Microsoft Snaps Up Winternals

Microsoft announced the purchase of Winternals Software, a developer of Windows utilities, and added to its talent pool in the bargain.

Terms of the deal for privately-held Winternals were not disclosed.

Winternals was established in 1996 by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, who will join Microsoft  in fairly high-level positions.

Russinovich will become a Microsoft Technical Fellow, an exceptionally rare position in the company only held by people like David Cutler, one of the chief developers behind the Windows NT kernel.

Cogswell also has a good job awaiting him as a software architect, working in the Windows Component Technologies team.

Both men will be fixing Vista bugs to start, and Russinovich will help drive the future technical direction of Windows, according to Jason Garms, an architect in the platform and services division at Microsoft.

“I’ve had my eye on Mark for some time,” said Jim Allchin, co-president of the Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft, in a statement announcing the acquisition.

“The work he and Bryce have completed in system recovery and data protection illustrates the depth of thinking and skill they will bring to future versions of Windows.”

This is a similar move to Microsoft’s acquisition of Groove Networks, where its biggest gain was bringing in Ray Ozzie, who has since been appointed as Bill Gates’ replacement as chief software architect.

“We’ve known Mark and Bryce for a long time,” said Garms. “Mark’s a frequent fixture up here on campus, he visits around once a month and does Windows internals training. So bringing them on board is definitely one key reason [for the acquisition].”

In addition to some nifty system utilities, Russinovich is known as the person who busted Sony for its DRM rootkit late last year.

Sony was humiliated and Russinovich became a hero. He is expected to work with the antimalware team at Microsoft to deal with malware as it threatens to move deeper into the core of the kernel, said Garms.

Microsoft also wanted the technologies that Russinovich and Cogswell created as well, and for the message board community on Sysinternals.

“It’s the best community on the Internet for discussing Windows internals,” said Garms.

Sysinternals has around 10,000 active members and gets around one million visitors per month.

For the time being, Microsoft plans to leave the site as is, but expects to eventually make it a part of its Technet and MVP support communities.

The free software on Winternals will remain freely downloadable, said Garms.

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