Microsoft is taking steps to ensure that Windows NT 5.0--due next year--is the must-have upgrade that Windows 95 was for home users. Though Windows 95 was a smash success for the home crowd, only 50% of corporate users who could upgrade actually took the plunge. The company is therefore planning on making Windows NT 5.0 a no-brainer for these 16-bit holdouts. To accomplish this, NT 5 will have a slightly smaller or same memory and diskspace footprint as Version 4.0, but will include new features such as Active Desktop and Internet Explorer 4.0. Microsoft is planning on offering support for migration from Windows 3.x to NT 5.0, but will delay migration tools that support 3.x to Windows 98.

The "Hydra" Windows terminal scheme will be updated to support Windows 3.x nodes as well. With this new technology, corporations will be able to build applications that take advantage of NT 5.0 functions such as transaction processing, integrated Web serving, and the new Directory services, yet still run on Windows 3.x.

Currently, a select group of hardware developers is working with NT 5 alpha code. In September, Microsoft is planning on releasing beta 1 to a larger group of technical testers