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-- by Joseph C. Panettieri
Not long ago, UNIX was the preferred OS for running imaging applications. Now, like just about every other segment of the UNIX industry, imaging hardware and software vendors are turning their focus to Windows NT.
Imaging software lets you replace paper-based documents and records (such as medical reports) with digitized files for faster information retrieval and easier distribution across an enterprise network.
Most imaging systems were originally based on UNIX because of its scalability. But thanks to the rising popularity of NT Server, which is rallying the hardware industry around a single OS standard, analysts expect sales of NT imaging gear to grow more than 50 percent annually during the next few years. That's why Data General, FileNet and Wang, among others, have ported their respective imaging software to NT.
New and improved
Among the latest NT offerings is Data General's AV Image product family (http://www.dg.com/products/aviion/ntindex.html), which lets you manage multiple data types (text, graphics, video, sound and so on) across an enterprise. Similarly, FileNet recently unveiled Saros Discovery Suite ($495 per seat), which boasts electronic document management, workflow features and document-imaging capabilities. The suite should be shipping with NT support around the time you read this. In the meantime, visit http://www.filenet.com/hotnews/suite.html for further information.
The NT imaging market is also giving Wang Software (recently acquired by Kodak) a new lease on life. The company says its year-old NT products-Open/image and Open/workflow-account for nearly 60 percent of its software revenue. Microsoft has even embedded Wang's Imaging for Windows client in NT Workstation 4.0 and Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2 (OSR 2). If you don't have OSR 2, you can fetch the imaging software from the Web at http://www.wang.com/sbu/img95enh.htm.
Ironically, at least some of Wang's NT success stems from a legal feud with Microsoft over OLE. Wang sued Microsoft in 1993 for patent infringement related to the object technology. The two companies settled the dispute in 1995 by partnering on NT imaging. Since that time, just about every other imaging vendor has also jumped on the NT bandwagon.