HP covering its object bases

by Dan Ruby

Cupertino, CA Hewlett-Packard's equity investment in Taligent, announced in January, is part of its strategy to cover all bets in the race for the object market, according to analysts.

Although HP will bring Taligent technology into its HP-UX operating system, the company will continue to support NEXTSTEP as a native object solution, said Tilman Schad, general manager of HP's software systems unit.

"We see two kinds of customers those who want to jump immediately into a complete object environment, and those who want to migrate from standard UNIX," Schad said.

Nevertheless, the deal was a setback for NeXT, which had hoped to bring HP into the OpenStep camp. In the deal, HP acquired 15 percent of Taligent and gained a seat on Taligent's board of directors. Taligent will submit object API specs to X/Open and the Object Management Group, the same bodies that will consider OpenStep.

Unlike OpenStep, in which the NEXTSTEP application environment is the top layer and is separate from CDE (Common Desktop Environment), HP expects to use Taligent objects as a middleware layer under CDE.

For Taligent, beleaguered by budget battles at IBM and Apple, the HP move is a shot in the arm. Needing new investment to sustain itself until it ships a product, Taligent had courted both HP and Sun for many months.

According to a Taligent developer, Sun's OpenStep agreement increased HP's bargaining strength. "It wasn't that HP was driven by OpenStep to go to Taligent, but that OpenStep allowed them to make a much better deal," he said.