The battle for control of the object world has hotted up once again. There has always been a fight for supremacy between Microsoft and the Object Management Group (OMG), but things took a different turn last week when Microsoft positioned its Dcom object model to compete head-on with its OMG Corba counterpart.
The move came at the same time as OMG was lining up its allies ? Oracle, Netscape, IBM and Sun ? at the Internet World show held in Los Angeles, to bang the drum for Corba, which is based on the Interorb Internet Protocol (PC Dealer, 19 March).
At the time, OMG president Chris Stone backed the alliance, saying that it was a means of bringing distributed object technology to market. ?The work these companies do supports OMG objectives.?
The infamous anti-Microsoft alliance stepped up its posturing by affirming its commitment to collaborate on Corba interoperability. While Microsoft is a long-time OMG member, it has consistently refused to implement the group?s standards.
But control of the high-end middleware sector, particularly in the increasingly important Web market, is becoming a critical survival issue for OMG, and one that gained new urgency two weeks ago when Software AG announced that its port of Dcom to sundry Unix and mainframe platforms is due to ship this summer. This means Dcom now has the potential to become all-pervasive, and move right into OMG?s heartland, particularly if Microsoft succeeds in persuading the various systems vendors to support its object model at OS level.
The two firms will submit their results to OMG by the end of the year for inclusion in future releases of the Corba specification.
The problem is that such technology is fundamental to users developing object-based applications. Programmers are already delaying development decisions because they are unsure which object model will win, so there is still everything to play for.
The only realistic option for OMG at this stage is to hold out an olive branch to MS and offer to integrate Dcom into its object standard. Building bridges between the two worlds is too clumsy, and Microsoft is holding all the aces. What will happen in the future remains to be seen and who wins the battle for supremacy is left firmly in the hands of the OMG and Microsoft.
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