announced on September 20, 1999, that it will purchase privately held Softway
Systems Inc., a developer of Unix/NT interoperability software. Microsoft said
this move will strengthen its position in the interoperability market, and help
Unix users migrate to Windows NT.
will provide Microsoft with a stronger position in the Unix market, since Unix
applications will be able to run natively on Windows NT. Softway also intends
to develop a version of its Interix software that will support 64-bit Unix applications
on the upcoming (mid-2000) 64-bit Windows, which we believe will further add
to Microsoft's strength. Although this will not increase overall market growth,
it should lead to market consolidation. Market share for Windows NT is increasing,
and the ability to run both types of applications will accelerate that growth.
It is less
clear whether this move is a direct response to Linux's increasing market presence.
Softway's Interix supports the Linux operating system, and this move may be
a move to assimilate the growing Linux market into the Windows market.
will be: (1) those customers who have mixed (i.e. both Unix and Windows NT)
environments, (2) those who are having difficulty deciding whether to migrate
from Unix to Windows NT, and (3) those who are unable to choose between Unix
and NT but are unsure why. ("Traditional" Unix purchasers and Unix-only users
will not be affected by this acquisition.)
will be beneficial for the first group, since Softway will now have Microsoft's
corporate stability. The Unix/NT flexibility will make the decision easier for
the second group. Those in the third group will not benefit as much. There are
clear reasons why an organization chooses Unix over NT, including platform stability,
security, and scalability. If a customer does not understand these reasons,
then interoperability will not be high on the decision-factor scale, although
we do believe that these customers will gravitate to NT over time due to its
increased market momentum.