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January 26, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

In a move expected to reduce confusion in the marketplace, Microsoft Corp is explicitly recognizing the importance of OMG Corba by licensing its COM component object model software architecture to Iona Technologies Ltd enabling developers to write Windows applications that will run against Corba servers. Only last August Microsoft was still insisting that Corba’s Internet Inter-ORB Protocol (IIOP) had no value for its customers (CI No 3,193). In addition Microsoft has also confirmed our story of last August by kicking over its long-held tradition of having third parties develop and support its technology on non-Redmond platforms by announcing the formation of a team to develop, license and support COM – by which Microsoft also means DCOM, the distributed version – on Unix (CI No 3,306). Redmond’s bes’ friends DEC and Silicon Graphics Inc are the first COM licensees along with Iona; DEC is putting COM on OpenVMS having previously committed to developing COM for Digital Unix, while SGI will use COM on Irix. Microsoft says integrators Andersen Consulting, EDS, KPMG and Vanstar have agreed to support COM across their customers’ mixed platform environments.


It’s not clear what the announcement means to Software AG, which ported COM to Solaris under a previous agreement with Microsoft dating back to 1995 and licensed the work back to Redmond. Software AG has ported COM to a variety of Unix platforms in the interim and had hoped to build a business upon it, although lately it has switched its focus exclusively to the COM-for-MVS implementation it has also developed. Microsoft said it will announce next month which Unixes it is developing COM for. As part of the charade of turning specifications to its ActiveX architecture over to the industry in December 1996, Microsoft created an Active Group of partners to develop COM on Unix. That effort having apparently come to naught, Microsoft last summer began hiring engineers to do the work itself (CI No 3,268). Third parties including DEC and The Open Group are supposedly working with the Microsoft-supplied Software AG code. One of the versions Microsoft will create is sure to be for HP-UX. Hewlett-Packard Co abandoned its own plan to port COM to its Unix (CI No 3,319). Yesterday’s news of the plan to expand the scope of its component object technology comes at a very timely moment for Microsoft given Netscape Communications Corp’s withdrawal from Java development (see separate story this section).

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