By William Fellows Mainsoft Inc CEO Ivor Share says his company has had no problem doing business under the terms of a new contract for access to Windows NT 4 and 5 source code it signed with Microsoft Corp in August last year. Nor was Mainsoft coerced into signing it. In its private antitrust lawsuit […]
By William Fellows
Mainsoft Inc CEO Ivor Share says his company has had no problem doing business under the terms of a new contract for access to Windows NT 4 and 5 source code it signed with Microsoft Corp in August last year. Nor was Mainsoft coerced into signing it. In its private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, Mainsoft rival Bristol Technology Inc claims the terms of a new WISE Windows interface source environment deal Microsoft laid down were so onerous that it and other WISE partners could not do business under it. WISE licensees get access to Microsoft source code that they can use in products which redeploy Windows and NT applications and systems software to run on Unix.
In a week or so Microsoft will use a videotaped testimony of Share’s comments as a key part of its defense, when it will attempt to show its clash with Bristol is nothing more than a contract dispute. Bristol’s original three-year WISE contract expired in 1997, after which it was cut off from new Microsoft source code, including Windows NT 4. Share says the contract he signed with Microsoft is reasonable and says he was staggered at Bristol’s lawsuit.
Share says there was no material change in the three-year WISE agreement it signed in 1994, compared to the one it signed in August last year. Evidence is the company’s price list, he says. It did not materially change the price of its MainWin application after it got access to NT 4 code via the new agreement. If the terms of a new deal Microsoft offered Bristol would leave the Danbury, Connecticut company unable to do business compared with its original WISE deal, then it must have had one hell of a deal back in 1994 observes Share.
Share says he can’t reveal the terms of Mainsoft’s new WISE deal, except to say that it is for a substantial length of time. (The court has a copy of the deal). He says Microsoft has even agreed to turn over to Mainsoft a couple of key NT modules that weren’t to be covered by WISE – although he declined to say what those modules are. Share denies there is anything untoward about Mainsoft having resigned for WISE just one week after Bristol filed its lawsuit last August. The contract had been under negotiation for many months and most of the detail nailed well before that time.
Share says it’s not hard to understand why Microsoft should have characterized Mainsoft as its main WISE partner. Share claims that Mainsoft is beating out Bristol in large deals and has even been chosen by Microsoft to make some of its key systems software available on Unix. It won away the contract to port Internet Explorer to Unix from Bristol and also has Outlook Express up on Unix. Bristol didn’t decide to sue Microsoft because business was so good, he says.
When Microsoft decided to take over the task of porting Distributed COM back from The Open Group after that project fizzled, it first turned to Software AG’s port of DCOM on Unix. Share says that when Microsoft realized the Software AG code simply couldn’t cut it, it turned to MainWin to redeploy the component technology on Unix. Cisco Systems Inc has used Mainsoft to put the NT Active Directory up on Unix. Bristol is no longer a competitor, Share claims.
Nevertheless we still think it’s strange that Mainsoft is the only one of the original WISE partners – at least to our knowledge – that has signed a new contract. Insignia and Locus Computing gave up on their Windows-on-Unix efforts; Citrix Systems threatened to sue; while AT&T sued and won a settlement out of court which left it without access to future NT source code releases.
Meantime Share is concerned that remarks Bristol executives have made – suggesting his customers should be worried by the fact that only Mainsoft out of the original WISE partners have signed a new WISE contract – amount to defamation.
Share claims that Mainsoft has grown eight times in size since he took over at the helm in 1996. It has 88 employees now and is claimed to be running profitably. Ironically Share was the first to sign any WISE agreement at all – when he was with Insignia Solutions Inc – and also did the deal which gave Insignia its 10% stake in Bristol.