Dell to bundle OpenNT free with Workstation 400

Responding to users who want to replace Unix workstations with Microsoft Corp. Windows NT-based systems, Dell Computer Corp. plans to announce this week that it will bundle a Unix-to-NT software package free of charge to federal customers buying Dell Workstation 400 systems.

OpenNT 2.1, from Softway Systems Inc., makes it possible for Windows NT users to run Unix applications, execute Unix system commands and have access to a variety of system software utilities.

The software is designed to ease the migration of applications from Unix to Windows NT by making it possible to host applications for both platforms on the same system.

With the increasing power and dropping costs of systems based on Intel Corp. processors and Microsoft software, many federal customers are looking to replace Unix workstations with Windows NT, said Rocky Mountain, manager of Dell's federal marketing group.

"But the fact that the box is $5,000 or $10,000 less is irrelevant if I cannot run [the applications]," Mountain said. "What Dell is trying to do is give federal customers a very cost-effective way of porting applications from Unix to NT."

"People use our software to glue together the NT and Unix worlds," said Grover Righter, vice president of marketing at Softway Systems.

While the Defense Department was among the early groups migrating applications from Unix to Windows NT, Softway believes the potential market has become much broader.

"That is one of the reasons it's important to make [OpenNT] broadly available," Righter said.

OpenNT runs natively on Windows NT, so users will not see the performance degradation that would come with Unix emulation programs, according to Softway. The product is already offered on the Air Force Workstations program from Compaq Computer Corp., NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement II, from Raytheon Systems (formerly Hughes Data Systems) and the Support Hardware and Automation Related Products contract through Science Applications International Corp.

The Dell Workstation 400 is intended for users running computer-aided design and other applications with demanding data or graphics processing. It runs single or dual 266 MHz, 300 MHz or 333 MHz Intel Pentium II processors and up to 512M of memory.

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