Miles 33 Plc, the UEI Plc-owned supplier of electronic composition systems for the printing and publishing industry, is seeking to boost business by reducing the price of its systems, and has decided to switch to Unix-based workstations and servers. And Sun Microsystems UK, determined not to let its high-flying parent company have all the limelight, is the beneficiary of the business, landing an OEM deal worth $15m over the next three years. Miles 33, which has previously used only Data General hardware, will sell the full Sun range as Oasys file servers and workstations in conjunction with its PageView, PageFix and PageMake software: using Sun-based fileservers in place of a mini brings the cost of an entry system down to around UKP30,000, according to sales director Mark Lunt, and workstations can also be connected to the existing Data General-based System 400 processors, which the company says it will continue to sell. Increased graphics capabilities will also allow more effective page previewing of galleys or individual pages on the workstation, including the display of four pages on one screen for batch jobs, such as book pagination. Lunt claimed that software is 95% common between the Data General and Sun versions: it was developed in the BCPL language, a forerunner of C that originated at Cambridge University and is similarly portable. But managing director Nick Jones said that future product development would be centered around the Sun hardware. We have to develop and enhance the products in the right direction – and that direction is Sun, he said. The company, bought by the UKP142m-a-year UEI Group 18 months ago, is planning closer links with graphics specialists Quantel, also owned by UEI: data transfer between Miles 33 systems and the magic Quantel Paintbox graphics computer is likely to be shown at the nine-day IPEX printing exhibition in Birmingham this September. Miles 33 also offers MS-DOS-level connectivity through technology from Pagitek Systems, which it acquired last August: it hopes to increase last year’s UKP10m turnover by growing its European and US business, and has recently opened a Paris office. Existing customers include Oxford University Press, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office in London, and the US financial printers Pandick.
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