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SCO's products in the 80's and now

With all these suits coming out of SCO, I'm wondering about their products. As a Unix expert maybe you can tell me: What were the good and bad things about SCO's products -- UnixWare and OpenServer? Didn't SCO first lose users to NT? If so, what was missing from SCO's products that gave NT and then Linux a chance to take over? Were they too complicated or expensive?

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I will tell you that my first experience with Unix was with SCO. That was with SCO UNIX 3.2. I still have the old 5 1/4-inch floppy disks in my collection! SCO was arguably one of the best Unix vendors back in its late 80's heyday. SCO UNIX was a very strong product, and at one time it was the only Unix variant that had a version of Unix that would run on a PC Platform. Many people also probably remember its predecessor XENIX. I used it successfully running on a Compaq SystemPro. I think what happened to SCO was that other players starting getting involved and they just did not have the resources to adequately compete with Sun, IBM or HP.

Not selling hardware and being able to offer turnkey type solutions, like the big three, hurt the company. Regarding UnixWare, SCO did not develop UnixWare; rather it was a Novell initiative. SCO bought the rights to UnixWare after Novell ran the product into the ground. When Linux started getting in the picture, it really spelled the death of SCO for both of its Unix products, as people wondered why they should pay lots of money for a closed source PC based multi-user operating system, when they could get open source for free. Their products were also on the pricey side, much more so than Microsoft products. For those of us who remember the old Microsoft vs. OS/2 comparisons, as we all know, it is not always the better product that wins.

I feel strongly that SCO actually still has a great deal of bitterness left from their struggles, which contributes in part to their strategy today, which is essential to destroy open source and Linux.

This was first published in April 2004

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