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
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
Here's how I see the ultimate winners and losers of this deal
[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
[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
[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
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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