Microsoft Adds to Unix Interoperability Skills

Microsoft Corp. has scooped up Unix/Windows NT interoperability company Softway Systems Inc., the software giant announced late Friday. The move advances Microsoft's recent efforts to better interoperate its Windows NT with the rival Unix operating system.

Financial terms of the purchase were not discussed in the statement Microsoft released on Friday. Softway developers and other core staff will join Microsoft, according to the statement, but the companies did not disclose any future products or product pricing resulting from the purchase.

Privately-held Softway makes the Interix range of emulation software which enables developers to port Unix-based scripts and applications to NT so that they can run natively on Microsoft's NT. Unlike other Windows emulation software, Posix-based Interix is able to tap directly into NT's kernel. Interix also supports the open-source Unix-like Linux operating system. The Posix (portable operating system interface for Unix) standard defines the language interface between applications and the Unix OS.

Based in San Francisco, Softway was founded four years ago and is owned by the company's founders, staff and venture capitalists including Hambrecht & Quist and CMG @Ventures, according to information on the company's Web site. Sumitomo Group also holds an equity position in the company.

Softway's existing partners include Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. Earlier this month, Dell announced it would pre-install Interix software on its Precision WorkStation computers.

Microsoft has gradually accelerated its NT/Unix interoperability efforts to woo more enterprise-level customers by easing the migration path from Unix to NT.

At the start of this year, for example, Microsoft signed a licensing deal with DataFocus Inc. to include Windows-based Application Wizards in DataFocus' porting tools suite, Nutcracker Software Development Kit. In July, Microsoft announced plans to release a beta version of release 2.0 of its own interoperability software, Services for Unix (SFU).

Softway said early this year that it intends to have a version of Interix that will support 64-bit Unix applications on the forthcoming 64-bit version of Windows NT. Microsoft gave a demonstration of 64-bit Windows a few weeks back at the Intel Developer Forum in Palm Springs, California. A beta version of the OS is due out in the first half of next year, with the OS to ship later in 2000.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached by phone at +1-425-882-8080 or on the Web at Softway, in San Francisco, can be reached at +1-415-896-0708 or at

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