Hoping to pluck from the bunch of enterprise customers who are replacing costly Unix systems with alternatives, Microsoft has updated its set of tools designed to give Unix users a hand in moving to its Windows operating system.
Microsoft earlier this month released to manufacturers the latest version of its Services for Unix suite. Version 3.0 of the product, which is designed to aid companies migrating Unix applications and legacy systems to Windows, will be available for purchase by the end of June, Microsoft said.
"We're seeing a lot of interest from customers moving off of expensive legacy hardware to the Intel (Corp.) platform," said Doug Miller, director of Unix migration strategy at Microsoft. "As they look to go from Unix to Windows, they need to be able to exploit their investments in Unix ... and leverage existing code."
Services for Unix Version 3.0 adds to Windows support for NFS (Network File System), a Unix file sharing protocol. Such support enables Windows clients and servers to access files and data stored on Unix servers. Additionally, Services for Unix 3.0 allows Windows customers to use Microsoft's Active Directory server software to manage and interoperate with Unix directories through the NIS (Native Information System) server.
The package of software now includes Microsoft's Interix software, which the Redmond, Washington, software company acquired through its 1999 acquisition of Softway Systems Inc. Interix can be used by independent software vendors and in-house enterprise developers to recompile Unix applications to run on various versions of Windows, including Windows XP and the upcoming Windows .Net Server, Miller said.
Another feature included in Services for Unix 3.0 allows programmers to use familiar Unix tools for managing a Windows environment. For example, customers can use prebuilt scripts -- a popular technique used by Unix administrators to automate administrative tasks -- for managing Windows administrative tasks.
Services for Unix has come in handy for programmers who work in mixed software environments, said Michelle Malcher, senior database analyst with Leo Burnett Worldwide Inc., a marketing and media company whose clients include The Coca Cola Co. and Toys R Us Inc. After implementing Microsoft's SQL Server database software, Malcher has been making use of previous versions of Services for Unix to interoperate with existing Unix database software from Oracle Corp.
"I don't necessarily know if people are going to replace their Oracle Unix boxes with Windows, but if you are moving to SQL Server it's a really good tool to get up and running quicker," she said. "Having some Unix services on Windows is very helpful to us because of the knowledge base we have."
Service for Unix Version 3.0 will be available worldwide for US$99. That software will also come with the Interix software for migrating applications from Unix to Windows. Previously, Microsoft sold the products separately with a combined price of about $250.
In addition to updating its tools, Microsoft has invested big marketing dollars to convince customers to make the Unix-to-Windows switch.
The company recently launched a Web site aimed at potential Unix converts, online at http://www.microsoft.com/Windows2000/migrate/unix. Microsoft also teamed with Unisys Corp. in April on an advertising campaign called "We Have The Way Out," which mixed market data with promotional material in an effort to entice customers to adopt the data center edition of the Windows 2000 Server software over Unix.