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September 16, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

The Unix graphical user interface wars are far from over, it would seem. Sun Microsystems is making an end run around Motif, aiming to conquer Japan and other Far East markets for Open Look before Motif even gets to the playing field. Next month, it is bringing out a Kanji version of OpenWindows 2.0, the new three-dimensional rendition of its applications development environment which includes Open Look, the X11/News windowing systems, DeskSet productivity tool and the XIM-compliant XView toolkit. Also in the works is a Japanese version of the OpenWindows developers’ guide. The kit has already been endorsed by 58 software and hardware vendors including the solidly Sun-aligned Toshiba, Fujitsu, and Fuji Xerox. The localisation, which can easily be retrofitted for the Chinese and Korean markets, will make it relatively simple to convert Sun’s existing and extensive English-language software base into Japanese, Sun executives said. It will also decrease the amount of time usually required to get US and UK software into the Japanese market since only the test files – not source – would need to be translated. The move could reinforce Sun’s already strong position in Japan at the expense of the Open Software Foundation’s rival Motif. The Foundation has made little headway in Japan where Unix System V.4 remains the operating system of choice almost exclusively and Motif still lacks full internationalisation. Sun’s line, meanwhile, has been rated the best-selling workstation in Japan, selling between 18,000 and 25,000 systems in calendar 1989 for approximately 28% of the market. Sun intends to drive this position with its new Sparcstation IPC, whose small footprint was designed in part for the Japanese market where space – even in the office and on the desktop – is at a premium. To ensure they win hearts and minds, Sun will give the Japanese XView away free, as it does the English version through Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s X Consortium beginning in the first quarter. The Japanese version of OpenWindows will cost $300.

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