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Community: Novell-MS: Why This Deal Will Backfire For Both Sides

Nov 07, 2006, 22:00 (11 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to KRW for this article. ]

If you look at this for its face value you will find that MS is simply trying to do what SCO couldn't, get paid for something they have no right to be paid for. If the speculation pans out that Microsoft used SCO to tryout the murky water of IP litigation against Linux vendors, and with that plan literally blowing up in their faces, they have taken a new tact to try to achieve their ultimate goal.

By collaborating with a prominent Linux vendor, Microsoft is attempting to keep the IP FUD mantra alive without having to prove a single IP claim in court.

The deal inked between MS and Novell simply gives both camps an angle with which to bludgeon ignorant CIOs.

Microsoft realized that they are well on their way to losing the server space war to Red Hat and less notably SUSE. They had also hoped that the SCO litigation would slow the adoption of Linux, which it did, for a while. Now with SCO's claims facing certain death in the months to come Microsoft needed a new strategy. That strategy is (you guessed it) to get Linux vendors themselves to imply Microsoft's IP claims as fact. Quite brilliant to lesser minds, which sadly covers most corporate executives.

So what's in this deal for Novell? Well, if you look at Novell, you will find they are cast from the same mold as Microsoft. They are a proprietary vendor that has watched their flagship product be flogged by Microsoft and other competition for years.

Watching his company ever-so-gently dying a slow death, Novell's former vice-chair Chris Stone knew very well that Linux (most notably Red Hat) would put the last nail in Novell's coffin. This was Stone's reasoning for the push to jump on the Linux bandwagon. Stone knew that once ported, Novell had the software portfolio to provide directly competing products of those offered by Microsoft but on the Linux platform. Microsoft knew this too. For whatever reason, Stone was not allowed to navigate the ship to shore, and so we find ourselves stuck with Ron Hovsepian.

Now Hovsepian is in charge of the (arguably) number two Linux player. But the "cancer" that is poised to inflict death upon every proprietary software company's business model across the board still exists out there as Numero Uno Red Hat.

So how does Novell think it can get an edge? How can proprietary vendors like Novell, Microsoft, and Oracle, which have billions of dollars vested and ready to lose in their business model, squash the wacky model with which Red Hat is killing them?

Well, you call together the big boys. Have Oracle undercut Red Hat's service pricing and while you're at it why not ink a deal with Microsoft over its proclaimed IP infringement hoopla to give corporate weenies (remember, I mentioned them earlier) some warm and fuzzy feelings about litigation security straight from the horse's mouth?

Here's how I see the ultimate winners and losers of this deal playing out:

[Loser] Novell will develop libraries to tie their Linux offerings and MS together and will have to pay Microsoft royalties for their NDA agreement to do so. Novell will (have to) do this as add-on standalone software that is not distributed under the GPL license. This may prove difficult because the very software they may need to modify to succeed is GPLed software (OpenOffice.org, Samba, etc). Any hooks added (if not already there) to those software bases must be signed off and under the GPL, otherwise they will not get into the respective trees. As long as the GPLed code bases are not tainted with non-GPLed code then who cares what Novell does with their junk.

I do urge all GPLed projects to go back and review any submissions coming from Novell since their acquisition of SUSE to ensure the code is properly signed off. When all is said and done, Novell will gain very little and possibly lose more from this deal with Microsoft.

[Loser] Microsoft will gain a pittance in royalties from Novell. And, by its own admission Microsoft has given Linux the mass credibility it has tried to negate for years... checkmate!

[Winner] Linux! The core GNU, KDE, Linux, et al trees are still managed by principled people and every Linux distributor needs them. I doubt they will allow years of hard work and the community at large to be tainted. Red Hat and other non-Novell distributions will flourish through defections from Novell-linked projects.

Even if Novell's distribution is adopted at large by corporations, Linux still wins because it is Linux not Microsoft that will drive the computers of tomorrow and beyond. However, what is more notable than my previous statement is Linux will ever so gently become "the" platform as its obvious performance and dependability advantages show when ran aside Windows products. More U.S. corporate information technology personnel and developers will become Linux savvy, see they no longer need Windows or Novell's interoperability add-ons and move to a less costly pure Linux solution.

The end game of dominance from Microsoft and other proprietary vendors is near. Much like IBM's deal made with Bill Gates some years ago this moment, upon reflection, will give us all the same chuckle in the very near future.

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