A Year Ago Today: MS protests O'Reilly claims

This story was first published September 11, 1996

Microsoft yesterday rebutted O'Reilly & Associates' claims that Windows NT Workstation (NTW) and Server (NTS) are virtually the same product. O'Reilly, a technical publisher and Web server developer, had said in an article published on its Web site last Friday that Microsoft was misleading users by selling the higher margin NTS and claiming it had significant advantages over NTW as a Web server. NTW costs £200, compared to £650 for a five-user version of NTS.

"The bottom line is that NT Workstation and NT Server are very different," said Mark Hassall, NT Server manager at Microsoft UK. "We have a goal to have a single NT binary as it's easier to support and faster that way. But when you boot up NT it makes 750 different system configuration changes, so they're very different. NTS is an application server, file server and an Internet server, with fault tolerance, mirroring, content indexing, Web authoring, and services for Macintosh and NetWare... all of these things aren't in Workstation."

Hassall also said that O'Reilly had been irresponsible in supplying information about how to change NTW settings so that the product could be used like NTS. "We don't recommend that users make the changes that O'Reilly recommends. We don't recommend users making random hacks. They suggest 48 changes to system files, so what about the other 700 NT does at boot time? We want to educate users as to what product is suitable. NT Workstation is not designed to be a big Web server so we put a limit to restrict it to 10 inbound connections. If you want more you should have NTS. We're disappointed that they're suggesting that people should make hacks to the registry but we will continue to make the relevant information available to [O'Reilly for its Web server product]."

PCDN Comment: The O'Reilly article has made a big stick for Microsoft bashers. The key here is that, by selling NTS over NTW, Microsoft gains bigger margins and pushes buyers into using its Internet server products. While no fair-minded observer should dispute the firm's right to profit from its products, the issue is that it has issued misleading statements in an attempt to sway the market.