IBM spearheads NC interoperability

In the face of mounting pressure from the Windows-based Terminal camp, IBM is driving its network computer (NC) initiative harder than ever by announcing Wednesday a program to establish a standard interface for management and administration of disparate NCs on various servers. Along with PC giant Compaq IBM has chosen to eschew the hype surrounding the Windows-based Terminal (WBT) and concentrate on alternative solutions. Compaq will continue to focus on the NetPC as its thin-client solution - for which IBM also scrapped its plans - while IBM will put its eggs in the NC basket.

In the face of mounting pressure from the Windows-based Terminal camp, IBM is driving its network computer (NC) initiative harder than ever by announcing Wednesday a program to establish a standard interface for management and administration of disparate NCs on various servers.

Along with PC giant Compaq IBM has chosen to eschew the hype surrounding the Windows-based Terminal (WBT) and concentrate on alternative solutions. Compaq will continue to focus on the NetPC as its thin-client solution - for which IBM also scrapped its plans - while IBM will put its eggs in the NC basket.

"The WBT is a second effort by Microsoft to deal with the challenge of NCs," says Howie Hunger, director of channels and marketing for IBM network computing. "We don't believe that the WBT as defined today goes far enough - it only runs attached to an NT server, and the world is bigger than just NT."

In an attempt to clean up the reputation of the NC as being "Not Compatible," IBM will put forth its own Network Station Manager as an easy-to-use common interface for the standards committee to consider. The need to boot NCs from a variety of vendors to any number of servers has fueled the decision by IBM to open up its technology to other vendors.

"We want to do the same thing that we did with PCs in the 80s," said Hunger. "We think if we make our technical [information] available to other vendors, we can do the same thing with NCs."

He said that the group expects concrete results by the second or third quarter of 1998. In a final jab at Microsoft, Hunger says, "This is something that Zero Administration Windows wants to get to somewhere in the future, but who knows when."

IBM Corp., in Armonk, New York, is at http://www.ibm.com/.

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