The POE contains API and ABI specifications. The presence of the ABI specification in the POE distinguishes it from other open systems such as POSIX and XPG4, since it allows platform-independent binary compatibility, which is otherwise typically limited to particular hardware. Derived from AIX, the POE conforms to industry open standards including POSIX, XPG4, and Motif.
The POE is hardware bus independent. System implementations can range from laptop computers to supercomputers. It requires a multi-user, multitasking operating system. It provides networking support, an X Window System extension, a Macintosh Application Services extension, and Motif.
The need for the POE lessened due to the increasing availability of Unix and Linux distributions for the PowerPC, including AIX. The PowerOpen Association, an organization formed to promote the POE and test for conformance with it, disbanded in 1995.