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November 23, 1998

WILL COLUSA BE THE MICROSOFT VM?

By CBR Staff Writer

There has been a good deal of speculation in the press that while Microsoft Corp is likely to comply with the judge’s order to get compatible with Sun Microsystems Inc’s Java, its long-term strategy will be to dump Java and instead offer a universal machine that will run Java, C++, Visual Basic and other languages. Any such technology will presumably use the universal virtual machine that Microsoft picked up in 1996 with its acquisition of Colusa Software Inc (CI No 2,872). Colusa had a product called Omniware, which contained a VM that, we are informed by people who should know, could form the basis of a Java killer. The Omniware Runtime Environment consists of two components: the Omniware Virtual Machine (OmniVM) and the Omni32 API. Compiled Omniware modules execute on top of OmniVM just as conventional programs execute on standard hardware. The Omni32 API provides services typically handled by either conventional operating systems or standard system libraries. Modules interact with the rest of the system and the user through the Omni32 API. The Omni32 API includes routines to manage memory, threads, and I/O; it also includes a graphics and windowing library that is based on the abstractions used in existing Java AWT and Tk (Tcl) systems. Our source, who examined the software in great detail before it disappeared inside Microsoft says it had a clever trick to ensure memory integrity that allowed it to handle weakly typed languages such as C and C++ – a great advantage over the single language approach in Java. Repeated calls to Microsoft yielded no information about what has happened to the Colusa technology, and it doesn’t currently appear to offer a product that uses the technology.

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