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January 26, 1998

IONA LICENSES COM, SAYS “CORBA-COM WAR IS OVER”

By CBR Staff Writer

Iona Technologies Ltd said Microsoft Corp’s decision to license the COM component object model to it (including its DCOM distributed form) means the war is over, referring to the battle between Redmond and the Object Management Group over technology used to distribute application components across networks. Over at least for anyone which buys a new Iona product called OrbixCOMet due by mid-year which integrates COM with its OMG Corba Orbix object request broker. The first version of OrbixCOMet will enable Windows developers to write desktop Visual Basic, PowerBuilder or Delphi applications that can communicate directly with any Corba server, with support for callbacks. Iona, which claims to have paid a very small license fee to Microsoft for COM and says it owes no royalties on future product shipments. It says OrbixCOMet implements Part B of the Object Management Group’s COM-Corba internetworking or mapping specification, enabling the use of Corba’s IIOP or DCOM network protocols. Because OrbixCOMet provides a client-side COM bridge, developers are no longer required to have an intimate knowledge of Corba, COM and programming languages such as C++ or Java, Iona says. The bridge requires no C++ code generation and removes the need for a C++ compiler. The net effect means the development of distributed applications for use across heterogeneous platforms becomes much simpler. Companies can continue to develop Windows applications which utilize wire-based DCOM protocols and be sure that they will run in conjunction with server-based Corba applications. Previously Iona had for all intents and purposes reverse-engineered the Microsoft technology and applications created using Iona tools had to be installed and compiled as ActiveX components on the server. Iona has rights to port COM wherever it chooses but hopes for the most part to leverage Microsoft or third party implementations, only doing its own ports where a customer has a specific requirement. Initially Microsoft has supplied it with an NT implementation and a Solaris port developed on its behalf by Software AG. Iona – already upbeat due to impressive fourth quarter numbers, see finance section – says it had been talking to Microsoft for several months about how to end confusion between competing object technology models in the marketplace and is now claiming we fixed it. The OrbixCOMet Desktop bridge will be full integrated into new end-to-end Iona object middleware going forward and Iona has also agreed to develop support for Microsoft’s MTS Microsoft Transaction Server (Viper). Iona said OrbixCOMet Desktop will beta next month and ship by mid-year priced at from $500 per developer in its material, although the company was later quoting a price of $900 for the SDK. It requires a Pentium PC or better with 32Mb RAM and Windows 95 with DCOM for 95 installed or NT 4.x. Unix versions will enable developers to create Corba or DCOM applications on Unix that communicate with Windows or Unix desktops. Wags were suggesting that it’s now just a matter of time before Microsoft buys Iona like Borland International Inc bought Iona rival Visigenic Software Inc.

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