With more than 60 companies representing the office automation, telecommunications and computer industries announcing support for Microsoft Corp’s Microsoft at Work initiative to apply the Windows desktop to control of the generality of electronic office equipment, it is easier to say who is sitting the party out than who is involved – and the two […]
With more than 60 companies representing the office automation, telecommunications and computer industries announcing support for Microsoft Corp’s Microsoft at Work initiative to apply the Windows desktop to control of the generality of electronic office equipment, it is easier to say who is sitting the party out than who is involved – and the two big party poopers are IBM Corp and Digital Equipment Corp. Biggest beneficiary of the initiative has to be Intel Corp since the new Microsoft At Work operating system is written for iAPX-86 chips, so that copier or facsimile machine manufacturers that do not already use Intel chips as their controllers will have to add one. Other likely beneficiaries include manufacturers of touch panel screens, since equipment using the new software will be controlled by virtual buttons created by screen icons. Microsoft claims that it has worked out an open architecture that is compatible with devices such as the 21m existing facsimile machines and could lower labour and transmission costs while improving quality. The aim is to move Microsoft’s standards into all aspects of the office, enabling workers to communicate seamlessly with speech, text and images. OEM customers will be required to put a Microsoft At Work logo on their kit, and to pay an unspecified royalty on each sale. Facsimile machine manufacturers such as Murata Co’s Muratec and Ricoh Co Ltd say they will incorporate the software in products in the first quarter of 1994. Bell Atlantic Corp said it will work with Microsoft to develop applications for business customers. AT&T Co, MCI Communications Corp and Sprint Corp are all backers, and Northern Telecom Ltd says it plans to offer screen-based touch-sensitive telephones based on the new operating system – the company, and its Matra Communication NV 20% affiliate together produce about 13m phones annually, 5m of which have liquid crystal displays. Compaq Computer Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Toshiba Corp are among computer manufacturers cheerleading, as are modem and facsimile modem makers Rockwell International Inc, Delrina Corp and Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc. Other backers include Siemens AG, L M Ericsson Telefon AB, NEC Corp, Philips Electronics NV and Oki Electric Industry Co Ltd, and Xerox Corp pre-announced its support on Tuesday (CI No 2,185). Octel Communications Corp, Milpitas developer of voice information processing servers and software, is supporting the operating system and the Windows Telephony applications programming interface, saying that it has developed capa bilities using a library of new programming interfaces that will enable users to display, access and manage voice and fax messages from a desktop computer visually. Key applications will include interac tive voice response, fax-on-demand, fax broadcast, enhanced system re porting, information services, net work management and system manage ment. At the announcement, Micro soft said it plans to have applica tions and systems software develop ment kits available for telephone, fax and handheld devices before the end of the year, with the first product, the Windows Printing Sys tem, currently shipping. Facsimile machines are expected to be avail able at the end of the year, Micro soft said, with more products and services planned to follow in 1994.