Unix forum adopts a Microsoft-friendly face

Tarantella chief insisted on a name change because 'I love all kinds of operating systems'

SCO Forum 2000, long a haven of Unix fans antagonistic to Microsoft and its Windows operating system, has quietly changed its name to simply Forum 2000. By dropping the SCO (Santa Cruz Operation) name and its Unix-centric associations, the annual event could shift its focus away from a purely Unix-centric world, opening its doors to OS vendors such as Sun and even Microsoft.

That, at least, is the hope of Michael Orr, president of Tarantella, the primary business unit of SCO after the company sold most of its operations to Caldera earlier this month. Tarantella, which makes software used to access server-based data and applications from any Web browser, has never been a Unix-focused company, and Orr says he did not want to host an event that excluded major operating systems such as Solaris and Windows 2000.

"SCO means Unix, and a lot of people associate that with hating Microsoft," Orr says. "But I don't hate Microsoft, I love all kinds of operating systems, and I love all kinds of applications. I only want to beat Citrix. And I want them to do well, because if they're successful, we're successful."

Citrix is the dominant provider of so-called "thin-client" software of the type Tarantella sells.

Orr says he initially wanted the new Forum to become a purely server-oriented event, allowing sponsorship from companies such as Sun and Microsoft. SCO and Caldera, the event's two hosts, couldn't quite get to grips with this idea, however. "They said 'We're not going to allow sponsorship by companies who solely compete with us'," Orr recalls. Still, he relented and Tarantella will be a host of Forum 2000.

Orr says Tarantella's Microsoft relationship is vital because of Tarantella's use of a Microsoft system called Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Tarantella uses a reverse-engineered version of RDP, but a closer relationship with the software giant would mean less lag time between a new Microsoft version of RDP and its implementation in Tarantella software.

"The Microsoft relationship is very important to cultivate right now. We are actually getting along quite well with Microsoft, especially with the new, friendly Microsoft, where they don't want to be seen bullying anybody," Orr says.

Forum 2000 is held August 21-23 in Santa Cruz, California.

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