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Microsoft add-on to join NT, Unix

Microsoft's new add-on for Windows NT Workstation and Server 4.0 OS allows the software to communicate more effectively with Unix-based desktops and servers.

Microsoft announced plans to soon release another add-on for its Windows NT Workstation and Server 4.0 operating system that allows the software to communicate more effectively with Unix-based desktops and servers.

The move is part of parallel ongoing efforts within the company's Redmond, Washington-based campus to interoperate with other significant players in corporate computing while at the same time continuing efforts to displace those same systems by adding new technology to NT. The new Windows NT Services for Unix, originally announced in May of this year, has been in a second test process since September.

The add-on for NT is partially based on technology from both Intergraph and Mortice Kern Systems.

Intergraph will provide its Network File System, or NFS, technology so that NT clients and servers can access Unix-based files and data. MKS will add a Unix "shell," which lets users automate common processes and support for several common Unix commands, a feature buttressed by more extensive support offered in an MKS upgrade.

Other features of the add-on include remote administration and password synchronization that supports both Unix and NT-based systems.

The company said the first version of the NT 4.0 add-on was also tested with current beta versions of the forthcoming NT 5.0 operating system, now called Windows 2000. A second version of NT Services for Unix will be released "close on the heels" of Windows 2000, said Greg Sullivan, product manager for NT Services for Unix.

Sullivan said the Unix services add-on would remain a separate product and would not be bundled in with the various Windows 2000 options.

The NT add-on is expected to be available in four to six weeks, according to the company, at a cost of $149.

The company released a fourth service pack for NT 4.0 last month in an effort to boost the reliability of the current version. With the forthcoming release of the NT 5.0 upgrade, Microsoft recently disclosed that NT's name will change to Windows 2000. A third beta of Windows 2000 is expected in the first quarter of next year, with release likely sometime over the summer.

In related news, the Siemens Information and Communication Products, a subsidiary of systems giant Siemens, and Sequent Computer Systems announced plans to offer Windows-to-Unix integration services. Sequent's offering also includes technology licensed from FacetCorp, a maker of software that allows Windows PCs to access Unix-based resources.