NeXT searches for a market
Announced in 1988 and available by 1990, the new system was highly regarded but never became a mass market success. NeXT released improved hardware over the next two years, but eventually had to start looking in new directions, since like Apple, their Motorola 68k based hardware was reaching a dead end. In 1992 they began porting their software package to run on new PowerPC designs, as well as existing 486 PCs. Plans to produce any new custom hardware were killed shortly afterward, and the company renamed itself NeXT Software, shelved the PowerPC port and introduced NeXTSTEP/486 as an operating system alternative for PC users. NeXT later ported NeXTSTEP to run on Sun SPARC and HP PA-RISC hardware.
At this point, NeXT was selling an operating system alternative, for various platforms, to users who already had an OS; in order to run NeXT, users had to install it in place of what they were already using. This strategy was not very successful, so NeXT eventually partnered with Sun to split the NeXT development frameworks apart from the Mach/BSD OS, and run them on Sun's Solaris OS instead. This allowed NeXT to move its core software to a middleware layer, called OpenStep, that could run on any OS up to the task. Sun later backed out of the partnership to focus on their own Java development.
NeXT then ported OpenStep to run on top of Windows NT, and continued to sell both 'OPENSTEP for Mach,' the full NeXTSTEP operating system, and 'OPENSTEP for Enterprise,' the layer running on NT. By 1996, while NeXT had ported their products to various platforms, the majority of their users were running NeXT's software on PC hardware, either on Windows or in place of it. NeXT also made other attempts to leverage the value their OpenStep development frameworks by marketing PDO, D'Ole, Enterprise Objects Frameworks and WebObjects, all products that built upon OpenStep to provide object oriented development tools for working with business data, database transactions and web application servers. Despite having a mature, functional OS and well designed set of application frameworks, NeXT had little potential for growth because they lacked a mass market distribution partner.
Part III > Apple acquires NeXT