LinuxWorld Awards: And the Winner is… Microsoft?

The winners of the Open Source Product Excellence Awards at the LinuxWorld show in New York last week included some familiar open source names: SuSE, Red Hat, Ximian and IBM.

The list also included one relative newcomer to the open source world. The award for Best System Integration Software went to Microsoft, for its Services for Unix (SFU) 3.0 integration tool.

The product provides a Unix environment running on the Windows kernel, allowing both Windows and UNIX applications to run on a single system. Version 3.0, which Microsoft released last May, includes more than 300 UNIX utilities and the most popular UNIX shells for UNIX command line administration on Windows.

The new version features improved Network File System (NFS) performance, making it feasible to use Windows systems as file servers for Unix or Linux computers. That’s the reverse of what the popular open source product Samba does.

SFU is in use at a number of companies, according to Microsoft. Air Products and Chemicals, for example, a $5.7 billion industrial concern based in Allentown, Penn., used the product to replace two antiquated VAX VMS print servers with a Unix-based print system running on a pair of Windows NT 4.0 servers.

Nobody was in a better position than Microsoft

Products from six companies, including IBM, Computer Associates and several smaller firms, made it into the list of LinuxWorld finalists in the integration software category, according to Alan Fedder, president of the UniForum Association, and one of the judges.

The open source world’s traditional respect for judging software on its technical merits meant that “there was little complaint that Microsoft was winning an award at a Linux show,” says Fedder. “Some folks might have been happier if another company had developed it, but the product was needed, and nobody was in a better position to do it than Microsoft.”

Of the various system integration products they considered, Fedder added, “The judges felt that the most sophisticated and all-encompassing entry was the Microsoft product.”

In addition to Fedder, the judges for this year’s Open Source Product Excellence Awards were: Rob Malda, founder of; Don Marti, editor in chief of Linux Journal; Russell Pavlicek, Open Source columnist at InfoWorld; Brian Proffitt, managing editor of Linux Today and Robert Williams, UniForum’s expert for certification and security issues.