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The need for organisations to deploy new applications faster will accelerate a trend towards browser-based applications and away from client/server, IBM network computer guru Dave McAughtry told The Register today. And as this process occurs, it could spell doom for Microsoft's hold on the desktop - because if you're running your apps via a browser, why should you need or care about having Windows as your underlying operating system? McAughtry has been pushing IBM's NetWork Station thin client family for over three years now, and although he concedes it's been an uphill struggle, he says companies are now more convinced about the validity of the model, and the market itself is starting to turn in the right direction. IBM's latest models, the 2200 and the 2800, were announced today at Citrix's iForum in Orlando, Florida, and McAughtry describes them as combining the best browser, best Citrix ICA client and best Java. IBM already has already sold 12,000 2800s to a major bank, and McAughty uses banking as a prime example of why browser-based computing is taking off. "It used to be the case that business to the consumer was browser-based, while the enterprise world was Windows-based, but the speed of change in business now requires that change take place at the same speed inside the business as outside." If you're dealing with customers via the Web you can change what you offer them very rapidly, but your internal software has to keep pace with the changes you make. In the case of banks, customer-facing systems would include the Web site itself, banking teller, ATMs and call centres. All of these extend back into the bank's internal systems, so McAughtry argues that the internal systems have to be switched over to browser-based ones as well. That's not traditional client/server, but it's browser-based and server-based computing, with decreasing need for, and point to, Windows PCs on the desktop. Citrix has been evangelising server-based computing for over a year now, and is pushing the browser-based message this year in addition. McAughtry claims IBM is now number two in the Citrix marketplace, and unsurprisingly comments: "Increasingly we're finding Citrix's goals close to ours." ®

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