Egg pilots smart client computing

Online bank Egg has begun a proof-of-concept project with Microsoft to look at how its banking platform needs to evolve to meet...

Online bank Egg has begun a proof-of-concept project with Microsoft to look at how its banking platform needs to evolve to meet the future expectations of customers.

The project uses the pre-alpha version of Microsoft's Longhorn operating system to deliver smart client technology.

Egg's chief information officer, Tom Ilube, said the bank's customers access online banking services via a web browser. "To deliver next generation banking services, we need to move from a browser to a smart client," he said.

Egg has built an application that takes advantage of WinFS, a key enhancement to Windows that Microsoft plans to ship in Longhorn, which changes the way users access data and applications on a PC.

WinFS will allow users to organise documents based on their own criteria. Programs that support this feature could offer application-specific searching.

Last week in London, Ilube demonstrated how the smart client, which runs Longhorn on a customer's PC, provides a constant online connection to Egg's back-end banking system.

Ilube showed how a customer who made an account query directly from the smart client would be put in contact with a customer service representative via a video pop-up panel on the Longhorn desktop. He also showed how a customer could ask Egg customer services to check a possibly fraudulent debit.

The proof-of-concept application showed customer service staff connecting directly to the customer's PC in a similar way to how remote PC management software allows support staff to fix problems directly on an end-user's computer.

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