LookBack '98: Top stories of 1998 Part II

Java coup for SunThe open standards camp celebrated a victory following Sun Microsystems' triumph in its Java dispute with Microsoft.

Sun sued Microsoft last year accusing it of illegally tampering with Java. In a stinging defeat for Microsoft, federal Judge Ronald Whyte slammed a injunction on the software giant. Java enthusiasts, including IBM, and industry analysts claimed the victory was crucial in the fight to stop Microsoft hijacking the Java language.

Microsoft played down the affair, insisting that modifications were a breeze and that few people would be affected by the ruling anyway. When quizzed about a possible plan, Microsoft did not rule out two extreme solutions: Cancelling all support for Java in its products or replacing the Java virtual machine it licensed from Sun with a clean room version created by Microsoft, according to Paul Maritz, group vice president and general manager of the applications and tools group.

Music industry drags Diamond Multimedia to court

A court case that saw the music industry attacking tiny peripherals manufacturer Diamond Multimedia was the first solid indication of panic amongst music pros. about the potential of the Net as an alternative distribution vehicle.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) alleged Diamond's portable Rio player infringed the Audio Home Recording Act and encouraged downloading of illegal MP3 music files.

The RIAA won the initial skirmish to prevent Diamond from bringing the Rio to market when California District Court Judge Audrey Collins granted the RIAA a temporary restraining order on the threatening little device. Ten days later Diamond got the thumbs up from Judge Collins to restart its production lines and ship the Rio.

The Rio arrived in the UK in December and is available in retail outlets for around £180.

The RIAA called an emergency meeting early in December with the American music industry and agreed a secure format for how music should be dealt with on the Net.

Government gets tough on Y2K

As part of the ongoing millennium bug saga, Action 2000 managing director Gwynneth Flower exclusively revealed to ZD Net News in October that there could be public naming and shaming of companies failing to do enough to combat the bug.

Action 2000 was frustrated by the attitude of companies critical to the economy -- including the utilities and their lack of accountability on the bug issue. Key utilities were due to make their bug programme details available in the autumn but the date has since been put back to January 1999. The threat of public naming and shaming was seen as a last resort for companies lagging behind and Flower was hopeful it would not be necessary.

Action 2000 chairman Don Cruickshank was more reticent about the name and shame campaign and less than a month after Flower's original statement claimed it would not be necessary and suggested the January release of information on the utility companies would prove preparations were well under way.

BT Click!

Of all our exclusive stories, the Click! debate ranks as the most memorable because of the manner in which our largest telco, BT, managed to wriggle its way out of an underhand exercise in monopoly abuse. To this day, BT will insist that the incident that lead to ZDNet UK News turning to Oftel to investigate its practices was an isolated one. It wasn't.

Click! went live but was subsequently blown away by Dixons' Freeserve offering which now claims to be the fastest growing ISP in the UK.

Note from the editor:

We work hard on ZDNet UK News to bring you the stories that matter in this industry. Part of our plans for 1998 include getting the reader more involved in how we report those stories.

I'd love to hear your comments and any opinions you have regarding either a news piece or an opinion expressed on the site and I look forward to hearing from you in the New Year.

From us all at ZDNet UK News, have a very merry Christmas, watch the waistlines and we'll see you all in 1999.

Richard Barry, Editor ZDNet UK News

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