TCI Picks Sun for Set-top Apps


Sticking to its plan to only support open standards,
Tele-Communications Inc. will use Sun Microsystem Inc.'s 'PersonalJava' platform
for the 11.9 million set-tops it has on order from NextLevel Systems Inc.

In a press conference late Friday, Sun executives joined
with Bruce Ravenel, a TCI senior vice president, to discuss the arrangement. Financial
terms were not disclosed.

'I can't think of a better way to demonstrate that
Java is unstoppable,' said Alan Baratz, president of Javasoft, of the TCI deal.

'We felt this was necessary to foster the development
of new applications that consumers will demand in the coming information age,' said
Ravenel. 'PersonalJava gives us to ability to have an applications environment for
our broadband environment without concern as to specific microprocessors and operating

Simultaneous to the press call, TCI chairman and chief
executive officer John Malone sat on a private conference call with Microsoft Corp.
chairman and chief executive officer Bill Gates to negotiate once and for all whether or
not Microsoft's 'WinCE' software would be used in the NextLevel set-tops.

Irrespective of the operating system decision, however, TCI
will move ahead with the Sun plan, said Alan Baratz, president of Javasoft, the division
of Sun Microsystems that administers Java application program interfaces (APIs).

'Java is not an operating system -- it's an
object-oriented software platform that lives on top of the operating system,' said
Baratz. 'What's unique about it is that it can live equally well on any operating

That means that content developers interested in creating
products for the OpenCable platform don't have to write multiple versions that are
specific to varying hardware and software types.

'The PersonalJava platform supports the full Java
applet interface, and as a result, all applets running on the Internet can run on this
device,' Baratz added.

Ravenel said it will take about a year before OpenCable
set-tops begin rolling out in cable systems.