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November 18, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 6:35pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Toshiba Information Systems Japan chose Comdex in Las Vegas as the launch pad for its JexeOS Java operating system for Intel-Corp x86-based personal computers. The market it is going after is the one that does not appear to exist at the moment, that of standalone PC Java applications that also have some sort of network connection to download them in the first place. The company announced its intention to do this back in February when it was known as JVOS, and it seemed slightly odd then. A ramshackle press conference at Comdex in Las Vegas did nothing to counter that view. Toshiba is looking for OEM customers to license the JexeOS and put it onto machines that already have Windows running on them. It reckons there is a market for Office-style standalone Java applications, despite the collapse of Corel Corp’s effort to produce Office for Java and the fact that it goes against the whole notion of Java as a language best used for writing small applets that are distributed over networks. There is a JexeOS desktop, Java runtime, GUI, native code generator called JexeGen that translates the Java byte codes, the kernel and a set of device drivers. The OS employs SuperCede Inc’s eponymous Java Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler and Marimba Inc’s Castanet push technology, although general manager of the division Junya Mizuno admitted there is no PC management capabilities built in yet. The idea is that users would download an application once, the native code generator would expand the byte code and the user would then use the application standalone as s/he would any regular Windows app. Toshiba is hoping PC manufacturers will partition their hard drives, load JexeOS on one side and Windows 95 on the other and let users choose which one they want to use as they boot. Eventually, the company hopes users will delete Windows 95 and its applications and run JexeOS and whatever Java applications are available – right now there is only IBM Lotus’ basic eSuite, and that’s designed to be regularly updated over the internet, not act as a standalone application. For PC companies that only want the Java desktop and keep Windows, Toshiba is offering JexeWare 1.0 desktop and SuperCede’s compiler and applet viewer. Mizuno says he is talking to one major Japanese PC manufacturer (not Toshiba’s hardware division) and an NC manufacturer, who he says will attach a hard drive to its device for the purpose, which seems difficult to believe. Even more bizarrely, Toshiba is offering a first prize of around $3,000 to the developer that comes up with the best customized Java desktop for JexeOS by the end of February, which suggests it’s not quite finished yet. JexeOS costs $65 per license on an OEM basis, with discounts for volume and is available December 1. JexeWare 1.0 for Windows 95 and NT costs $50. Both products are for the Japanese market only at the moment. The next version of JexeOS will compile Java applications downloaded by Marimba’s Castanet Tuber, as it’s not supported yet. Kawasaki City-based Toshiba Information Systems is 87.5% owned by Toshiba Corp with remainder held by Fuji Television Network Inc. All computer platforms have lived or died by the range and quality of applications available for it, and Java – standalone or otherwise – will be no exception.

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