09/01/96 Acorn and the Internet Product Statement

Development and DCI4:

Throughout 1995, Acorn has promoted an open philosophy with regard to network product development in order to further aid the development of networking products for the Acorn platform. Third party developers have reacted positively to this and the majority have now produced products to the Device Control Interface specification (DCI4) which was published by Acorn early in 1995. It is intended that this specification will enable developers to produce products to a common specification and encourage accelerated development as well as helping to ensure the inter-operation of products supplied by different vendors. .

Acorn Product releases:

Acorn itself has released several products produced to this specification (DCI4), including Acorn Access+, Acorn OmniClient and Acorn InterTalk.

Acorn also recognises the very strong current requirement for products based around Internet access and has assigned suitable resources in order to release products which are appropriate for its target markets. Acorn InterTalk was designed specially for the educational marketplace and particularly the networked environment. As a result of this, elements such as censorship, support for discless workstations and a high level of backward compatibility have been prime development goals for the product.

Acorn intends to release the World Wide Web server (proxy) and browser in the first quarter of 96 and the same design requirements will remain.

Home Users:

Acorn recognises that the requirements of the home user are very different from those of the school. Whilst it has released a single user version of InterTalk in order to facilitate links between the home and school, it has also welcomed the introduction of products by the Acorn third party developer community. Commercial and public domain products have been released by several developers and it is Acorn policy to encourage the development of products that co-exist with InterTalk on local area networks.

Closer inter-operation with third parties Acorn has been working behind the scenes to encourage parallel development of Internet products within the public domain. It has also been working, as ever, very closely with ANT Ltd to ensure a high level of inter-operation with the ANT Internet Suite. The address book application which Acorn is developing for release in conjunction with the World Wide Web browser is a good example of this where dynamic links will be supported between mail, news and Web based applications produced by Acorn and ANT. The intention is that educational customers will be able to purchase Acorn InterTalk and add other products to the site that will use InterTalk's distribution capabilities. Aspects such as censorship would also be preserved. Users could have several Internet products all working on the same site through a single Internet Gateway and with a single server computer. This considerably aids the upgrade process and allows the site to have a much greater level of choice with regards to their preferred applications.

Future Development

There has been a great deal of speculation in recent national and international press concerning the release and licensing of Internet access terminals designed by the Acorn Group. Acorn can confirm that it is currently working with several third parties to deliver this technology, some of which it will be demonstrating at BETT 96.

The Acorn group is also investigating other technologies based around object rendering and manipulation as well as a common development and application environment. Among these technologies is Sun Microsystem's Hot Java.

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