Microsoft's plan to put embedded NT into non PC devices has come under fire from NHS IT managers, who fear it could cause chaos on hospital networks.
PC Week learned last week that London's Charing Cross Hospital is in talks with 3Com over concerns that the networking company is to embed NT on its hardware.
"3Com's plans to embed NT are extremely worrying for us as our network runs almost entirely on 3Com equipment," explained Matt Williamson, head of networking and IT at Charing Cross Hospital.
He said: "Put it this way - I wouldn't want to be a patient in a hospital that was running Windows NT. It doesn't even offer a vague shade of reliability."
Windows NT Embedded 4.0 for non PC devices went into beta last week. The product is aimed at telecommunications, retail point of sales devices, high speed copiers, manufacturing, office automation, medical patient systems and network equipment, such as routers.
Microsoft quickly moved to reassure worried IT managers: "Embedded NT does have the same API spec and kernel as Windows NT, but the power usage and reliability for embedded systems are different," explained Dilip Mistry, Windows CE marketing manager at Microsoft. "It's early days for us - we'll see what happens going forward."
Mistry claimed that Embedded NT, first revealed in PC Week last May, is the result of the demand, "to integrate PBXs, copiers and all kinds of devices into the network and not to have to use them in isolation."
"The problem is the architecture," commented Andy Mulholland, technology markets director at Cap Gemini. "Microsoft thinks its 'one system fits all give or take a few lines of code' approach will work, but users aren't buying it."
He continued: "Microsoft's push for embedded NT is part of a much bigger battle. There are many more mobile devices like phones and PDAs, and digital systems like medical support monitors out there now than servers and if Microsoft can get its code into these boxes there is a greater chance the server at the other end will also use its code."
3Com's European marketing manager, Charles McClelland, said: "If our users do not feel NT is a failsafe operating system, they can use Unix."
Microsoft plans to ship Embedded NT by the end of the year.
For more stories see 1 March issue of PC Week
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