A group of users, integrators and vendors is, we hear, attempting to re-draw the laws of conventional computing in a effort to put users – rather than computers – at the centre of the industry’s cosmological system. Project Galileo (it was actually the Polish astronomer Copernicus that first proposed that planets, including the Earth, orbit […]
A group of users, integrators and vendors is, we hear, attempting to re-draw the laws of conventional computing in a effort to put users – rather than computers – at the centre of the industry’s cosmological system. Project Galileo (it was actually the Polish astronomer Copernicus that first proposed that planets, including the Earth, orbit the Sun) sets out to define and develop an overlay for current graphical user interfaces that operates and behaves the same way, regardless of which operating system and hardware lies underneath, providing a common working environment. Starting point is a list of six features including icons for installation, files and home directories. Some common elements, like drag and drop and point and click, have already found their way into most graphical user interfaces, and those involved in Galileo say it would be possible to get things up and running within a matter of weeks once agreement has been reached. The initiative was touched off by at least four large computer users – one in Europe, the rest in the US – each with thousands of different systems, who were apparently unimpressed by technology standardisation efforts that actually make it easier for vendors to provide a variety of desktop displays. Two US integrators, at least four of the largest US vendors, and a number of software suppliers including, it is thought, the Santa Cruz Operation Inc – are also involved. Users insisted on taking the Apple Computer Inc Macintosh interface and IBM’s Common User Access schema as role models. It should be possible to run Galileo across different Unix implementations, as well as Microsoft Corp Windows and other graphics-capable proprietary systems. Technology like the X.desktop manager from UK firm IXI Ltd already provides a common front end to a range of different systems, including the gamut of Digital Equipment Corp kit. As well as a gloss over the top for users, the partners view Galileo as a welcome marketing tool for sales divisions and a means of delivering a long overdue common environment to the Unix community. It would be easier to convince senior managers that Unix is a viable system if all systems were seen to work in the same way, regardless of what was underneath. The majority of the personal computer world is already happily at work with Microsoft Corp Windows, regardless of underlying technology. Galileo development is initially being funded by vendors – under pressure to win new procurement contracts. If successful, however, the likelihood is that users will contribute resources towards establishing a further six common features: talks are to begin again early next year.