The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) has reaffirmed that Compaq will support the 64-bit version of its Unixware operating system into the future, despite question marks being placed over the OEM deal by Bob Palmer, former chief executive of Digital Equipment, which Compaq acquired earlier this year.
Before the purchase went through, Palmer said that the agreement between SCO and Compaq was unlikely to extend beyond the life of SCO?s existing 32-bit Unixware 7 operating system (see Newswire 6 March) because Compaq now had Digital's own 64-bit version of Unix.
But, at the company?s SCO Forum developers' conference in Santa Cruz last week, Doug Michels, SCO?s president and chief executive, said the two Unixes were targeted at very different markets.
Digital Unix on Alpha was a very high end system that was sold directly "by suits along with golf and dinner" and required a lot of support, he said. Compaq?s traditional sales model, however, was indirect and it was important to notice which model was dominant in the merged organisation.
?The Compaq/DEC organisation is very large and diverse and I don?t think all the strategies are baked yet," he said. "Compaq bought a pretty big Unix business, but it?s different to a channel product."
He believes Unixware will remain a logical choice for many. "If Digital ships a IA64 version of its Unix for Merced, it will be a choice for some companies," he admitted. "But, by that time, Unixware will be a very high volume business on [Intel] Xeon and a huge slice of that will be Unixware on Compaq. So, it seems obvious that Compaq will sell our 64-bit version of Unixware 7. The rules have changed as a result of the delayed shipment of Merced,? he attested.
Compaq is SCO?s largest OEM and made a total of $1.3 billion in combined hardware and software revenues from SCO operating systems last year. SCO generates royalties of between two and five per cent on each unit shipped.
Michels also confirmed that SCO was continuing to work on binary compatibility with Digital's Bravo Unix, but would not be coming out with any detailed plans until next year. Binary compatibility would enable developers to build an application that could run on both environments after a simple recompile.
Peter Walker, SCO?s director of marketing strategy, explained the rationale:
?Compaq will continue to provide support for a small group of very high end Digital Unix guys and provide them with a roadmap, but for Merced, it will support SCO or a downwards version of Digital Unix. I expect to see both, however, which is why we?re working with them on binary compatibility,? he said.
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