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ActiveX headed for Unix

Microsoft posts a beta copy of its ActiveX cross-platform component technology running on Unix, the first of many non-Windows versions to come.

Microsoft (MSFT), making good on a promise to expand its ActiveX technology to non-Windows operating systems, today posted a beta version of the component architecture running on Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system.

Microsoft has recruited German software maker Software AG to develop the non-Windows versions of ActiveX. The Solaris version is posted to Software AG's Web site.

The Solaris version of ActiveX--and all future non-Windows versions of the technology--includes just the core technologies needed to run an ActiveX application hosted on a Windows-based server. Those technologies include a version of the Component Object Model (COM) and Distributed COM (DCOM), the protocols used by ActiveX components to communicate with each other on a single computer and between distributed systems across intranets and the Internet.

Microsoft has been criticized by competitors for not handing over all of the technology needed to build both client and server applications. Criticism comes mainly from Sun and Netscape Communications, who are proponents of Java as a cross-platform component architecture.

Software AG plans to launch beta versions of ActiveX core technologies on Digital Equipment's Digital Unix operating system and on Linux later this month.

All three Unix implementations of ActiveX are scheduled to ship next month.

Both Microsoft and Software AG are developing ActiveX technology for Apple Computer's Macintosh operating system and for IBM's MVS mainframe operating system. Those versions are expected to debut later this year.

Additional versions of ActiveX core technologies are planned for Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX, the Santa Cruz Operation's SCO UnixWare, IBM's AIX and OS/400, Digital OpenVMS, and Siemens Nixdorf's Sinix.

Last October, Microsoft handed over control of the ActiveX specification to The Open Group, an industry consortium. A subgroup, The Active Group, is tasked with licensing, branding, and managing ActiveX's proliferation to non-Windows operating systems. Software AG is a founding member of the group.