A funny thing happened at the 1995 Fall Comdex in Las Vegas, Nevada. While vendors proudly announced their support of Windows 95, attendees were asking, "Does it run on NT?" It seems that corporate users are embracing Windows NT faster than expected. After Comdex, hardware and software companies who weren't part of the first wave of NT solutions started planning and creating native NT applications. This should lead to another wave of activity in the second half 1996 which will make the switch to NT even more compelling-and easier-than it is today.

When will Microsoft stop focusing on Windows 95? 1 believe you'll hear about more and more large organizations bypassing Windows 95 and migrating directly to Windows NT Workstation. Security, scalability, and stability will top the list of reasons. Microsoft's desktop message will still be a bit complex in 1996, stating that either operating system will work in most cases. In 1997, however, Microsoft's message will become clearer: Windows NT is for business; Windows 95 is for consumers. By then, even smaller business desktops will be "Ready for NT."

Does the Windows 95 logo mean software runs natively on NT Workstation? Maybe! To get the Windows 95 logo, vendors have to certify that their application will run on NT unless there is an architectural difference. According to Microsoft, about 900/o of the Windows 95 logo applications run on NT today. Exceptions include applications that require TAPI, Unimodem support or direct hardware access-an NT security violation. (Ironically, there's also an NT-compatible logo that does not require an application run on Windows 95.)

The next version of NT, called the Shell Update Release, should accelerate the acceptance of NT Workstation into the corporate world. The Shell will contain the Windows 95 interface, written specifically for NT. In addition, it will also have 486 emulation for 16-bit applications-currently, its 286 emulation-a native Exchange Client support for TAPI and Unimodem, and enhanced PCMCIA support. Finally, the graphics engine will be moved into the kernel for enhanced performance and scalability. By adding these features, Microsoft hopes to increase the number of Windows 95 applications that will run natively on NT Workstation. Two notable Windows 95 features that will still be missing are plug-and-play support and power management for laptop users.

Another push toward NT Workstation will come from hardware manufacturers. Windows 95 can't take advantage of all the power in the new P6-based machines; it seems to peak with the Pentium/133-MHz machines. NT, however, takes advantage of the P6, as well as the RISC chips. Soon. manufacturers will be shipping their systems reconfigured with NT

This means that your investment in NT-based technology, solutions, and training will become more valuable this year. New products and services will be introduced on NT It will become more and more obvious that NT means business; most of the innovative new software will be available exclusively on NT. 1996 promises to be an exciting year for Windows NT.