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Technology / AI and automation


Hewlett-Packard Co is very excited about a new applications environment for its Vectra and other MS-DOS micros that is derived from Microsoft’s MS-Windows 2.0 and is designed for use on multiple micros linked on a local area network, and through gateways to other machines. The NewWave applications environment is designed to enable users to work across applications and to access data and files seamlessly from multiple sources, without having to know where the information is stored. The NewWave application environment incorporates two technologies that Hewlett-Packard describes as breakthroughs: the Hewlett-Packard object-management capability, which supports the manipulation of data from different sources, and agents, Hewlett’s first practical business application of artificial intelligence principles. An object-management capability enables users to move smoothly across software applications and create documents made up of different types of data – spreadsheet, database, text, graphics, speech and scanned images. Objects as small as a spreadsheet cell or a slice of a pie chart can be combined to create larger documents, such as a monthly sales report. Blank sheet of paper Under the NewWave environment, the screen, says Hewlett, is like a blank sheet of paper. With a mouse, the user pulls objects from a menu and arranges them on the page. There is no need to remember separate file names or complex commands for merging objects. The object-management capability also allows related files from different software applications to be updated automatically, so that in a compound document that includes data from a spreadsheet, changes to the spreadsheet are automatically made to the document as well as to all other files in which the data resides. An agents facility enables routine activities to be performed automatically: like little report generators, agents can automatically gather information and create a sales report each month, even if the relevant data resides on a corporate mainframe or departmental computer. Built on Microsoft Windows 2.0, the graphic interface is designed for ease of use – it is the user’s window into the distributed-computer environments common in business today, Hewlett says. The HP NewWave environment will be released in two phases. Phase One, set for delivery in February, is the HP NewWave Developer Kit, which makes it possible for value-added resellers, independent software vendors and Hewlett-Packard’s major customers to write applications for the environment, which will also support all the user’s existing base of MS-DOS applications. The developer kit will be $895 (it’s also announced in the UK, but no price was given) and includes the environment software, development tools and documentation. Phase Two is set for the second half of 1988, and will consist of the end-user version of the product, and will include the first applications from Hewlett-Packard and third parties designed for the NewWave environment. No price was given for this version.

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CBR Staff Writer

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