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Cebit: Caldera shows Windows on DR-Dos, denying MS claims

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23 Mar 1998

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Caldera has discounted Microsoft claims that Windows does not run on Dos, demonstrating the newer OS at the Cebit trade show running on its own DR-Dos.

This was made possible by a program called Winglue, developed by Caldera in the UK and the software house claims its discovery flies in the face of Microsoft's own statements on Dos.

In February, Melanie Hoelscher, a Microsoft spokeswoman, said in a statement that "Windows doesn't run on MS-Dos or DR-Dos or any other product. There is some modified Dos code in Windows 95 for backwards compatibility purposes, such as a boot loader. It's unlikely that DR-Dos can replace these functions without numerous bugs."

Caldera claims that, by monitoring operations on a second PC, it found there was far more than the odd handshake going on between Microsoft's own MS-Dos and the Windows 95 user interface. It detected thousands of calls, and claims this shows that Windows 9x is still basically a "graphical interface sitting on a Dos operating system".

While it might seem like time for Dos to roll over, there is still a significant market opportunity in embedded systems - and Microsoft itself did not drop MS-Dos from its product line in February, as had been rumoured.

Roger Gross, managing director of Caldera's UK-based Digital Systems Research Group, says the ready availability of developers with good Dos experience makes this a low risk option with fast time to market.

Caldera released a new version of DR-Dos, 7.02, just before Cebit. Together with Winglue, this will be the latest focus of its ongoing battle with Microsoft.

Caldera, a start-up that took DR-Dos over from Novell, and is funded by former Novell chief Ray Noorda, has claimed over the years that Microsoft has frozen its operating system out of the OEM market with anti-competitive business practices. The case finally comes to court next year, and Caldera believes its new discoveries about the relationship between Dos and Windows could prove important evidence. Caldera will argue that it supports its case that Microsoft created an illegal tie between MS-Dos 7, which lurks in Windows 95, and the graphical interface.

Caldera does not expect to offer Winglue as a commercial product, but may put it on its Web site to allow users to judge for themselves. DR-Dos 7.02 is now available for free download for individuals at www.caldera.com.

The new release of DR-DOS contains a Year 2000 fix for any Rom Bios that does not behave correctly, by ensuring that the real time clock ticks beyond 2000.

Caldera has also developed DR-Webspyder, based on the GEM windowing technology also acquired from Novell. This product is a browser designed to work with Dos, which requires only 4Mbytes of Ram, yet supports HTML 3.2, SMTP, and POP3 with Mime attachments. Demonstrated at Cebit, it does not look elegant, and has limited device drivers, but it is fast and suitable for embedded, set-top or kiosk applications.

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