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The Register: MS Softway purchase - could it unleash 'Linux for Windows?'

Sep 21, 1999, 18:49 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Lettice)

"On Friday Microsoft announced it had bought small San Francisco Unix developer Softway Systems, explaining that the deal was intended to strengthen Unix-Windows interoperability. But there's more to this than meets the eye - Softway had been putting its toes into the waters of open source and Linux on Windows, so despite the public statements, Microsoft may be tipping its hand..."

"So Microsoft has only bought Softway in order to provide a bridge to allow Unix defectors to switch to Windows, allegedly. But there are a few problems with that pitch. First of all, Microsoft has plenty of bridges of this sort already, and has torched a couple of them already. The company just recently escaped from an antitrust action mounted by one of them, Bristol, but it has more. Softway, as an independent company, was one of them. So it's difficult to believe that there's much point to the Softway acquisition, and to the addition of "many members" of its development team to Microsoft's headcount..."

"But you can maybe see why a Redmond worried about developer momentum in the Linux market might see reason for acquiring Softway, and the (possibly embryonic) Linux for Windows. Softway's expertise could possibly be used as part of a Microsoft 'embrace and smother' campaign, and as a worst possible case, Microsoft could give Linux for Windows away with its own software in order to offer its users the best of both worlds. That of course would probably only happen if it looked like Linux was winning the apps war."

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