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April 10, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

A newly developed graphical user interface running over X Window is tipped as one of the components of Steve Jobs’ forthcoming Next Inc workstation. IXI Ltd of Cambridge in the UK has been developing the interface, named X-Desktop, over the last few months, and plans to release it within the next two months. X Desktop is a suite of application software that gives users the ability to manipulate commands and files via icons and mouse within an X.11 environment, in colour or monochrome. Users will be able to set up sequences of commands or any operation by clicking a mouse button onto fully configurable icons, and view accessible files via a clearly understandable visual display, including MS-DOS and VAX systems connected to the network via Network File System. IXI is headed by Ray Anderson, who previously worked on the development of the proprietary OpenTop graphics interface for Torch Computers (also of Cambridge), a product in which Steve Jobs was said to have been interested in back in 1986. Anderson would not confirm the connection with Next Inc, but said that IXI is currently talking to two or three major US prospects, all interested in taking the source code. X Desktop is to be targeted at OEMs, and Anderson says he is pursuing X/Open – the product supports the X/Open interface and Native Language Support. Latest reports suggest that some 10 prototypes of the scholar’s workstation from Next have been shipped to developers, with more on the way (CI No 898). As reported, the workstations, assembled by hand at the firm’s Fremont, California plant, are 68030-based, run Unix and Adobe Systems’ Display PostScript for screen graphics, as well as a digital audio chip for sound capabilities. A May launch is likely.

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