The Open Group will announce next Tuesday that it has assumed responsibility for turning the Network Computer Reference Profile (NCPR) into a standard.
The standards body is also in discussions with the five companies at the heart of the network computing alliance - Sun, Oracle, IBM, Netscape and Apple - about introducing a testing and branding scheme for NCs at a later stage.
Allen Brown, the Open Group?s chief operating officer, said: ?The NCRP standard will be at a relatively low bar to encourage broad industry adoption and ensure that a lot of manufacturers and ISVs can get into the market. But, it will be of great benefit to customers, who?ll at least know what they?re getting.?
The Open Group plans to put the specification through its Fast Track process in the next couple of weeks and hopes ratification will take as little as 8-12 weeks.
But it seems that, unlike past efforts, this standards process will be a remarkably quick one because the alliance vendors still have much to play for, particularly in their continuing attempts to knock Microsoft off its dominant perch on the desktop - although Microsoft would, of course, also be entitled to make its NetPC conform to the specification.
The five allies submitted NCRP, which they wrote last summer, to various standards bodies, including the Internet Engineering Taskforce and the Open Group, only six months ago.
However, the general consensus seems to be that the quicker standards emerge, the quicker ISVs and third party application developers can start writing a broad range of interoperable packages to kickstart the market.
The NCRP itself is a description of the abstract architecture of an NC, rather than guidelines on how to put one together. It outlines, among other things, minimal hardware requirements, which networking protocols or services should be supported, and which rendition services - such as HTML parsers or decoders for Jpeg format images - are required.
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