We attended the Wonderware press conference last week on September 5th and wanted to share a few observations. The main purpose of the event was to introduce InTouch 10.0, System Platform 3.0, and Compact Panels. A few words about each follows. The significance of the new releases of InTouch and System Platform to the end user and system integrator community was outlined in a presentation by Bill Sherwood, president of system integrator Progressive Software Solutions. Progressive has been working with the new software for six months in beta version and they noted the following significant improvements. With the new releases, Wonderware now provides a single development platform for all of their HMI, SCADA, MES, and Enterprise Integration applications. With older versions of Wonderware, Sherwood said users were forced to learn and use multiple platforms that were all at least somewhat different. He said that the common development environment reduced the learning curve by requiring users to only learn and work with one platform for all applications. By providing a common development environment, Wonderware delivers the benefits outlined by Sherwood, and they also encourage their customers to use and deploy all of the capabilities of their software. It is also now cheaper and simpler for Wonderware users to buy the single development platform as opposed to buying a separate software package for each application. The second main benefit described by Sherwood was a reduction in time and errors via standardization, templates, instances, and re-use. Sherwood said that his employees noticed that it was now much easier to create and re-use standards with the latest versions of the Wonderware software. The third main benefit noticed by Sherwood and his company was support for simultaneous and collaborative team development of new applications via a true multi-user environment with security, check in, check out, and other features. Finally, Sherwood said that newly available powerful scripting provided extensibility for easily customized applications. Features like more powerful scripting, custom properties, .NET controls, .NET container, and data aware controls were cited as being particularly helpful. The bottom line for Progressive was that the new Wonderware releases saved his company up to 25% of the time required to develop applications while allowing them to better implement and regulate standards. On the hardware front, Wonderware intend to directly challenge Rockwell Automation's PanelView products with its new LCD Color Compact Panels. There will initially be three display sizes: 7", 10", and 15". These Windows CE units will run a version of InTouch labeled InTouch Compact and will be licensed for 1,000 tags. Although specific pricing information was not released, Wonderware execs assured me that these panels would be priced to go head-to-head with PanelView and other competitive products. Assuming this is true, Compact Panels could be an excellent solution for machine builders and other OEMs that need a low-cost, high-performance, brand-name Operator Interface solution that will readily be accepted by many of their end customers.