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05.02.08

An Open, Gentler Microsoft: The Best Illusion Only Novell Can Buy

Posted in Deception, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Steve Ballmer, Windows at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell blinded by money

Image from Wikimedia

Movell and Nicrosoft
“Novell congratulates itself for snogging Microsoft” –The Register

Enthusiastic involvement and engagement with Microsoft by OpenSUSE’s lead was discussed here critically a couple of days back, especially due to the negative impacts of the Novell/Microsoft deal on OpenSUSE volunteers — the very same people that the community manager is supposed to invite and attract.

LinuxToday has some interesting comments about that too. Novell is not particularly popular among the many readers over there, at least based on the comments that are typically posted. The editors feel similarly. Here is one about Novell’s trust in Microsoft:

They still do/update “Get the Facts” with blatant lies and misinformation. They still play tricks to get their way, ISO-MSOOXML. They still strong arm PC OEMs as in forcing them to take the Vista pill cram it down consumers throats. They still oppose Linux anywhere it gains traction as in the Classmate PC deal where they came in and paid to have Windows installed after the laptops arrived with Linux. They have been going after the OLPC customers and they are purchasing customers for Silverlight because it is a lockin platform. No Jane, Moonlight is a joke and will never be fully compatible.

So why in the world would anyone think that Microsoft would play in the open source game? I’m sorry but only a moron would think they could get Microsoft to play along.

Microlinux Foundation?!?!?

As a timely reminder of the potentially negative impact of Novell inside the Linux Foundation [1, 2] consider this other headsup.

Novell has a seat on the board of the Linux Foundation, the foundation sponsoring Linus so that he’d be free to work on the Linux kernel. Yup, the same Novell from the ominous Microsoft-Nowell agreement related to Linux patenting. Do board seats have any odor?

It would not be impossible for Microsoft to at least attempt to join as well, arguing that it already runs some GNU/Linux servers. Remember Microsoft’s persistent attempts to join the Open Solutions Alliance, despite repeated rejections? Its former head has just jumped ship to another company.

Novell and Microsoft Busy Together While Adobe Battles Moonlight and Silverpatent [sic]

OOXML patent issue prompt

As already discussed in a previous post, Novell and Microsoft could take a little lesson from what Adobe did. Miguel’s blame-throwing does not help, especially if he continues in the same company with the same projects that bring benefit to Microsoft.

Adobe opens up Flash for the mobile world. A lesson for Microsoft

[...]

No side-deals to ensure a dearth of competition [link to Novell-type deal]. Maybe Microsoft could take a page from Adobe’s playbook. That is, if it wants to be relevant on the web.

Elephant in a Room of Gentlemen

In a separate new post it is now shown that either hypocrisy or ignorance leads to Microsoft disrespect for Free software.

Could it be, Mr. Ballmer, that you are classically overlooking a major opportunity for Microsoft because you simply don’t understand the open-source opportunity? Now would be a good time for a touch of humility and a smidgeon of good counsel from those around you.

As I told Matt Asay several times before, Steve Ballmer is a lost cause. But at least there are those mere chances of the man retiring or being pressured out the door. Among some recent articles of interest (starting with the most recent) consider:

1. If Ballmer bolts, who will lead Microsoft?

“Hey! Ho! Time for Ballmer to go,” a Wired.com headline proclaimed on April 29.

My rejoinder: “Hell, no. There are no Softies ready for a promo.”

2. Microsoft Should Fire Steve Ballmer, or Hire SuperNanny. Or Both.

What should happen is this: Ballmer should re-canvass Yahoo’s largest shareholders and ask what firm price in cash would get them on-board, and then offer it. No more futzing through middlemen bankers, just ask and deliver. I doubt this will happen — Ballmer is caught up among internal politics, his own increasing impotence, and childish Yahoo intransigence — so he is stuck and looking more and like someone who keeps threatening to ground his kids, but never does. As we have all learned from watching SuperNanny, the trouble is rarely with the kids; it’s almost always the nitwit parents.

Such is the case here, so my recipe for action? Fire Ballmer. Think how quickly things would change at Microsoft, and in this deal. And then hire SuperNanny and film some Microsoft meetings. I’d watch.

3. Steve Ballmer’s Nine Year Retirement Plan

Bill Gates is retiring from Microsoft this year and the exec he left in charge, Steve Ballmer, is ready to leave in nine years.

4. Does Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer need an intervention?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may need an intervention before this obsession with Yahoo–which is really about an obsession over Google–spins out of control.

