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October 2000

Dot-com vendor resets 3000 solution rules

Millware offers free products over Internet for GUI, performance

A company built around business practices new to the HP 3000 market took its products before the public at HP World, as Millware Corp. showed off its ScreenJet and TheDash software and offered customer testimonials.

The brainchild of founder Dave Wiseman, Millware is billed as a marketing corporation without sales people, but one that’s selling software nonetheless. The two products in Millware’s stable have been created by experienced MPE/iX developers who hold the licenses for their software — just one of the many ways Wiseman is changing the rules for solutions in the 3000 market.

Millware (www.millware.com) does have a physical address in the UK — a 13th Century Gloucestershire abbey where the company’s administrative, marketing and tech support staff operate. But in contrast to its ancient offices, in some ways this firm represents the potential for the 3000 market’s future — a pure Internet play which does as much over the Web as any company can.

The HP 3000 division (CSY) admitted Millware as one of its first 3000 partners participating in HP’s Garage Program, where HP delivers hardware to companies before they have to pay for it. The deferred billing on such Garage systems is designed to let dot-com firms have a chance to start up and earn revenue before they have to pay for hard assets like computers. In Millware’s case, a Series 918 arrived at its office under the auspices of the Garage Program.

There’s more that’s different, items that have a greater impact on potential customers. Millware is offering its two products for free in base-functionality versions, while more feature-laden versions are for sale online. The company is basing its prices on per-seat charges, so a 3000 with a 20-user license might pay $1,000 per year for a full development copy of ScreenJet, for example — $50 per user seat.

Millware will also collect two years’ of license fees for its products at first, and will add a $100 administrative fee to each order. Placing an order online gets a software key good for 90 days delivered to the customer. Receipt of payment gets a more permanent key delivered.

But Millware but won’t be charging for support. Nearly all 3000 suppliers collect a yearly fee for support, between 10 and 20 percent of a product’s purchase price.

The differences in the Millware business model reflect Wiseman’s thinking about how much change is needed in the computer field. He delights in saying things like, “Millware Corporation does not employ salesmen” while attracting users to things like hospitality suites. The company hosted an open bar in an HP World hotel to help kick off its product offerings, software which started to break onto the market in earnest this month.

Wiseman applies a salesman’s energy to his marketing tasks, however. At HP World, Millware was offering high-grade dress shirts embroidered with its logo to people registered at its Web site. Attendees had to promise to wear the shirt one day of the show, a way to increase visibility for the company. Millware had a booth on the show floor as well, and was a Gold Level sponsor of the conference.

As interesting as the marketing and business plans are, there’s some real MPE/iX engineering going on in the company’s offerings. Millware partnered with Brian Duncombe’s Triolet Systems to build TheDash, a free performance dashboard that lists fundamental performance information and can launch other HP 3000 tools such as Adager. Duncombe has created several performance measurement products for the HP 3000 since the 1970s, and Triolet began offering the Probe/iX performance tool in 1998.

And Millware is in partnership with Allan Yeo of the UK’s Affirm Ltd. to create ScreenJet, a terminal emulator and GUI development package. Yeo started with client software from another third party, stripping out 75 percent of its functionality down to the essentials and reworking it for the needs of the 3000.

“We know it’s solid, and we can add as much graphical function as we want,” Wiseman said. “We have another five years of enhancement in the client.” Entering a marketplace like GUI and terminal emulation could be daunting, considering the established products available for the 3000. Millware wants to establish its beachhead with TheDash.

TheDash will create bar charts which show data such as transaction launches per second, or memory faults per transaction launch, as a gauge of how busy the system is and whether there is a potential memory problem. It also shows jobs, sessions and processes for a quick look at system limits, and the system’s top five CPU-using processes. The software also promises to have a Windows Help version of the MPE Help files. (A First Look at TheDash will be in a future issue of the NewsWire.)

“We have designed this so that you can keep it at the top of your screen,” Wiseman said, “and you will always have a mind’s eye view of your system while you work. I’m trying to make it the nicest little toy that any boy would want to have on his HP 3000.”

ScreenJet wants to be a means to remake the interface to HP 3000 applications relying on VPlus. Its free client version includes Smart Send, which sends ENTER in block mode and CR in character mode, regardless of whichever of those keys a user presses. It also offers an auto GUI that starts converting VPlus application interfaces to look like Windows, file transfer, and a scripting language. When sites that download ScreenJet register with Millware, a feature is added which displays VPlus errors as Windows pop-up boxes.

Paying for a full version of the product — that $50 per seat per year charge — offers interface items such as radio buttons and drop boxes through the ScreenJet Designer.

Both products being marketed by Millware promise an array of future features, such as a Reporter for ScreenJet and subroutines to handle non-VPlus applications. At the moment, the company is offering a $20 per user per year special bundle for TheDash, one that will provide all upcoming enhancements over the next two years at a reduced price.

“First release of some of these functions is planned for ship at the end of October,” Wiseman said, “with further releases every two months for the next two years, until all modules have been completed. We feel that this gives the early adopters who have faith in us, a real break on pricing forever, in return for their faith.”

Application suppliers and existing 3000 partners have demonstrated faith in the Millware plan. CMT, a garment application provider, CIO Technologies, an Internet fulfillment application provider, Demand Wave, offering distribution applications, financial app provider Genesis Total Solutions, and manufacturing application maker Dennis & Schwab are among those who have signed up to use ScreenJet to develop GUIs for their applications. Wiseman said that these firms have over 500 customers.

GTS vice president Chris Miller says his company had been particularly successful selling its applications to dot-coms using the Smith-Gardner Ecometry package. But his firm recognized it needed a more Windows-friendly interface. “After reviewing our many options — ranging from designing new screens from scratch to third-party conversion programs — ScreenJet provided us with the easiest, most cost-effective solution.”

David Lorenz, Parcel Corporation of America’s Director of Technology, said his fulfillment house to e-commerce, catalog and direct TV companies used ScreenJet as deployed by CIO. The software gives Parcel’s clients Web access to its systems without losing the benefits of a VPlus and COBOL application.

“In addition, the free distribution model from Millware Corporation had allowed PCA to distribute the software easily to as many customers as needed, without being penalized on cost,” Lorenz said. “We gained instant benefit the moment we installed ScreenJet, because our applications immediately looked like Windows, and they ran faster on the Internet.”

Changing the process of deploying 3000 applications seems as important as any goal on Millware’s menu. “For the last year we’ve been redefining how software should act, how it should be designed, what it should do and, most importantly, how it should be sold,” Wiseman said.


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