A Network Operating System is a computer operating system designed to manage and support workstations, personal computers and servers normally connected to a Local Area Network. The list of network operating systems includes Artisoft's LANtastic, Banyan VINES, Novell's NetWare and Microsoft's LAN Manager. Some of the main functions of a network operating system are printer sharing, common file systems, database sharing, application sharing, managing network name directory and the ability to do housekeeping for the network's system.
LANtastic supports a wide variety of PC operating systems like Windows NT 4.0/2000/2003 (Workstation and/or Server), and Windows XP. It comes with an enhanced multi-platform support. The installation and operation of the system is fast and user friendly, along with an improved interface that allows all networked PCs to be able to communicate by just using the Chat feature. Users are not required to employ a dedicated server or a full-time network manager because the system is simple and easy to maintain.
Banyan Virtual Integrated Network Service (VINES) is a network operating system based on proprietary protocol family. The protocol is basically derived from Xerox Network Systems (XNS) protocols, where it uses a client-server architecture that enables clients to request specified services like file and printer access from servers.
This network operating system is a protocol suite designed based on the XNS protocol architecture. It provides comprehensive support to most of the desktop operating systems in the market, including DOS, Windows, Macintosh, OS/2 and UNIX. Novell also supports the local area networks and asynchronous wide area communications.
Microsoft's LAN Manager
LAN Manager is a network operating system by Microsoft that works as a server application. It runs under Microsoft OS/2, and was developed in conjunction with 3Com. The file server may concurrently be used for other tasks like database services. In other words, the system provides a good multitasking function. It also supports most desktop operating systems like DOS, Windows and OS/2 clients. Currently, the LAN Manager feature has been superseded by Microsoft Windows NT Server and most parts of the LAN Manager are being used in the Windows NT and Windows 2000.