Analysts warn that Softway Systems? upcoming software for running 64bit Unix applications on a future 64bit version of Windows NT may force Unix vendors to rethink their interoperability strategies.
The Silicon Valley based firm said it plans to ship its Interix 64 offering as soon as Microsoft releases the 64bit version of its operating system, although Big Green has still not set a time frame.
But Michael Goulde, analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, said: "Softway Systems brings Windows NT one step closer to becoming a universal application platform, while Unix vendors continue to avoid Windows NT and Microsoft interfaces like the plague. It's going to force a lot of people to do some thinking."
The current version of Interix, formerly called OpenNT, runs as a Windows subsystem just above the NT kernel and works in the 32bit space. The middleware was developed following a licensing agreement with Microsoft that gives Softway access to NT source code and includes application development tools and internetworking products.
Dan Kuznetsky, an IDC analyst, said: "Potentially, OpenNT is a much better solution than running Windows applications under emulation or tying Unix desktops to a Windows NT server. This could be quite a bit faster."
Francoise Bollerot, Softway's director of product marketing, claimed that Interix was different from most emulation software because it taps directly into the NT kernel.
Interix 64 was designed to run on boxes based on Intel's 64bit Merced processor, which is due to ship in 2000, and will also support applications developed for machines based on Sun?s Sparc, Hewlett Packard?s PA Risc and other existing 64bit platforms. The software will be backwards compatible with existing 32bit applications, however.
To take advantage of the new Merced chip, Microsoft will need to recompile NT, and while it has no current plans to create a full 64bit version, it has said that NT 5.0 will support some 64bit instructions, specifically those that permit applications to reserve huge blocks of memory.
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