After investing heavily in the StarOffice suite, Sun Microsystems has no plans to release another productivity suite, one of its hidden gems, we learn. Sun acquired NeXT developer Lighthouse Design in 1996, bringing with it Jonathan Schwartz, who's now Executive VP for Software. Lighthouse had a highly-regarded suite of software including the Quantrix spreadsheet, Diagram! vector graphics package and Concurrence presentation software. The names might mean little to today's Apple users, more's the pity. Apple's Mac OS X is a cosmetically enhanced update of the old NeXT system.
After thanking us for "turgid, lifeless prose" - um, thank you Jonathan - Schwartz, told us that the source would in all likelihood remain in Sun's morgue.
"Little chance," he told us. "We're not really trying to promote Objective-C anymore, much though I loved the products we built. We think this Java thing has some legs to it."
"Many developers that bought into what has now morphed into Cocoa (NeXTstep, OPENSTEP, Rhapsody) still feel it is by far the most incredible development software ever written," writes Mark Hanley.
"The only provider of a unified Office-like suite that was truly unified, feature-rich and object-oriented, for the NeXT platform," adds Jim Nemerovski. "Your scepticism is justified, however, since the NeXT-Apple-Sun merger rumors of 1997 were as potent as any future Dot.Com revolution became..."
Users who can still crank up a NeXT box, or one capable of running OpenSTEP can head over to Lighthouse's memorial site, and download the binaries along with a two-user license for these and several other vintage applications. ®
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