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Lotus, NCI strike Kona deal

The companies will cooperate to ensure that Lotus's Java applets run well on the Oracle subsidiary's network computers.

Oracle subsidiary Network Computer Incorporated (NCI) said today it will team with Lotus Development to optimize Lotus's Java applications, code-named Kona, for NCI's desktop environment.

Neither Lotus nor Oracle would comment on technological or financial specifics of the deal, announced at the OpenWorld show in Tokyo. The companies would only say that they have signed a letter of intent to work together to ensure that Kona applets run well on NCI's desktop, which includes a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Optimizing for one environment won't necessarily degrade an application's performance on non-NCI environments.

"We're optimizing them to run better not at the JVM level but to make the user experience better," said Peter Van de Graaf, director of Kona product management at Lotus.

NCI has already agreed to bundle Oracle's Java productivity applets, code-named HatTrick, with its desktop environment software for NCs. HatTrick is comprised of a scheduling calendar, an address book, and presentation graphics. Also included in the NCI software bundle is Oracle's InterOffice text editor and mail client.

"There is no deal to resell Kona, and there is no deal to integrate Kona into InterOffice," said Karen White, Oracle senior vice president of strategic marketing and business development.

The agreement comes amid speculation that Oracle would license Kona for its spreadsheet applet, a functionality lacking in HatTrick that Oracle is unlikely to develop internally.

"I don't think Oracle or NCI envisions that we can build every application that will run on NCs," said White, who would not comment on plans to integrate Kona into HatTrick. She noted that today's agreement shows how future NC users will be able to use third-party applications.

Today's agreement comes two days after Oracle released a statement saying its InterOffice group, which develops HatTrick, would not make any Lotus-related announcement at OpenWorld. NCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle.