An Old War Horse Charges Bill Gates

RAY NOORDA VS. MICROSOFT, Round Two. At least that's what the former Novell CEO's new venture looks like. Before he retired last year from the network software leader that he founded, Noorda went after giant Microsoft's dominant desktop operating systems, DOS and Windows. He bought companies that produced a DOS clone and a version of the Unix operating system. Noorda's successor at Novell, Robert Frankenberg, though, has backed off that strategy.

So Noorda, 70, recently started Caldera, which plans to piece together an operating system for desktop computers. Funded by his family trust, the Orem (Utah) company is based on an operating system called Linux, developed in Finland. Linux is available for free over the Internet, where Net surfers keep adding new features.

Caldera President Bryan Sparks denies that this will compete directly with Microsoft, but he confirms that he wants to turn it into a commercial program by enabling it to run Windows applications. How? By attaching to Linux Microsoft's applications programming interface (API), a set of specifications in the public domain. This will allow Linux to communicate with all programs written for Windows. Noorda won't comment on his involvement with the new company.

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