In an excellent analysis of the Microsoft-Novell deal, Michael Swaine delves into the legal, technological and contextual aspects of the agreement and engages in some speculation as to the motives and overall winners and losers in the long term.
Then there’s the PR angle. In Microsoft’s case, PR includes trying to look virtuous to the EU courts. Look, Microsoft can say, at how we play nice with competing platforms like Novell’s SUSE. Here’s a tin-foil-hat theory: Microsoft can’t compete against a movement, Ballmer has acknowledged. It can definitely compete against a company. So isn’t it likely that this question has come up at Microsoft: Can’t we somehow turn this Linux movement into a company that we can compete with?
If that question has arisen, a clear understanding of open source would suggest that the answer should be "no"; but suppose the question was asked and the answer came back "maybe." What steps would Microsoft take to effectively turn the Linux movement into a company? Would it promote one Linux supplier by giving it money and credibility, and threatening to sue the users of other Linux suppliers’ software in the hope of whittling the movement down to that one company? And if the pool of sources for Linux actually did dwindle down to just Novell, does anyone doubt that Microsoft could put it out of business in a year? Tin-foil-hat off.
Among other things, the article questions what exactly Novell is paying royalty payments for, since they assert there is no infringing "IP" in their Linux offerings.
But instead, the reaction to the announcement was all about something that Microsoft was giving to Novell, or rather to Novell customers, under the agreement: A promise not to sue them for intellectual property infringement.
Which is something that Novell’s SUSE Linux users didn’t realize they needed until Microsoft pointed it out to them. Something that, some would say, they still don’t need. It’s not good journalism to attribute opinions to unspecified parties as I just did with the word "some," so I’ll change it: Something that, Novell would say, they still don’t need. If it sounds odd to you that one of the partners to the deal is denying that one of the key elements of the deal has any value, you’re right. It is odd.
The article is fairly comprehensive, and serves as a pretty good recap of events to date, including the Oracle Linux Announcement, Ballmer’s FUD at PASS, and the parties agreeing to disagree over the significance of the deal. Head on over to Dr. Dobbs Portal for the full story, it’s a good read.
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Recently, it seems, there has been incessant coverage of the various "leading" Linux distributions and their download/user statistics.
Matthew Aslett astutely reminds us of the difference between page visits on a website and downloads, and even users for that matter.
Although I have always found his coverage to be very even-headed and fair, Aslett also implies that Novell had nothing to do with Princess Diana’s death, a fact I am not willing to concede just yet. I suppose on that issue, we will just have to agree to disagree ;^ ).
I am glad that this clarification has been pointed out, although I have never been a fan of statistics as an argument, preferring instead to rely on impartial surveys.
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One major promise which was included in the Novell/Microsoft deal was interoperability. It remains to be seen if any progress is made towards this goal. Having spoken to Jeremy Allison recently, it seems evident that he does not truly believe in the interoperability prospects coming from the deal. According to a recent interview of his, this seems rather justified. When interviewed by Chris DiBona (of Google) a couple of months ago, he said he had been told that the Microsoft team implementing SMB2 were ordered to “f**k with Samba”. This quote comes from the section ranging between 33m30s to 39m00 in the audiocast. It is probably just one among the factors he has to weigh before deciding to leave Novell.
Another rotten impact of the so-called ‘interoperability’ agreement is mitigation at the European antitrust. Some even fear that none of this is bound to become a reality. To quote a recent article:
“Consider the publication and execution of a joint Microsoft-Novell roadmap as the critical missing piece of this agreement, with the potential to make or break its long-term value,” the pair wrote.
The companies promised a first roadmap in March. If there’s no document by then, look elsewhere for your next opportunity.
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BoycottNovell‘s attention was caught by some financial reports last night. Surprisingly, for us at least, they seemed more promising than before. What was also eye-catching in an upgrade by JMP Research is the fact that MarketWatch refers to Novell as “New Microsoft partner”. But is it a two-way partnership? As we recently explained, it’s akin to a defenceless kid paying protection money to the bully. We are beginning to find some examples of this.
Yesterday we found this new story where SUSE Linux servers are claimed to be a victim. They may have gradually become obsolete due to Microsoft’s tactic of making software Windows-centric. It is time for Novell to wake up and smell the coffee. It hasn’t a friend; it has liaised with an unethical foe. Here’s a fragment from a rather long and detailed explanation that we urge you to read.
We all know Microsoft views Linux as a serious threat and will do just about anything to discourage its use. But why would application vendors who actually face competition from Microsoft help it out in this regard? That’s what one reader was wondering after discovering that his customers could no longer use a Linux server with their favorite accounting packages.
The reader believes that Microsoft is behind this. “I think this is a calculated move by Microsoft to stop Linux’s increasing market share in the server market, and help increase their own,” the reader wrote. “I think the developers are enabling this behavior, and in fact may be called co-conspirators in assisting Microsoft in their attacks against non-Windows server systems. I find this outrageous behavior by the developers and have already informed them of my and my clients’ displeasure in forcing them to make outlays for something they didn’t need, for server software they didn’t want, and for the additional outlays that lay for my clients in the future.
Is this one more Redmond conspiracy against Linux, or is something else going on here? No doubt Microsoft is delighted with the way this works out, but what I don’t understand is why Intuit and Sage would both go along with it. Why would two major application vendors, who compete against each other and also face a threat from Microsoft in that space, restrict their customers’ choices to the benefit of Redmond?
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