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Apple's Jobs pooh-poohs NCs, thin clients, Java

'Hey you, Sun, get offa my cloud,' says Great Satan of GUIs' interim CEO

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Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs' comments at the educational IT-oriented Cause 98 show in Seattle suggested he's not quite as keen on chum Larry Ellison's vision of the network computer (NC) as we might have thought. Jobs' keynote was given over to questions from the audience. Asked about thin client technology, he said they are unlikely to ever truly replace desktop computers. "If the client is really going to be thin, the interaction is not going to be very dynamic," he said. "What the thin client guys are doing is making their thin clients thicker. [Java 2] is five times bigger than the one before. I don't know you'd call it a thin client with 15lbs of stuff in the bag." While Jobs' comments about Java don't go as far as to criticise the technology -- no IT CEO whose products support Java and who doesn't want to piss off those of his customers that use it -- it does mark the first public comments from a senior industry figure that are negative, at least since all and sundry started running around saying how wonderful it is. This should come as no surprise, not least since, with its new (ish) 3D API and Java Foundation Classes GUI API, Java developers can now eliminate all taints of the OS from their apps, ensuring the look and feel the user works in is the same whatever hardware the software is run on. And, as Apple is not unreasonably keen to promote its own UI as its key differentiator from the hordes of Wintel clones, it's not too happy about Sun telling it how its GUI and apps should look. Back to the NC thing, this attitude clearly explains why the iMac, which started life as an Ellison-inspired NC -- it will boot up as one, in the right server environment (MacOS X Server?) and, with no floppy drive and built-in Ethernet, is designed for networking -- ended up as a full desktop PC. Interestingly, Jobs also said that Apple's forthcoming consumer portable, codenamed P1, was aimed primarily at education. Again, no great surprises here. Jobs, on taking over at Apple's helm, was keen to praise the eMate 300, the company's education-oriented Newton OS-based portable, but said it really should have been a MacOS device. Essentially that's what P1 will be. The eMate was, of course, Apple's first translucent computer and clearly the inspiration for the iMac, at least in design and presentation terms. The driving force behind eMate? One Gil Amelio, the CEO Jobs ousted to get his old job back. ®

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