"Java is likely to be the dominant programming language for the next 15 years," Schmidt said.
While pointing out that Novell's future products will be built in Java, the only Novell product Schmidt specifically discussed was the next release of IntranetWare. Dubbed Moab, it is due early next year and provides native IP services, Java support in the kernel and high levels of Java performance on the server, Schmidt said.
The growth of the Internet and the acceptance of Java as a programming language are fueling a new phase in the computing industry, one that will be focused on fat servers, thin clients and intelligent networks, according to Schmidt.
"Intelligence is being built into the network," he said, adding that companies such as Novell are building "Information Utilities" that will intelligently gather data for users. "You plug it in and it's there," he said. "It's just like air; it's always there."
"Client-server is going to go away and be replaced by client services," Schmidt added. "It's probably bigger than the shift from mainframes to PCs."
To that market, Novell will bring directory services, replicated objects, security certificates and authentication. Together, those services will enable electronic commerce, said Schmidt. Within the enterprise, "most Java development to date has centered around the client. That's not where the money is," he said. The middle tier, which includes IntranetWare, is where the "real opportunity is."
The growing importance of the network, however, brings new problems with it, such as a shortage of DS3 lines for corporate Internet access. In addition, the headaches of systems management are being layered on top of the network.
Schmidt said he believes that the industry is going through a series of "inflection points," which are spurring great changes in the way users access information.
The first of these is the move from browsing the Internet to receiving data via push technology. This shift is being followed by the replacement of intranets with a "seamless net," or corporate networks defined by security policies. In addition, static systems are being replaced by dynamic services and networks that rely on fat PCs are being replaced by server-centric networks.
Separately today, Schmidt was reported as saying that Novell was not for sale.
"First of all, the company is not for sale," he said, adding, "I am not allowed to comment on any of these kinds of rumors."
PC Week Online reported last Friday that sources at Novell and IBM confirmed that the computer giant is interested in acquiring the company.