Microsoft's Next Steps in Unix Interoperability

Microsoft achieved a major milestone in its Unix interoperability plans this week when it released Services for Unix 3.0 to manufacturing. The next steps in the software giant's Unix interoperability roadmap are coming in Windows .NET Server and the follow-on to the recently released Visual Studio .NET.

SFU 3.0 represented a major milestone for Microsoft because it was the long-promised combination of its Services for Unix product, for helping administrators in heterogeneous environments manage Windows servers alongside Unix-based machines, with the Microsoft Interix product, which allows Unix applications to run without modification on Windows-based systems.

SFU 3.0, which will be generally available late in the second quarter, was the first high-profile activity from Microsoft's Unix teams in the two years since it shipped Microsoft Interix 2.2 and SFU 2.0 around the time of the Windows 2000 launch.

Doug Miller, director of Microsoft's Unix migration strategy, says Microsoft has several projects in the works for interoperating with Unix or, better for Microsoft, pulling customers entirely over to Windows.

"We've got two big buckets: one is technology investments and the other is around services and content," Miller says.

Technology investments after SFU 3.0 consist of adding Windows .NET Server command-line functions and making Visual Studio more friendly to Unix developers. Both have more to do with making Microsoft products approachable for Unix administrators and developers than with hooking Windows and Unix systems together.

"We've added literally dozens of new commands into Windows .NET Server," Miller says. "It's as much about culture as it is technology. A lot of Unix people would prefer to have a command line. One of the things we want to do is make sure that Windows is a comfortable landing zone for these people."

The story is similar with Visual Studio. The version after Visual Studio .NET, which launched in February, will include technologies that make it more approachable to Unix programmers, Miller says. Microsoft also plans to develop more training materials for Unix programmers coming to Visual Studio.

As for services and content, one of the most common terms coming out of many Microsoft product groups these days is "prescriptive," and the Unix migration team is no exception.

"We're investing heavily in creating very prescriptive content for how to migrate a Unix server to Windows, how to migrate a Unix application to Windows. We're providing training for the end-user customer as well as partners," Miller says.

"We're also working on having a variety of off-the-shelf service offerings to really carry the customer through the three big phases that we see in migration: assessment, doing the migration and deployment."

Microsoft has begun posting some of that content at

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.


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