Hewlett-Packard has launched two support services for the Windows NT product, just two months after accusing a rival of moving away from the Unix platform. HP has used a high-profile advertising campaign in a bid to lure Digital Equipment's Unix customers, leading Digital to counter-attack, also in advertisements. HP's NT-based suite of worldwide support services is targeted at small and medium-sized businesses which have spurned Unix systems in favour of cheaper Windows servers and workstations. It also offers packages for larger corporations that run mission-critical applications on NT or a mix of NT and Unix machines. 'We see that Microsoft's NT is being driven and being much more accepted by businesses,' HP's Asia-Pacific business development manager for customer support Yeo Ngee Seng said. But despite HP's support of NT, it remained 'committed to Unix, no doubt', he said. 'Can we do both platforms? Yes, of course, we can.' Low-cost NT workstations and servers launched by companies such as Dell and Compaq in the past two years have resulted in heavy competition. That has made the NT platform significantly cheaper and more popular. HP said it wanted to take advantage of its solid reputation in services to lure business using non-HP machines. It was offering 'multi-vendor environment support not limited to HP's NT servers, but also IBM, Compaq and Dell', HP Hong Kong services and support marketing manager Aldous Wong said. HP's professional services sector has been a growth business. Research group Salomon Smith Barney said the division last year earned US$1.7 billion - an increase of 27 per cent from 1996 - and forecast it would bring in $2 billion this year. HP's new support package, co-developed with Microsoft, includes inspections to identify potential trouble spots to prevent crashes, backed by 75 round-the-clock repair calls each year. The package is a suite of six services for mission-critical operations for businesses in sectors such as finance and telecommunications. The suite promises to have NT and Novell NetWare operating systems running again within six hours of a service call. Annual costs for the services range from $10,000 to $20,000 for smaller business and $50,000 to $100,000 for mission-critical services. 'We think that HP is trying to play catch-up,' Digital Hong Kong's multi-vendor customer services marketing manager Sanjay Ahuja said. 'We have more NT engineers than HP and Microsoft put together.' Digital's services division covered a range of platforms, including NT, and had offered mission-critical support for business in Asia-Pacific for the past year, Mr Ahuja said.