Open Group attempts to coalesce the NC concept

At the behest of network computer champions Sun, Oracle, Netscape, IBM, and Apple, The Open Group has developed the Network Computer Reference Profile (NCRP) 1.0 in an attempt to reduce confusion in the network computer marketplace.

At the behest of network computer champions Sun, Oracle, Netscape, IBM, and Apple, The Open Group has developed the Network Computer Reference Profile (NCRP) 1.0 in an attempt to reduce confusion in the network computer marketplace.

The five NC sponsor companies last June asked The Open Group, a not-for-profit consortia, to help standardize the NC by reviewing the reference profile and testing potential NC devices.

"If they are going to get NCs to be widely taken up and quickly, they need to establish a standard in the market," says Allan Brown, chief operating officer at The Open Group. "You need to have products that are compatible."

The NCRP 1.0 is already in the hands of network computer developers, and if all goes smoothly, The Open Group will be branding NCs by the third quarter, according to Brown. NC sponsor companies are currently looking into an NC branding logo to trademark.

"The end goal is to make sure that all NCs conform to a certain set of standards," Brown says. "We are concerned with the rendition of the information on the screen being the same. That no matter what brand of NC you use, all of the information still appears, not necessarily with the same interface."

Vendors that want their network computers to be NC-branded will have to submit the machines to a rigorous testing process in order to earn the as yet undefined logo. However, Brown admits that it is unlikely the sponsor companies will be able to trademark the term NC, hence allowing any vendor to claim their devices as such.

The Open Group, in Cambridge, Mass., is at http://www.opengroup.org/.

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