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MS aims at Linux, Unix with free SFU download

When Redmond embraces free software, you probably won't enjoy it...

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Microsoft has gone freeware with Windows Services for Unix 3.5, released today as a download in the run-up to next week's LinuxWorld Expo in New York. SFU is a long-standing Microsoft Windows-Unix 'coexistence' product, intended largely to reduce the negatives for Unix shops associated with the introduction of Windows servers, but worries about Linux will have tended to make it more important to the company, and will have prompted the giveaway.

Microsoft is strongly against the 'viral' GPL, but with SFU 3.5 is nevertheless catering for companies who (it hopes) will be trying to integrate Windows and Linux systems. The software is intended for "major Unix platforms and versions," and according to the company has been "tested specifically with Sun Solaris 7 and 8, HP-UX 11i, AIX 5L 5.2, and Red Hat Linux 8.0." SFU consists of a collection of cross-platform network services, allows access to Windows Server services from Unix machines, and allows Unix apps and scripts to be used on Windows.

The idea, therefore, is that it's easier for companies to redeploy existing Unix skills and applications in the management and use of Windows servers, and to provide a migration path from Unix (and now, Linux) to Windows. So it's a sort of anti-Samba.

RH 8.0, you'll have noted if you've been paying attention, went out of support and maintenance at the end of last month - but perhaps Microsoft reckons it can use SFU to sweep up Red Hat customers disinclined to buy into Red Hat's new platform strategy.

The SFU 3.5 download is available here, so we're told. You'll need a .NET Passport to get it, and will also have to provide registration details. What you have to provide next and what the licence says, we know not, as the registration page went into an infinite refresh loop in Safari. But presumably MS has tested it with major Unix/Linux browsers. ®

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