THE UNIX wars spilled over to Hongkong last week, with the launch of two initiatives that will increase competition over technical standards between the Open Software Foundation (OSF) and UNIX International (UI). Both organisations spout the gospel of UNIX and ''open'' standards as the only road to true inter-operability between competing hardware platforms. But the problem is that both point to a different set of technical standards to get there. Since the two groups were formed in 1988, both have campaigned heavily to sell their particular type of the UNIX operating system. The battles have primarily been fought in the United States. Asian operations of member companies have simply picked up the standards - and the marketing hype - that have already been established. Now, with Asia boasting the world's most active markets, OSF and UI are increasingly pitching the message directly at the region - both to users and to software developers. The spill-over to Asia last week led to two of the most significant open systems developments in Hongkong. The first was the setting up by UI members of a local marketing arm to promote its ''road map''. The other was the largest member of OSF, IBM - some argue the company which stands to lose most through the introduction of open platforms - spending $24 million to establish a multi-vendor showroom to showcase OSF connectivity. The banding together of eight Hongkong subsidiaries of UI members to market the UI message directly at the user in the territory is the most unusual move. The Hongkong UNIX International Marketing Group (HKUIMG) plans to address some pressing issues. These include standards-based procurement, promoting the use of UNIX System V Release 4 (SVR4), open systems security, application availability for SVR4, on-line transaction processing, and specific vertical markets including finance. The eight founder members of the Hongkong group are Fujitsu Hongkong, ICL Hongkong, McKeown Software, NCR Hongkong, Sequent Computer Systems Asia, Stratus Computer Hongkong, Sun Microsystems, and the Unisys Hongkong. According to the Singapore-based UNIX International Pacific Basin regional general manager Mr Colin Fulton, the main emphasis of the group will be on activity - with plenty of seminars, demonstrations and information. The members played down the significance of rivalry between UI and the OSF, saying that, though there were some differences, both organisations were strategically and technically similar. ''A lot of the messages [from UI and OSF] are the same. I don't think we are in conflict,'' Mr Fulton said. ''There aren't any major barriers; I think we are basically headed the same way. ''UNIX does not exactly equal open systems, but it does continue to be the operating system of choice,'' he said. The HKUIMG interim chairman, Mr Garry Scarborough, called the formation of the new group another milestone in the development of open systems in Hongkong. ''With this impressive line-up of industry heavyweights, we have the participation of a very strong contingent from the information technology industry (IT) of Hongkong,'' Mr Scarborough said. ''The very fact that leaders of these highly competitive companies will combine to speak as a united voice, underlines our company's belief in open systems, UNIX System V Release 4 and its long-term future in the IT industry in Hongkong,'' he said.