NC momentum slows as Wyse bows out

If the current trend continues, NC will stand for 'not coming' rather than network computer. Following the recent shot-in-the-arm announcement that major NC vendors plan to define compatibility standards, doubt was cast on the NC concept last week at Comdex when Wyse Technology announced that it would avoid building NCs altogether, and Sun revealed another delay in the shipping of its JavaStation NC. Wyse has instead begun work on a new product category, the Java Network Terminal (JNT).

If the current trend continues, NC will stand for "not coming" rather than network computer.

Following the recent shot-in-the-arm announcement that major NC vendors plan to define compatibility standards, doubt was cast on the NC concept last week at Comdex when Wyse Technology announced that it would avoid building NCs altogether, and Sun revealed another delay in the shipping of its JavaStation NC.

"The NC has been mostly rhetoric, a lot of US$500 promises," said Jeff McNaught, general manager at Wyse and an NC supporter in the past. "We've come to the conclusion that this can't be done."

Instead, Wyse has begun work on a new product category, the Java Network Terminal (JNT). The idea behind the JNT is to move more of the computing power and Java elements to the server, whittling down the client's footprint and reducing the cost to less than $1,000. It will provide Windows access and local boot capability, officials said.

The Wyse Winterm 4010 series of JNTs should be available by the spring of 1998, according to McNaught.

Bob Gilbertson, president and CEO of Network Computing Devices, in Mountain View, California, said he thinks a decision to pull back from NCs, such as the one Wyse made, may have been influenced by the industry's most powerful player.

"Because of the violent attack of the NC consortium, [Microsoft chairman Bill] Gates doesn't like the word NC," Gilbertson said. "If you were to declare you were an NC company and you want to be in the Windows space, you would have trouble doing business with Microsoft."

Meanwhile, Sun announced that its JavaStation NC, originally scheduled for released by this fall, will not ship until 1998.

In addition to its JNT efforts, Wyse is lobbying Sun to help develop a smaller Java Virtual Machine for thin clients and will try to convince IBM to buy into the product category. But IBM still supports the NC concept and sees no need for radical change, said Phil Hester, vice president of development for network computing at IBM.

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