Losing ground to Microsoft in the battle of network operating systems, Novell is fighting back by introducing an updated version of its corporate Internet security software which complements its NetWare platform. BorderMananger Enterprise Edition 3 is a collection of software components which let network managers handle user log-ons, filter data for viruses and other unwanted Internet content, and control the allocation of bandwidth to individual users. Firewall software - which examines incoming data and blocks unwanted content such as computer viruses or pornography - often slows the performance of a network. Novell says its firewall, using techniques such as downloading content beforehand and caching it in anticipation of user demand, performs five to 10 times faster than similar offerings from CheckPoint Software and Cisco Systems. Network users who travel and/or work at home often find they need a second identity and password to log-in to corporate networks. That is because conventional security software packages usually recognise individual PCs, not individual users. BorderManager works in conjunction with Novell Directory Services (NDS), a special function which lets network managers get information about their networks. NDS allows BorderManager software to recognise the same user when logging on from different machines, simplifying things for both the user and the network manager. 'We are making the network more intelligent through directory-enabled services,' Charles Kwan, systems engineering manager for Novell southern China and Hong Kong, said. NDS also allows BorderManager's caching component to fine-tune the amount of bandwidth each user - rather than each individual PC - receives. 'If you are the boss, you get more bandwidth,' Mr Kwan said. NDS, which competes with Microsoft's Active Directory, already has received support from networking hardware giants such as Lucent Technologies and Cisco Systems. Novell claims companies can save 69 per cent on network operation costs by running an NDS directory-enabled network. NDS and BorderManager work only with servers running on NetWare, though they can be used to help manage networks which include machines running Windows NT and Unix. Novell hopes that will help it retain corporate customers who have been abandoning networks running older versions of NetWare in favour of Windows NT. 'We manage NT better than NT [does],' Mr Kwan said. NetWare was once the dominant OS used in corporate networks, but has been losing ground steadily to the server version of Windows NT. Shipments of Windows NT Server were expected to top NetWare for the first time in Asia last year, according to International Data Corp, despite the launch of NetWare 5 last September. Michael Wan, managing director for Novell southern China and Hong Kong, said Novell sales in Asia were down 39 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year compared with 1997. Mr Wan said he hoped delays in the release of the next version of Windows NT - once dubbed NT 5.0 but renamed Windows 2000 - could boost NetWare sales in the meantime. 'We expect no competitors for another 18 months,' Mr Wan said. Windows 2000 is set for release in the fourth quarter this year, but due to Microsoft's plan to integrate code from Compaq Computer's Tru64 Unix (formerly Digital Unix), looks likely to be released next year instead. BorderManager 3 costs about $16,000 for the complete suite for up to five users. A 100-user version costs about $31,000.