Sun Microsystems Inc may be demonstrating its innovative new Looking Glass 3D desktop technology to anyone that glances in its direction, but the technology is unlikely to feature in commercial products for some time.
The technology features windows that can rotate as well as a 360-degree wraparound virtual desktop that looks more like a 3D game than the 2D windows screen and has become a staple of Sun’s conference, exhibition and sales demonstrations in recent months.
Elements of the technology will make it to market in release five of Santa Clara, California-based Sun’s Java Desktop System, according to Paul Byrne, staff engineer at Sun’s advanced graphics group, and project leader for Looking Glass.
Given that JDS is currently at release two, with beta testing for release three having been due to be completed last month, it could be some time before Looking Glass sees a commercial release. Nevertheless, Byrne said the company is aiming to start drumming up commercial support for the technology.
We are showing it to customers and talking to a few people, he said. I want to start having customer discussions fairly soon. With its translucent rotating windows and multiple desktop screens, Looking Glass certainly looks good but it is not yet clear what the business requirements will be.
The ability to run multiple virtual desktops that can be accessed at the touch of a mouse could well be of interest to developers building applications for multiple platforms or browsers, but Byrne said market demands will drive how Sun takes the technology to market. It will be where we identify business value, it will depend on what the market wants, he said.
The technology has been released under the open source GPL and the code is currently available as a Java.net project for developers to play. We’re in research mode at the moment, said Byrne.
Byrne said the company is trying to stay as close to the 2D desktop that users are comfortable with, and played down the impact that the technology could have. It’s designed to evolve the desktop, not a revolution, he said. It’s still not a desktop replacement. We’re trying to sow ideas rather than replace the desktop. It’s a platform for innovation.