Lotus' eSuite, unveiled last week, has been hailed by analysts as the first potential killer application for the network computer and Java. "This is the first step to making the Java NC a viable platform for the enterprise," declared Neil Ward-Dutton, senior analyst at Ovum. "eSuite is the biggest test of the NC paradigm," added Robin Bloor, CEO of Bloor Research. "The NC has been waiting for a credible office suite. Eat your heart out, Bill." Formally known as Kona, the technology was first spoken about publicly at the Lotusphere conference in January. Designed specifically for the NC, the suite is a collection of Java applets offering the basic functionality of an office suite, but in a smaller space. "The applications are small, only 500Kb each, and they link together seamlessly," explained Pam Mills, UK desktop product manager at Lotus. She added that corporate developers will be able to build custom solutions based on the applications. eSuite comes in two parts: the eSuite WorkPlace and the DevPack. The WorkPlace comprises cut-down versions of standard office productivity applications such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation package, project manager and a charting component, all written in 100% Pure Java. The DevPack provides development tools for extending and customising the WorkPlace. The applications share data through a common interface developed by Lotus called the InfoBus, which acts as a universal translator of data formats. Through InfoBus, information in a spreadsheet can be read by the charting application or the word processor. DevPack provides data access JavaBeans components which strap on to the InfoBus in order to give eSuite applications access to relational databases. "This is the first real symbol of what Java can do," said Ted Schadler, analyst at Forrester Research. Lotus eSuite WorkPlace is set to be available in the first quarter of 1998 at $49 (#29). DevPack, to ship at the same time, will cost $1,495 per single processor server.
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