Microsoft to Boost Windows, Unix Integration

Bowing to the requirements of users who run systems with multiple operating environments, Microsoft is at work merging its Interix product line into the next version of its Windows Services for Unix (SFU).

SFU addresses the interoperability of Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system in Unix-based network environments, while the Interix products, consisting of a suite of utilities and developer tools for Unix, allow developers to port Unix-based scripts and applications to the Windows platform.

The Microsoft India Development Center at Hyderabad, India, is working on integrating Interix functionality into SFU. "There is a lot of synergy between these two products, and going forward the next version of SFU will have both products together," Srini Koppolu, managing director of the India Development Center told IDG News Service. "The Interix name will go, but SFU will provide the same functionality in a single product."

The Interix products became part of the Microsoft portfolio after the software giant acquired San Francisco-based Softway Systems in September of last year. The first Microsoft release of Interix was Microsoft Interix 2.2 which appeared in February in the US this year. The release was essentially the Softway Systems Interix 2.2 SP1 product, although the Microsoft edition also offers support for Windows 2000.

Corporations still use in-house developed applications and utilities, and they need a platform like Interix to migrate these applications if they decide to transition from Unix to Windows, or even if they have a mix of Windows and Unix systems, according to Microsoft's Koppolu. With the integration of Interix into SFU, Microsoft will offer a combined Unix-Windows migration and interoperability application.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced the release of SFU 2.0, which was developed entirely by the vendor's India Development Center, from the product definition through software development to the beta testing of the product with customers.

SFU 1.0, also developed by the India Development Center, had limited functionality, addressing the basic interoperability needs of customers. "SFU 2.0 is very strategic for Windows to move into corporations that have Unix as, whether we like it or not, most corporations have mixed environments, and there is a major customer need for the two operating systems to interoperate with each other," Koppolu said.

Although there are applications on the market for the interoperability of Windows in Unix-based networked environments, these are not complete solutions, and often customers have to buy a number of such applications from multiple vendors and put them together, according to Koppolu.

"A key message that came back to us, when we did customer research, is that customers want an integrated suite that takes care of the typical needs of interoperability," Koppolu said. "They also want it from Microsoft, because then the operating system vendor and the vendor who enables interoperability are the same, and they can be absolutely sure that things work (together) very well." SFU 2.0 supports Linux along with some other key versions of Unix.

Besides completely merging Interix with SFU, the India Development Center is continuing work on enhancing the functionality of SFU, including adding support for the upcoming NFS (network file system) version 4.0. The center is also developing new products in the areas of the Windows operating system, desktop applications and developers tools. In addition, the Windows team at the center is also building a component of the Distributed Enterprise Management Framework.

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