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Chrysler helps drive NT market

Chrysler announces that it will shift its engineers from Unix workstations to machines based on Microsoft's Windows NT.

Workstations based around Microsoft's Windows NT received a shot of credibility today when auto maker Chrysler announced that it will shift its engineers from Unix workstations to NT based machines.

The Chrysler deal will likely have more impact on a symbolic level than on balance sheets. While sales of workstations based around Intel and Microsoft technology have been outpacing Unix system sales, most of the NT workstations sold have gone into the lower-end segments of the market where price is a greater issue than performance

Under the Chrysler deal, however, the auto maker will entrust its design and engineering work to NT workstations, said Anand Chandrasekher, general manager of workstation products at Intel.

Chrysler will begin to install its first Intel-NT workstations in early 1999. In the end, Chrysler will phase out approximately 4,000 engineering Unix workstations in favor of NT workstations.

A move toward NT is partly being fueled by the decision of software vendors to support the platform, Chandrasekher added. "The majority of them are coming over to the platform," he said. A crucial element of the deal is the fact that Catia, a three-dimensional computer automated design application from French firm Dassault, was recently ported to the Intel platform. Chrysler currently uses Catia.

"From a workstation point of view, the platform is doing an excellent job. In terms of performance they are catching up to Unix," said Dan Dolan, workstation analyst at Dataquest. "This is a victory in the sense that they can tout it."