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Novell exploiting NT delays

The company announces a long-awaited test version of its directory services software that runs on top of Microsoft's corporate OS.

In the software business, product delays sometimes turn into market opportunities.

Given Microsoft's delays in delivering a Windows NT upgrade with a next-generation directory, network software maker Novell executives claim to have a golden opportunity to further disseminate their own technology in NT-based corporate networks.

Novell today announced the availability of a long-awaited test version of its directory services software, or NDS, which runs on an NT server system. The move is consistent with the company's strategy of adding functions for systems running Microsoft's Windows NT Workstation and Server operating system.

"I think it's a huge opportunity," gloated Michael Simpson, director of marketing for Novell's network services division. "Customers, for better or worse, are deploying NT and they're feeling the pain. Frankly, we're the pharmacy--we've got what you need."

Previously, Novell offered a version of NDS for NT that required a NetWare system--the company's operating system alternative--to be installed on an NT network. But rather than battle the Redmond, Washington-based software colossus toe-to-toe, Novell has chosen a strategy intended to protect its installed base of over 4 million systems while integrating with an operating system that is currently growing faster than any other commercial offering.

Other tools, such as a management suite, are also targeted at rollouts of NT, and with a native implementation of NDS running on the NT operating system, other applications can also interoperate, according to Novell executives.

The approach appears to have rattled Microsoft. Early this year, Redmond sent mixed messages to its customers--many of whom have NetWare and NDS installed alongside NT?saying that it could not support users having problems with NDS for NT. They have since backed down.

"We're making the stuff better," claims Simpson. "[Microsoft] never seems to respond well to that."

An open beta version of the native NDS-for-NT implementation is available on Novell's Web site.

The availability of the native NDS-for-NT beta is a precursor to the September 14 launch of NetWare 5.0, the upgrade to the company's own operating system. An event will be held in San Francisco to celebrate delivery of the software.

In related news, Novell also announced that its NDS and ZEN Works management suite will integrate with software from Citrix Systems, which allows a variety of clients to access server-hosted applications.