SQL Server for Windows NT was a success by nearly all measures. The strategy of integrating the product tightly with Windows NT resulted in a product that was substantially easier to use than high-end database products had ever been. Sales were above the internal projections and increased as Windows NT began to win acceptance.
By early December 1993, much of the SQL Server customer base for the OS/2 operating system had already migrated to SQL Server for Windows NT. Surveys showed that most of those who hadn't upgraded to Windows NT yet planned to do so, despite the fact that Sybase had publicly announced its intention to develop System 10 for OS/2.
The upgrade from SQL Server for OS/2 to SQL Server for Windows NT was virtually painless. When applications were moved from one platform to the other, not only did they still work, but they worked better. SQL Server for Windows NT was much faster than SQL Server for OS/2, and most significantly, it was scalable far beyond the limits imposed by OS/2. Within another nine months, Microsoft's SQL Server business had more than doubled , with nearly all sales coming on the Windows NT platform. Although they continued to offer the OS/2 product, it accounted for well below 10 percent of sales.
A Faster SQL Server
Focusing the product on Windows NT had made the product fast. Studies conducted internally at Microsoft, as well as those from private customer benchmarks, all showed similar results: SQL Server for Windows NT (running on low-cost commodity hardware) was competitive in performance with database systems running on UNIX (on much more costly hardware).
In September 1993, Compaq Computer Corporation published the first official, audited Transaction Processing Council (TPC) benchmarks. At that time, on the TPC-B benchmark, well over $1000/TPS (transactions per second) was common, and it was an impressive number that broke the $1000/TPS barrier . Running on a dual-Pentium, 66-MHz machine, SQL Server achieved 226 transactions per second at a cost of $440 per transaction, less than half the cost of the lowest benchmark ever published by any other company. The raw performance number of 226 transactions per second was equally astonishing. At that time, most of the TPC-B numbers on file for UNIX minicomputer systems were still below 100 TPS. Certainly a handful of numbers were higher, but all occurred at a price point of much more than $440/TPS. And looking back perhaps just 18 months from that point, the raw performance of 226 TPS was about as high as any mainframe or minicomputer system had ever achieved.
The implications were clear. SQL Server for Windows NT wasn't simply a low-end or workgroup system. Its performance was competitive with more costly UNIX systems, and the trend toward faster systems running Windows NT was unmistakable. The 66-MHz Pentium processors were the first generation of Pentiums from Intel. Much higher clock speeds were expected to emerge within a few months; hardware with additional processors was anticipated. Furthermore, Microsoft SQL Server for Windows NT would soon be available on RISC processors such as the DEC Alpha-AXP at 250 MHz and the MIPS R4400. The so-called Moore's Law (named after Gordon Moore, cofounder of Intel Corporation), which postulates that computing power doubles every 18 months, was clearly being proven true for the type of commodity hardware for which Windows NT and Microsoft SQL Server were designed. Microsoft took a serious look at what would be required to achieve 1000 TPS, definitely putting raw performance in the same league as even the largest systems of the day.