Multimedia and Windows NT

If you're looking to justify that 200-MHz Pentium Pro, this is the issue for you. Windows NT Workstation is making inroads into all areas of multimedia-3D graphics, video editing, Web development authoring, and more. We've spent more than a 1000 hours researching this topic to give you an honest assessment of the impact Windows NT is making on the multimedia industry.

As multimedia gains momentum in corporations worldwide, MIS has an opportunity to be proactive in its implementation to make multimedia partof its suite of supported applications. Windows NT Workstation is a serious alternative to Macintosh and UNIX workstations for multimedia. Power users can use the same machine on their desktop for high-end multimedia applications and PC-based office automation applications. This means one less platform for MIS to deal with. MIS can manage these power users and not say, "You're on your own," just because they require an unsupported platform.

Windows NT Workstation is attracting the major players in the 3D graphics arena: Lightwave, Softlmage, Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, Elastic Reality, Photomorph, and others have implemented native Windows NT solutions. Microsoft purchased Softlmage, a respected 3D graphics package, last year and ported it to Windows NT. In less than a year, Microsoft has taken this $50,000 SGI-based solution and repackaged it with third-party hardware for less than $15,000. At this price point even the most die-hard UNIX fans will take a look.

What about digital video editing? Amiga's demise left a void-and Windows NT Workstation was ready to fill it Windows NT Workstation has the opportunity to be the dominant player in this market by 1997. Products such as Avid's Real Impact and in:synch's Speed Razor bring commercial-quality video editing to PC desktops. Windows NT reduces the cost of entry, and this is giving corporate users access to tools that were previously out of reach.

Windows NT Workstation still has some way to go: Macintosh continues to dominate multimedia authoring and desktop publishing. High-end Macintosh users are the most loyal computer users I've seen: They'll need to see their favorite applications running natively on a fast Windows NT-based workstation before they'll even consider making the switch. Most of the major authoring packages are moving to Windows NT within six months. Even Adobe and Quark, two big players in desktop publishing, consider Windows NT to be a strategic platform.

What about Windows 95? Professional multimedia developers never considered Windows 3.x to be a serious contender for their day-to-day work. Its not uncommon to find 32-to-128MB of RAM on some graphics workstations. Windows 95 does not provide that kind of scalability. Both power users and large organizations (including Alcoa, Bose, Charles Schwab, Barclays Bank, MCI, Merrill Lynch, and the US Coast Guard) are skipping Windows 95 in favor of Windows NT Workstation.

So when will Microsoft give Windows NT Workstation the attention it deserves? That should come with Windows NT 4.0. Look for coverage in next month's issue.

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