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press Releases

Below you will find press releases and articles about the WebBoy. The first is a press release that IBM very quietly rolled out.

Press Release 1
From IBM

IBM Japan Develops DOS/V Compatible Version of Internet Browser,
March 25th, 1997

IBM WebBoy For DOS Version 3.0, which it will launch on April 29. This is the first ever DOS compatible Web browser. It can be used with Intel 386 and 486 processors. It has features similar to standard Windows and Macintosh browsers including multiple screen partition, multi image layering and graphical user interface. IBM Japan says a total of 2.5 million DOS/V 386 or better machines have been shipped. Its browser can be used with DOS Version 5.02 or better, requiring 4MB RAM and 5MB empty hard drive space. The product will retail at 9,800 yen.

Ref: Japan Industrial Journal, 03/18/97, p5

25th March 1997

Article 1 - The underlying technology of WebBoy - MicroPM
By S. Waldron

What else do we know about WebBoy? Well, WebBoy will be the second product written using the Micro PM Gui Library from the IBM Embedded Middleware Technical Office. The Micro PM is a very small GUI, for use in low memory (thin client type) software. What they have done is taken 200 or so important API's from OS/2 Presentation Manager (PM, hence Micro PM), Graphic Programming Interface (GPI), and Control Programming Interface (CPI), to make cross-porting between Micro PM and OS/2 much easier. This means that you can develop applications for the Micro PM on OS/2 and port it directly. Development is not difficult at all on a DOS only or Windows based machine.

The Micro PM is designed as a portable GUI platform, so expect to see it on other platforms soon(ish). The Micro PM for DOS has been used as a part the supporting software (PIM) for the IBM Palm Top PC110 (PersonaWare), being sold in Japan.

For more information on the Micro PM (and for the full text of which the above is an abstract) goto http://swdev.yamato.ibm.co.jp/r4040/micropm.html.

Article 2
From Information Week

IBM Has New Browser Under Wraps
By Jeff Sweat, InformationWeek

IBM is working on a flyweight Web browser for network computers and Internet appliances, sources say, making motions in a market where most of the attention is being captured by the duel between Microsoft and Netscape.

The IBM Micro Web Browser, code-named WebBoy, is aimed at machines without hard disks and with tight memory constraints, particularly network computers, set-top boxes, and Internet video game machines. WebBoy requires only four Mbytes of memory to run, while Netscape Navigator 3.0 requires 3.2 Mbytes of hard disk space and nine Mbytes of memory -- about half as much as Windows 95.

IBM, like most other companies, scaled down its desktop browser efforts when it became clear that the browser war between Microsoft and Netscape left little room for other competitors. But WebBoy is not intended to break the browser duopoly as much as it is expected to drive hardware sales of IBM's thin-client devices.

Perhaps the greatest problem of the network computer today is the lack of software designed specifically for the lightweight, diskless computer. "There's going to be a rush into the marketplace with a whole new set of tools that work against the NC specification," says Tim Sloane, analyst at the Aberdeen Group, a Boston consultancy.

While Navigator is being used as the operating environment for most early NCs, its size makes it cumbersome, and it can raise costs through the hardware needed to support it. The Micro Web Browser will sport an operating system and a GUI engine, making it capable of running Internet appliances.

An IBM spokesperson for the Internet division said that it is not among the announced browsers for the company's network computer efforts. IBM will use Navigator for the PC company's InterPersonal Computers, while the AS/400 division's Network Stations will use a different, Java-based Web browser. The spokesperson said browsers are "not [IBM's] priority," since the company is putting most of its effort into intranets and electronic commerce.

Version 1.0 of the Micro Web Browser, according to sources, will feature E-mail support, a point-to-point protocol dial-up connection, database connectivity, a customizable user interface, and a "software keyboard." It now runs under PC-DOS, but is being made portable for multiple platforms, sources say. Not clear is whether it will support Java, but Sloane said, "It would have to be a Java-based implementation if it's going to be deployed out there [on NC devices]."

Press Release 2
From IBM, translated by Amanda Walker

Japan's First DOS-based Web Browser, Announcing WebBoy: Environmentally Friendly "Recycle Ware" March 17, 1997

Translation from Japanese Original by Amanda Walker - On the 17th, IBM Japan, Ltd. announced "IBM WebBoy for DOS Version 3.0" (hereafter "WebBoy"), a PC-DOS based Internet web browser.

"WebBoy" was developed by the company's Japanese division. It is the first Japanese PC-DOS based web browser with a graphical user interface.

Until now, the graphical content offered by the Internet hasn't been available in the personal computer DOS environment. Now, older-generation equipment can be recycled into practical use. This software provides an approach that is both "environment-friendly" and "customer asset protective". With the company's software, older equipment can be re-used ("recycled"), extending its useful life.

The company, which in 1990 published an open personal computer specification, and later released DOS/V, estimates the size of the total market for software that can run on equipment using Intel 386 and 486 processors at 2.5 million units.

The browser can display multiple frames, tables, forms, overlapping images, and animated images, and is equipped with standard/popular web page reading functions. It also provides Internet standard electronic mail functionality. This allows DOS personal computers to be recycled for both home Internet use and Intranet applications. While a mouse can be used, pages can be navigated using only the keyboard.


IBM DOS version J5.02/V or greater
IBM-compatible personal computer
Intel 386 SX processor or better
4MB or more of memory
5MB or more free hard disk space

Price: 9800 Yen

Release date: April 29th 1997 (Greenery Day Holiday)

So, where can you get more information? Well, it's not easy, if you understand Japanese, then you can always try the WebBoy home page at http://www.ibm.co.jp/software/internet/webboy/.

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