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Russinovich now belongs to Microsoft

Winternals and Sysinternals, and their well-known technical leader, Mark Russinovich, are now part of Microsoft.

The maker of some of the most popular Windows tools for IT administrators is now part of Microsoft.

Microsoft said today that it acquired Winternals Software LP, a privately held company that provides Windows-based systems recovery and data protection products. Based in Austin, Texas, Winternals has about 85 employees.

Also part of the deal was the acquisition of the Winternals Web site, called Sysinternals, a popular destination for Windows users that includes forums, blogs and free software tools. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Microsoft said it was the technical expertise of Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell -- who co-founded Winternals in 1996 -- as well as the Sysinternals Web site that prompted it to make the acquisition.

Now Microsoft employees, the pair will focus on helping Microsoft improve Windows, the company said.

Russinovich will be one of 15 Microsoft technical fellows, an executive-level position in which he will work with many teams in the company. Cogswell will become a software architect in the Windows component platform team.

Perhaps more important for IT professionals, however, is that Sysinternals' free tools will remain available and the Web site will remain the same at least for the near future, according to Microsoft. At some point, it may be integrated into Microsoft's site, the company said.

"Many of us here at Microsoft have watched Winternals and Mark [Russinovich] for a number of years, and he enjoys a great relationship with Microsoft," said Jason Garms, a software architect and technical assistant for Jim Allchin, Microsoft co-president of the platforms and services division.

Russinovich was not available for comment but said in a prepared statement that he looks forward to helping Microsoft and having a broader reach throughout the software behemoth.

The deal came together in a matter of months, Garms said. Co-author of several books on Windows internals, Russinovich is considered an expert on rootkits, which are collections of tools that let hackers in through a back door to collect information without being detected.

"[Russinovich] is here at Microsoft about once a month teaching Winternals, and I think that's indicative of the level of respect we have for him. He is in the top five or 10 people in the world who know Windows internals," he said.

Microsoft said it intends to move the company from Austin to Redmond, Wash. Every Winternals employee will stay on for 30 days, and many of them will be assigned to transitional work that could last anywhere from one to 12 months, according to Microsoft.

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