Terms of the deal to acquire the Austin, Texas-based company were not announced. Among the software that Winternals offers is a set of freely downloadable tools known as Sysinternals.
As part of the deal, the software maker is naming Winternals co-founder Mark Russinovich as a technical fellow.
"I've had my eye on Mark for some time," Jim Allchin, Microsoft divisional co-president, said in a statement. "The work he and Bryce (Cogswell, Winternal's other co-founder) have completed in system recovery and data protection illustrates the depth of thinking and skill they will bring to future versions of Windows. The addition of their deep kernel-level expertise to our existing strong talent will help provide us with the edge we need to continue to raise the quality and functionality bar for Windows on both the client and the server."
In buying Winternals, Microsoft is getting the company's free tools, its Sysinternals community Web site as well as several paid-for software products for businesses. However, it appears Microsoft made the deal, in large part, to hire the company's two co-founders.
"It's definitely about talent," Platform and Services division architect Jason Garms said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. "Mark is one of the top five or 10 people in the world when it comes to Windows internals."
Garms said that Russinovich will be focused on helping Microsoft further develop the Windows kernel in his role as technical fellow--the top technical position at Microsoft with less than two dozen people holding such title. Co-founder Cogswell will become a software architect in the Windows Component Platform Team.
Microsoft has seen its ability to quickly ready new versions of its flagship operating system wane in recent years. Windows Vista, the successor to Windows XP, will come more than five years after its predecessor, which launched in October 2001. Following several delays, Microsoft is currently hoping to wrap up development work on Vista this year.
Russinovich said in a statement that he is excited to join the company whose technologies are so critical to so many businesses.
"I witness regularly the profound impact that even a few lines of code can have in a world of globally connected systems," Russinovich said.
Microsoft said it is still exploring how best to integrate Winternals' products. Winternals' Recovery Manager, for example, has some similarities to the System Center Data Protection Manager tool that Microsoft released in September 2005. "We're evaluating how those would meet together," Garms said.
As for the Sysinternals blog, the company wants to keep the community information, blogs, forums and tools, but Garms said Microsoft is looking at how the site might be integrated into other Microsoft efforts "so that it's not quite so separate."