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Novell's networking goes human

CEO Eric Schmidt previews a plan intended to shield users from the complexity of computing.

    LAS VEGAS--Continuing a concerted effort to reignite

    Eric Schmidt
    Novell CEO Eric Schmidt
    interest in his struggling networking software company, Novell (NOVL) CEO Eric Schmidt took to the stage of Comdex today to preview a plan intended to shield users from the complexity of computing.

    Not surprisingly, putting a "more human face" on network interaction is what Novell's software intends to do. Schmidt plugged several products in the company's portfolio during his presentation.

    The executive reasoned that by taking complexity out of a user's computing experience--through software services such as a directory or a local proxy--the Internet and IP-based explosion can continue to grow.

    The former Java guru at Sun Microsystems also stressed the company's

    Schmidt on Novell's progress
    efforts to incorporate the popular programming language into its software. He said Novell--along with other staunch Java advocates including Sun, Oracle, Netscape Communications, and IBM--will seek to build server-side Java applications that take advantage of computers distributed over a network.

    The CEO noted that Microsoft has chosen to discount as hype the plans of what he called "the gang of five," as Novell and fellow Java proponents have come to be called. But he held firm with his company's direction.

    "I prefer to think of it as being right," he said.

    To prove its networking prowess to the Comdex crowd, Novell, along with Compaq Computer and Bay Networks, built a networking system for the show so that the more than 200,000 attendees could check email and browse the Web. The network will purportedly handle more than 5 million messages this week.

    Executives from AT&T also said they remain confident in their choice of

    Schmidt on Java
    Novell to provide directory services for the telecommunications giant's sprawling network. A demonstration during Schmidt's keynote highlighted the benefits of NDS, as it is called, by showing a series of programs being essentially "pushed" to a new user's desktop.

    Schmidt addressed concerns about the future of the company and its role in distributed computing, given recent turmoil and a slew of bad fiscal news in recent quarters. "We at Novell took our eyes off the ball, but now we have a solution for all of this."

    The CEO also used center stage at Comdex to announce that an open beta release of server-side Web software from Novonyx for Novell's NetWare operating system is scheduled to ship November 26.