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Microsoft's New Windows NT Version Is Open for Businesses

July 31, 1996|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday finished a new version of its Windows NT operating system for businesses, pushing harder into the realm of running whole networks of personal computers, not just individual ones.

The product is Microsoft's main software to run basic functions on workstations and servers, machines that are typically more powerful than desktop or laptop PCs.

Microsoft completed work on Windows NT 4.0 and sent it to manufacturing sites Tuesday. The company will formally introduce the program today during a meeting with financial analysts.

Although Windows NT is not designed for home or consumer use, a key advance over previous versions is its adoption of the same appearance as Windows 95, the mass-market operating system that Microsoft makes and is built into most new PCs.

Windows 95 received a huge amount of attention when it was rolled out last summer. But some businesses have ignored the program, waiting instead to update their computers with the new Windows NT. It is viewed as capable of running more complex programs than Windows 95 without crashing.

Some PC makers have been counting on Windows NT to stir what they believe is pent-up demand for new machines in businesses. Digital Equipment Corp. executives, discussing their latest results and outlook Tuesday, cited the software as likely to help their sales for the rest of the year.

The software is designed to allow a powerful PC to do several things at once. For instance, a server could simultaneously print documents, run an accounting program and host pages on the Internet's World Wide Web, said Jonathan Roberts, a Microsoft marketing director.

The recommended cost of the 4.0 server product will be about $1,000 for a computer that works with 10 other PCs, Roberts said. A desktop PC version, called Windows NT Workstation, will cost $319.

Market studies show purchases of personal computers for use as servers will grow 20% to 25% this year, above the overall PC sales rate of 20%.

In technical features, the new Windows NT will put Microsoft on a more level footing with competitors such as Novell's NetWare, IBM's OS-2 and the various versions of Unix operating programs found in machines by IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and others.

Though Windows NT had a slow start when it first became available in 1993, the server product sold 450,000 units and the workstation version sold just over 1 million, Roberts said.

That's a reflection of how PCs, packed with more powerful processing chips, have been chosen to do jobs that were previously done by more expensive Unix workstations.

"In terms of momentum, NT has it and Unix does not," said Dwight Davis, editor of the newsletter Windows Watcher.

But he noted that Unix can still run on systems, such as minicomputers, that are more powerful than PCs. "Unix will still dominate the high end of the server market," Davis said.

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