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Some enterprise users might look at Win98 instead of NT

By John Cox
Network World Fusion

June 25, 1998
Web posted at: 4:30 PM EDT

(IDG) -- Microsoft makes it pretty clear: Today's launch of Windows 98 is meant for consumers - enterprise users looking for desktop upgrades should move to Windows NT.

But a number of enterprise users, still getting over the pain of moving from Windows 3.11 to 95, say they'd rather consider moving to 98 than NT - if they move at all.

NT, they say, simply demands too much from processors, memory and hard drives. And they worry about moving Win95 applications to NT, a shift even Microsoft says will be difficult.

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"We want to see what advantages 98 might give us," said Jon Glendon, a supervisor at the New Haven Public Library in Connecticut. "The integration of the Web browser and the operating system might be an advantage to our users, especially to our customers."

The library, like many business sites, has a mix of NT and Win95 desktop computers for about 40 users, including some PCs made available to library patrons. There won't be any abrupt change.

"The issue for us is the applications and software support. We have applications that are available on Win95 but not on NT," says Kevin Konski, a systems administrator with Covance Clinical and Periapproval Services, Inc. in Princeton, N.J., which manages drug testing and research for pharmaceutical companies.

"We're just finishing our Windows 95 rollout now," he added. "If there's a compelling business reason, we'll switch to Windows 98. But we won't adopt it just because it's there."

The move from Win95 to NT is "not as smooth a process as users would like," acknowledged Shannon Perdue, product manager of U.S. Windows marketing & desktop solutions at Microsoft. The main problem, she said, is the long process of making changes to the operating system's Registry, which is akin to a database for configuring the software on an individual computer.

A computer technician who works for a systems integration company, and who requested anonymity, said the company's clients seem to be suffering the "usual confusion" about upgrading an operating system. Most clients have a mix of Windows 3.1, 95 and NT desktops and that mix seems to be shifting only slowly. "There does seem to be a leaning toward NT and away from Win 95," he said.

He expects Windows 98 to be successful mainly in the home market but only through new PC purchases. "End users will experience Windows 98 when they go out and buy a new PC and get the software already installed on it," he said.

Microsoft seems be betting on exactly that cycle for NT Workstation as well. There are now more than 15 million NT Workstation licenses, a 109% increase over the number on desktops last year, according to Craig Beilinson, a product manager for NT 4.0 Workstation.

"OEMs [such as Compaq Computer Corp.] are now preconfiguring machines with NT Workstation," he said. Beilinson said he was told by one PC builder, Micron Electronics, Inc., that in May, for the first time, half of the PCs it shipped to corporate customers carried NT 4.0 Workstation.

Beilinson thinks that falling PC prices will make it easier for corporate customers to upgrade their desktops and afford the additional CPU, memory and disk that NT demands compared to Windows 98. "Only in the last six months, have people realized they can now buy new PCs with NT pre-installed," he said. "This [all] makes buying new machines, with NT, very attractive."

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