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09.13.07

Did Microsoft Learn from Netscape When It Decided to Knife Baby SUSE?

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, SUN, Virtualisation, Xen at 10:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bear with us while we explain and justify the headline

The phrase “knife the baby” — much like “tilt into a death spiral” — has some history at Microsoft. The following article which was published a couple of days ago brought back memories of some damaging Microsoft quotes. Such quotes ought to remind us why Microsoft went for Novell before its Linux business grew bigger.

Microsoft has gotten its tight grip on Novell. This is actually (at least) the second time this happens. Jim Allchin once said that Novell needed to be “slaughtered” before it grew stronger. Many years went by and Novell survived. Then came 2006. Jeremy Allison said that Novell was winning at the time, but then came the deal. It’s no coincidence. It’s a strategy which is very familiar to suppressive totalitarian regimes — to squash all possible risks while they are still small. The risks need only be identified. Remember XenSource? Sometimes, this type of squash can be applied using an embrace of death, through new partnership or use of existing partners (e.g. Citrix).

Remember this: Microsoft does not extend Linux, but it only ‘extends’ Novell, which makes Novell incompatible with the rest of Linux and leads to separation. So call it “divide and conquer” or “embrace, extend, and extinguish”.

Despite many of antitrust exhibits being available, the press gives them little attention. There are exceptions however. From the latest article:

A memo by Microsoft’s Jim Durkin recalled a meeting by Gates and other executives in which Gates said of RealNetworks: “This is a strategic area, and we need to win it.”

The same memo dated June 5, 1997, quotes another senior Microsoft executive, Robert Muglia, as saying that RealNetworks is “like Netscape, the only difference is we have a chance to start this battle earlier in the game”.

That is exactly how Microsoft handled Novell, whose Linux business was doing very well in terms of growth. Watch this brand new Dilbert [GIF]. It says it all.

Novell is now under Microsoft’s control. Its shared pool of staff in the Interoperability Lab only fuels more speculations about a future acquisition. Yes, I saw such a forecast in a forum just the other day. Just watch the different stages in the relationship with XenSource and Sun Microsystems. It starts with a bang.

Also in the news today: Microsoft largely unscathed after US antitrust ordeal

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