Microsoft Corporation signed a three-year deal this week with ActiveState Tool Corp, makers of the Perl implementation for Windows 9x and NT, to continue Perl development on Windows. Perl is a popular Web scripting language on UNIX-based computers, though it has been largely surpassed on the Windows platform by Microsoft's own Active Server Pages, making this agreement rather interesting. Under terms of the agreement, ActiveState will port those Perl features that are missing on Windows over to the Microsoft platform and implement Unicode support. A beta version of this work will be released this summer.

"We are very pleased to continue this relationship with Microsoft," said Dick Hardt, CEO of ActiveState. "It's further recognition that ActiveState is the technical leader in the Perl arena and the premier supplier of professional Perl tools and services."

Perhaps. But that doesn't explain why Microsoft would be interested in a technology that is largely irrelevant on Windows, other than as a way to allow UNIX developers to more easily make the transition to Windows. According to an ActiveState FAQ, "Microsoft knows Perl is an important tool for their customers. They know this first hand as they are a heavy user of Perl internally. They want Perl to work well on the Windows platforms and take advantage of platform features on Windows."

Very peculiar indeed