Bugs hinder G’s Pen System release

Published in 1992 (Computer Jagat)

The latent pen-based computer market will remain grounded until at least the middle of the year, its lift-off hampered by a lack of deliverable hardware and further delays in the release of two key pen-based operating environments.

Several developers claimed a series of bugs will delay the arrival of Go Corp.’s Penpoint operating system until at least June, despite Go’s assurances last week that Penpoint will enter its second beta-test phase this month and meet its end of March delivery date.

“It’s still very buggy, and there are major things missing,” one developer said recently. “I’m often surprised if it doesn’t crash during a demo.”

A Go spokeswoman said the company would meet its March deadline, adding that all beta-test versions have bugs.

Go can afford to delay its introduction as long as Windows for Pen Computing remains just a promise, analysts said. “Until Microsoft ships, Go is in no rush,” said Bill Lempesis, editor of “Prevision News.”

However, after missing at least three ship dates going back to June 1991, Microsoft Corp. will finally ship its competitor to Pinpoint, Microsoft Windows for Pen Computing operating system extension, as part of Windows 3.1 at Comdex/ Spring ’92 in early April.

Even if the system software for pen computing ships on time, users will have one more, hurdle to surmount. Both Pen-point and Windows for Pen will require at least an Intel Corp. 80386-based pen machine to / run efficiently,  analysts  said/ and that hardware is not expected to arrive until midyear.

Few deliverables

So far, the much-anticipated pen market has resulted in few deliverables. Grid Systems Corp. and Moment Corp. have 386-based   machines. Grid’s proprietary Penlight sits on top of DOS, while Moment’s system will recognize both DOS and Microsoft’s Windows-based software when it arrives later this year.

Developers said they have been constrained by a lack of enough prototype pen tablets to test their applications. NCR Corp., Samsung Information Systems America, Inc., Trigem, Telepad Corp. and possibly IBM are expected to ship pen machines at that point. “Until the hardware ships, the operating system is pretty meaningless,” Lempesis said. Once the operating systems and the hardware platforms ship, developers can move ahead on other problem areas. Improvements in handwriting recognition, display technology, battery life, durability and pricing will evolve pen-based computers from vertical markets into broader horizontal business. By 1995, Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm International Data Corp. estimated, 850,000 pen systems will be sold per year.

Meanwhile, users who have been promised the moon have grown impatient.

“Our frustration is that we’ve been shown the capability of pen-based systems and have sold management on it, but now we want to go the next step and get our hands on the hardware and the operating systems,” said William D. McHugh, principal methods analyst in the Newark, N.J., offices of the Public Service Electric and Gas Co. ‘We need products, not promises.”

james daly

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