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Sun gets Solaris into the NT act

The company announces several products that make it easier for Sun computers to take the place of Microsoft Windows machines.

If you can't beat them, co-opt their network protocols.

Sun Microsystems announced several products today geared to make it easier for Sun computers to take the place of Microsoft Windows machines.

New Sun software, code-named Cascade and now called PC NetLink, lets a Sun computer plug into a Windows network and act like a Windows NT machine. The software is part of Sun's strategy to convince administrators to use its Solaris version of Unix instead of Windows operating systems.

PC NetLink is based on actual Microsoft NT 4.0 code that Sun licensed from AT&T, said Mark Canepa, general manager of Sun's workgroup server division. Sun also announced a disk storage array that is certified for Windows NT as well as a card containing a separate microprocessor that lets Sun workstations run Windows NT.

Sun's stock jumped dramatically today, opening at 130.9375 and rising as high as 145 this afternoon.

Sun, long a Microsoft antagonist, has been taking incremental steps to make its products fit more seamlessly into Windows networks. PC NetLink lets a server running Sun's Solaris operating system take over the network tasks of NT servers, including file and print services and authentication services, Sun said.

Sun expects to be able to continue to offer Windows compatibility with the future version of NT, Windows 2000. "I think the avenues are going to be there," Canepa said. "We seem to have been able to have done it without a lot of cooperation with Microsoft."

The new products give Sun access to new markets where $30 billion exchanges hands each year, Sun said.

PC NetLink on its own costs $1,495, but Sun doesn't charge the $40 per client that Microsoft charges, Sun said.

Sun announced a card that will let its workstations run Windows 95 in February. The new card also will allow computers to run Windows NT. The card essentially contains its own microprocessor and functions like a computer-within-a-computer.

Windows NT is dominating the unit shipments of new workstations, according to market research firms, but Sun still maintains a revenue edge with its higher-priced models.

Sun said the Windows computer card is geared to let customers run common productivity programs on their computers without having to give up their Sun machines, though at least one customer, a car manufacturer, uses Windows design software as well.