Briefs: July 24, 2006


In addition, the solution provider reported a 6.4 percent increase in revenue to $837.1 million for the second quarter ended June 30 and a 104 percent increase in net income to $25.9 million, or 39 cents per share.

Software Spectrum specializes in software and mobility solutions for medium and large-size companies. The acquisition is expected to close by September, according to Rich Fennessy, CEO of Insight.

The acquisition significantly increases the size of Insight, which reported $3.2 billion in sales last year. Software Spectrum, founded in 1983, employs about 1,300 people in 24 countries. It reported about $1.9 billion in revenue in 2005, but the figure would be $1.4 billion under Insight's reporting structure, which counts maintenance contracts differently than Software Spectrum, according to Fennessy.

Microsoft last week made available an updated Vista Beta 2 build and formally announced a list of 12 new principles that will guide the future development of and make Vista and Windows more open.

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The Vista Beta 2 Build 5472, released July 17, addresses performance issues and application and device driver incompatibilities that plagued beta testers in the first Vista Beta 2 code, which was widely released in early June.

As it heads toward another big Windows milestone—the Vista Release Candidate 1, due later this quarter—Microsoft also unveiled a new list of principles to guide the development of Windows and promote competition.

At a speech in Washington, D.C., last week, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said Microsoft will voluntarily ease licensing restrictions on OEMs and PC manufacturers, open up more APIs and enable better interoperability with rival programs.

The announcement came roughly a week after the European Commission fined Microsoft $357 million—and threatened more fines—for reportedly not complying with its March 2004 antitrust settlement.

Microsoft claims it will appeal the fine and those charges. The software giant maintains it voluntarily opted to institute the 12 new principles, which it says exceed the requirements of the company's antitrust settlement with the U.S. government. Microsoft said the new principles will remain in effect after the November 2007 expiration date of that settlement.

The new rules are designed to help OEMs, developers and end users use non-Microsoft software on Windows. Under the new set of rules, PC makers can set non-Microsoft programs such as FireFox and RealPlayer to operate by default and remove the means by which end users access Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

Solution provider En Pointe Technologies is shopping itself to potential buyers, according to sources close to the company.

Bob Din, president and CEO of En Pointe, didn't return calls for comment. Interested suitors in the $328-million solution provider may include CDW and Zones, sources said. A CDW spokesperson said the company wouldn't comment on the matter. Zones didn't respond to phone messages.

Industry observers said En Pointe, which was named Symantec's partner of the year earlier this month, would be a good fit for CDW.

"CDW needs to run more volume through its new Las Vegas distribution center in order to lower its SG&A and fuel further growth," said one channel source.

Another channel source noted that En Pointe also would add much-needed service capabilities to CDW's portfolio.

In a conference call with analysts earlier this week, CDW Chairman and CEO John Edwardson said acquisition targets are asking for too much money. "Everybody believes we can run their business better than they can, and they want most of that value to go to their shareholders," Edwardson said. "Given where we are and where we want to be, we will spend a lot of time looking [at acquisitions]. Sooner or later, we'll find the right combination."

Edwardson said CDW needs another $1.5 billion in revenue from its new Las Vegas distribution center to reach peak productivity from the facility.

Panasonic Computer Solutions has authorized Tech Data and Synnex to sell its Toughbook PCs to solution providers serving federal government customers.

Previously, solution providers had to buy the Toughbook portable computers through GTSI, a government VAR. Panasonic added two distributors to give solution providers more buying options and to help partners streamline their buying decisions, said Michelle Chapin, director of the government channel at Panasonic Computer Solutions.

"GTSI has been a proven distributor for years. Some of our partners sell to federal, state and local government as well as commercial. They have set up accounts with Synnex [or Tech Data] and are already doing millions [of dollars in business] with us there, but they had to switch to GTSI [for Toughbooks]," Chapin said.

The addition of the two distributors should give smaller 8A companies more avenues for procuring product, according to Chapin. The government sector represents the largest market for Toughbooks, she added.

Tech Data plans to ramp up resources in its TechEDG program for government and education resellers around Toughbooks. TechEDG includes letters of supply for more than 45 manufacturers, technical services, special promotions and extended hours during peak buying periods.

Meanwhile, Synnex plans to add resources to push Toughbooks out to the federal marketplace, said Eddie Franklin, associate vice president of government and enterprise sales at Synnex.

LANDesk Software has stepped into the help desk arena with the introduction of LANDesk Service Desk. The addition of a service desk offering is significant because some of LANDesk's rivals in the increasingly competitive midmarket network systems management game already offer service desk solutions, said Kevin Auger, director of service management solutions at LANDesk.

For example, LANDesk rival BMC Software added its IT Service Support Express offering when it acquired the Magic product line from McAfee in 2003, and FrontRange Solutions is also a LANDesk rival in this space, Auger said.

LANDesk licensed tools from Touchpaper, a provider of IT business management solutions, in order to create LANDesk Service Center, the vendor said.

Service Center is in effect LANDesk's ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) play, meant as a way to streamline and execute problem management and service delivery, Auger said.