Forgive me for stating the obvious here. Microsoft Windowssimilar to other platforms, such as the AS/400 and the Apple Macintoshis built on proprietary technologies. But while Microsoft Windows itself may be a proprietary technology, several important Windows technology componentssuch as Component Object Model (COM) and Active Server Pages (ASPs)can be implemented as cross-platform technologies that can be run outside the Windows environment (including on the AS/400 and various flavors of UNIX). While this isnt necessarily producing open-source Windows, it does allow Windows professionals to leverage their skills in different environments. And Microsoft itself is functioning as a business partner/provider/promoter in several of these ventures that are designed to move its technologies out into the larger market space.
Lets take a look at some of the current initiatives for cross-platform Windows technologies. Before I start, I also want to mention that, while there are some free downloadable products for these solutions, most of the solutions Im discussing here are licensed commercial products that must be purchased for you to use them on your networks.
ASPs Outside Microsoft Internet Information Server
Microsofts Active Server Page technology allows you to use various scripting languages to embed database access (including AS/400 access via ODBC and OLE DB drivers), business processing, and transaction processing into HTML documents.
By using ASPs (which use the .ASP extension instead of the more common .htm or .html extension), you can create dynamic HTML documents that transform your Web pages into online applications.
There are two companies that are offering server engines that allow you to execute ASPs on non-Microsoft Web servers running under non-Microsoft operating systems. The first is Halcyon Software (www.halcyonsoftware.com), with its Instant ASP (iASP) product. iASP is written entirely in Java, so it can theoretically run in any Web serving environment, including IBMs HTTP Server for AS/400 running WebSphere. And iASP is supported on the AS/400.
Competing with iASP is Chili!Softs line of ASP products (www.chilisoft.com) that are designed to run on AIX, HP-UX, Linux, OS/390, Solaris, and Microsoft Windows NT. The big gap in Chili!Softs product line is the AS/400, which Chili!Soft is currently not supporting and probably will not support in the near future. An important
future point for Chili!Softs products is thatas this issue of MC went to pressCobalt Networks (www.cobalt.com) announced that it was going to acquire 100 percent of Chili!Softs stock and options in a stock swap deal to be completed in the third quarter of
2000. So its unclear whether Chili!Softs products will still be sold under the Chili!Soft brand in the future or how (or whether) the acquisition will affect any possible future port of Chili!Soft products to the AS/400.
Essentially, Halcyon Software and Chili!Softand their business partners and alliances, which include IBM, Microsoft, Lotus, Sun, Oracle, and Netscape for Chili!Soft and IBM, Sun Oracle, the Sun-Netscape Alliance, and Novell for Halcyon Softwareare taking Microsoft ASP technology and making it a cross-platform standard that can be used on almost any Web server platform and operating system.
COM to UNIX
Microsofts Component Object Model was designed from the beginning to be an open software component specification. It defines a specification for developing reusable binary components that can be deployed in different languages and on different platforms. As a result, COM is flexible, and, theoretically, its binaries can be distributed among different machines wherever there exists the necessary horsepower and need. All you need to run COM on non-Windows platforms is an implementation that provides the basic functions, libraries, and tools for running a COM application in that environment.
For information on using COM in different environments, see the Microsoft COM ResourcesDownloads and CD-ROM Web site (www.microsoft.com/com/resources/downloads.asp). On this page, there are several links for Microsoft-sponsored toolkits and downloads for COM support in Windows Distributed interNet Architecture (DNA), Windows 9x, and a few other options.
However, the interesting links on this page are not for Microsoft-specific COM downloads but for other products that provide COM support inside UNIX environments. These products include the following:
COM for Tru64 UNIX runs on the Compaq (formerly Digital) Alpha hardware platform (www.unix.digital.com/com). This implementation is provided by Compaq, not Microsoft.
COM for OpenVMS runs under OpenVMS Version 7.2-1 on the Compaq Alpha platform (www.openvms.digital.com/openvms/ products/dcom). Like COM for Tru64 UNIX, this is an implementation for Compaqs OpenVMS customers, and it is also provided by Compaq.
COM for Solaris 2.0 is designed to extend COM applications to the Sun Microsystems Solaris 2.5.1 environment (www.microsoft. com/com/resources/solaris.asp). This implementation is provided by Microsoft, not Sun.
COM and ASP Everywhere
As you can see, these Microsoft technologies are not limited solely to Windows operating systems anymore. With and without Microsofts help, COM and ASP are migrating into the general marketplace and attempting to become de facto standards in their own right. So, while Microsoft Windows itself is based on proprietary technologies, many of its component technologies are going cross-platform.