November 25, 1996 10 AM ET

Microsoft pushing OEMs to move to Windows 95
By Lisa DiCarlo And Michael R. Zimmerman

  LAS VEGAS--In a move to push notebook and desktop PC users off Windows 3.11 and onto Windows 95, Microsoft Corp. wants OEMs to stop dual-installing both operating systems on their computers by mid-1997.

With licensing contracts nearing renewal for many OEMs, Microsoft will attempt to make it financially unappealing to offer both operating systems, possibly by increasing the fee for Windows 3.11, some OEMs said.

To tighten the lid even further on Windows 3.11, Microsoft plans to cease development of BIOS and driver updates for Windows for Workgroups and to limit its support of the operating system, according to a handful of OEMs.

"[Windows 3.11] customers will face more support issues in 1997," said an executive at a top 10 PC maker approached by Microsoft about ceasing the dual install. The executive, who requested anonymity, added, "We'll try to be as supportive as we can, but [as an OEM] there's only so far we can take users."

Despite Microsoft's efforts, some OEMs contacted last week said they'll continue to offer both operating systems, mainly due to the large pockets of companies that have standardized on Windows 3.11.

"We still have a need for [Windows] 3.11," said an IS manager at Comdex here last week who requested anonymity. "And a lot of customers can't afford to upgrade to Windows 95 because of the costs [associated with upgrading systems]."

Other corporate users said they still don't plan to move off the 16-bit operating system.

"I'm familiar with idiosyncrasies of Windows, so it doesn't matter that they'll not be supporting it," said Glen Morley, systems engineer at Design Professional Insurance Co., in Monterey, Calif. "I never call them for support anyway."

About 80 percent of DPIC's 1,000 users are using Windows for Workgroups 3.11, and there are no plans to switch, Morley said.

Microsoft officials in Redmond, Wash., last week said no change has been made to the company's dual-install policy or licensing agreements, and that there is no truth to issues of decreased support.

"We have not changed the policy on the dual install or supporting Windows 3.11 in the OEM channel," said Pat Fox, product manager in the Desktop and Business Systems Division. Fox added that Microsoft does not comment on OEM licensing agreements.

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