Remember the bevy of accountants from AT&T Data Systems Group chief Robert Kavner’s old firm, Coopers & Lybrand that crawled all over AT&T for weeks accessing the chances of it turning a profit? Well, the accountancy firm turned in its report at the end of September, and inside sources say that the recommendation is to […]
Remember the bevy of accountants from AT&T Data Systems Group chief Robert Kavner’s old firm, Coopers & Lybrand that crawled all over AT&T for weeks accessing the chances of it turning a profit? Well, the accountancy firm turned in its report at the end of September, and inside sources say that the recommendation is to sell off Unix – a little item that even with all those royalties AT&T collects has been costing it at least $50m a year, and possibly up to $75m. Kavner admitted to journalists at Unix Expo that the Unix spin-off was now under serious consideration. If so, his task is now to prepare the way for the great transition. Step One is resolving the Open Software Foundation/Unix International schism. There have been plenty of meetings between Kavner and the Foundation recently, a fact admitted by the latter’s president David Tory, and in London Jean-Claude Monney, who is X/Open and OSF marketing manager for DEC, confirmed that the time is now ripe for a re-think at the Software Foundation. Monney said that the Foundation’s objective of steering Unix away from AT&T has now been achieved, and that a new direction for his group is now on the cards. These talks have culminated, we understand, in Kavner attending an Foundation board meeting recently. The result, according to highly placed informants within OSF, could be the unification of the Foundation and Unix International Inc by UniForum next January. Not only that but – incredible as it might seem X/Open Co Ltd is reportedly being considered as the vehicle that should ultimately buy Unix from AT&T. The reason given is the fact that almost everybody peddling Unix these days is already a member. How this kind of radical re-structuring would affect each organisation is unclear, although morale within AT&T Unix Software Operation – which would ostensibly be the thing sold would be an important factor. The AT&T division still has close ties with Bell Laboratories, which is still called upon to support a lot of Unix development. Kavner and Unix Software Operation chief Larry Dooling said that AT&T would offer no comment on the story. X/Open’s Geoff Morris denied all knowledge of the story, but Unix International’s Peter Cunningham said that although the story was not spot on, Unix International will be issuing a statement on the whole affair this week. A little quirk in the whole story is the recent behaviour of Hewlett-Packard Co, whose president John Young has reportedly been meeting with Kavner since at least October 9. Apparently, the stories filtering out of Austin, Texas concerning IBM’s forthcoming Rios workstations got Hewlett worried about the use of AIX as the core of OSF/1. This could explain the negative signals that started coming out of Hewlett last month, beginning with hints that the company might not support a technically inferior OSF/1, waiting instead for the far away OSF/2 release. Some observers do not anyway expect OSF/1 to reach the market as a product until the end of 1991 – two years from now. And, say sources, IBM was amongst the last to be told of the recent re-evaluation of AIX technology by the Foundation, hitting the proverbial roof when it finally found out. Advanced Workstation Division president Nick Donofrio was reported to have said I can move mountains, but first I’ve got to be told they need to be moved.