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May 28, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Europe Readies Microsoft Privacy Investigation
- Intel Price Cuts Run Deep
- Cast Your Vote for our Readers' Choice Awards
- Win a Free $200 Gift Certificate to RoadWired.com!
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
The European Commission (EC), the European Union's (EU's) regulatory arm, revealed this weekend that it is readying an investigation into alleged Microsoft .NET Passport privacy violations. A Dutch software firm, which complained that Microsoft is collecting users' personal information (in violation of European data-collection laws), alerted the EC to the problem. The EC describes its part in the investigation as "a matter of priority." However, individual countries that are part of the EU will be responsible for organizing the investigation and assessing fines.
"If a member state \[of the EU\] thinks a company is not respecting the rules, then they can ask it to stop or they can even fine them," an EC spokesperson said. "This depends on individual member states."
If the EU launches a full investigation, the new inquiry will remain separate from the EU's existing antitrust investigation of Microsoft. However, whether the privacy investigation will gain much steam is unclear. Britain, for example, doesn't see .NET Passport as a violation of privacy laws, although its decision isn't yet final, and several other EU member states are seeking more information. This week, 15 EU member representatives, who are gathering for a previously scheduled meeting, will discuss the .NET Passport privacy charges.
Microsoft says it has already met with the EC about .NET Passport, however, and that the service adequately protects users' privacy. "We have met not only with \[EC\] privacy officials, but we've also met with privacy officials in each of the member states about Passport and about the concerns raised," a company spokesperson said. Microsoft has also met with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about similar complaints.
Intel, the world's leading microprocessor maker, routinely slashes prices to drive demand for new products and fend off competition from AMD, but the company's latest price cuts are unusually large; certain chips fell in price more than 50 percent. This weekend, Intel announced its new microprocessor price list, which includes steep price cuts all around but especially for the company's new Mobile Pentium 4 Processor - M (Pentium 4M) chips, which haven't sold as well as expected.
On the desktop front, Intel reduced the Pentium 4 2.4GHz microprocessor 29 percent, from $562 to $400; the 2.26GHz and 2.2GHz chips fell 43 percent, from $423 to $241; and the company reduced other Pentium 4 desktop chips as much as 32 percent.
Intel's mobile microprocessors experienced even bigger reductions. The Pentium 4M 1.7GHz chip fell 53 percent, from $508 to $231, and the 1.8GHz version fell 48 percent, from $637 to $348. Intel reduced the 1.6GHz Pentium 4M microprocessor 51 percent, from $401 to 198.
Major PC makers such as Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, and others will probably drop PC prices soon to reflect lower chip costs. Such a move would reverse a short-term PC price hike that occurred earlier this year because of rising memory and LCD-screen costs.
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