NT 4.0 sales blitz ahead

Microsoft Corp. is putting on a full-court press for its new release of Windows NT securing more than 30 contracting vehicles to sell the workstation and server versions of the software during the last few weeks of the federal buying season.

Microsoft released its final "gold" beta of NT 4.0 last week with general availability planned for the end of the month. Most agencies involved in the beta program have received versions of the software during the last three to four weeks.

Among the new contracting vehicles for NT 4.0 are: Desktop V through Zenith Data Systems and Hughes Data Systems Integration for Command Control Communications Computers and Intelligence through BTG Inc. Cordant Inc. and SRA Corp. and PC-1 through Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Sysorex Information Systems Inc. None of these contracts carried Version 3.51.

NT 4.0 also will be added to contracts that have been carrying Version 3.51 including the Air Force's Unified Local-Area Network Architecture II and the Navy's PC LAN+ both held by EDS and Small Multiuser Computer II held by Telos Corp. In addition NT 4.0 will be available on the General Services Admin-istration schedule from six vendors. (A full list of the contracts that will offer Windows NT is available on Federal Computer Week's World Wide Web site at www.fcw.com.)

The sales push for NT 4.0 is part of Microsoft's overall strategy for the NT product line according to Jeff Moore manager of channel and systems integration for Microsoft's Federal Division.

"In this government fiscal year we've added at least 20 new contracts for NT " said Moore who pointed out that now Microsoft can add Version 4.0 to these contracts as a substitute for Version 3.51. On the newer vehicles the prime contractors have submitted proposals to add NT 4.0 before the end of the year.Microsoft may soon line up even more contracts for Windows NT because the software has been proposed on the U.S. Postal Service's Point of Sale contract the Department of Veterans Affairs' Procurement of Computer Hardware and Software the Defense Department's Support Hardware and Automation Related Products and the Army's PC-2 pact industry sources said.

Bob Guerra vice president of business development at Syso-rex said it is rare that a vendor is able to line up so many contracts ahead of a product release. "The acquisition environment is working well to their advantage " he pointed out. "In the old days it took months to get an [engineering change proposal]. Now they've opened up the acquisition regulations&hellip which allows a good marketing company like Microsoft to take advantage of that."

Prime contractors predict aggressive sales for NT 4.0.

"We have received numerous questions from our customers about when NT 4.0 would be available on our contracts " said Jerry Carrell a senior technical director at EDS which will carry the product on its ULANA II PC LAN+ PC-1 and National Institutes of Health contracts as well as its GSA schedule. "There's a lot of interest across all the agencies both [Defense] and civilian."

"There's generally strong interest but how well it will sell this fiscal year is a timing issue " added Bill Jones also a senior technical director with EDS. "I don't expect that the interest will die down after [September.] Sales will continue on the GSA schedule and other vehicles."

Among the agencies most interested in NT 4.0 are the intelligence agencies and the Army resellers said.

"The intelligence community is making a transition to NT on many fronts " said Chip Bumgardner vice president of BTG which will immediately offer NT 4.0 on its IC4I and NIH contracts. "Up until recently they were mostly a Unix community but there seems to be considerable demand for the latest version of NT.... Much of the switch is cost-driven. The hardware and software for NT is less expensive than the Unix versions particularly at the desktop level."

Bumgardner also said intelligence agencies are interested in the Internet and intranet features of NT 4.0.Mike Singer director of SunSoft Federal Systems said his company offers its Unix operating system on a number of contracts that have just added Windows NT from Microsoft including SMC-II. Singer added that SunSoft offers federal users "a mature evolved operating system that is the choice of agencies within the federal government who need to run mission-critical applications."

Guerra said Microsoft is positioning Windows 95 for home users and Windows NT for mission-critical users such as those in government. He predicted NT 4.0 will be the operating system of choice for buyers of high-end Pentium and Pentium Pro PCs.

Government pricing on NT Server 4.0 is expected to be $440 for the server and $22 for each client. NT Workstation 4.0 will be priced at $170.

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