Microsoft's Windows NT finished dead last overall in a comparison with five different versions of the Unix operating system, concluded a market research firm that assessed the latest versions of these operating systems.
IBM's AIX version of Unix topped the rankings, followed by Compaq's Digital Unix, Sun Microsystems' Solaris, and Silicon Graphics' Irix. Each of these four operating systems received a "good" rating from D.H. Brown Associates.
Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX earned an "OK" rating.
However, "Even the Enterprise Edition of Windows NT Server 4.0 trails Unix in every area except for PC client support," D.H. Brown said in a statement.
The company ranks the major Unix variants and NT each year using a scorecard that judges six factors. Windows NT ranked last in every area except one.
"NT still falls short of Unix for advanced Internet protocols and extensions. NT also lags in features for scalability, reliability, availability, serviceability, and system management," the study said.
Windows NT earned second place in support for PC clients, losing out to Compaq's Digital Unix. The latter also took top marks in its support for services across a large corporation.
IBM's AIX ranked first for system management and support for intranets and the Internet. Big Blue has taken "the most active role of the major operating system vendors" in providing software for electronic commerce, D.H. Brown said. However, AIX tied for fourth place in its score for reliability, availability, and serviceability.
Solaris 7's full 64-bit capabilities launched it from last place among Unix systems last year to third place this year, according to D.H. Brown. Solaris won out in scalability, reliability, availability, and serviceability, but was second to last in its support for PC clients.
Irix also improved overall, with a strong rating for reliability, availability, and serviceability, the study said. HP-UX, however, slipped backwards, in part because of HP's failure to ship promised Java-based system management tools, which are key for managing a computer remotely.
D.H. Brown noted that the study doesn't reflect market share or customer satisfaction. "The industry has frequently shown that the best technology does not always win in the marketplace," the firm admitted in the study.
Companies still can highlight their system's advantages, D.H. Brown said: "The results show that in a brutally competitive industry that relies ever more on commodity technology, it is still possible to differentiate with leading-edge operating system features."