In an unusual joint marketing effort, Huntington Bancshares Inc. is sponsoring a conference with International Business Machines Corp. on uses for the computer giant's OS/2 personal computer operating system.

About 1,000 employees of companies as diverse as Banc One Corp., Nationwide Insurance, Wendy's, and the Limited have signed up to attend the conference June 8 and 9 in the Columbus. Ohio, convention center.

Attendance is free, so neither Huntington nor IBM will make any money from the event, Huntington officials said.

Picking a System

Many bankers have been grappling with the question of what operating system they will use to distribute processing power among networks of PCs. These system designs, sometimes called "client server" computing, are rapidly gaining favor in corporations.

IBM's OS/2 has garnered its adherents, such as Royal Bank of Canada, which is using the operating system throughout its branch network.

Other institutions have been waiting to see what Microsoft Corp., with its popular Windows operating system, will do. Bankers Trust New York Corp. has a big installation of Windows in its master trust customer service area.

This week, Microsoft announced its new operating system for distributed computing, Windows NT, which it expects to begin shipping in July. Bankers Trust is testing Windows NT, and several other banks are expected to be early users of the software.

Duel with Microsoft

This is the first time a bank has co-sponsored a general technology conference with a major vendor. Huntington asked IBM about sponsoring a conference after its employees - and hundreds from other companies, according to Huntington - were shut out of a fully booked OS/2 conference sponsored by IBM in February.

"OS/2 is more powerful than what we think [Windows] NT will be." said Michael Brandly, senior consultant at Huntington Services Corp.

In addition, some bankers say they believe IBM is better able to assist them in developing new software to take advantage of the growing power of PC networks.

Mr. Brandly said that by contrast, Microsoft has seemed less willing to support his bank's corporate development projects.

Microsoft officials said they prefer to do joint marketing with the company's banking software partners. Although it does not have a direct sales force dedicated specifically to banking - sales divisions are split up geographically - the software firm recently hired Michael Rawding, formerly with Unisys Corp., to take charge of marketing to banks.

Trading Application

Columbus-based Huntington has installed an OS/2-based system that is used by 50 traders for investor trading, and is moving to OS/2 in a $5 million overhaul of its commercial lending process that will link the loan origination credit approval and loan accounting processes.

The commercial lending system will provide links between its loan origination software -Pedestal, supplied by Formation Technologies Inc. Of Denver - its internal accounting systems and its customer information file.Battle forThe DesktopPersonal computerOperating systemsin banksMicrosoft DOS 70.0%Microsoft Windows 22.5IBM OS/2 4.0Others 3.5Source: American Banker/Ernst & Young 1992 Technology Survey

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