NETWORK computing industry leader Novell is bailing out of a number of its existing markets and terminating several product lines - including Novell DOS 7 - to concentrate on new 'technology initiatives' and usher in an era of 'pervasive computing'. Novell is initially pulling out of the personal computer operating system business by stopping production of Novell DOS 7, a product it acquired as part of its take-over of Digital Research. 'The battle for the office desktop is over and MS-DOS and Windows have won,' Novell chairman and chief executive Robert Frankenberg said at last week's Networld+Interop '94 conference in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. 'We will support Novell DOS, but we will not enhance it.' 'Novell has as much DOS marketshare as Microsoft has network marketshare,' said Novell executive vice-president John Edwards. 'We are focusing on strong areas.' Novell used Networld+Interop '94 to introduce these strong areas, which are part of its vision of the future of computing. Novell sees networking as it is today evolving to encompass a much wider, global concept. It envisages everyone now owning a computer will use networking technology - through the global information superhighway, among other things. It also expects a growing number of people using computers for the first time in future will also need to connect to information hubs to share and exchange information. 'Our goal is to take people one step at a time,' Mr Edwards said. 'The future is pervasive computing: connecting people to allow them to work anytime they want - any way.' The term 'Pervasive computing' is one Novell has chosen to define its vision for the future. To usher it in, the company is turning its attention to a range of new products - encompassing operating systems and user interfaces - and services. Top of the list is SuperNOS, a planned killer operating system that will see the best of Novell's existing NetWare network operating system being combined with the best of UnixWare - its UNIX counterpart. There are an estimated 40 million NetWare users on four million local area networks (LANs) worldwide - more than double the number of users of all other network operating systems combined. In addition, there are about 30 million users of UNIX applications around the world. It is this formidable market that Novell aims to capture with SuperNOS, according to Mr Frankenberg. 'The time has come for NetWare NOS to provide all the services of an operating system,' he said. 'This is why we are evolving a SuperNOS with NetWare and UNIXWare on a common Novell microkernel. 'We have left the world of the mainframe. Organisations have many servers. By ensuring that NetWare and UNIXWare work perfectly together, we allow our customers to chose which technology they need on which servers.' Novell planned to make both products run on a single set of hardware, or 'as a single system image on multiple hardware sets' on a network. 'You get the best of both and a progressive, evolutionary path from today's specialised, robust backend,' he said. 'All applications, trained programmers, tools, interoperability, support, and network services continue on without change. Perhaps best of all, we build on success, adding functionality rather than simply re-writing the old.' SuperNOS is still a 'concept', according to Mr Edwards. '[It is a] codename for a technology initiative to bring the best of UNIX and NetWare together in a common system'. When complete, the system would be open to licensing and would be provided on a wide range of platforms, he said. In addition to its focus on the network operating system market, Novell is also looking at the client side of the business. Last week Mr Frankenberg unveiled plans for an 'advanced Novell client interface that will make it compelling to be connected networks'. Featuring a graphical three-dimensional user interface with a 'world metaphor', the system would make network navigation simple for the first time, he said. However, it would not be a new operating system in its own right, Mr Edwards said. Instead, it would be built on existing systems such as Windows 95. 'We will see over four to six months of demonstrating and customer testing of this system [before it is brought to market],' he said. 'It will browse the Internet, NetWare and NCS networks and live in MS Windows, Chicago, UNIXWare and other desktop operating systems,' Mr Frankenberg said. 'It will bring not only these end user services, but also compelling consistent NAPIs [network application programmer interfaces] for Windows, UNIX and other developers to unlock the power of the network from client applications.' These new areas of focus do not just see Novell pulling out of the desktop operating system market - which was itself a move the market 'welcomed', Mr Frankenberg said. In addition, Novell is pulling out of the database business, up to a point. Having sold off Btrieve, its database product, the company is now only working with partners in the database area. It will steer clear of creating vertical applications and, while working with information service providers as part of its networking technology initiative, it will not become an information service provider itself, or attempt to provide communications infrastructure. 'This frees up a considerable number of people who are now making the network fulfil our vision,' Mr Frankenberg said. Hardware would also be an area that Novell would abstain from dabbling in, he said.