SCO revamps Unix product road map

SCO unveiled a new product road map and an aggressive marketing plan to try and recharge its flagging core Unix business.

SCO unveiled a new product road map and an aggressive marketing plan to try and recharge its flagging core Unix business.

The move comes less than a week after the company announced disappointing financial results that saw its second quarter revenue drop to $10.1m (£5.5m) from $21.4m a year earlier. And it comes less than a year after SCO moved to revamp its product line-up in an effort to reinvigorate its brand.

The new products include the company's first embedded version of SCO Unix, called Smallfoot, which is aimed at the market for point-of-sale devices.

SCO also unveiled UnixWare 7.1.4, updated its SCOoffice Server 4.1 collaboration and e-mail application, touted a future release of OpenServer, and announced SCOx Web Services Substrate tools and marketing, channel and support plans. OpenServer, code-named Legend, is planned for the first quarter of 2005.

"We are looking at this long term, and we see value that we can provide to our customers now and in the future," said Marc Modersitzki, a SCO spokesman.

SCO has been embroiled in lawsuits with IBM and Novell over the rights to the Unix operating system and related issues. Yet it has tried hard in the past few years to remake its image as a vibrant, leading Unix supplier to regain the market share it has lost to Microsoft Windows operating system and Linux.

Since January 2003, SCO has also worked to boost revenue through its SCOsource Unix intellectual property licensing division.

UnixWare 7.1.4 has new features such as expanded support for Intel's Xeon Hyper-Threading architecture, as well as enhanced USB and USB 2.0 printer support.

Also featured is enhanced PCI Serial and IDE driver support for ATA devices with more than 128Gbytes of storage, as well as virtual private network support based on the IPsec secure internet protocol and updated SSL and SSH components.

The software includes support for applications such as Java 2 SE Version 1.4.2 Runtime Environment, MySQL 3.23.49 and PostgreSQL 7.4.2, Soap and XML tool kits for developing web services, the native UnixWare version of the Mozilla 1.2.1 browser and the Apache 2.0.49 Web Server and Tomcat App Server 4.1.30.

SCO is launching its first Small Business Edition of UnixWare which sells for $599 (£328) for one processor, although SCO is offering a promotional five-user licence running on a single processor and 1Gbyte of memory for the same price.

UnixWare 7.1.4 and the new Smallfoot embedded Unix products are shipping now, while SCOoffice Server 4.1 will ship next month and Vintela Authentication From SCO Release 2.6 will be available in August.

Some industry analysts, however, see SCO's latest moves as puzzling.

The continuing efforts to produce a new product road map less than a year after the last one is an indication that the marketplace is confused by the company and its strategy, said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC.

The company continues to do a lacklustre job in creating brand awareness, and it has not been able to create a pull to its products for potential customers, he said.

The other issue, Kusnetzky said, is that SCO's continuing Unix intellectual property lawsuits against IBM, Novell and others is apparently putting customers off. Earlier this year, SCO sent thousands of letters to companies that use Linux, warning them of potential lawsuits if they do not license Unix intellectual property from SCO.

Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata, said SCO's product moves have been confusing to customers because the company has not seemed committed to remaining a software business. Instead it has refocused as more of a Unix intellectual property business.

Todd Weiss writes for Computerworld

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