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March 17, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:46pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Tiny Ray Noorda-backed Willows Software Inc, which is trying its best to be a thorn in Microsoft Corp’s side, is planning to post the source code to its application programming interface that enables Unix, Macintosh and other operating systems to make Win32 calls and run Windows applications. According to our sister newspaper ClieNT Server News, it’s going to call the code OpenWillows and try to earn its living selling tools that use the interface. OpenWillows is regarded by the company as just a small step away from posting the source code to Microsoft’s Win32 itself, which is what Willows would like to do, if it could. Meanwhile, Willows has also written the prototype for a Java class library that will enable Java applications make calls to Win32 routines. That idea is hardly a Willows invention – it’s exactly what Microsoft itself is doing, and the basis for charges that it’s trying to subvert Java by luring developers into writing Java code that depends on Windows-specific functions. Willows president Rob Farnum agrees with that assessment, but points out that all the Java forces in the world won’t be able to stop Microsoft, so his company may as well join in the fun and try to pre-empt it at its own game. A Willows Toolkit for Java, essentially a collection of small routines of about 10 lines of code each that translate the Java stack to the Windows API stack, should be ready in about six months. About 700 such routines will be needed to cover the whole job, but Farnum says he only has to support the most used Windows routines initially, adding the rest as time goes by.

Award takes over Willows toolkit

But Farnum will have a lot fewer people to do the job, as more than half of his developers are transferring to Award Software International Inc as part of a deal in which Award will be taking over the development of Willows’ Toolkit for Unix and Willows RT for Embedded Systems, along with a distribution pack that will see both companies offering the product to consumers. Award is a Mountain View, California-based provider of systems management software, and as well as the developers, takes on the company’s vice president of marketing, Laurent Gharda, in the same position. Willows came up with its RT for Embedded Systems, which Award is immediately renaming APIAccess, in the hopes of siphoning off some of the business in the exploding market for Windows NT in industrial control applications. Farnum said Willows sold the product because it found itself both distracted and eaten up by the resources needed to support the myriad operating systems that abound in the embedded control business, to the detriment of its work on the Willows class libraries that are the heart of its products. Award is paying Willows $500,000 plus future royalties for the Willows libraries and for its system abstraction layer technology.

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