The PC industry will be forced to refocus on Internet devices as the many incarnations of the network computer threaten to eat into its market, according to a report published last week.
The report, PCs meet NCs from US analyst Forrester Research, found that while the NC will not replace the PC in the corporate world, changes to the market could threaten Microsoft's desktop dominance.
The explosion of intranets will put huge pressure on the traditional PC model, and while the report expects the PC industry will respond to this pressure quickly, preventing the NC taking large chunks of its market, this process may sideline Microsoft.
'The NC, along with Internet standards and Java applications, will force the PC to morph into an Internet-optimised device that Microsoft can no longer count on dominating,' said the report.
Microsoft's response to the threat will be to improve the ease of use and Net support of the Windows environment, with additions such as embedded Internet standards, a built-in Java virtual machine and an increased focus on component-based applications.
While these will provide an effective short-term counterblast to the threat from the NC, Microsoft will also be eroding its own Win 32 monopoly by offering these enhancements.
By 2000, NCs will make up 15 per cent of installed computers in medium to large corporations. But few of these devices will have been purchased to replace PCs, which will remain the dominant client and local server in larger organisations.
Instead, they will act as additional computers for mobile workers or occasional IT users, or will replace dumb terminals.
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