International Business Machines Corp. unveiled details Tuesday of an operating system, WorkSpace On-Demand, that reaffirms the computer giant's commitment to its OS/2 specification.

Formerly known by the code name Bluebird, WorkSpace On-Demand is the newest member of IBM's eNetwork software family. It is designed to run on network computers. Applications are stored on remote servers and are called down to client desktops.

"I'm not sure there is a competitor that can offer so many applications and connectivity on such a thin client," said Jin Kim, a consultant at Computing Solutions in Denver. "It can run on DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows NT, Java, and OS/2 and has connectivity to the Internet, Unix, AS/400 (midsize computers), and mainframes. It has minimal hardware requirements with a lot of software functionality."

In banking, it is particularly well suited to institutions that want to make the transition to network computing.

"It is ideal for transaction-oriented employees, say, at teller workstations and call centers," said Mr. Kim.

The network computing approach enables applications or changes to be made at the server, then quickly reflected at the user, or client, site.

WorkSpace On-Demand consists of a client operating environment and a set of server-side utilities, all stored on an OS/2 Warp server.

"It drives the ability to build, deploy, and maintain applications from a central environment," said Anthony W. Brown, IBM's business line manager for network computing clients. "It gives customers the ability to deploy new applications on the fly, to update and make changes to applications as they become available."

"We're focused on helping the customer transition from the traditional personal computer to the network computer and allow(ing) them to introduce Internet, intranet, and Java-based applications," said Mr. Brown.

Customers get "flexibility, efficiency, and optimization by operating off of the server," said Donn B. Atkins, IBM's vice president of marketing for personal software products. WorkSpace On-Demand allows client systems to boot off of the server and gain access to applications and data anywhere on the network.

Bank of Montreal, Capitol Federal Savings & Loan, Chevy Chase Bank, First Virginia Banks Inc., IAG Credit Union, and Trustmark National Bank are among North American pilot customers.

Of Bank of Montreal's 1,200 branches, 350 are running OS/2 with the local area network server, said Bill Peel, senior technical specialist at the Toronto-based bank.

"Our workstations have no data nor hard drive, so we're looking to run the operating system off the server," said Mr. Peel. "We're evaluating Bluebird as the next release for the client environment in the branch."

WorkSpace On-Demand will be available in November at $729 per copy, which includes one client access. Additional client access features will retail at $249. Upgrade pricing will be available for users of previous OS/2 versions.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.