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Coupons from Steve Capone

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patents, Servers, SLES/SLED at 8:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell coupons

Image from Wikimedia

Previous press coverage of Novell’s latest-and-greatest software patent ‘coupons’ [1, 2] is probably worth expanding on. For future reference, here are some of the many articles about it:

Picking out a few highlights, here is the post “Microsoft is profiting from Linux.”

So doing the simple calculation ($340 million by 29%= X), Microsoft over the lifetime of the Novell coupon deal could profit by $99 million (or more) dollars. At that figure Microsoft would likely be one of the top Linux resellers on Earth.


As Microsoft is set to pump up to $100 million more in Novell for Linux, it’s important to note that Microsoft is not paying off Linux – it’s actually making money from it.

Microsoft isn’t just buying Linux subscriptions from Novell to give away…it’s buying them so they can sell them. So that means for the past 18 months, Microsoft has been selling Linux.

Stating the obvious almost 2 years late. It goes further than this, as far as back room extortions which the press rarely covers.

Matt Asay explains what Microsoft is trying to achieve:

It’s just business for Microsoft, and business is better when Linux is limping. So Microsoft is trying to kill off the Linux market leader by giving Novell a compelling differentiator. The day that Novell becomes a threat to Microsoft’s business, however, is the day that the deal is shut down.

Why are some companies still picking up these coupons? People who were approached by Novell and Microsoft contacted us privately. Microsoft and Novell jointly offer them considerable discounts just so that they buy ‘Microsoft SUSE’ (with patent tax). They try to set a precedence and they invest in this precedence.

Dana at ZDNet wrote about this fiasco (he even ‘borrowed’ our image) and he actually thinks those coupons are about bridging.

It’s created a compliant client state, a vassal, small and subservient, a bridge between the closed world of Windows and the free world of open source.

He wrongly asserts that GNU/Linux benefited when he says: “Microsoft has benefitted enormously from its Novell deal, and to be honest so has the Linux community.” The truth is that only Novell benefited in the short term, at the expense of its image, which will suffer. Here is an interesting quote from another article on this subject:

“There’s a lot of Linux out there — much more than Microsoft generally signals publicly — and their customers are using it, so it’s important that Microsoft have a good interoperability story on that front. Linking up with a Linux vendor is a good way to do that,” added Paul DeGroot, a Directions On Microsoft analyst.

Big Lies about the ‘market share’ of GNU/Linux (both desktop- and server-side) were highlighted before.

Here is some coverage from IDG:

For Microsoft, the deal was a recognition of the significant role that Linux plays in enterprises, but also provided a way to show the European Commission, which was hounding it at the time about anticompetitive practices, that it was open to working with the open-source community.

“Working with” as in “mooching”. Truthfully, Microsoft hopes to have the cake and eat it too. It wants to sabotage Free software while at the same time keeping those ‘pesky’ regulators off its back. Shane and I foresaw this back in 2006.

“It wants to sabotage Free software while at the same time keeping those ‘pesky’ regulators off its back.”Has Microsoft offered the ‘interoperability’ it had promised? Of course not. Look no further than Silverlight and the Olympic games [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

Another similar example of behaviour is Microsoft buying a company with its product that works on GNU/Linux and even typically demonstrated on Ubuntu and then turning it into a Windows-only Web technology. It’s another Silverlight-esque ‘infection’ on the Web — rendering parts of the Web accessible only to Microsoft Windows users. It made the news yesterday. Watch the comments.

Going back to those Novell/Microsoft coupons, Paula Rooney gets it wrong. Not only does she suggest that OOXML is an ISO standard (there is still room for appeals and an EC investigation), but she also suggests that there’s something “sweet” in the Microsoft/Novell relationship. On the other hand, she gets it right when she suggests that businesses use Novell and Microsoft to bypass the spirit of Free software and just get things working on Microsoft’s terms. That’s an implicit message anyway.

“People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”

Steve Ballmer

“We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability.”

Steve Ballmer

“There’s no company called Linux, there’s barely a Linux road map. Yet Linux sort of springs organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it. That is, it’s free.”

Steve Ballmer

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