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Cd Roms Start Talking To The Net

Bits & Bytes


AS INTEREST IN THE INTERNET and computer services such as America Online explodes, it seems as if everyone is clamoring for a piece of the online pie. The most recent arrivals: CD-ROM publishers.

According to InfoTech, a market researcher in Woodstock, Vt., the number of CD-ROM titles designed to work with information from networks will grow from 311 last year to as many as 6,500 by 2000 (chart). One early example is Compton's Encyclopedia, whose software lets owners get updated entries from America Online. Over time, these hybrid CD-ROMS will range from games that let people compete over networks, to multimedia electronic catalogs that look to a network for prices and other data--and perhaps even transmit purchase orders electronically. A particularly popular category right now is disks that help people learn how to use the Internet. Besides panels of text and graphics that explain the Net's technologies and structure, the disks often contain easy-to-use Internet software.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITYReturn to top

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A POPULAR USE FOR PCS is showing colorful slide shows to illustrate sales pitches and other business presentations. In many cases, the slides are prepared days in advance and, as a result, may be out of date when they're finally shown to a prospective customer or client. But now, Software Publishing Corp. has come out with a scheme that would let a salesperson out on the road, say, get the latest slides almost instantly from the World Wide Web.

The company's product, ASAP WebShow, works closely with Netscape Communications Corp.'s popular Navigator 2.0 Web-browser software. First, slides are prepared using Software Publishing's ASAP slide-show program, already on the market. The software then compresses the slide data, so that all the graphics and text on 30 slides can be crammed into a mere 11,000 bytes. At that size, using a 14.4 kilobit-per-second modem, those 30 slides could be sent from a Web server to a laptop computer in a hotel room in just seven seconds, according to the firm. ASAP slides can be embedded in standard Web pages for viewing on-screen through the Navigator program or for printing to paper. A trial version of the software, usable for 30 days at no charge, is available at asap/asap.htm. The software runs with all three versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITYReturn to top


IT HAS BEEN A TOUGH SLOG for Ross Technology Inc., a chipmaker in Austin, Tex., that's majority-owned by Fujitsu Ltd. It was among the first companies to clone Sun Microsystems Inc.'s SPARC microprocessor, but it captured just 10% of the SPARC market. So now, Ross is climbing up a notch on the food chain and cloning Sun's workstations.

That strategy has defeated several companies before, but John T. Horner, president of Ross Microcomputer Corp., a new subsidiary, reckons Ross has some unique advantages. He says Ross's Hyperstations, based on its new hyperSPARC chip, run 30% faster than comparably priced Sun machines. Plus, in contrast to previous Sun clones from Solbourne Computer and others, no software changes are required to move from Sun's to Ross's machines. To keep its support costs low, Ross plans to sell only to computer resellers, not to corporate customers. Finally, Fujitsu will make the hardware, beginning with hyperSPARC upgrade boards for Sun computers in March and full Hyperstations in the summer.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITYReturn to top

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