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November 16, 1995

ON SOUNDER FOOTING, OPEN SOFTWARE FOUNDATION TURNS ITS ATTENTION TO WORLD WIDE WEB TECHNOLOGIES

By CBR Staff Writer

The Open Software Foundation held its seventh annual Symposium in Tokyo last month, with speakers from the Software Foundation, and Foundation members and friends in the Japanese computing community. As well as an update on technology development, over 300 participants heard a lot about the Distributed Computing Environment and its role in developing applications. The Software Foundation now has a total of 26 members in Japan, out of the 81 Pacific Rim members. These include the four sponsor members, NEC Corp, Hitachi Ltd, Sony Corp and Fujitsu Ltd, other manufacturers such as Oki Electric Industry Co Ltd, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, and Toshiba Corp, Japanese software houses such as Just Systems Ltd, universities such as Keio University and Japanese subsidiaries of US corporations such as Microsoft Corp Japan. The new president of the Open Software Foundation, Dr Jim Bell, on loan from Hewlett-Packard Co for the next six months, said that his priorities during his tenure were to increase the speed of processes within the Foundation, for example to get one or two more Pre-Structured Technology projects approved; to improve inbound and marketing communications functions so that the Software Foundation could respond better to user needs; and to increase co-operation with other organisations such as X/Open Co Ltd. This last was evidensed by the presentation given by Mr Fujii, head of X/Open in Japan, and Jim Bell’s meeting with Geoff Morris of X/Open planned for the following week, and might include initiatives such as a common format for documents. The Foundation’s financial position is very secure, he said: now that it has moved away from the over-dependence on membership dues, one quarter of its revenue now comes from royalties and their is also revenue from seminars.

Java and Hot Java

Dr Lance Travis, Director of Web Technologies at the Software Foundation, discussd current research projects. The ATO Advanced Technology Offering projects fall into three areas: the integration of Web Advanced Technology Offering protocol with DCE-Remote Procedure Call, using Distributed Computing Environment security and naming – this would enable a travelling engineer to save and access secure information while having Web access; the implementation of Sun Microsystems Inc’s Java and Hot Java for HP-UX, Digital Unix, AT&T Unix and NetWare – this, according to Travis, operates as a cost-effective way for these companies to evaluate Sun technology in terms of performance, security and adequacy of technology as mobile code; the third Advanced Technology Offering project is concerned with the microkernel, work to ensure that microkernel specifications support a common application programming interface, enabling permitting servers to run across multiple microkernels. Other projects not at the Advanced Technology Offering stage but on-going in the Research Institute, include several relating to the World Wide Web, such as a project for research into browsing associates, service programs that might for example monitor a set of Web pages, or a distributed browser for mobile workers which might work so that part of a presentation and could be run on a Personal Digital Assistant or laptop, with the other network part still on the network. Another research project has the goal of creating a distributed fault-tolerant operating system. Exhibiting at the seminar was CP Labs, a company formed by several engineers who left Unix System Laboratories Pacific prior to its integration into Novell Japan, including Tom Lister and Greg Clark, and focusing on developing and enhancing technology initially developed at the the Open Software Foundation Research Institute. They were flushed with their recent success at a major sale of OSF/1-on-iAPX-86 licences to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of Hong Kong’s largest computer users. Their product, which enables owners to control access to World Wide Web pages, was on display, and the company is now working on an OSF/1-based product designed to provide secure Internet access, which is planned to be released by the first quarter of next year. – Anita Byrnes

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