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Microsoft makes Unix changes

Will build more Unix features into future versions of its Windows Server OS and cease work on its separate Services For Unix product.

Microsoft plans to build more Unix features into future versions of its Windows Server operating system and cease work on its separate Services For Unix product.

Historically, Microsoft has provided, in a package known as Services For Unix, software tools to help companies integrate their Windows and Unix machines. At one time, the software giant charged for Services For Unix, but early last year the company made the tools free for Windows customers.

Microsoft plans to include some of those features in Windows Server 2003 R2, an update to the server OS due at the end of this year. At the same time, the company said it is not planning any further releases of the standalone Services For Unix product.

Samm DiStasio, a director in the Windows Server unit, said Microsoft has done more than just add a few components of SFU onto the Windows Server disks, noting that the company has done significant work to more deeply integrate the features with the operating system.

"It's not a bundling thing," he said.

In particular, DiStasio said that with R2, there is a new architecture for allowing applications to run on Windows, making use of both Windows and Unix programming interfaces.

DiStasio said the plan is to build Unix tools into releases beyond R2 as well, but he did not rule out that there might be some tools offered separate from the OS.

As was the case with SFU, DiStasio said, the goal is to support customers with mixed Windows and Unix setups as well as those looking to bring their Unix programs onto Windows.

"I think it gives them the tools to do that (migrate to Windows) and to coexist, if they think that is their endgame," DiStasio said.

Michael Cherry, an analyst with research firm Directions on Microsoft said that moving the Unix services into the core operating system helps the company as it looks to make tasks like identity management common across Windows and non-Windows machines. "There are pieces of it that they want to be just readily available in the OS," Cherry said.

And though the basic purpose of having Unix services is the same--to help make Windows work in mixed computing worlds--some of the needs of customers are shifting. "Initially it was about converting (proprietary) Unix to Windows," he said. "It is transitioning a lot into coexistence with Linux."