Comdex a year ago: Schmidt triggers Novell's run to Java

Great Satan of NOS shows signs of desperation

Ah, the Internet. And here we have Dr Eric Schmidt, CEO of Novell, speaking at the exceedingly gruesome Aladdin Theater of the Performing Arts, who quoted IDC figures saying that there are around 71.3 million web users now and 130 million by the year 2000. That sort of growth, he said, would mean that every humanoid on the planet will have her or his own Web page by 2004. Sheesh. But will anyone remember Novell in 2004? That's less easy to predict and Schmidt, apparently is relying on the amulet NDS and the magic spell of Java to see the Utah company through its black years. He claimed that Novell now has a "much more sharpened focus" - that translated from computerese, means thinking in a more concentrated way, we suppose. According to Schmidt, the last 15 years were dominated by Moore's Law but now we're governed by the speed of light. That, he said, was not the ultimate constraint but the speed of people's minds - an interesting twist to Einstein's equation. More. According to Schmidt, one year you're a failure and the next you're a billionaire, a phenomenon which he thinks happens all the time, showing how in touch with the world Novell remains. He added that when people thought about computers, they thought about themselves. That meant there were both saints and criminals on the Net. Schmidt got more bizarre. Quoting a friend called Reed Hundt, he said that we'd all love a friction free friendly network capable of driving the economy to new heights. That, he added, made sense to him while The Register continued to wonder about the future of Novell... Schmidt moved from the speed of light and friction to weather forecasting. He said: "There is a tornado happening." We all looked round, expecting the Aladdin to fall on our heads but no such luck. The tornado, according to Schmidt, was the adoption of IP, which he described as an intelligent network. The next version of Netware called Moab, said the CEO, is the key to Novell's future. He moved on to Yoga. TCP/IP, he thought, is a mantra in our industry but, he said, it is not sufficient....not a particularly good mantra then. Colour, he said, was the issue. "What you, in fact, need is about 45 shades of gray," he said. Oh, and security too. And while you're at it, why don't you get in your car and drive "literally right through" a "huge sweet spot". One size doesn't fit all, he added, so why don't you NC your PC. Netware is the perfect model to do this, he claimed - a rather worrying thought. Phew. After all this, we had a little demo which allowed The Register to sort of collect our thoughts....but then Dr Schmidt started again. While Novell had taken its eye off the ball, it now had its eye on it, which is OK as long as you're not playing serious cricket. NDS was the answer to everyone's problems...Oh and Java too. The 450,000 Java programmers in 1997 will double to 700,000 next year, he said. Over 400,000 web sites use Java. "Java," he said, "is more than a dancing bear on your website. It's really the language of electronic commerce....Java on the server will be platform-independent, and the client depends a lot on things like how the litigation plays." He said Novell was building all of the pieces, a prospect after the foregoing, that beggars the imagination. Java, he said, is the "twist" which will help Novell get off its knees. That, then, is Novell's strategy. ®

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