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October 30, 1995

TALIGENT SAYS IT CAN SURVIVE ANOTHER YEAR ON ITS COMMONPOINT ENVIRONMENT WITHOUT FURTHER SUPPORT

By CBR Staff Writer

Taligent Inc, busy fending off press speculation that its investors are going to pull the rug from under it, has got to dig its way out of a hole. It is currently failing to convince anyone that it is anything more than the IBM Corp object shop and it has lost its chief executive, Joe Guglielmi, to Motorola Inc (CI No 2,746). The company said it has got sufficient funding to see it through 1996 and acting chief executive Dick Guarino is working on a business model for the IBM-Apple Computer Inc-Hewlett-Packard Co object venture which will be deployed in the first quarter of 1996. That plan will specifically address a product revenue stream. The company said it will focus its efforts squarely on delivering its own CommonPoint application environment implementations for volume operating systems, in its mind Windows NT (and Windows95), beta versions of which are due by the end of the year. Although Taligent is not by any means certain in what form Microsoft Corp’s own object-oriented Cairo environment will see the light of day (it is currently expected in early 1997 but then Windows95 was originally promised for the end of 1993), it claims Cairo will provide a robust distributed file system on which Taligent can ride. The second prong of the plan envisages a re-packaged, cut-down, small footprint version of the 103-framework CommonPoint, designed for companies that haven’t swallowed object orientation yet. It is a kind of Taligent early learning centre and we wonder whether it would have been sensible to do this from the outset. Although well-received in technical circles, it is said that the environment requires additional tools and database access, and that its present complexity will likely frustrate anyone not skilled in object development. Taligent has also changed its application strategy. Its original plan was depended on a widely-deployed object environment attracting swarms of independent software vendors. Right now only IBM Corp is selling CommonPoint, for which there are some 50 applications available. Taligent said it is re-focusing on other kinds of distribution methods and looking for vertical market value-added resellers and systems integrators to carry the product. There will be a second release of CommonPoint next year incorporating the first iteration of its People Places & Things front-end metaphor. A CommonPoint Professional development environment is due in the first quarter. Taligent doesn’t support the Hewlett-Packard-derived ISO/ANSI Standard Template Library format for storing C++ objects right now but will move to it in time. Meantime, a vice-president at IBM to whom our sister paper Unigram.X spoke last week, said the root of Taligent’s problem lies with original concepts and badly formulated marketing and positioning strategies; a planned TalOS microkernel finally fell off the map earlier this year as the company retrenched around its CommonPoint application environment. Indeed, the same vice-president suggested that CommonPoint should have been developed and marketed using its basic strength as a shared whiteboard environment.

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