After months of indecision, IBM Corp has finally bitten the bullet and launched what it describes as a unique NT strategy. It already claims to offer more software products running on Windows NT than Microsoft Corp, as a result of a dedicated IBM NT applications testing facility with 200 staff based in Kirkland, Washington, in which IBM works in co-operation with Microsoft as part of a technical exchange. Jocelyne Attal, appointed in February as vice president of NT marketing, claims there is room for both NT and Unix. When asked if NT will be competing in the same market as existing IBM products, she replied, NT is a very good branch office server, but the average number of users is twenty-five. AS/400 is the best solution for size when we’re talking about integrated enterprise-wide applications for six hundred plus users. Attal questions the idea of Unix and NT battling head-to-head – at least for the moment (CI No 3,181). Today Unix is doing things NT is not doing, like 64-bit, and it has 50,000 to 60,000 applications. NT doesn’t scale today and everybody knows it. It’s still a young operating system and it’s not there yet – look at the way Microsoft is delaying the release of NT 5.0., says Attal. Microsoft has a very proprietary view of the world – Mr Gates says he wants it all she added. As a woman, dressing as a woman, I know that one size does not fit all. Microsoft would like that to be a weakness, I’m sorry but it’s not! Despite a certain wariness of Microsoft, Attal says they are not opponents. We’re not really playing in the same field….its profitability is based on the number of upgrades it sells, ours is based on the solutions we sell, she adds pointedly. Perhaps they don’t like us because we are providing middleware for NT. So what direction will IBM take with NT? Attal expects effective integration of NT and middleware, saying the company intends to change the look and feel of every product on NT and develop an easier installation process. Attal is similarly forthright about IBM’s Java strategy. We have a huge responsibility to Java and a commitment to make it work but it has to be 100% pure – if not then it’s good-bye. Otherwise it’ll become like Unix with too many different flavors. Open standards are critical, adds Steve Walker, IBM software strategist. Does the outspoken French vice president of NT marketing have any final thoughts on Microsoft? For now, Attal talks of an entente cordiale: We have to learn to live with Microsoft and I’d like to see a better relationship between us; we compete but we can also work together to make our common customers happy.