Netscape's more open development philosophy is already paying off for Apple Computer, with the announcement of the Netscape for Rhapsody Project, which will rely partly on volunteer programmers.
According to the RhapsodyOS.com Website, the effort to port Netscape to Apple's next-generation OS will initially be headed by Chris McAfee, head of Netscape's Communicator for Unix team.
That team and Apple employees will be joined by volunteers who meet the project's requirements - an idea which would have been difficult to countenance before Netscape's recent decision to release its browser source code.
Gideon King of Otago University's Black Albatross group, which began working with Rhapsody though its grounding in Next Software technologies, says the effort could be "a fun little project" for his team to get involved with, "although I don't know how much time we'd be able to devote on a volunteer basis."
Black Albatross's work is chiefly in Website development, and the team usually uses the OmniWeb browser, says King, "but we always have to test everything on both the major browsers before we release it. It wouldn't surprise me if the Apple-Microsoft agreement also extended to a version of Explorer for Rhapsody."
Volunteers with experience in Objective C and OpenStep/NextStep are being sought, but candidates must also have access to the Rhapsody DR1 release for Intel and the Rhapsody "Yellow Box" which runs under Windows, suggesting that Apple sees Intel-based servers and NT environments as part of the Rhapsody strategy. King agrees.
"Definitely- they've got to be cross-platform. We've actually got Rhapsody installed on an Intel machine here, and although it has a few little quirks, there are no show-stopping bugs. That's not surprising given that it's really NextStep with a new user interafce. You'd expect it to be stable."
King is untroubled by a recent spate of rumours which have held that Apple is either curtailing the scope of its new OS, or even cancelling it altogether.
"That's just impossible - someone's stirring there, I think."
Meanwhile, the recent Lotusphere 98 conference raised the possibility of a version of Lotus's Domino server for Rhapsody, and idea Lotus is said to be considering.