11.07.09

More on Novell and Microsoft Layoffs; Software Patent Drones

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 3:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Two fish

Summary: Additional information about potential causes of layoffs and an example of how Novell employees become drones for a paycheck, accepting nonsensical policies in the process

SEVERAL days ago we wrote about Novell's latest layoffs, which the following new article connects to the deal with Microsoft although it is not the sole cause.

Mixed-source technology company Novell has sacked between three and four percent of its staff in layoffs that could well be linked to another bad quarter.

[...]

Three years ago, to the day, Novell signed a patent indemnification deal with Microsoft which was widely viewed as a sellout by the free and open source software community.

Though Novell has reported some better quarters for its GNU/Linux business since then – mainly because of the sale of SUSE Linux coupons through Microsoft – it has not been able to put together a coherent strategy to compete with market-leading GNU/Linux company, Red Hat.

An article that we mentioned some moments ago offers a bunch of statistics which show that GNU/Linux is more desirable a skill than Windows. It also shows that Red Hat skills significantly outpace Novell SUSE skills. By the numbers:

Specific listings for Red Hat Inc., meanwhile, increased nearly 4% from last January, but postings for Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise skills dropped 14% during the same period.

Demand for Windows and Linux platforms, however, was down significantly from a year ago on the cusp of the recession: Windows dropped 43% from last October’s total of 15,566 and Linux declined 35% from 9,451 a year ago. Red Hat and SUSE also declined sharply from the previous October, Red Hat by 34% and SUSE by 57%.

What does that say about SUSE? If Novell and Microsoft were right, then SUSE skills would be up, not down.

A few days ago we wrote about Microsoft’s latest round of layoffs [1, 2] and it turns out that they decided to sack Don Dodge.

Microsoft sacks Don Dodge, Bing has no idea

[...]

While not necessarily directly involved, the deals with Novell to free Suse Linux from any patent lawsuits and also to sell Suse to any intractable customers who refuse Microsoft’s server products clearly demonstrate his influence within the company. He wrote about the deal three years ago, where you will read language entirely unexpected from a Microsoft employee.

One day before he was formally laid off he wrote this post which promotes the Novell-Microsoft deal; we have always expected Microsoft employees to rave about it.

Meanwhile we find that Novell’s Joe Brockmeier may have something against software patents, despite the fact that Novell carries on chasing software patents. Brockmeier writes about the SFLC’s brief, which we wrote about here while noting Novell’s absence.

The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing opening arguments on Bilski vs. Kappos on Monday, November 9th. Not surprisingly, many open source advocates are on the edge of their seats because it’s an opportunity for the Supreme Court to decide that software is not patentable.

Why wasn’t Novell among those “open source advocates”? And why does Brockmeier say nothing about his employer's use of software patents as a competitive tool? That is a missed opportunity, even cowardice. Nobody must carry on pretending; Brockmeier too should not leave his brain at the door when deciding to work for Novell and inherit views he does not agree with. Blind obedience to power is the root of many evils. Need it be added that Novell is now bragging about the same bogus prizes that Gartner got sued over [1, 2]?

Lastly, as this new story illustrates [via], software patents are of no use to anyone but monopolies, patent trolls and lawyers, some of whom belong to two categories.

This week: DeepNines collected $25 million when it won an infringement suit against anti-virus software giant McAfee Inc. in the Eastern District of Texas two years ago. But after paying off its Fish & Richardson lawyers and outside investors at Altitude Capital Partners, the small network-security company wound up with less than $800,000. And now DeepNines is being sued by Altitude, which wants millions more than it’s already gotten. A revealing look at how a leading player in the lawsuit-investment trade does business.

Smell the innovation.

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