Hydra: Microsoft's more expensive multiuser NT solution

Microsoft plans to ship a beta version of its multiuser solution for Windows NT 4.0, code-named Hydra, in the fourth quarter, but that solution is likely to be priced at more than $US500 and to be more costly than existing solutions. Previously promised for NT 5.0, Hydra is based on code that Microsoft licensed from Citrix Systems, but one OEM estimates a Windows-based terminal, as proposed by Microsoft, will cost about $100 more than Citrix's existing solution for NT 3.51. And that price assumes Microsoft is willing to wear nominal licensing fees for T-share and Windows CE.

Microsoft plans to ship a beta version of its multiuser solution for Windows NT 4.0, code-named Hydra, in the fourth quarter, but that solution is likely to be priced at more than $US500 and to be more costly than existing solutions.

The technology had previously been promised for NT 5.0, but Microsoft now plans to deliver a beta version of Hydra for NT 4.0. Citrix Systems Inc. will simultaneously deliver a multiuser solution for accessing Hydra from non-Windows systems, code-named Picasso. Hydra is based on code that Microsoft licensed from Citrix.

Microsoft licensing fees added to the system OEMs, additional software costs, and the cost of systems needed to run a Windows OS will all factor in to the final cost of a Windows NT multiuser solution.

For example, a thin client based on a Microsoft Windows-based terminal, requiring Windows CE on the client and T-Share networking software, will be more costly for terminal manufacturers than building devices based on their own OS.

"If Microsoft licenses T-share and WinCE for a buck, we can make systems at the price point they defined [$500]; if they license it for $1,000, there's no way," says Louis R. Greer, vice president of marketing for Network Computing Devices, in Mountain View, California.

In contrast, Citrix's WinFrame solution for NT 3.51 included both the multiuser capability and the application-deployment software. Because Citrix does not own the right to license NT 4.0, Microsoft will sell Hydra. IT managers using non-Windows-based terminals - such as X-terminals, Unix workstations, or Macintoshes - will be forced to buy a Citrix plug-in to deploy Windows applications on those clients.

After the additional hardware and the new licensing fee are included, one OEM estimated a Windows-based terminal, as proposed by Microsoft, will cost about $100 more than a similar solution for NT 3.51.

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