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Sun, Lotus plan NC drive at Internet World Summer

July 10, 1998
Web posted at: 4:20 PM EDT

by Dana Gardner

(IDG) -- Not giving up on the Java NC, Sun and IBM's Lotus division next week at Internet World Summer in Chicago will debut the latest JavaStation NC running the eSuite Workplace environment and applet family from Sun's Netra J 2.0 servers.

The eSuite Workplace -- which includes the customizable desktop environment and business productivity applets of spread sheet, word processor, presentation graphics, e-mail client, Sun HotJava browser, calendar, and address book -- already ships on IBM's NC offerings.

The package will arrive July 25 after undergoing a porting process to JavaStations, free for 120 days and then for $49 per seat, said Sun and Lotus. Those who forego the free trial period will pay $79 per client.

The latest JavaStation NC, which began shipping in March, costs $699 and includes 32MB of RAM and a 100-MHz microSPARC 2 EP processor from Sun. The latest Netra J server, Version 2.0, shipped two weeks ago and is priced at $1,495 with unlimited number of clients. It ships only on the Solaris 2.51 and higher operating system.

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In September, Lotus will deliver eSuite Workplace 1.5, which includes foreign language localization, enhancements to the applet features, improved file transfer capability, and faster performance. It will become a free upgrade to JavaStation buyers from now until that time.

While neither company would disclose beta users of the eSuite/JavaStation marriage, they expect that channel partners will begin deploying the networked clients in volume late this year and into 1999.

"The pricing is attractive, and the value comes from the total cost of ownership over time -- that's the real value," said Ted Murguia, group manager for Java hardware at Sun.

The Lotus Java applets had to be ported to the Sun NC platform from the IBM offerings despite Java's promise of "write once, run anywhere" because of differences in Java virtual machines, Sun officials said.

Sun said that those differences will diminish over time, especially with the arrival of the new Java OS for Business. No delivery date has been set for that, however.

In the meantime, IBM and Sun remain the stanchions of the NC cause with their NC servers and clients, which now will both rely on Lotus eSuite applets and environment to offer NCs users similar functionality to PC applications.

Lotus is working to make eSuite front ends for PCs or NCs similar to the end-users' and able to access back-end data in similar fashion, which would enable IT managers to deploy mixed environments of PCs and NCs across corporate intranets.

InfoWorld editor-at-large Dana Gardner is based in San Mateo, Calif.
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