Masthead CMC Magazine July 1, 1995 / Page 5

News Roundup

IBM takes Notes and Lotus

by Amelia DeLoach(

Formerly staid Big Blue recently won its takeover bid of Lotus in one of the fastest, and possibly boldest, corporate capitulations to occur. And the numbers are stunning. In the time frame of six days, IBM Chairman Louis V. Gerstner Jr. led the dizzying takeover of Lotus, which was clearly not for sale. But Lotus sold in a $3.52 billion dollar deal that shakes out to $64 a share, almost twice the amount Lotus stock sold for prior to the takeover bid, a move which reportedly even surprised Microsoft's Bill Gates.

What's probably most unusual about this entire takeover is that Lotus' chief executive officer, Jim P. Manzi, keeps his old job and can add a new line to his business card -- senior vice president of IBM. But why would Gerstner allow Manzi, who has a reputation for being difficult to work with, to stay on? One possible answer is that IBM desperately needs Lotus' top programmers to say on, and keeping Manzi in place might reassure these programmers that Lotus' corporate culture will not drastically change.

While IBM's takeover of Lotus seems like a plot in an action novel, there's a lot more between the front and back cover of this story than outlined above. IBM appears to be taking on Microsoft head on. Since the merger, IBM is now in a strong position to capture a large share of the rapidly growing computing market that falls between the largely Microsoft-operating-system-controlled PC market and the IBM-controlled mainframe market. In the middle are "client servers" which can link servers, mainframes, PCs, and work stations -- a market neither IBM nor Microsoft dominates. How Lotus fits into this picture is that its Notes program allows client server users to transfer text, sound, and graphics files. Corporations find this software program attractive because it allows workers in different locations to contribute to the same projects. IBM's commitment to take on Microsoft doesn't stop with the purchase of Lotus. IBM's OS/2 Warp operating system won't run programs designed for Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system that will be launched in August. This move forces software developers to create programs that will run on OS/2 Warp systems.

Let the real battle begin.

More Interactive Webs on the Way

One of the newest buzz words to describe Web technology is "transparent," but ironically it generally means that you will get to view more interactive multimedia files with less hassle. And naturally, Netscape is in the middle of it all. Netscape has agreements with both Macromedia, Inc. and Sun Microsystems.

The Macromedia and Netscape agreement will result in Netscape integrating the playback engine for the Macromedia Director multimedia software in its Navigator browser. This will allow Web developers to include multimedia documents as direct links in their Web pages, thus users won't have to download multimedia files for viewing.

. . . Meanwhile, Netscape and frequently collaborator, Sun Microsystems, have agreed to make the Netscape Navigator compatible with Sun's Java programming language. Java is touted as having such desirable capabilities as the ability to create tamper-free systems and the ability to run in almost all platforms. When used in conjunction with a HotJava browser the interactive content of programs created in Java can be viewed. The real bonus of the Java and HotJava combination is that it allows users to interact with simulations on the Web. Thus, if you want to put a simulation of a chemistry experiment on the Web, you can. [CMC TOC]

Amelia DeLoach is Link Editor and a news correspondent for CMC Magazine. She prefers her hot java with cream only . . . no sugar.

Copyright © 1995 by Amelia DeLoach. All Rights Reserved.

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