Start-up promises end to software incomptability
By Eric Auchard
NEW YORK, Nov 11 (Reuter) - Promising the computer industry equivalent of
universal harmony, a U.S.-based
start-up formed by a brain trust of Israeli computer scientists Monday
unveiled a technology that promises to
overcome barriers dividing users of rival software programs.
Anysoft Inc. said its set of software technologies allows computer users to
manipulate information from any
application while retaining all formatting and other properties.
The system functions as an underlying layer of operating system software,
but independent of any one operating
system. An operating system controls the basic functions of a computer.
Anysoft officials asserted the system can handle text, numerical data,
graphical images, video and other data,
including information available only at remote Internet sites.
"This is the beginning of true software interoperability," Anysoft Chief
Executive Illan Poreh said in a statement.
"For the first time, all applications, including those that have not
incorporated the ANY Technologies, will work
The private Cambridge, Mass.-based firm is backed by Bank Leumi BALI.TA ,
Israel's largest bank, and 21 private
investors, including several senior executives at modem maker U S Robotics
In an interview, Anysoft founder Poreh said the company's team of software
programmers was handpicked from
among top professors and graduate students at leading Israeli universities,
including Technion, the Israeli Institute
Industry analysts briefed on the technology hailed it as a decisive
breakthrough, based on its potential to liberate
computer users from dependence on any single operating system, such as
Microsoft Corp Windows.
"This is certainly one of the most significant technologies I've seen in
the past five years," said veteran industry
analyst Tim Bajarin, who heads Creative Strategies, a San Jose,
Calif.-based consulting firm.
"What Anysoft has done is taken software interoperability beyond a forced
Windows-X86 environment," Barjarin
said, referring to the ruling combination of Microsoft software and Intel
Corp software and hardware systems.
Nonetheless, Anysoft's audacious goal is set against a history of failed
industry attempts to create a universally
accepted format capable of handling all types of computer data.
In recent years, leading computer makers like International Business
Machines Corp , Digital Equipment Corp and
Hewlett-Packard Co have rallied around a common software compabability
standard known as CORBA.
However, this and similar initiatives have been hamstrung by competitive
rivalries among industry players and
the belief that programmers must unify around a single standard for
Microsoft's own effort at ushering in a "Golden Age" of software
compatability has gone by several names, such as
Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), and ActiveX, its Internet-based
But Microsoft's efforts have met with foot-dragging by companies unwilling
to cede the software giant any more
standard-setting power than it already has.
By contrast, the ANY concept is based on the seemingly simple idea that the
only univeral information from
different operating systems is what computer users see displayed on a screen.
"The screen is the only standard that everyone is using," Poreh maintained.
Anysoft has created software extensions that give computer users the
perception of compatibility without having to
address underlying programming differences that have ensnared previous
efforts, he said.
Anysoft's go-it-alone strategy depends on seeding its technology widely
among software companies, Internet service
providers and large corporations developing their own software
applications, all of which might include Anysoft's
universal data routing features in their own products.
Consumers would have to wait until products using the technology become
available from these companies.
Poreh said he plans to charge companies using Anysoft technology in their
products a licensing fee starting at
around $20,000 and running up to $400,000, depending on the potential
number of users of the product.
In addition, Poreh said Anysoft plans to ask for a royalty of 1 percent to
3 percent, or a flat fee, again depending on
the potential number of customers.
ANY technology is designed to extend software systems such as Windows or
Lotus Notes, and existing compatibility
programs such as Adobe Systems Inc Acrobat, Sun Microsystems Inc Java or
even the Internet, rather than replace
them, Anysoft officials said.
Anysoft said it has held licensing talks with five of the world's top 10
independent software development
companies, including IBM.
Poreh said IBM's main interest appeared to be in using ANY technology to
recover data from so-called "legacy"
applications running on older mainframe computers where the underlying
software is no longer being actively
ANY technology currently works with software running on Microsoft's Windows
operating systems. The
technology is in the process of being made compatible with Apple Computer
Inc Macintosh, IBM's OS/2 and the
Unix-based X/Windows operating system, company officials said.
"The future masters of technology will have to be lighthearted and intelligent. The machine easily masters the grim and the dumb." - Marshall McLuhan 1969
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