In my October 1996 editorial, I made several predictions for 1997. Have my predictions stood the test of time, or should I be stoned as a false prophet? I'll score myself prediction by prediction on a scale of 1 (stone-worthy) to 5 (excellent).
Predictions and Scores
Microsoft Cluster Server (Wolfpack) has the potential to increase the market for clusters tenfold. Although Wolfpack got mind share, it has only recently shipped as part of Windows NT Server, Enterprise Edition (NTS/E) and has not significantly increased the market for clustersyet. Microsoft positions NTS/E as a high-end solution, ignoring the potential in the small to midsized market. This positioning may keep the number of cluster-aware applications low, which will cause the market for clusters to grow more slowly than I predicted. Score: 2.
The "Designed for Windows NT and Windows 95" Logo will force Windows 95 vendors to support NT Workstation. The key to that prediction was Microsoft retiring the "Designed for Windows 95" logo in January 1997. Bowing to pressure, Microsoft has revised its plan, and the logo isn't scheduled for retirement until January 1998. So next month, we'll see a new "Designed for Windows NT 5.0 and Windows 98" logo. Despite the lackluster logo, the number of NT Workstation applications increased significantly in 1997. Score: 2.
Pentium Pro systems will replace Pentiums and come bundled with NT Workstation, increasing NT Workstation's market share. Actually, the Pentium II replaced Pentiums, but most Pentium IIs shipped with Windows 95. Nevertheless, NT Workstation shipments tripled, to about 3 million.
According to International Data Corporation, NT Workstation continues to show interesting growth, with shipments increasing 177 percent annually. In addition, in the past 6 months, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have more than doubled the number of machines on which they preinstall NT Workstation. Score: 3.
RISC vendors will speed up the development of Intel's 64-bit chip and will fuel the development of a 64-bit version of NT. Although the PowerPC running NT turned out to be a dud, the Alpha, the only RISC system left for NT, is gaining momentum. The 64-bit version of NT 5.0 (beta) shipped in September 1997 for Alpha-based computers. Alpha now owns the 64-bit NT market. The pressure is on Intel to deliver a 64-bit chip for NT. Score: 5.
If NT's new directory is as good as NetWare's NDS, NT Server will put a serious dent in NetWare sales. The NT 5.0 Active Directory (AD) will be good enough to compete with NDS, and even though AD hasn't shipped, it has already held back NetWare's market potential. NDS for NT and Banyan System's StreetTalk for NT are unlikely to have any impact on the rollout of AD. NT customers will very probably use NT 5.0's native (and free) AD system. Score: 5.
We will see a substantial increase in business-critical applications for NT Server and an increase in NT Workstation applications. In 1997, Microsoft formed the Application Developer Customer Unit (ADCU), which hired hundreds of technical evangelists to spread the gospel of building business-critical applications on top of NT and BackOffice. Windows NT Magazine's Solutions Directory (http://www.winntsolutions.com) contains more than a thousand of these applications, and the number is growing at a rate of more than 200 applications per month. Score: 4.
Microsoft BackOffice will force competitors to tightly integrate their back office-type applications with NT Server. IBM Software Servers, Oracle InterOffice, and NetScape SuiteSpot are examples of the type of integration I was referring to. The key to this battle for the back office market is the number of business-critical applications that will be available on these platforms in 2 years. Whatever company has the most NT applications based on its platform wins. Right now, the race is between SQL Server- and Oracle-based applications. Score: 5.
Time to Stone the Prophet?
OK, my predictions were not perfect. In several cases, I predicted the result, but the way it happened was not predictable. One thing is for sure: 1997 was an incredible year for NT. I am eager to see the changes we'll be looking back on a year from now.