Noorda's Free Windows...
Sun, 14 Jan 1996 16:32:31 -0800

>From: "Eric K. Ringger" <>
>Subject: Willows = Windows Killer ?
>Message-ID: <>
>Sender: (Eric K. Ringger)
>Organization: University of Rochester Computer Science Dept
>Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 15:27:33 -0500
>Lines: 98


Interesting stuff below. Also, look at .


Eric K. Ringger    
Dept. of Computer Science    Office: +1-716-275-0922; Lab: +1-716-275-5377
University of Rochester      Fax: +1-716-461-2018
Rochester NY 14627-0226
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>From: "Brian J. Sletten" <> Message-Id: <> Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 13:38:52 -0500 Reply-To: To: Subject: (Fwd) Interesting Development on the Windows/UNIX front...

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Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 10:05:02 -0500 >From: (Keith Bostic) Subject: Windows on Unix compliments of Noorda

Forwarded-by: Eric Varsanyi <>


Fresh from its victory over Microsoft Corp last month at ECMA, the European Computer Manufacturers Association (UX No 569), the tiny Ray Noorda-financed start-up Willows Software has changed gears, plowing ahead with a move that is bound to irk the mighty Redmond empire. This week it'll detail a plan to distribute the source code to its ersatz Win32s operating environment, described as a subset of Windows 95, free on the Internet. It will also make its anticipated software development kit, the Twin Cross Platform Developers Kit (XPDK), similarly available for personal use. Noorda himself will brief the press. The source code will allow users of any flavour of Unix - followed in turn by Apple Macintosh, Novell NetWare and ultimately IBM OS/2 users - to run Windows binaries, particularly Microsoft's own highly popular Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs, on their systems. They will not have to pay any operating systems "taxes" to Microsoft.

Saratoga, California-based Willows claims the move will create something of a paradigm shift - at least within the narrow confines of Unix - and spell the end of Sun Microsystems Inc's like-minded but limited product, Wabi, as well as Motif. Officially, Wabi only runs two dozen of the thousands of Windows programs available and to run some of them, like PowerPoint, requires the real Windows underneath, defeating one of Sun's purposes - to wit, depriving Microsoft of its revenue stream. Willows chief Rob Farnum says he will spend the next few weeks lobbying Wabi's greatest adherents, Sun and IBM, to abandon Wabi and license the Willows solution on favourable terms. He has utter confidence such an appeal will succeed and make Willows money. (Sun and IBM Corp did after all sit on the ECMA technical committee TC37 with Willows pushing the technology as a standard.) Farnum never wanted to distribute the source code, he says, because Willows doesn't have the financial wherewithal to support it. The decision to do it anyway was made over the holidays by Microsoft's old nemesis Ray Noorda and his henchmen. Farnum now believes that despite the fact the source code won't be supported it will attract tens of thousands of users.

Outside interest in Willows technology, he said, has always focused almost exclusively on its ability to run binaries. It is unclear whether Noorda will also try to tie it in somehow with the Linux freeware-based Corsair Internet desktop his Caldera operation is pushing. Willows is also now willing to forego carving out what it estimates would be a modest little $10m business selling its XPDK toolkit to a couple of thousand Unix developers a year. Any real money to be made, it figures, lies in what it calls "professional services," porting applications for people with its technology or helping them port them. It intends to announce such a program this week. It also intends to announce licensing schemes whereby pieces of its technology can be bundled with third-party programs.

Willows will support its technology when applied to commercial purposes and apparently charge modest licensing fees of $250 a platform despite the number of developers using it or run-times created. Farnum claims that when Willows this week announces the imminent arrival of its XPDK for the Mac - which like its NetWare kit is at the alpha stage - it will bring pressure to bear on Microsoft's new $1,600 Visual C++ tool for the platform. Still he remains diffident, or perhaps cautious, about Willows impact on Microsoft - at one point calling it "mouse nuts" - and Microsoft's reaction to Willows' moves. He apparently expects Microsoft to denigrate Willows technology out of a perceived loss of control, loss of revenue and threat to Win95. At the same time, he admits it would take Willows 50 man-years just to catch up with Microsoft's OLE work which he knows he must emulate. Farnum leaves unarticulated or unadmitted - despite direct questions - Willows long-term purposes respecting Microsoft though perhaps he and Noorda now feel they will make more daunting foes by using the Internet to evolve their schemes.

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