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  1. Technology
July 24, 1991


By CBR Staff Writer

The Apache Group, that renegade bunch of MIPS Computer Systems Inc licensees that refuse to move docilely onto the Advanced Computing Environment reservation, is about to go on the warpath (CI No 1,720). In a move anticipated even before the ACE consortium went public with its initiative (CI No 1,647), the Apaches are organising themselves into a formal counter-ACE consortium. The entity will be styled MIPS/Open. Announcement of its existence could come in a month. Its founding members include AT&T Computer Systems, NEC Corp, Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA, Prime Computer Inc, Pyramid Technology Corp, Sony Corp, Siemens-Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG, Tandem Computers Inc, Unix International Inc and Unix System Laboratories Inc, some of the brightest lights and most substantial companies connected with ACE. The MIPS/Open charter will reflect their collective support for Unix System V.4 on the MIPS Computer Systems Inc RISC chip family. The group’s choice of a name is apparently more than a simple tribute to the similarly styled, albeit competing 88open, generally regarded as best of breed among these kinds of organisations. Like 88open, the main premise underlying MIPS/Open will be the idea that any software written for the MIPS/Open environment will run on any member’s hardware without modification. That possibility, realisable through a single operating environment composed of a Unix System V.4 application binary interface, and a MIPS processor application binary interface, will present independent software vendors, and the manufacturers themselves with a quicker shrink-wrapped software ramp than ACE’s timetable allows. MIPS/Open intends to make recruitment of software independents a priority since the number of applications following any hardware environment is the current sign of success. In that respect MIPS/Open will obviously lock horns in the marketplace with ACE, which itself is currently out trying to win software houses over to Open Desktop and Microsoft Corp’s New Technology operating system. MIPS/Open, which will have a full-time staff and sites in the US, Europe and the Pacific Rim, will negotiate with independent software vendors to convert products to its reference machines, certify hardware and software and recruit additional MIPS/Open members. Standard software vendor deals will cover all members. Strategic deals will be cut between the member and the particular independent. The formalisation of the Apache Group as MIPS/Open is an embarrassment for ACE. By underscoring the membership’s lack of commitment to the Initiative it also emphasises the isolation of its leaders, Digital Equipment Corp and Compaq Computer Corp.

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