IBM has unveiled its Network Station, pitching it as the first standards-compliant network computer to be announced by a major vendor. The Network Station, a stripped-down device for accessing the Internet, intranets and LANs, will be priced under US$700 and targeted at the business market, officials say. IBM plans to release other NCs later, they say.
The Network Station will be manufactured by IBM and Network Computing Devices, which has already launched its own family of network computers. The machine will be available by the end of the year, officials say. The Network Station can run over Ethernet and Token Ring intranets, and access IBM's AS/400, RS/6000 and S/390 servers running Java, Windows NT, Unix or OS/2, officials say. It can also access Internet and Lotus's Notes groupware applications.
The Network Station will run the Netscape Navigator 3.0 browser, which will be customised for the NC by Netscape's new Navio spinoff, officials say. The appliance measures 20cm x 10cm x 3cm and weighs 1.2kg, officials say. It uses an IBM PowerPC microprocessor, an unspecified amount of memory, a network adapter, keyboard, mouse and optional monitor.
IBM has joined Oracle as one of the chief proponents of network- centric computing, which some sceptical observers have said is an attempt to wrest control away from the dominant Windows-Intel model of standalone PCs, in order to sell more large systems as servers. Today's announcement comes four months after IBM, Oracle, Netscape, Sun and Apple announced a common specification for network computer devices.
IBM may not be the first to market with NC-compliant devices, however. Oracle boss Larry Ellison said this week that the first NCs will be on the market within a month, priced at US$299, built by a Japanese vendor whose name he would not reveal. (See NC out within month.)