A world with fewer Unix options may lie ahead

A world with fewer Unix options may lie ahead

The price performance offered by Windows NT on Intel could mean a Unix consolidation for both operating systems and pro-cessors. This could set firmer standards but could also reduce platform options, analysts and vendors say.

Signs of the Unix industry consolidating can be seen in both:l Compaq's proposed $US9.6 billion acquisition of Digital in January, which brings together two of Microsoft's and Intel's biggest industry supporters of Merced-NT platformsl The merging of the Digital and Sequent Computer Systems' Unix systems with the integration of technology from Sequent's Dynix/ptx IA-32 Unix operating system, including Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA).

"We decided to work with Unix giants to leverage their research and development. A small company would have a real challenge to keep up with the spending and commitment of the large Unix players," said Ian Miller, vice president of Sequent, Asia-Pacific.

"There may eventually be one PC variant, that is NT, and one Unix variant with multiple small, niche Unixes like Linux," said Lionel Lim, managing director of Sun Microsystems, South Asia. "NT will consolidate in the small workgroup space, and not variants of Win 98 or SCO Unix.

"Companies tend to be non-religious about one technology or another. There are two types of Unix companies -- FOBs or EOBs -- friends of Bill Gates or enemies of Bill Gates," said Michele Isernia, worldwide marketing program manager for the workstation systems division at Hewlett-Packard.

In the meantime, the increasing popularity of NT is displayed by the fact that:l A recent IDC report said shipments of NT-based workstations (1.3 million) surpassed shipments of Unix-based workstations (660,000) for the first time in 1997, which represents an increasingly larger installed base for Merced-NTl The IDC report also said that HP, once reluctant to support NT in favour of its proprietary Unix products, rose to the top spot for sales of workstations in 1997, thanks mostly to its NT-based systems.

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