Linux to get Windows NT apps

Microsoft partner working on Linux/NT compatibility

The dearth of business applications for Linux could become a problem of the past, if MainSoft has its way. MainSoft is a somewhat unlikely white knight, however, as the company is a close Microsoft partner and Windows source code licensee.

Nonethless, MainSoft announced Monday that it is working on a Linux version of its MainWin product that should be available by the end of the first quarter of 2000. The company says it will make a demonstration version of the product available for download from its Web site within a few weeks.

MainSoft's current product, which makes Microsoft's Win32 application programming interfaces available on Unix, allows NT applications to run on various Unix variants. "This ensures that applications developed with C or C++ for Windows will run on Unix as they do on Windows NT," said company officials in a prepared statement. Windows applications which have been rehosted on Unix via MainWin include Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Outlook and Computer Associates' Unicenter.

MainSoft is one of a handful of companies involved in making NT applications and Unix applications interoperate. Microsoft bought one of those companies, Softway Systems, in September. Prior to the Microsoft buy, Softway officials said Softway intended to investigate ways to provide Linux/NT interoperability.

But MainSoft's primary competitor is Bristol Technology, a company which sued Microsoft in 1998 for antitrust violations, following Microsoft's alleged attempt to substantially raise the price it planned to charge Bristol for a Windows source-code license. In July, a federal jury cleared Microsoft of those charges. Bristol has said it may opt to appeal, but so far has made no move to do so.

Bristol's cross-platform porting environment, called Wind/U, is a set of libraries and utilities allowing developers to create native Unix, OpenVMS and OS/390 applications from their existing Win32 APIs and Visual C++ code.

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