There’s a bit of a competition going on between purveyors of Windows application server software over who’s first to deliver access to Windows applications from Java devices, but it’s all rather irrelevant when you consider that Microsoft Corp’s plan to introduce its own multiuser version of Windows NT may adversely affect the businesses of least one if not all of them (CI No 3,112). Insignia Solutions Inc says it’s now shipping a Java version of its NTrigue client software that allows any Java- supported platform or browser to run Windows applications – a necessity for any Java network computer, considering the deficit of Java applications and the heavy user demand for running Microsoft programs (CI No 3,087). The Java client is based upon a skinny version of the standard X Windows graphics protocol developed by Insignia called Keoke. It requires NTrigue server software be present to run the Windows applications. The client is actually a Java applet which is downloaded from an Intel Corp- based server enabling the Java device to access the NTrigue server and run Windows 95, 3.x and NT applications. Insignia is shipping the client as part of an NTrigue enhancement pack which is being made available to customers with NTrigue maintenance contracts. Sun Microsystems Inc is bundling the client on its JavaStations but does not supply the NTrigue server software which is based upon Citrix Systems Inc’s ICA WinFrame technology that supports concurrent remote access to applications running on Intel-based NT servers by multiple end-users. Precisely the technology Microsoft is readying for a future version of NT and the reason why Citrix’s stock has dropped through the floor. Insignia expects to make its money from the server, which sells for $7,500 for 15 concurrent users and a cut-down version for five concurrent user costs $2,000. Windows applications will be accessible on JavaStations with the click of an icon.
Meantime, Exodus Technologies Inc, of Bellevue, Washington, claims it’s been shipping a beta of the Java-enabled version of its NTerprise Windows application server software client to selected customers for sometime and that a general release will be made available in a couple of weeks’ time. NTerprise competes directly with NTrigue. Although NTerprise uses a multiuser NT technology licensed from Paris-based Groupe Prologue SA – and because Microsoft hasn’t granted Prologue a license to NT 4.0 Exodus’ 4.0 beta is still sitting on the shelf – Exodus CEO Steve Kangas sees his company’s value-add specifically in terms of the distributed display and client/server transport protocol it adds in NTerprise. Exodus, the heir to ConnectSoft Inc, one of the three original companies including Citrix and Prologue that has been working on multiuser NT for years, developed the last two technologies and blended them with Prologue’s multiuser operating system. Like rival Citrix, Exodus’ is a software solution. Prologue’s WinTimes is referred to as a hardware solution because the underlying hardware uses a black box to access WinTimes on the NT server. Citrix, for its part, is currently rewriting its WinFrame client to produce a Java version. Citrix is still only on Intel platforms and Exodus has moved into RISC. Although he admits the company is in an uncomfortable position until Microsoft makes its plan for Hydra clear, Kangas is confident Microsoft won’t ship a thin client, distributed display technology in Hydra like the one we heard it might have got from Intel (CI No, 3,112), nor a client/server transport protocol. Even if it does, Kangas believes, it will likely do something specific like an applet to support Windows CE devices and not a generic thin client mechanism. In any case we are not in the business of selling multiuser NT, Kangas says, although he admits that if Microsoft ships a Windows application server it will have a material affect on our business. His and a whole bunch of others too.