Novell and Microsoft Collaborate II
November 5, 2006 Leave a comment
The dust still hasn't settled, but this is a story everyone is keeping a close eye on. A few quick updates on my original posting. First, as you may have guessed, the general community reaction has been mostly negative. I'd guess that's a natural instinct response due to Microsoft's involvement in the deal. I'm waiting to get more information and read as much as I can before making my final decision. One thing I do know is that some of the media claiming this is the “death of Linux” are most certainly way off. Linux isn't something you can kill. That being said, it does seem like Microsoft may have some nefarious plans with this one. From this article:
The distributors of other versions of Linux cannot assure their customers that Microsoft won't sue for patent infringement. “If a customer says, 'Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work?' Essentially, If you're using non-SUSE Linux, then I'd say the answer is yes,” Ballmer said.
“I suspect that [customers] will take that issue up with their distributor,” Ballmer said. Or if customers are considering doing a direct download of a non-SUSE Linux version, “they'll think twice about that,” he said.
However, Ballmer did not say whether Microsoft had any plans to file patent infringement suits against other Linux distributors.
That, to me, seems like a thinly veiled threat of litigation, almost like SCO tried to pull. It could be that Microsoft is using this deal to try to get other major distros aboard, so they can get a small piece of every commercial Linux license sold. It could also be a plan to launch litigation against Red Hat or Oracle. Since they now have an “industry partner”, they'd be much less likely to be blocked by a monopoly proceeding. Along the lines of “no no, we don't dislike Linux or competition – just look at our pals Novell. We just think these other guys are infringing on our IP!”. Of course, it could be simpler than that. Also from the article:
Ballmer said developing greater interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux will actually increase the intensity of competition because it will make it easier for Microsoft to sell its technology into enterprise data centers with a mix of Linux and Windows server technology.
Microsoft has joined into this Windows-Linux collaboration projects because “customers want it” and because “if we're interoperable we are going to take more business from Linux,” he said.
That seems like a more honest statement. They are not getting the acceptance in the enterprise data center that they hoped for, so they are using this deal to get their foot in the door. From what I've seen so far, this deal probably isn't generally good for Linux. I'm still up in the air as to whether it's bad for Linux. As to whether it's good for Novell – that remains to be seen. Ask the long line of now-crushed previous Microsoft business partners what they think.
Novell, Microsoft, MSFT, Linux, Open Source, Red Hat