Microsoft Windows Services For Unix - SFU = DOA?

  • Written By: C. McNulty
  • Published: May 26 2000

Microsoft Windows Services For Unix - SFU = DOA?
C. McNulty - May 26, 2000

Event Summary

LAS VEGAS, NV [9 May 2000] At NetWorld+Interop 2000, Microsoft Corp. [NASDAQ:MSFT] Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced the availability of Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX 2.0 (SFU). Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX 2.0 provides an additional set of comprehensive tools to help bridge the gap between UNIX and Windows for users and administrators. It helps create a logical enterprise network where resources are shared seamlessly and access control is simplified. Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX 2.0 provides a mechanism to take advantage of existing UNIX resources and expertise while simplifying network administration and account management in a mixed Windows 2000, Windows NT, and UNIX-based environment.

Market Impact

Names can be deceiving. Check out those system requirements - SFU runs on Windows NT & 2000 only. A better product name might be Microsoft UNIX Services for Windows.

The core product includes:

  • NFS Client & Server

  • UNIX UID/GID - Windows Domain/AD Name Mapping

  • Telnet Server & Client

  • Active Directory storage of NIS-hosted objects

  • UNIX-Windows Password Synchronization

  • Korn shell for Windows

More interestingly, Microsoft is even saying the dreaded L-word (Linux). SFU will interoperate with Solaris 2.6, HP-UX 10.20, Tru64 UNIX 5.0, and Red Hat Linux 6.1.

Microsoft's earlier version of SFU was a free download. SFU 2.0 will retail for US$ 149. When SFU 1.0 was free, it was hard to beat it on price/performance issues. However, at its current price, it's competing with richer solutions from other vendors. For example, Xlink's Omni-NFS Enterprise offers additional terminal and printer modes, and XLink has committed to matching or beating Microsoft on price.

And there are better products in the market. WRQ Reflection Suite for X lists at $468. But the WRQ suite offers extensive terminal and XWindows-based connection modes in addition to plain vanilla NFS.

User Recommendations

We don't see the product convincing Unix diehards to abandon their workstations for Wintel solutions. This product is better suited for Windows users who live in predominantly Unix centric environments. Microsoft has made a great show of trumpeting the superiority of Windows 2000. Unix includes NFS, telnet, and Korn free of charge. How, pray tell, is Windows better if you have to pay more and download an extra product not included on the installation CD?

There's already competition that beats Microsoft on price and performance. As a result, SFU, as a separate product, is probably DOA.

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