Feeds

MS Softway purchase – could it unleash ‘Linux for Windows’

Microsoft may be starting to buy the components of its Linux defence strategy

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

On Friday Microsoft announced it had bought small San Francisco Unix developer Softway Systems, explaining that the deal was intended to strengthen Unix-Windows interoperability. But there's more to this than meets the eye - Softway had been putting its toes into the waters of open source and Linux on Windows, so despite the public statements, Microsoft may be tipping its hand. According to the press statement it's a case of small Unix developer engulfed, not many dead. And anyway, Softway had already been close to MS, announcing a co-marketing deal in May. The release says, deadpan, that Microsoft customers "will benefit from this acquisition through future expanded and integrated tools and utilities, via products such as Microsoft Services for Unix, which provide interoperability between Unix and Windows." Says Keith White, marketing director of MS Business and Enterprise: "While we recommend that customers migrate their software solutions to native 32-bit Windows, today's announcement allows certain customers to move rapidly to a Windows NT-based solution during that transition process." So Microsoft has only bought Softway in order to provide a bridge to allow Unix defectors to switch to Windows, allegedly. But there are a few problems with that pitch. First of all, Microsoft has plenty of bridges of this sort already, and has torched a couple of them already. The company just recently escaped from an antitrust action mounted by one of them, Bristol, but it has more. Softway, as an independent company, was one of them. So it's difficult to believe that there's much point to the Softway acquisition, and to the addition of "many members" of its development team to Microsoft's headcount. Nor does the Microsoft acquisition release mention the L-word. But Softway did earlier this year. Softway's Interix products use a POSIX-compliant subsystem on NT in order to allow Unix apps to run on NT. But back in June Softway CEO Doug Miller suggested something else: effectively, Linux for Windows. He outlined a product under development which would be a Linux-friendly release of Interix which would include "most of what you would find on a popular commercial Linux distribution (e.g. rpm, Gimp, Apache, Sendmail etc. etc.)." He sought feedback, and said Softway was planning to use an open source model (although actually he seemed to be aiming at some kind of semi-open source model, rather than the full whack). There were obvious problems with this, possibly explaining the silence from Softway since. It's not absolutely clear why Linux fans would want to run Linux apps on top of NT when they could just run them on Linux. And they certainly wouldn't want to pay for the privilege. Miller anticipated giving it away free for education, but charging for business users. Plus, Linux users who're at all bothered about Windows would prefer it the other way round - the ability to run Windows apps on Linux. But you can maybe see why a Redmond worried about developer momentum in the Linux market might see reason for acquiring Softway, and the (possibly embryonic) Linux for Windows. Softway's expertise could possibly be used as part of a Microsoft 'embrace and smother' campaign, and as a worst possible case, Microsoft could give Linux for Windows away with its own software in order to offer its users the best of both worlds. That of course would probably only happen if it looked like Linux was winning the apps war. Whatever, the purchase is clearly a move against Linux, rather than a minor addition to Microsoft's tools for migrating Unix shops. As the Bristol trial documentation showed, Microsoft is no longer much concerned about Unix - but it's deeply worried by Linux. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.