The four major backers of the Network Computer are joining to define a standard Java desktop environment, or Webtop for short.
IBM-Lotus, Oracle and Sun said yesterday they are working together on a ?Webtop Specification?, though they have not yet announced when the specification will be released. A road map for the technology is expected within a month.
The spec will offer software developers a common set of services and APIs, which would speed up the development of Java applications by allowing developers to use the common services rather than have to develop the same functionality themselves.
The specification, and a reference implementation, will be licensed to hardware and software manufacturers.
Says IDC analyst Carsten Hejndorf: ?There definitely is a need for a consistent ?webtop?, where you have the same applications and the same environment, whether you are at the office or elsewhere?.
However, Hejndorf warns that thin client software must be able to integrate with more traditional pc desktop environments if it is to be succesful within large enterprises.
Though many are based on the same NC Specification, the Network Computers on sale today from vendors such as IBM, Sun, Boundless or Wyse, differ widely in user interface and in the applications they offer.
The attempt to unify the Webtop is seen by analysts as a response to Microsoft's moves.
At Comdex/Fall in Las Vegas later this month, Microsoft will be previewing its multi-user Windows technology, codenamed Hydra, which has already received considerable industry support. Microsoft intends to push thin clients running its Windows CE operating system as an alternative to the NC concept.
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