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October 25, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Insignia Solutions Ltd officially unveiled the promised 2.0 release of its SoftWindows system last month (CI No 2,723). The High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire-based company’s Windows-under-Unix technology now emulates the Intel Corp 80486 instruction set on a range of RISC-based Unixes, enabling users to run Windows and MS-DOS applications, including enhanced mode Windows applications. Insignia, one of the small handful of the Redmonder’s source code licensees, has priced SoftWindows 2.0 at from $550 on Hewlett-Packard Co, IBM Corp, Digital Equipment Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc, Motorola Inc and Silicon Graphics Inc RISC systems. It is also available for NeXTstep-on-iAPX-86 and Macintosh. SoftWindows reads the 80486 instructions and translates them into host RISC instructions. It also identifies frequently-executed iAPX-86 code and compiles it to native RISC code segments which are cached and run whenever the iAPX-86 segments are executed. According to Insignia president and chief executive, Robert Lee, there are no additional instructions required to emulate Pentium or P6 environments and the company, therefore, will not develop specific implementations of SoftWindows to support them. Lee agreed that intellectually, emulation isn’t a very elegant solution, but as native RISC versions of Windows aren’t available (not yet anyway) then it is the best solution on offer. In future Insignia will use whatever processor real estate, or other techniques, the RISC companies make available in their chip technologies to support iAPX-86 instructions and reduce SoftWindows’ emulation requirement. Lee said every RISC vendor that has come to it has plans to add such support in one way or another. Other incremental performance enhancements will be achieved by tweaking algorithms. Meantime, the company had introduced the NTrigue Windows-on-X technology, co-developed with Network Computing Devices Inc, which uses an NT server, with the multi-user NT extensions provided by Citrix Systems Inc, and native X Window, to deliver Windows and NT applications on any X-based clients, Unix, Mac or otherwise. The Tektronix Inc WinDD rival will ship by the end of the year.

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