Hughes combines Unix, Windows NT on AF deal

Hughes Data Systems this week will announce that its Air Force Workstations contract now offers a complete Unix environment for workstation users running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT operating system.

Now available on Hughes' pact Softway Systems Inc.'s OpenNT products provide 200 Unix utilities and command shells a Unix file system and other components for developing or porting Unix applications that run natively on a Windows NT workstation. Air Force Workstations - awarded last year to Hughes selling equipment from Digital Equipment Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. - originally was limited to Unix-based workstations. Hughes added OpenNT to its contract following the agency's decision to open up the program to alternate operating systems.

OpenNT not only addresses concerns about Windows NT's compliance with the Unix environment but the price makes it a "very competitive operating system " said Gary Ziegler Air Force Workstations program manager at Hughes.

Pricing on Air Force Workstations for the OpenNT/Windows NT 4.0 alternative operating system begins at $595. Server versions are available ranging in price from $1 824 for a server version for 25 clients up to $11 695 for 500 clients.

Softway Systems San Francisco created OpenNT for organizations that are migrating from Unix to the Windows NT environment. Rather than just providing tools to port applications OpenNT gives Unix users moving to Windows NT the tools and utilities with which they are familiar according to Softway Systems.

OpenNT can run side by side with Windows NT on a single platform giving users easy access to either environment. The software will run on workstations based on either reduced instruction-set computer or Intel Corp. processors.

"This now gives the Air Force the opportunity to eventually install Windows NT and Open NT as a replacement Unix operating system " said Douglas Miller chief executive officer at Softway Systems.

The Air Force like other agencies is interested in Windows NT because of its cost effectiveness and its ease of use the two companies said. However the availability of off-the-shelf applications also is a major attraction of Windows NT Miller said. OpenNT makes it possible for Air Force organizations to take advantage of the Windows NT applications without losing their extensive investment in Unix he said.

With the Air Force Workstations contract now open DOD-wide Ziegler expects to see considerable interest from other services particularly the Navy.

As part of a strategy called Information Technology for the 21st Century the Navy is pushing to move many shipboard applications - including its Global Command and Control System - from Unix to Windows NT with the two systems coexisting in many environments. "OpenNT is a very viable path to do that " Ziegler said.

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