THE new version of WABI, Sun's Solaris-based Windows compatibility program, began shipping last week in the United States. WABI 2.0 will be packaged with Solaris 2.4 and will ship in Asia in February. It is the latest version of Sun's software for running Windows applications under Solaris and other UNIX graphical user interface (GUI) environments. It promises to support a broader range of applications and should further Sun's goals to offer an interface flexible enough to be used in a multi-platform environment where companies need the power of client-server systems while still being able to use popular Windows applications. But the release of WABI 2.0 does not mean Sun is trying to compete with Microsoft for a share of the desktop market. 'The real challenge for us at Sun is to stay focused on what we are good at,' said Ed Zander, president of SunSoft, Sun's software subsidiary. '[That is to] go after companies that are re-engineering their management information systems and not companies with small workgroups and LANs exclusively.' In this market, Microsoft has a contender in Windows NT, but according to Mr Zander, NT 'still has a way to go in security, network management and scalability'. But he did acknowledge that Microsoft's powerful marketing machine would mean Sun had a hard job to compete with NT. 'We can win the UNIX battle but still come up short if we don't worry about people outside the UNIX community,' he said. WABI 2.0 will support Quicken 3.0, Approach 2.1, Notes 3.0, Access 2.0 and Microsoft Office 4.3. It will continue to support the applications which were compatible with the previous version, including PageMaker 5.0, CorelDraw 4, AmiPro 3.01 and Word for Windows 6.0. WABI works by translating Windows application programmer interface (API) calls and processor instructions directly into X-Windows calls and SPARC RISC instructions instead of taking the traditional emulation approach. WABI 2.0 is expected to play a key role in SunSoft's focus next year. This includes the continued ramping up of distribution of Solaris 2.4 and the introduction of DOE (Distributed Objects Everywhere), Sun's solution for implementing object-orientated technology which includes OpenStep, a derivative of NeXTStep from NeXT. It is Sun's answer to the Apple-IBM Taligent initiative. SunSoft is expected to ship new network management and system administration products next month or February.