim Lloyd of Wilmington, Del., now faces sentencing and up to five years in federal prison.

Lloyd was found guilty of planting a software time bomb in a centralized file server at Omega Engineering Corp.’s Bridgeport, N.J., manufacturing plant. Soon after the jury rendered a guilty verdict in a U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., The Hon. William H. Walls, who presided over the four-week trial, set aside the decision. He did so after a juror told Walls she was unsure whether a television news story about the Love Bug computer virus had been factored into her verdict, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney V. Grady O’Malley, who prosecuted the case.

Europe begins online music cartel investigation

European antitrust officials are looking into a possible cartel in online music distribution involving two recently created joint ventures. However, the probe is at an early stage, a European Commission spokeswoman said recently and that it is “gross speculation” to conclude that the joint ventures will hinder competition.

Online subscription services MusicNet and Pressplay are due to launch later this year. MusicNet was formed by AOL Time Warner Inc., Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group PLC and RealNetworks Inc., while Pressplay is backed by Vivendi Universal SA, Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and EMI, which is involved in both services. The six-month-old investigations fall under the European Commission’s antitrust department’s cartel laws, which are designed to prevent combinations of companies from colluding and distorting competition.

Suspected anthrax-tainted mail sent to Microsoft

Amid scares in New York City and Florida, computer software giant Microsoft Corp. said recently that one of its offices received mail that could be tainted with the anthrax virus.

Initial tests on the letter showed it to be “presumptively positive” for anthrax, said Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn in a statement. However Microsoft said a second test on the letter came back negative. A third test was due to take place. “We are taking this situation very seriously and we are working closely with appropriate law enforcement and health officials,” said Microsoft in a statement. “We will continue to work with authorities to take every precaution to ensure the safety of our employees and the broader community.”