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SCO scoops up Web services start-up

The Unix software company, at the center of a controversial Linux suit, buys Vultus, a maker of software for building Web-based applications.

Unix software maker SCO Group on Tuesday acquired Vultus, a start-up that has developed tools for creating Web-based applications.

SCO said it will incorporate the Vultus software into SCOx, a set of tools for building Web services applications. Web services is a set of XML-based standards that make it easier to share data between disparate systems. Using Vultus' WebFace tools, a software programmer or SCO reseller can build for a desktop PC a Web interface to Web services applications that run on corporate servers.

According to SCO, the Vultus acquisition will be a "strategic" step in its Web services play. "SCO is targeting Web services as a platform for growth," Jeff Hunsaker, senior vice president of marketing at SCO, said in a statement.

The WebFace development tools are designed to simplify the task of building Web-based applications that have a so-called rich client interface, or applications with the visual navigation and presentation typically found in desktop-based applications like Microsoft Office. A Web browser interface is more limited in its ability to manipulate data on the desktop or use windows to present information.

Financial terms of the Vultus acquisition were not disclosed.

The SCO Group and Vultus have a common investor in the Canopy Group, an investment firm founded by former Novell CEO Ray Noorda in 1995. Canopy, which is based in Lindon, Utah, provided seed funding for Vultus and was a founding investor in Caldera Systems. Caldera acquired SCO in 2001 and changed its name to the SCO Group last year.

Vultus is one of a handful of companies that have developed tools for building more functional Web-based applications. Such companies include Curl, Versalent and Nexaweb Technologies.

The WebFace software and tools are available immediately from SCO, the company said.

SCO is at the center of industry turmoil surrounding the Linux operating system. The company, which sells Unix operating systems and associated tools, is suing IBM over alleged breach of contract and trade-secret theft. On Monday, SCO said it has gained a copyright that will allow it to charge license fees for use of the Linux operating system.