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Saturday, April 1, 2000

Xenix Returns!


April 1, 2000 — In a dramatic change in direction, industry giant Microsoft Corp. today has publicly pledged to embrace the open-source software movement. Unveiling the company’s new Linux initiatives, president Steve Ballmer decreed, “The days of proprietary solutions are over.”

Sharing a stage with GNU Project founder Richard Stallman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ballmer announced that the company will be releasing its Windows 2000 operating system as open source, subject to the GNU Public License. “We made this decision last summer,” said a company spokesman.

Under the terms of the new Windows license, software discs for Windows 2000 Professional and Server will be available for US$35 for executable code only, and $70 for a two-disc set containing source code. Following usual open-source community practice, support will not be included in the package. Customers wishing support can subscribe to a support contract.

Ballmer also demonstrated the company’s forthcoming Microsoft Office 2000 and Visual Studio 7 for Linux. “Many of our developers are Linux enthusiasts,” he disclosed.

“They’ve been running Linux on their development stations for two years. Not only is Windows 2000 itself written in Visual J++,” he said, “but we’ve also created native Linux versions of Office and Visual Studio for in-house-use,” said Ballmer, adding, “Now’s the time to release those products into the mainstream.”

Also announced on April 1 was that the forthcoming Windows Millennium Edition (Windows ME) is actually based on the Linux kernel, with DOS, Win16 and Win32 compatibility layers and a port of the Windows Explorer user interface.

“We’ll be releasing the Windows compatibility source code for all major Linux and Unix ports,” said Ballmer, singling out Sun’s Solaris as the next target for Microsoft’s full line of business software. “Look for our own branded version of Linux to be released next year as a separate product,” he added, hinting, “Now’s the time to bring back the Xenix brand,” referring to Microsoft’s version of Unix, available in the late 1980s.

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