Robert X. Cringely speculates on what’s really going on with SCO, Microsoft, and Linux. I think his basic point is right (that SCO kicking up FUD will create an opening for Microsoft to leverage Unix or Linux in a proprietary way), but a peek at an existing product, as well as one that’s in beta right now, suggests something simpler than “Windex” may be in the works.
Services for Unix
Cringely says “I can only come to the conclusion that Redmond is thinking of actually using that license, selling its own version of Unix.” I believe that Microsoft is covering its butt because they already sell their own version of Unix (sort of). It’s called Interix, and it ships as part of Services for Unix.
(And yes, “gcc”, “g++”, “g77″, and “gdb” are not typos; Microsoft ships
GNU software *and* charges money for it :-) On top of that, my
understanding is that there is significant proprietary goop between
Win32 and Interix such that you couldn’t build anything useful out of
the sources that the GPL requires Microsoft to ship, but I’d welcome corrections on that point.)
Microsoft Virtual Server
But wait–there’s more. Microsoft recently acquired a chunk of Connectix, Virtual Server. With Virtual Server, Microsoft
now has the technology to embed multiple operating systems within a
Windows 2003 Server. The first stated target for this is Windows NT, so
that users will be able to run legacy code alongside Windows 2003 without destabilizing the core operating system.
Since Virtual PC supports many flavors of Unix, why not embed an SCO flavor of Linux into Windows Server 2003 Web Edition ($399, no per-seat licenses), and say “OK, we’ve got all the advantages of Linux plus more.”? This could be an optional package, an Interix on steroids, and they could offer it for free
(or perhaps it would be serviced through SCO).
OK, time to come back down to earth: I think Microsoft won’t get in the business of shipping Unix. Instead, they’ll point to the Virtual Server technology and say, “bring any x86 Unix you damn well please; it will run in this sandbox, and SCO won’t sue you because we licensed Unix from them.”
What do you think? Is there really anything to read into this weirdness or is it totally random?