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April 2, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

Larkspur California-based Synon Corp is developing its Obsydian object development tool for Windows NT as an apparent reaction to a headline seen by Microsoft Corp’s Marshall Goldberg saying that Synon Corp was planning to convert Obsydian for Hewlett-Packard Co’s HP-UX . I ran to the phone and the rest, as they say, is history, gushed Goldberg. Suitably grandiose language from a man whose job title at Microsoft is Principal Evangelist, Enterprise Computing. In fact, Synon had been having difficulties with the Unix conversion process, having first promised it at the start of 1995. The company had to buy in class libraries and middleware and Obsydian with a HP-UX generator is currently in alpha testing (CI No 2,828). The two companies began talking a year ago, when Goldberg thought that Obsydian was being damned by faint ports, as he put it. Obsydian will eventually be integrated with Microsoft BackOffice and receive the BackOffice logo. Goldberg and Synon’s product marketing vice-president, Michael DeVries claimed that once the BackOffice logo requirements were introduced into the equation, the deal went through in five weeks. To get a BackOffice logo, server applications must run as a service, that is as processes in background, similar to a Unix daemon; they must be network-independent, have a unified log-on, and be deployable using Microsoft Systems Management Server. On the client side, they must be Win32-based and be installable via Systems Management Server. Goldberg said approximately half the applications submitted for the logo requirements have failed thus far. The two companies will have a starter kit out on May 15, comprising the development environment, an Open Database Connectivity driver and native SQL Server support so developers can get started in the SQL environment. It is expected to cost $8,750 per user in a minimum configuration of two users, although DeVries said the price has not been finalized yet. An NT-based generator for Obsydian will be out later in the summer, which will meet the logo requirements, and Obsydian for NT will be commercially available bebore the year-end. The first commercial offering will include support for Object Linking & Embedding controls, or OCXs, as well as new Active X application programming interfaces for BackOffice. Thereafter, any Obsydian for NT-developed application that uses its re-usable business objects will be able to claim the ‘Designed for BackOffice logo’ as well, once they have gone through the testing process run by VeriTest Inc, Microsoft’s usual certification company. Synon is a $75m-a-year private firm whose Obsydian AS/400 development environment has generated some 30,000 business-critical applications, according to the company. If a significant number of these are converted to Windows NT it would be a major boost to BackOffice in Microsoft’s battle for a share of the software server market.

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