Icom Informative SA, the French PC to mainframe communications company, which floated on the Paris second market in June 1996, has come up with a new version of its emulation package which uses standard browsers as a front-end for its legacy emulation package. Icom, founded as long ago as 1981 by Thierry Fondronnier and Bruno Cabanis, started off with customized communications products, selling to customers such as France Telecom, from which it still derives a large part of its revenues. It later began competing in the mainframe, Unix and PC emulation market with the likes of Attachmate Corp and Wall Data Inc. Now it claims to have gone one stage further than its competitors with Winsurf Mainframe Access, which uses intranet-based technologies to integrate existing mainframe applications into intranet set-ups, with access from a desktop PC through either the Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator browsers. It supports IBM 3270 and 5250, DEC VT100, Bull mainframes, and Unix systems at the back end, and uses Microsoft Corp’s ActiveX technology for installation and configuration features, where Explorer is used as the browser. Emulations are implemented as ActiveX DocObjects. Plug-in modules do the same task for Netscape Navigator users, 16-bit or 32-bit, and the product also supports 16-bit Windows 3.11. Communications are via TCP/IP or various gateways. Icom says its technology enables users to have just one system on their desktop integrating e-mail, the web and legacy applications, and estimates that the cost is four times cheaper than its competitors. It costs around $110 per concurrent user.
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