Getting ahead while the going is good and the competition is still largely vaporware, Novell Inc’s offering its own zero administration desktop management tool as ZEN Zero Effort Networks to address the total cost of ownership issue. Based upon its NDS Novell Directory Services the company claims it provides software distribution and application update services. As well as setting individual user policies, Novell says ZEN allows networked users to work using their familiar interface – including menu choices, desktop configuration and printer drivers – even when they switch PCs. Users who already log in from multiple locations can access their personalized applications from the nearest server, cutting down on the amount of traffic to remote sites. As application specifications are stored in NDS, if a user deletes a file for running an program, ZEN fixes the application as it is launched without any downtime. Novell says ZEN can be integrated with other desktop management products such as Microsoft’s Zero Administration for Windows, Intel’s Wired for Management, DMTF standards and, in the future, network computer solutions from Oracle and Sun. ZEN will be available in beta form on March 16 for $25. Production versions will ship in the second quarter priced at $40. ZEN supports Windows and NT; NDS is available on NetWare 4.x, some Unixes and NT.