5. Is the Sleeping Giant Finally Waking Up, or Just Rolling Over?

Like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, Ballmer seems to be preoccupied with GOOG while MSFT melts down – or at least while the first embers, which had already been apparent for years, now threaten to turn into something much more serious. Hence the recent ill-advised and fiscally irresponsible YHOO bid.

6. Microsoft FY08Q3 Results

[Microsoft employee:] Mr. Ballmer engaged in some good bluster Wednesday, saying that Microsoft could just walk away from the deal. Please, please, walk on by. I haven’t talked to every employee at Microsoft, of course, but everyone that I’ve talked to believes this is a bad idea. And that’s not hand wringing.

7. Is Microsoft’s Ballmer a bad dealmaker?

The bid for Yahoo that helped sink the market value of Microsoft (MSFT) by more than $20 billion in one day in early February is one of the latest in a string of acquisitions and major investment stakes Microsoft has initiated since CEO Steve Ballmer took over in 2000 that have been punished by the stock market as misjudgments.

“Some learn more quickly than others. It doesn’t look like Mr. Ballmer is learning that quickly,” says UCLA Anderson School of Management professor Richard Roll, lead author of a study that analyzed 11 years of merger and acquisition announcements by 2,589 CEOs at 1,740 U.S. companies.

8. UCLA Professor: Microsoft CEO Ballmer a ‘hubris-infected serial acquirer’ with dismal track record

9. Bear Stearns’s Advice To Microsoft

Co-founder Bill Gates can’t be thrilled with watching Ballmer drain the company’s cash. He didn’t get so rich by buying at the top of the market.

10. Will Deal-Making Chiefs Ever Learn? Maybe.

Mr. Ballmer was considered a “hubris-infected” chief under the study’s definition, because of Microsoft’s value-destroying deal to invest $100 million in Vertical Net in 2000. He followed up with deals for Intertainer and BroadBand Office, which were also followed by below-market returns for shareholders.

In all, Mr. Ballmer made 15 deals between 2000 and 2002, with an average market-adjusted shareholder return of negative 4.59 percent.

11. Mergers of Corporate Giants Not Likely to Benefit Consumers

“There is little if any evidence that increased corporate size in already-large national and international firms produces greater technological innovation,” writes Elizabeth Sanders, Professor of Government at Cornell University. “To the contrary, it probably leads to less, given lower competitive pressures, and the starving of research in debt-burdened companies.”

12. Can Ballmer pilot Microsoft through a changed tech course?

Can Ballmer steer Microsoft out of the roadblocks?

The highly competitive Ballmer, you might say, is the man who cried “nice.” And like the boy who cried wolf, no one believed him. The software giant’s attempt to make nice with much of the developer community by opening up its APIs for key products was greeted with a jaundiced eye by regulators at the powerful European Commission.

However sincere Microsoft’s stated change of heart may be, it is becoming clearer and clearer that Microsoft — which knows it has to change — is still struggling to find a fresher path.

What’s a poor CEO to do?

Now that Bill Gates has effectively left the building, Ballmer is free to transform Microsoft, a job made all the tougher by the enormous reservoir of mistrust the company has engendered over the years.

Case in point: the open APIs. Microsoft will give its competitors free access to the application programming interfaces and protocols it uses to ensure interoperability between its own products, a very significant change in business practices.

13. Microsoft Profit Drops; Forecast May Miss Estimates

The world’s biggest software maker said sales of Windows for PCs sank 24 percent and revenue from its online advertising unit came in at the low end of its projections. Microsoft’s report contrasted with positive comments from chipmaker Intel Corp. and computer company International Business Machines Corp.

[...]

Microsoft declined $1.60 to $30.20 in extended trading after closing at $31.80 at 4 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has fallen 11 percent this year.

14. Microsoft says to borrow money for Yahoo deal

Microsoft Corp said on Monday it may borrow money for the first time in its history to fund a portion of its $44.6 billion unsolicited offer for Yahoo Inc.

15. Microsoft’s DreamSpark – What a Giveaway

The rest of the $44.6bn (£22.3bn) deal would be financed with an undisclosed amount of credit.

What that means is that it must squeeze as much money as it can from its operations to fund that debt and still pay dividends to shareholders, who will be looking for some payback from the Yahoo takeover. Giving away software is the last thing it would want to do in these circumstances, and the DreamSpark announcement shows just how worried it is about the future.

This hopefully shed some light on Microsoft’s situation.

Steve Ballmer rides SUSE

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