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When Microsoft Corp launched its Windows NT operating system, chairman Bill Gates predicted sales of 1m units within the first year. Fifteen months later Microsoft is still waiting to reach that figure. Now the Redmond, Washington-based company and Intergraph Corp of Huntsville, Alabama, are emphasising the suitability of NT for concurrent engineering practices. The benefit of NT, says Intergraph’s Neil McLeod, is that it provides a common environment connecting workstations, computer-aided design and manufacturing resource planning systems and personal computers. This enables information to be exchanged between different parties involved in the manufacturing process within a company without the need to translate the data. Existing Unix systems require translation to carried out, or data to be re-entered when transferring data between environments or even between different versions of Unix, he said. Intergraph was a very early backer of NT, while other vendors felt that the first release of NT, version 3.1, was not the right place to start, says Microsoft’s Gary Hunt. With version 3.5, which was released in September, he said that more vendors will start to develop NT applications. NT is Intergraph’s preferred environment and more than 200 of its existing 300 Unix applications have been converted. By early next year all 300 will be be ready, says Intergraph.

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