Novell has launched NetWare 5, the latest version of its flagship operating system for network servers that is touted as Internet-friendly. One outstanding feature of NetWare 5 is its support for pure Internet protocol (IP) - the dominant transmission protocol of the Net which previous versions and other multiple-protocol systems such as Microsoft's Windows NT do not have. Pure IP support could help businesses use network bandwidth more efficiently, resulting in about 30 per cent more bandwidth, Novell vice-president for Internet marketing Peter Clegg said. Another feature of NetWare 5 - which is year-2000 compliant - is its Novell directory services (NDS), allowing easier management and control of a network, including those consisting of different platforms. Novell said companies, on average, could save 69 per cent of network operation costs by running a directory-enabled network. Security features include digital certificate and encryption technologies that facilitate electronic commerce. A public key infrastructure enables a corporate user to issue and manage digital certificates and to verify the identity of the server with which it communicates or transfers files. A new international cryptographic feature can eliminate the need for multinationals to develop separate applications with encryption capabilities conforming to specific legal jurisdictions. NDS first appeared in NetWare 4, but not many users realised its benefits, such as its centralised administration of network resources, Novell's Hong Kong managing director Michael Wan said. 'We actually have to thank Microsoft for helping publicise the concept of directory service when it promotes its Active Directory,' he said. Microsoft plans to incorporate a directory function in its upcoming Windows NT 5.0 server software, but it is an NT-only solution. Novell's NDS has NT support that allows it to inter-operate with other applications. Mr Wan believes Novell can benefit from Microsoft's delay in releasing its NT 5.0, a rival to NetWare, that is not expected to appear for another eight to 12 months. 'By that time, corporations should have already got their solutions for the Y2K problem,' he said. Novell hoped to take advantage of the time gap and draw customers that needed to tackle the Y2K problem now. Mr Clegg said NetWare had Java support and would be compatible with next-generation applications such as Oracle 8 database software. More than 350,000 pre-release copies of NetWare 5 have been sent to Novell's corporate customers, including 1,000 to Hong Kong.