Windows NT Holds Interest for Conferees

But UNIX is still strong, especially for OLTP and networking

A poll taken at UniForum '94 showed that attendees of the conference are substantially more interested in Microsoft's Windows NT operating system than exclusively commercial UNIX users, although they maintain a strong loyalty to UNIX. These findings came in an on-the-spot electronic survey taken by David Smith, director of UNIX and advanced operating environments research for International Data Corp., at a plenary session entitled "Windows NT: UNIX Threat or Paper Tiger?"

As hundreds of attendees responded to Smith's questions using hand-held remote devices, the results were instantly tabulated and graphically displayed. Smith then compared the audience's answers with those in a survey of 150 commercial UNIX users who were previously polled.

Smith said he found the results of the surveys contained "a lot more realistic predictions for NT than there were last year. NT is not seen as the universal system that is going to take over the world." But he added, "Microsoft is still committed to it and they're not going to let it go."

When asked about their plans to evaluate Windows NT, over half of those in the UNIX survey said they had no plans to do so over the next six months. However, at UniForum '94 only 26 percent said they had no such plans and the rest either planned to evaluate Windows NT, had started or had completed an evaluation. Only six percent said they didn't know.

Similarly, 86 percent in the UNIX users' survey said their purchase plans were totally unaffected by Microsoft's shipment of NT, while 63 percent of the UniForum audience said they were totally unaffected.

The UniForum audience also expressed more interest in Microsoft's announcement of Chicago, the next version of Windows. Twenty-five percent of those at the session said Chicago had decreased their commitment to Windows NT, compared to only 11 percent in the UNIX users' survey. Fifty-six percent at UniForum said they were unaffected by Chicago, compared to 81 percent in the previous survey.

A plurality in the conference audience also said they felt Windows would be computing's most important computer operating system in 1996 (the general survey picked Novell's NetWare) and 64 percent chose Windows as the most important OS for office automation.

However, UNIX also received some high marks from the UniForum audience. When asked which OS was the best for on-line transaction processing, 64 percent chose UNIX. Even more - 70 percent - chose UNIX as the most important for OLTP when 1996 rolls around.

In the area of system management and administration, the UniForum audience also preferred UNIX, giving it a highest-ranking vote of 31 percent compared to 19 percent for UNIX in the users' survey, where NetWare received the top ranking.

The difference in the two surveys was most striking on the question of the best OS for networking. A whopping 74 percent of those in the UniForum audience said UNIX was best for networking, compared with only 23 percent in IDC's users' survey.

For the most advanced features, the UniForum audience also ranked UNIX higher - 46 percent for UNIX and 29 percent for Windows NT - while the users' survey found UNIX only slightly ahead, 27 percent compared to 25 percent for NT. However, those who had used both UNIX and NT tended to rate UNIX higher than those who had not used both.

On the question of cost of ownership, however, UNIX received a lower ranking from the UniForum audience. Twenty-six percent said it was the best OS for cost compared to 32 percent for NT. In the users' survey, the vote was 25 percent for NT and 22 percent for UNIX, with OS/2 and NetWare getting the other votes.