Windows NT Workstation is on its way to be the business desktop operating system of choice. That's the feeling I got after attending the Denver kickoff of the Windows NT 4.0 (NT4) preview tour in February. About 900 IS professionals attended this special user group event to see Frank Artale, the guy who decides what makes it into NT4, demonstrate the operating system's new and improved features. Artale highlighted the new Ul features while NT4 was multitasking with several disk-intensive tasks, showing NT has both beauty and muscle. The next day, Artale wrote, "It reminded me of when we kicked off Wm3.1. The excitement of the crowd was extreme." Microsoft didn't buy this excitement: It grew from champions of Windows NT.

As our cover story explains, the bulk of NT4-the Win95 interface, TAPI, Unimodem, the Internet Explorer, Exchange client and more-affects Windows NT Workstation. However, Windows NT Server 4.0 includes Internet Information Server, a built-in WWW, FTP, and gopher server in one package. Microsoft's Internet strategy is simple: Increase market share by giving away everything that Netscape will charge you for.

Face it, Windows 3.x and DOS's days are numbered. Most software vendors have stopped all development on these operating systems and have turned their focus to Wm95 and NT. Corporations face a certain upgrade decision in 1996. Microsoft recommends that all new hardware purchases be capable of running Windows NT Workstation and be included on the NT Hardware Compatibility list (HCL) (http://www.microsoft.com/NTWorkstation/NTWN9503.htm). Regardless of your operating system choice, your minimum new purchase configuration should include a fast computer with at least 16MB of RAM.

What about your future software purchases? We've found less than 500/o of the Windows 95 logo applications are compatible with NT. Around the launch of Windows 95, Microsoft relaxed the NT-compatibility standard, allowing for "architectural differences' An increasing number of you have written me and complained about this problem, saying that you can't trust the Win95 logo. Neither can we. The damage has been done, and I don't think Microsoft can fix it. As NT users, we want to buy software that has a "Windows NT: Ready to Run" logo on it. Knowing that Windows 95 will eventually be positioned as a home operating system, it bothers me to run anything that has a 95 at the end of it. To add insult to injury, Office for NT ran on RISC platforms, while Office 95 does not I'm not saying Windows 95 is bad-I use it at home, which is where it belongs.

What about OS/2? Edwin Black, editor-in-chief of OS/2 Professional says, "The days of IBM using Warp as its exciting vanguard are over. Big Blue and Big Lou are moving on to other things. This probably means a lot to your company as managers may soon have to make some turning point decisions about whether to stick with Warp or transition to NT (as many are)."

Microsoft has clearly won the battle for the desktop: Windows NT Workstation for business, Win95 for home.