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IBM thumps the Win2k tub, but supports everything

Serial agnosticism rife inside former OS warrior

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Whatever happened to the OS wars? Now thumping the Win2k tub, IBM says it is second only to Microsoft in spending money on Windows 2000, and that it will itself be Microsoft's biggest customer for it, with 300,000 seats. In a briefing on IBM's software strategy, IBM has made it clear how it expects to profit from Windows 2000: "The middleware opportunity is four times the OS opportunity". For its part, IBM is happy to support NT/Windows 2000, OS/400, AIX, OS/390, OS/2, Solaris, Linux and HP-UX with its middleware, so here's one company that is not exactly betting the farm on W2000, however much it intends to shout around the Win2k launch time. So far as market growth is concerned, IBM's figures are that the Windows hardware, software and services market will grow from $75 billion in 1999 to $145 billion in 2001, and that "IBM can substantially benefit from the growth in this market". IBM also expects the worldwide hardware server market to increase to $107 billion in 2003 (from $70 billion in 1998), with Windows servers more than doubling their share, but only to about 30 per cent of the market by 2003. At the core of IBM's strategy is the knowledge that 90 per cent of Fortune 1000 companies use three or more operating systems, hence the 10,000 software engineers IBM has working on multiplatform solutions. IBM expects 60 percent of its customers to use Windows 2000 for front-end e-business, so wants to be sure that it "can substantially benefit from the growth in this market". Consequently it says it has 6,000 people specialising in Windows, with 150 at its Kirkland, Washington IBM Center for Microsoft Technology. IBM also says it has developed more software products on NT and Windows 2000 than any other vendor. We asked whether IBM would support NDS as an alternative to Active Directory, and were told that it would, and that many customers may stay with NDS. This tallied with the criteria that IBM suggests should be considered when selecting a Microsoft services vendor, which include: "Do they know anything besides Microsoft?" and "Don't give me a bunch of paper MCSEs with no real experience". Windows 2000 scalability is on offer too: it needs not just the right hardware, software and middleware, but also help from IBM Global Services. IBM seems to have been borrowing some slogans. Ray Noorda will be pleased to know that IBM sees the situation as being "Co-opetition at its best". There was also a certain familiar ring about "Where are you today? Where do you want to be?" But perhaps the most mysterious pronouncement was that "Windows 2000 is considerably different from NT4: the same rules no longer apply." ®

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