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April 5, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Where Microsoft Corp as a public company is ever in the spotlight, its erstwhile arch-rival in the micro operating system stakes, Digital Research Inc is still a privately-held company and seldom attracts much attention. So a wide-ranging interview with the Monterey, California company’s marketing vice-president Frank Iveson, conducted for the Newsbytes weekly newswire by Peter Vekinis is of unusual interest. Iveson opens by saying that Digital Research today is doing great! In 1984 everyone thought that the company would not last but we have managed to turn this around and we are profitable for 1987. For the last fiscal year, which ended in August 1987, we grossed about $35m and we were profitable for the first time in a few years. What’s more we are growing and also paying back a loan we got during the difficult years we’ve had. Vekinis highlights the irony that Digital Research is much better known here in Europe than it is back home in the US: Iveson, noting that Europe accounts for 50% of turnover, comments There are also differences in the markets. In the US the life of a system is about 12 to 18 months while in Europe the life can be up to five years before any upgrade is done. Europe expects a lot more functionality than the US. Thus DRI, because it offers products with a lot more functionality, has an advantage in Europe. Iveson also reveals that Digital Research is now out of languages, which were a large part of its business in its early years, leaving development of the GEM Graphics Environment Manager in California, while Concurrent DOS development is done here in the UK: compilers now come from third parties such as Metaware. Digital Research’s operating syste for the protected mode on the more powerful members of the Intel chip family is Flexos, developed for control applications and used by manufacturers and in the process control industry – and is includes GEM, because the company believes that graphics is part of every control application. In the (real-time) operating system business we are not as important as Ready Systems or Intel but we have been making some headway, especially with Flexos, says Iveson. We feel that our future is with the manufacturing environment because this is where we have strengths. We are also planning to offer GEM under the Presentation Manager of OS/2. In this way, we will be able to offer users GEM-like capabilities on top of Presentation Manager, – with the drivers then the responsibility of IBM and Microsoft, we will be able to offer our product quicker without the worries of the drivers.

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