Moving more aggressively than its larger brethren, Bank of Louisville and Trust Co. is one of the first banks to adopt Windows 95, Microsoft Corp.'s latest PC operating system.

Officials at the $1.2 billion-asset Kentucky bank will install the system - which debuted last August - in its 34 branches next year as part of a branch automation project.

"We wanted to standardize on one suite of applications," said David C. Meece, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Bank of Louisville, the lead bank of Mid-America Bancorp. "We were looking for a stable graphical user interface for our users, and we wanted something better than Windows 3.1," he added, referring the previous version of the software.

In moving to Windows 95, Bank of Louisville appears to be ahead of the pack. Since Microsoft unveiled Windows 95 as the operating system for desktop computers, many banks have preferred to take a wait-and-see stance.

"Banks are waiting for the system to prove itself," said Robert Landry, technology analyst for the Tower Group, a Wellesley, Mass., bank consulting firm. Mr. Landry expects some banks to start adopting Windows 95 next spring.

But some banks may instead decide to use Microsoft's more robust Windows NT at the desktop, even though Windows 95 is less expensive to run, Mr. Landry added. "Windows 95 has a smaller cost matrix in terms of memory and the resources it uses, but NT is perceived as a more secure environment," Mr. Landry said.

Windows 95 will run on a personal computer with 8 to 16 megabytes of main memory, while Windows NT needs 16 to 32 megabytes of memory. That translates into an additional $500 to $1,000 per computer, Mr. Landry said.

Bank of Louisville officials said they tested a beta version of Windows 95 in June on two workstations, and were satisfied with it after working out bugs involving installation and program configuration.

As part of its branch project, the bank is purchasing Olivetti North America Inc.'s Mosaic system, which uses Microsoft NT for the branch "servers" and Windows 95 at the workstations.

The new system replaces "dumb" terminals at the teller station, and PCs running Microsoft's MS-DOS and Windows 3.1.

The bank plans to roll out the branch software along with a network upgrade, in the first quarter of next year, and should be completed by the end of 1996.

Mr. Meece said the bank did consider other options besides Windows 95. The bank seriously considered a solution based on the Unix operating system, but ultimately decided it preferred the all-Microsoft environment.

The bank also briefly considered running IBM's OS/2 operating system for its branch servers, but, Mr. Meece said, "We just didn't believe it will be the standard long-term."

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