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"Dumber' Net PCs get two thumbs up

Departing from their drive toward ever-more powerful computers, Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. last week threw their might behind a new breed of "dumber" machines that cut corporate computing costs.

Intel, the biggest maker of microprocessor chips, and Microsoft, the No.

1 PC softwaremaker, said they developed a set of common technical standards to help manufacturers build the so-called "Net PCs."

The computers, expected to go on sale this summer, are cheaper for businesses to maintain than personal computers because they would download software via the Internet _ instead of requiring each PC's hard-drive to be periodically updated with new software. The computers are pitched as saving thousands of dollars annually for each desktop. Other savings would result from the ability to remotely make repairs and troubleshoot problems.

Monitor squabble may get customers a $13 rebate

More than 30 computermakers agreed to give computer buyers a $13 rebate on their next purchase of a computer monitor, under a proposed settlement of false-advertising class-action suits against the companies.

The suits claimed that the manufacturers advertised that their computer monitors were larger than the actual viewing area size. Almost every PC maker is a defendant, including IBM, Dell Computer Corp., Digital Equipment Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp. and Apple Computer Inc.

Under terms of the settlement, people who bought computer systems and monitors between May 1, 1991, and May 1, 1995, will receive a coupon good for $13 off the purchase of a new monitor from any of the settling companies. The coupons will be good for three years, after which they can be cashed in for $6.

Number of women using

the Net is growing fast

Nearly one out of every four adults in the United States and Canada is online, and more than 21-million women surf the once-male dominated Net, according to a survey by CommerceNet/Nielsen Media Research.

The survey indicated that 50.6-million people are Internet users, more than twice the number from a survey 18 months ago.

Women, who only five years ago made up a tiny 10 percent of the online world, now are nearing parity with men. This year's survey, taken in December and January, reported that 42 percent of online users are women, up from 34 percent 18 months ago. Figures on minority users were not disclosed.

In addition, the number of people who search the Web for information about products has doubled to 39 percent from 19 percent in the previous survey.

But just 15 percent of the users surveyed said they actually bought anything online.

Intel tries to mend bridges in microprocessor flap

SANTA CLARA, Calif. _ Intel Corp. acknowledged last week that company employees improperly suggested to two German computer magazines that Intel might withdraw advertising after the publications printed negative stories about a soon-to-be released Intel microprocessor.

But the company denies it has made any threats against Tom Pabst, the editor of a popular World Wide Web site called "Tom's Hardware Guide," who also published test results.

A controversy over Intel's reaction to the testing flared up on the Internet, where angry computer users accused Intel of a heavy-handed response to legitimate criticism.

Last week, Intel moved to douse the fire. It acknowledged a mistake in its dealing with the magazines and made peace with Pabst _ but said it was unhappy that the publications had tested pre-release versions of the chips, because such tests might be misleading.

_ Compiled from Times wires by staff writer Dave Gussow

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