The network computer (NC) will soon join the dodo and the Sinclair C5 among the ranks of the extinct, following the decision by IBM and Sun Microsystems to drop support for their JavaOS for Business operating system.
IBM subsidiary Lotus is also believed to be on the verge of dropping its eSuite Application suite, written in Java and intended for use on the NC.
Sun and IBM have jointly announced that they are ending development of JavaOS for Business in favour of "industry standard operating systems" for their thin client efforts.
Rebecca Wettemann, senior analyst at IDC, said: "This is quite a significant nail in the coffin for the NC. I do not think that the Oracle camp will be too happy about the impact of this."
A spokesman for Oracle repeated the claim that the NC was intended to reduce IT complexity. "It may not have taken off as once expected, but our focus is still on the network," he said.
Clive Longbottom, analyst at Strategy Partners, agreed the announcement was the death knell for the NC.
"Thin clients will continue to be very important, but it will be a case of PC now, rather than NC. Economies of scale mean it's cheaper to buy a PC than an NC," he said.
Sun claimed JavaOS, originally intended to ensure the availability of an optimised Java execution environment, was no longer relevant, "as the industry is now doing our work for us". The company cited improvements in Java's performance on general purpose operating systems and industry adoption of Java as examples.
According to reports, Sun is in talks to acquire German software company Stardivision, which makes software suite Staroffice, similar to Microsoft's Office suite, for thin clients and Java-enabled devices. Sun declined to comment.
Lotus was unavailable to comment on further reports that it is planning to drop its eSuite business software package. Wettemann said she believed Lotus was reviewing its plans for eSuite.
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