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After years in the making, SCO OpenServer 6 has finally been released. OpenServer 6 is the first major upgrade to SCO’s flagship Unix operating system since its parent companies, Caldera and Santa Cruz Operations, merged in 2000.

From an analyst’s viewpoint, Dan Kusnetzky, IDC’s vice president of System Software, said, “As the flag-bearer of the UNIX-on-Intel environment, it’s encouraging to see the SCO Group continuing its development of SCO OpenServer.”

“Based on the performance and security improvements, as well as integration with many popular open-source technologies now found in SCO OpenServer 6, the SCO Group has given its customers quite a number of reasons to upgrade and continue investing in the SCO OpenServer platform,” Kusnetzky said.

Other analysts agreed that this was a step forward for SCO.

“SCO’s release of OpenServer 6 is significant because it demonstrates that SCO does indeed have a product strategy, and this may help maintain, if not grow, SCO’s customer installed base,” said Stacey Quandt, principal analyst at Quandt Analytics.

Today, more than 60 percent of SCO’s revenue is attributed to sales and support of OpenServer, Quandt said.

The reason for this, even though the publicity spotlight on SCO has been mostly on its legal dealings, is that the company still has a strong customer base. “SCO has more than 40 percent market share among U.S pharmacy retailers. For example, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS pharmacy all use SCO software. Also, more than 12,000 McDonald’s restaurants run OpenServer,” Quandt said.

These customers, and SCO’s loyal reseller channel, Quandt said, make this choice because “they want a Unix system they can run on Intel systems that can meet the needs of the small-to-medium business market. The release of OpenServer 6 may be enough for SCO’s customers to stay the course with OpenServer and prevent migration to alternatives such as Linux, Windows, MAC OS X or Solaris x86.”

Others aren’t so sure that SCO still has a future. Gordon Haff, senior analyst for Illuminata Inc., said he doesn’t see the release of OpenServer 6 as having a chance of saving SCO’s position.

“In a word, no. Looked at in isolation, there’s a lot to like about the new OpenServer. It adds a lot of new capabilities and it finally largely merges the OpenServer and UnixWare trees. But OpenServer is in wild decline—the victim of Windows, Linux and years of SCO mismanagement,” Haff said.

And if that isn’t bad enough, Haff continued, “Today’s SCO is a pariah of the IT industry that’s far more focused on litigation than innovation. OpenServer is a niche product; SCO needs a miracle.”

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