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Novell to acquire Serius

PROVO, Utah -- Novell Inc., a leader in computer networking, said Thursday it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Serius Corp., a pioneer on object-oriented software development.

Novell already holds 11 percent of Serius. The agreement announced Thursday calls for Novell to acquire the remaining 98 percent of Serius stock for $17.25 million.

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The acquisition is expected to be completed before Novell's third fiscal quarter ends in July.

Serius has developed a library of 'objects' for object-oriented computer programming.

Object oriented programming is a sort of modular approach to developing specialized software. Each object -- or module -- is designed to accomplish a specific objective.

Users, particularly businesses who need to customize their software, can then pick and choose various objects and combine them to create a specialized program.

Developing such programs is basically as simple as putting together blocks. It can be done by people without the specialized skills required of programmers, like knowledge of programming languages.

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The objects in the Serius library contain all the programming language, or code, necessary to accomplish their specific tasks. Serius describes them as 'prefabricated building blocks of code.'

'Software development has remained an art of craftsmen writing code line-by-line. What we are doing is taking it into the industrial age so that the best of software art can be rapidly applied as specific solutions in today's competitive information economy,' said Serius founder and CEO Joseph Firmage.

'Libraries of modular software objects free computer users and software vendors from the limitations of generic applications,' he said.

One of Novell's corporate objectives is to expand availability of applications software, like spreadsheets and word processors, that can operate at all levels and stations on a computer network.

Serius technology, in addition to simplifying the process of customizing applications, also makes it easier to link applications to various services within a network.

The ability of software to work on different types of computers within a network also is important, and applications created using Serius technology currently can be shared by Apple Macintosh computers and by IBM compatible computers equipped with Microsoft Windows.

'Serius is an important part of Novell's effort to help applications become independent of underlying operating systems and greatly simplify and accelerate their development and deployment across computer networks,' said Novell Executive Vice President John Edwards, who heads the company's Desktop Systems Group.

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'The Serius building-block approach is reinvigorating custom development efforts. It has the potential of providing an entirely new way for computer users to easily access valued vertical software solutions through modular libraries of code,' Edwards said.

The Serius product family includes two application builders, Serius Workshop and Serius Developer Pro. The company estimates that more than 3,500 Management Information Systems professionals, consultants and value added resellers use the Serius development environment today.

Serius, a privately held, venture-capital backed company based in Salt Lake City, was founded four years ago and has about 40 employees. Novell acquired its 11 percent stake in Serius in December 1991.

In a related technology acquisition, Novell last month announced a pooling-of-interests merger with Software Transformation, which provides a framework of advanced software components and tools for programming by professional developers using third generation languages such as C and C-plus-plus. The Software Transformation framework allows programmers to develop applications that run under multiple computer operating systems.

Novell is an operating system software company and developer of network services and specialized and general purpose operating system software products, including NetWare, UnixWare and Novell DOS. Novell's NetWare network computing products manage and control the sharing of services, data and applications among networked computers.

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