Windows 95 gets competition from NT Workstation

Nine months after one of the most hyped product introductions ever, Windows 95 may be getting some stiff competition from Windows NT Workstation. The most recent reports from analysts and users indicate that after it ships in September, NT 4.0 may leapfrog older sibling Windows 95 on to user desktops.

Dataquest statistics show that Microsoft sold 18 million copies of Windows 95 last year, but so far, most of the 200 million Windows 3.x users have stayed with the older operating system, warily eyeing upgrade options. Windows NT 4.0 is expected to change all that.

Momentum has been building for NT Server, but it now looks as if NT Workstation will grab significant market share as well. Dataquest, a market research firm in San Jose, California estimates that unit shipments for Windows NT Workstation will reach 25 million next year.

The big lure of Windows NT Workstation 4.0 is its powerful 32-bit operating system, which includes multitasking, multiprocessing and fault-tolerant capabilities that make it ideal for supporting mission-critical applications, users and analysts say.

For example, Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, California, says when problems occur in applications running on Windows 95, they can crash the entire operating system. But "the built-in fault tolerance in NT Workstation provides users with a safety net, ensuring that their systems don't go down."

But moving to NT is no cakewalk. Analysts such as Enderle and First Albany's Laura Hanny advise caution. The following top the list of NT Workstation drawbacks:

--A lack of backward compatibility with some 16-bit applications, mainly fax gateways.

--The more expensive cost to upgrade memory or replace PCs.

--A short battery lifespan for NT 4.0-based Pentium notebooks.

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