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Microsoft Wins Air Force Computer Deal

Microsoft Corp.’s Windows NT was approved as an operating system for a U.S. Air Force command-and-control computer system with as many as 37,000 high-end workstations.

The Air Force awarded five-year contracts, together worth as much as $950 million, to Sun Microsystems Inc. and a team including Hughes Data Systems, Microsoft and Softway Systems Inc. The contracts, which began in March 1996, includes peripherals, software, services and support as well as workstations.

The Air Force’s approval of Microsoft’s Windows NT as an operating system shows that the company is gaining a toehold in the U.S. government market. Unix operating systems have traditionally been the choice of government and large corporations to run sophisticated applications on workstations, large powerful computers that operate on networks.

“It opens doors for Windows to markets either dominated or fully owned by Unix,” said Nicolas ElBaze, president of Softway Systems Inc. “For the first time, Windows and NT can coexist.”

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