A small start-up from Dallas, Texas has announced software which it says will allow users of Windows, Mac, Unix or any NC-type device to see the same desktop environment and the same applications, whatever system they log on to.
The product, called NetDesk, not only offers users the same Java-based GUI from any machine, but it also saves the user's "state". This allows users to close down their connection with applications open, and later continue working in the same applications without losing data - even on a machine with a different operating system.
Plenium president Allan Allard said: "We've designed it to be so flexible that it can be used on anything: a PC, an NC as well as anything down to a set-top box".
NetDesk consists of a desktop environment and a server, both written in Java. On the client side, NetDesk replaces the user interface of the client machine's operating system by its own desktop environment, developed in JDK 1.1 using the Java Foundation Classes.
The desktop environment can be configured to look like a Windows 95 interface or like a Unix CDE interface, or can be suited with a custom-designed interface. The interface can run full screen or in a browser window.
From the NetDesk desktop, PC users can launch Java applications, as well as the Windows applications that are installed on their system. However, the NetDesk server only maintains the state of Java applications.
The NetDesk server software will run on a standard desktop PC, or on any server that supports Java. It provides an object oriented file system. According to Plenium, the server software might run on a company's intranet server, or on an ISP's Web server.
Adam Allard said the software will work with Java application suites such as eSuite from Lotus. "We'd like to get into a position where we can concentrate on the desktop, while others such as Lotus concentrate on the applications". Allard said he is negotiating both with developers of Java applications and with PC and NC hardware vendors about bundling deals for his new software.
NetDesk comes with a set of tools similar to those included with the Windows operating system, such as a calculator and a notepad. It also includes the Java Runtime Environment from JavaSoft.
NetDesk will be available for free download from Plenium's Web site (http://www.plenium.com) beginning February 15. Definitive pricing for the product has not been decided. The desktop client will probably remain a free download.
NetDesk was founded in 1997 to develop and market NetDesk. It is currently being funded by its founders. The company is still looking for local partners to market its products in Europe.
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