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System software firms to merge

Phoenix Technologies and Award Software announce they are merging.

Two system software companies, Phoenix Technologies and Award Software, today announced they are merging.

The resulting company will be called Phoenix Technologies, and will have approximately 800 employees. Jack Kay will be president of Phoenix Technologies, with George Huang reporting to him as president of the Award Software subsidiary.

The two companies design BIOS, system software that is coded into a computer's read-only memory and interacts with its hardware to configure the system during start-up. While a machine is running, the operating system and application programs both directly access BIOS routines to provide better compatibility for such functions as screen display.

Pending shareholder and regulatory approvals, the deal should be final by June 30, according to a prepared statement released by the two companies.

The merger makes sense because the two companies target complementary markets, according to the release. Phoenix focuses on high-end PCs and Internet appliances, while Award targets the sub-$1,000 PC market and embedded systems.

The software industry's third major BIOS vendor is SystemSoft, which primarily provides code for notebook manufacturers.