You may soon be running your favourite PC software on a faraway server linked to an Internet appliance in your home.
That's just one of the visions of the emerging Application Service Provider industry, which got another boost on Monday when Corel announced it will Web-enable Corel's WordPerfect 2000 office suite through a licensing agreement with GraphOn's WinBridge software.
WinBridge can display a server-based Windows application's screens on local machines running Windows or Java, letting the user interact with the program as if it were running on his or her system. A competing company, Citrix Systems, has products called WinFrame and MetaFrame that provide similar functions. Both technologies power Application Service Providers that run and manage software for corporations.
The benefits, according to Dean Prelazzi, GraphOn's director of business development, include off-loading of setup and maintenance headaches, access to a broader selection of applications and data, and the ability to run new software on older -- and often cheaper -- hardware. But on so-called "thin clients" (low-cost computers with older CPUs), performance may bog down under certain conditions, says Bill Tidd, GraphOn's director of software development for Windows products.
Freedom of OS
Using Web-enabled WordPerfect 2000 applications such as the WordPerfect 9 word processor, Quattro Pro 9 spreadsheet, and Paradox 9 database, companies will be able to run their standard office applications on almost any operating system over any type of network. Corel is among the first vendors to distribute "mass-market" software this way, and may expand its offerings to include the popular CorelDraw graphics suite.
Corel actually developed the technology, first called jBridge, and sold it to GraphOn early this year in exchange for a 20 per cent share of the company.
Corel officials have not yet named an availability date.
The concept of distributing software over the Internet has been bandied about in recent years as the Web has exploded in popularity. Outright purchase, monthly rentals, or even metered per-hour fees are among the possible payment methods for Web-enabled software. Market researcher IDC predicts worldwide Application Service Provider spending will grow to $US2 billion by 2003.