Unisys has introduced the first servers built for Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 2003 operating system.
The 'mainframe class' ES7000/500 servers will be the first to support Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition, due for release on 30 May.
They are priced to compete in the midrange server market, which includes both Windows- and Unix-based hardware.
Unisys claimed that running costs for the ES7000/500 could be as low as one-third that of comparable Unix-based systems.
The first expansion of the ES7000 range since its launch in 2000, the new systems are designed to shed the family's 'expensive' tag.
"The ES7000/500 is a very, very good piece of technology," said Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research.
"They are the first Windows systems anywhere close to having big systems scale. Unisys provides very good management tools."
Lock said that, despite its six-figure price tag, nearly 1,000 ES7000 systems have been sold to date.
The ES7000/500 family's lower cost comes through a rack-mounted design which begins at four Intel processors, incrementing by two or four processors up to 32. Earlier models had 32 processors in-built.
Largely Wintel-oriented, Unisys has for the first time offered Linux - SCO Linux built on UnitedLinux - as an alternative to Windows.
But the company was at pains to play down the significance of the move.
"When we bet on Intel and Microsoft, Linux was nowhere. Our systems are optimised for Windows. It's a long-term strategy," said Michael Hjalsted, marketing director of servers, systems and technology for EMEA at Unisys.
There are four models in the family: the entry-level ES7000/510 (4/6/8x Xeon 1.5-2GHz processors and 4-16GB memory); 520 (8/12/16 processors and 4-32GB); 530 (as per 520 with processor clustering); and 540 (16/20/24/28/32 processors and 8-64GB).
Prices range from £22,500 for a four-way ES7000/510, up to £500,000 for the 32-way ES7000/540.
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