Where Are We Headed?

History repeats itself. If we believe this statement we might be able to study the life cycle of other computing environments to predict the future direction of the Windows NT market

If you look at Microsoft's BackOffice, you'll see many of the components found in IBM's AS/400, but without the hardware. Built-in database, host connectivity, systems management remote-computing support high-end operating system, and more. Why would Microsoft want to follow I BM's minicomputer strategy? Because it works. The AS/400 alone represents over $14 billion dollars of IBM revenue-almost three times the current size of Microsoft Let's examine how IBM created this opportunity.

First IBM's minicomputers (System/34,36,38) provided ISVs and corporate IS managers with the technology and tools to develop the applications needed to solve most business problems. Next IBM encouraged ISVs to develop for this platform, giving them the opportunity to add value to IBM's system. Eventually, the early adopters were rewarded, and more ISVs were attracted to the platform. By the time the AS/400 was introduced, most of the systems were sold because of the thousands of business-critical software solutions available; the technology became secondary.

One key to the success of the AS/400 platform was support-and the willingness of corporate IS to pay for it. This requirement was easy for IBM due to its mainframe support model. Microsoft and its Solution Providers must rise to IBM's level of support. Next AS/400 vendors and users could customize-off-the shelf software because the tools and database were readily available and standard on the platform. The other factor was the quality of the AS/400's business solutions; they compete well in features.

I believe Windows NT has a similar opportunity, although its progression will be much faster. The improvements in hardware, component-based software development price/performance, endorsement by enterprise software vendors, published API's, and, of course, Microsoft's marketing will speed NT's success. Windows NT has attracted ISVs from every platform-PC, NetWare, UNIX, Mac, AS/400, VAX, HP, and more-each vendor bringing the strength of its platform to the NT environment Already, there are more client/server databases available for Windows NT Server than for any other platform.

The ISVs who adopted Windows NT early will soon be rewarded for their faith in the platform. As profits increase, other ISVs will flood the market with even more applications. Over the next year, Windows NT-based solutions Will go head-to-head with those of other platforms, winning on a combination of technology, price/performance, features, support user interface, and market momentum. The floodgates are about to open.

How sure is this future? If the past is any indicator, this future is certain.