ICL has turned its back on its mainframe and Unix heritage and bet its future on Microsoft and the NT platform.
Keith Todds, chief executive at ICL, announced last week that ICL would only be developing new applications on the NT platform. The focus on NT will involve the training of 4,000 engineers and the creation of 1,000 new jobs in Europe, he claimed. Microsoft for its part has invested "several tens of millions of dollars" in the project.
The duo said the alliance is aimed at four key markets: retail, government, education and enterprise infrastructure.
Andrew Boswell, group technical director at ICL and a key architect of the agreement, told PC Week that ICL would continue to meet demand for Unix and mainframe systems if customers asked for it, but predicted that demand would decline.
"Unix is increasingly becoming a legacy platform," he said.
Microsoft competitors Sun and Oracle both played down the announcement.
"(ICL is) saying one thing and doing another," claimed Guy Norgrove, integration licences manager at Sun. ICL had told Sun that the alliance did not extend beyond point-of-sale applications, in the retail environment, he reported.
While he expressed disappointment that ICL had joined the Microsoft retail camp rather than Sun's, Norgrove does not believe this will effect ICL's enterprise business, where ICL accounts for substantial revenue for both Oracle and Sun.
Nor does Sun fear any effect on its relationship with UK master reseller, ICL-owned distributor Tplc.
Oracle is also unconcerned. "I can't really see it affecting our business," said Bob Barker, head of industry marketing at Oracle.
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