Microsoft has a new weapon in its struggle to lure academic and commercial computer users away from the Unix operating system.
Until mid-1994, Microsoft's Windows NT operating system embarrassingly lacked a World Wide Web (WWW) server-software which is nowadays almost essential for publishing information on the Internet.
This lack was made good by a software development team based at Edinburgh University.
Several academic sites are now running the Web server developed by the European Microsoft Windows NT Academic Centre (EMWAC), which is based in Edinburgh and supported by Microsoft, Sequent, Digital Equipment and Research Machines. But businesses are still wary of unsupported software from a university.
Now EMWAC has developed a "professional" version of its Web server, which will be marketed and supported from next month by the Massachusetts company Process Software.
It includes security mechanisms which give companies the choice of distributing information privately within their organisations or publishing it to the estimated 30 million World Wide Web users on the Internet.
The EMWAC Web server also supports FTP and Gopher services. According to Microsoft, the software takes only five minutes to install.
In academia, Microsoft still has a long struggle ahead. Stirling University is committed to NT and has 11 servers running it. Other universities are evaluating the new operating system, but most campus networks still depend on Unix or Novell's Netware.