Arguments still rage over whether or not Microsoft Corp’s Windows NT qualifies as an open system. But for those already committed to a Unix strategy, who nevertheless need to migrate or interoperate with NT systems, there are now at least two companies that might be able to help. Softway Systems Inc, based in San Francisco, California, is currently alpha testing its X- Windows and Unix networked iteration of OpenNT, software that claims to make NT compliant with Posix.2- and XPG4-compliant open standards, and hopes to ship the final product by next March. There are now two versions: an OpenNT Workstation for the single user and an OpenNT Server with multiuser log-in along with support for character-based, networked and graphical Unix programs. OpenNT is intended for developers that are targeting platforms from multiple vendors, enabling them to write a program once – in this case for Unix – and then run it in either Unix or NT environments. The full-blown Unix95-compatible version of OpenNT is now set to be available early in the fourth quarter.
Softway’s chief rival is DataFocus Inc, of Fairfax, Virginia, creators of the NuTcracker Unix-to-NT migration tool. DataFocus says that what OpenNT won’t provide is any access to Win32 application programming interfaces. Hence software such as Oracle Corp applications, for instance, won’t run on OpenNT. DataFocus claims to have been Microsoft Corp’s first port-of-call when it was searching for someone to make NT Posix-compliant before Softway entered the picture. DataFocus turned them down. Maybe that’s why the religious zealots at Microsoft, particularly those in the Developer Relations Group, appear to have been attempting to stymie NuTcracker’s business since. Apparently a NuTcracker port isn’t pure enough for them and they’ve discouraged its use at least in certain quarters. Veritas Software Inc, for instance, has recently notified DataFocus that it’s not allowed to use NuTcracker to move its Volume Manager to NT. The NuTcracker port is apparently already done, but Veritas will have to rewrite the thing for NT from the ground up. Notably, perhaps, a lightweight version of Volume Manager is supposed to appear in NT 5.0. And according to Client Server News, the rumors are that Microsoft has also leaned on Hewlett-Packard Co to persuade it not to use the NuTcracker port of OpenView that we are assured NCR Corp – way back in the days when it was still AT&T GIS – completed for the company. Hewlett Packard is now said to be re-writing the software on its own, a never-ending process that’s still not finished and which recently cost it NCR’s OpenView business (CI No 3,077). Hewlett-Packard originally wanted a piece of OpenView to be embedded in Microsoft System Management Server. Microsoft’s disapproval appears to extend beyond the confines of software destined to appear within its own product lines. It is also said to have tried to persuade Foxboro Co, Foxboro, Massachussetts to rewrite the 7.5 million lines of code in its process control system from scratch. Sources say Foxboro, being sensible, only rewrote the 100,000 lines that was needed to optimize the system. NuTcracker, meanwhile, is said to have some 150,000 users running applications it has helped move over to NT.