Paul Gardner, chairman of the UK Novell User Association, said the new version offers distinct advantages over Netware 5, but added that European users will be looking at it with caution. "We have just run a competition offering free training in Netware 6 but only 5% of our members entered," he said.
The main advantage of the new operating system is the expansion of Novell Directory Services E-directory, which now not only holds details of users, services, software and hardware but also acts in concert with the Netware 6 portal to hold personalisation details for each user.
For many users, the main difference will be the option to use a browser interface on the client, which offers almost zero overhead. Just a few clicks of the mouse will put a client on the network, compared to having to download and configure clients' software in Netware 5.
"This, combined with allowing the network to be managed over the Web, is the truly innovative part of this release," said Gardner. "Anything that is focused on making it easier to put a client on the network will be welcomed.
"This also brings in PDAs which, in future, may prove to be the only IT tool that many people need."
Despite the increasing popularity of Microsoft's network and directory technology, Netware still commands a substantial user base among UK businesses.
Gardner believes recent changes to Microsoft's licensing terms could only help Netware's position in the software market. "Novell has always been good to its users and its licensing is straightforward and clear," he said.