Microsoft Corp announced its plans to acquire Softway Systems Inc late Friday, saying the move was a demonstration of its commitment to boost interoperability between Windows and Unix. Softway, a small San Francisco-based privately-held company, is the developer of the Interix family of utilities and developer tools aimed at helping developers port Unix and Linux […]
Microsoft Corp announced its plans to acquire Softway Systems Inc late Friday, saying the move was a demonstration of its commitment to boost interoperability between Windows and Unix. Softway, a small San Francisco-based privately-held company, is the developer of the Interix family of utilities and developer tools aimed at helping developers port Unix and Linux code over to Window NT. Only two months ago, Microsoft was celebrating its court victory over Bristol Technology Inc, a company providing tools for porting applications the other way – Windows to Unix (CI No 3705). Bristol claimed that Microsoft had refused to deal with it, effectively forcing it out of business.
Softway, founded in 1995, has in contrast enjoyed Microsoft’s endorsement for much of its career. Its direct competitor, DataFocus Inc, did not have the same advantage with its NuTcracker tool, and now faces the daunting task of competing with Microsoft itself. Interix, originally known under the name OpenNT, can run Unix applications on NT either from the console, from an X-Window or serial terminal, from Windows clients, Windows Terminal Server, or via remote Telnet. It doesn’t include a native Win32 API.
Softway’s greatest success has been from federal government and defense customers, due to the strength of Unix in those markets and the mandatory requirements for Posix compliance. Interix supports both Posix 1 and Posix 2, and Softway claims it provides a full-featured and native Opens Systems environment on Windows NT. Microsoft has won some major government and defense contracts through partnering with Softway.
Microsoft said it planned to expand and integrate the Interex tools with its existing Microsoft Services for Unix toolset. It said it still recommended that developers write native code for NT, but that the expanded tools would offer the chance to quickly port software over with minimal changes during the transition period. Ports can typically be carried out in a few weeks. Microsoft said it would continue to work with other companies to further Unix and Windows interoperability. It uses the Unix for NT utility set offered by Mortice Kern Systems Inc, for instance.
Financial details, specific product configurations or pricing details were not disclosed. Microsoft said that many members of Softway’s development team and other key employees will join Microsoft. The Sumitomo Group holds an equity position in Softway. The company’s CEO, Doug Miller, originally came from Unix operating systems software house Interactive Systems Inc.