Network Computer Inc. will put some meat on the network computer next month when it delivers its first applications for such non-PC machines.
The initial products due from the Oracle Corp. division include two server applications, a client operating environment and a suite of productivity applications.
NCI's software will be licensed to hardware makers to deploy on traditional network computers, set-top NCs, integrated TVs/NCs or other devices, said company officials in Redwood City, Calif.
For one user, the technology and promise of NCs cannot get to market soon enough.
"I've heard about these NCs for quite some time, but so far, there has been little in the way of usable devices or applications in mass quantity that I can lay my hands on," said an IS director at a large Southern California manufacturer. "We are interested in using NCs, if they live up to their hype and promise."
NCI's two servers, which are required for hosting client devices that use NCI's software, provide security and authentication. One server, aimed at the Internet service provider and corporate marketplace, will run on most Unix varieties as well as Windows NT.
According to NCI officials, the high-end server can support thousands of concurrent users. The low-end server, designed to be "rolled into a closet," will include routing capabilities, said officials.
"It is designed to be configured quickly, stuck in a closet and forgotten about," said Jeff Menz, director of product marketing at NCI. "This is aimed at education markets where there is not a lot of on-site IS support."
Complementing the server security is the NC Card, a smart card that will store user profiles and security data, including digital certificates, to authenticate users logging into an NC.
NCI has been working with several NC and Internet software vendors to ensure that the NC Card will be compatible with other NCs, Menz added.
NCI officials said several additional applications will be announced next month during the formal product shipments.