Terminology in this industry can be confusing at the best of times, but even more so when two companies use the same word to mean two different, albeit although related technologies. Lotus Development Corp is readying a bunch of applets called Kona, written entirely in Java for use on thin client network computers. They’ll go head-to-head with other office application suites such as Corel Corp’s Office for Java. The more observant among you may recall that Kona was the name Sun Microsystems Inc ascribed to the pre-production version of what is now called JavaOS, its Java operating system for use on JavaStations and other network computers. Applets planned for Kona include a word processor, spreadsheet, charting and project scheduling. In addition Lotus Mail Java Edition which has already previously been announced and is due to ship this summer, will count as a Kona component. The division had some clever types demonstrating the applets and how they fit into the desktop in front of an appreciative crowd at Lotusphere in Orlando, Florida, yesterday morning. One demo that got them whooping was a customer order in which the currency was changed from pesos to dollars, with the current exchange rates plucked from the net via a URL that was accessed in the background. Applets will talk to each other as well to the server by what Lotus calls its Infobus, which is a set of Java interfaces implemented as extensions to any Java component. Lotus has been working very closely with Sun and its JavaSoft division on this technology, and Sun CTO Eric Schmidt was on hand to voice his approval over a video link. Lotus was also showing off what it’s calling Kona Desktop; its vision of an interface for thin clients featuring various types of application icons down the left side, a URL bar at the top and whatever applet is running in the center. Lotus said it would also feature a ticker for news and corporate information fed by one of the new breed of so-called push technologies – it has deals with PointCast, BackWeb and Diffusion – as well as a page displaying users logged on to the network at any given time. Lotus also claimed it would work with other web servers besides Domino, mentioning Microsoft IIS; If you can run Java, you can run Kona, the company said. The demos were shown running on an IBM Thinkpad running Window 95; using an IBM NetStation network computer proved rather more troublesome. The Kona Desktop interface will ship with the NetStation and some unidentified third party NCs. Lotus president Jeff Papows said pricing and channel strategy has not been finalized but expects single digit price points and OEM deals to be the order of the day. What Lotus fellow Barry Briggs called early trial code of the applets and desktop will be up on the company’s web site from March 1 Briggs says Voicetype voice recognition software will be integrate with Kona in future, plus server-side spellcheckers, and other distributed Infobus technologies.