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Novell gears-up for big NetWare 5 push

With NT 5 still to ship, the company's going to make a lot of noise

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Novell's big NetWare 5 assault will commence on 20 September, when the company says it will start shipping the latest version of the OS. The company will be pushing hard to take advantage of the lack of competition from NT - beta 2 of NT 5.0 is due to be out by then, but shipping product from Microsoft could still easily slip to the middle of 1999.

Novell, which under CEO Eric Schmidt has been undergoing radical corporate re-engineering over the last year, will be attempting to shed its sluggish, unflashy image and will position NetWare 5 as the serious network operating system for the next century, adopting much of the Microsoft NT sales pitch as it does so.

NetWare 5 has a new kernel that makes the OS a lot more scalable, native IP protocol and a stack of TCO-control and management features. It's also being presented as an ideal Internet-intranet platform (a NetScape Web server is bundled), and as an ideal fix to Year 2000 issues.

Novell sees this as being particularly important in the early stages of the rollout. It has an installed base of 80 million NetWare users that it needs to migrate before Microsoft is able to do it serious damage, so offering easy upgrade facilities to an OS that makes networks simpler to manage, and allows fixes to be rolled out to client platforms remotely, could be a big plus. This contrasts with Microsoft's position - Gates' company has been coming under fire from analysts who reckon companies should hold off deploying NT 5 until they've dealt with Y2K, so if
Novell can sell itself as a solution rather than a problem, it could have a very wide window.

A Novell spokesman was confident that although previous attempts to migrate the user base haven't been wildly successful, this time they'd shift quickly. Novell already has commitments from customers representing "tens of thousands of seats" to migrate directly after the product ships. ®

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