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March 9, 1988

WINDOW SYSTEM, ASK IXI OF CAMBRIDGE, UK

By CBR Staff Writer

A small UK company, IXI Ltd of Cambridge, has been set up in response to increased pressure from European companies for information about and services on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology X Window System. IXI is providing source code and manuals for those interested in X, but has plans to develop software to make it easier to use. The company also has a collaboration deal with Apollo Computer Inc to provide training and promotion of the system. Managing director Ray Anderson previously with workstation manufacturer Torch Computers Ltd, also in Cambridge – sees four current main areas of interest in X: manufacturers are starting to implement X on their servers; hardware dependent X tools, such as PC X Cite which converts an MS-DOS box into an X machine, are now starting to appear (IXI says it hopes to distribute these types of product); programmers’ software and hardware-independent tools are being developed; and application software is starting to appear. X is not yet an issue for major software vendors, says Anderson, but small vendors are moving in, and IXI itself will be working to take the rough edges away from what is still a technical product. Although it has no official standing with MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, IXI works closely with MIT spin-off ICS of Boston, and also maintains a link with MIT through Cambridge University in the UK. Anderson remained unconvinced by the Presentation Manager versus X debate raging at Uniforum last month (see above). X, and Sun’s NeWS, are client-server based systems designed to allow applications to be split up from the display, so that an application can be accessed across a network, and between different types of hardware. In contrast, Presentation Manager is a kernel based windowing system, designed as an interface for a single user system. Microsoft would love everything to look like OS/2, allowing it to compete against Apple, said Anderson. X could be made to look like the Presentation Manager by implemention the top half of it to drive X. This approach would not of course be application-compatible with Presentation Manager software. Anderson was also sceptical about reports that Microsoft had approached the X/Open Group to push Presentation Manager as a standard user interface. X/Open won’t go for anything owned by one person. And a single user interface is unlikely to be acceptable to the Group. IXI, the first software house to join X/Open’s software partners scheme, says it is developing an X-based interface that X/Open members will find acceptable.

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