As Microsoft moves Windows NT into an Enterprise-strength, multi-user environment, leading UNIX vendors are embracing NT in droves. A major benefit of this switch--at least from a user's perspective--is that costs can only lower on the NT platform.

"All the Unix vendors here want to jump on the NT bandwagon; they're all dying to get together with Microsoft," said Selim Antoun, a consulting analyst with NCR, a manufacturer of Unix workstations.

"It's a response to customer demand," said Francis Kenney, director of Data General's NT product marketing. "If a customer comes to us and wants to pay us money for NT and not Unix, we'll do it."

For software developers, Windows NT is a dream come true: no need to target the many flavors of UNIX with their various incompatibilities and porting issues.

"Unix as a common operating system never caught on," said Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. "There were committees coming up with things that worked properly with the various systems but each manufacturer continued to have its own developers and its own engineers, leading to fragmentation."

While NT's scalability still can't touch the highest-end UNIX systems, NT is a killer combination of speed and price for systems with one to four CPUs. At the Scalability Day event, Microsoft demonstrated that a PC server running Windows NT with 30GB of disk capacity would cost about $60,000. The Sun Solaris equivalent costs almost $160,000. Sun is aware that NT beats Solaris solutions as well:

"We don't have a cost-optimized, four-\[CPU system\] and we're keenly aware of that and we're not afraid of meeting the challenge," said David Douglas, marketing director for workgroup servers at Sun