■ SoftwareWindows lacks support
Microsoft Corp was to release a low-cost version of Windows for developing countries yesterday that has not yet won support from large personal-computer makers, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a technology research firm. Windows XP Starter Edition was to start selling in Thailand yesterday, in Malaysia and Indonesia later this year and Russia and India next year, the newspaper said. The program, which offers fewer features than the Windows operating system, may not appeal to users buying their first PCs in developing countries because of its limited capabilities, the paper said, citing Gartner Inc analyst Dion Wiggins. PC makers including Dell Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co may not want to distribute the program because of concern it won't sell well, the paper said, citing Gartner.
NTT extends optic lines
Telecom giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT) will spend more than ?5 trillion (US$47 billion) to bring a fiber-optic network to half of Japan's fixed-line subscribers, a newspaper reported yesterday. Under the plan, NTT will upgrade the communications lines serving 30 million households and offices to fiber-optic lines by 2010, affecting half of the nation's fixed-line telephone subscribers, the report said. The major expansion in fiber-optic technology would be a big boost for the use of videophones and video transmission via the Internet and spur development of products such as broadband-compatible televisions, it added. The maximum data transmission speed on copper wires for analog fixed-line phone services is 56Kbps (kilobits per second).
■ Auto industry
Volkswagen near deal
A compromise deal was in view yesterday at the end of more than 20 hours of management-union talks aimed at breaking the deadlock in wage and job talks, according to sources close to the talks. The putative deal involves substantial concessions on pay from the main union IG Metall, with a one-off bonus on the table in place of pay rises. For its part, Volkswagen management has agreed to retain on a long term basis the 103,000 employees in its factories in western Germany, and also to carry out several investment projects, the source said. If the deal can be sealed it would avert the risk of lengthy strike action for Europe's number one auto maker. Tens of thousands of VW workers have already taken part in strike action, including 4,500 who walked out at the company's flagship plant.
Hollinger head steps down
Conrad Black stepped aside Tuesday as chairman and chief executive of Hollinger Inc., the Toronto-based holding company which has voting control over newspaper publisher Hollinger International Inc. The resignation came just as a Toronto court was scheduled to hear a shareholder demand for Black's resignation. Black has announced his intention to buy out the minority investors and take Hollinger Inc. private. The main asset of the company is its 18 percent equity interest and 68 percent voting control of Chicago-based Hollinger International, which recently sold The Daily Telegraph of London for US$1.2 billion. The company still owns the Chicago Sun-Times, The Jerusalem Post and other media assets.