The reason IBM Corp decided to license its Network Station Manager network computer (NC) server software was simple; the other vendors were simply not far enough ahead, according to the NC division’s VP marketing, David McAughtry. He explained the way forward for the group of companies supporting the Network Computer Profile (NCP) set of standards – the first version of which is nearing the end of its journey through the Open Group. The goal of the profile eventually is for servers to control PC devices or anything else that is network-enabled. Version 1.0 of NCP defined a basic set of Internet and networking standards and protocols that an NC needs to be booted from a server. The next version will deal with managing the devices, user authorization and mobile NCs. The intention is to eventually move toward a Java-based server platform, says McAughtry. The mobile device part of the spec will turn into a spec about how to use cache, which can then be adapted for any type of mobile devices, says McAughtry. He said that the reason for the interoperability push is not customer demand – they’re not asking to boot Sun JavaStations from IBM servers, he says – it’s more of an industry-driven movement to try and avoid the NC industry turning out like the PC industry, with a different set of management APIs for each vendor. The next meeting of the NCP group, whose core comprises IBM, Oracle Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc and Netscape Communications Corp is set for Cupertino on January 14-15. IBM ships its Series 1000 series NC, which is manufactured by Network Computing Devices Inc, on December 1. It will be the first NC to include Lotus Development Corp’s eSuite set of Java productivity applications, which will eventually turn into the WebTop set of applications with contribution from Sun and Netscape, due in the second half of next year. IBM does not split out the number of NC seats, but it is thought to be around 100,000. The Series 1000, the one fast enough to run serious Java applications, costs $1,000 minus a monitor.
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