Sun to ship JavaStation, but is it too late?

Sun Microsystems's long awaited JavaStation terminal is finally ready for full shipment after a painful year and a half of delays, says the vendor.

The JavaStation should see the light of day by the end of the month as a widely available commercial product. Many industry watchers believe that JavaStation's time may have come and gone while it sat on the R&D conveyor belt. Inexpensive and easy-to-manage desktop options have been flooding the market in the past few months from a variety of sources, and one more may create few ripples.

The JavaStation concept was announced in early 1996 as a great industry idea that would offer corporates a cheap client as well as promote the Java language. It was foreseen by some that the product would help to wean corporate users away from Wintel.

A mooted release date of late 1996 for initial models now seems laughably optimistic. Difficulties like the performance of HotJava applications forced Sun to put off launching the JavaStation time and time again.

The PC industry has in the meantime risen well to the challenge that JavaStations and network computers (NCs) were supposed to represent. While Microsoft's Net PC concept has hardly set the world alight either, ordinary PC vendors have come up with cheaper and cheaper products in recent months to negate the value of cut-down non-Intel functionality at a low price. The 200MHz Pentium MMX chip has largely fuelled this rally.

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