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Cos. To Link Appliances To Internet

March 2, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ For years, manufacturers have touted technologies that would let people easily access the Internet via ``smart″ phones, or order pizza by touching a flat screen attached to the refrigerator door.

But a hodgepodge of technical standards made it tough to link the gadgets in a network.

A group of 15 leading technology companies says they want to fix that.

International Business Machines Corp., Motorola Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. were among the companies that agreed Monday to create a common technical standard to easily link a future generation of gadgets and appliances to each other and the Internet. The standard, called the Open Service Gateway Specification, was expected to be completed by the middle of the year.

Based on Sun’s Java universal programming language, the new standard is intended to help speed the development of networked consumer devices. By creating devices to a single specification, the manufacturers and software developers hope to make linking digital gizmos to computer networks as easy as plugging a telephone into a wall.

``Each one of these applications had its own industry and working group and standard,″ said Eric Brown, an industry analyst with Forrester Research, based in Boston. ``It’s becoming clear there’s an opportunity to connect everything to everything.″

The other members of the group are Alcatel, Cable & Wireless, Electricite de France, Enron Communications, Ericsson, Lucent Technologies, Network Computer Inc., Nortel Networks, Oracle Corp., Philips Electronics, Sybase and Toshiba.

One noticeable no-show was Microsoft Corp., the largest maker of computer software which is pushing its dominant Windows as the operating system for future Internet gizmos. Microsoft’s absence could hamper the widespread acceptance of a new standard from the group.

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