Bonum Certa Men Certa

It's Novell's Blunder and Microsoft's PR Disaster (External Sources)

Here is an analysis of the Novell/Microsoft deal which hits the nail right on the head. Readers are encouraged to read this and internalise.

...I don't think Microsoft is going to grow the number of Linux users, at least not in a very big way. But they are in a position to cash in when their customers gradually turn more of their machines away from Microsoft and toward Linux. And this substitution strategy is not the crux of the Microsoft strategy. At the present time, Microsoft supports Wal-Mart by selling them coupons good for help from SUSE. Microsoft got these at no dollar cost simply by agreeing not to sue Novell over undisclosed patents that Microsoft implies are infringed by Linux. This parallels the SCO strategy: pay me and I'll leave you alone.

This is the heart of the matter. Microsoft frightens Wal-Mart into becoming a SUSE user, and makes everyone nervous about using Linux, for reasons that can't be clearly expressed and assessed. Since Microsoft's patent claims against Linux are merely rumor, it can't hurt to repeat what is also merely rumor: that Microsoft is even now quietly making the rounds among large companies and collecting tribute.

And there is more excitement to come: the word "collaboration" normally makes me think of Penguins. In this case, it reminds me of Vichy -- Novell will have an exclusive arrangement with Microsoft to work out real, genuine, patent-blessed interoperability with SUSE. Will other distros have access to this code?

Certainly, more interoperatibility between Microsoft and Linux software would help Linux spread. Samba and OpenOffice have been working on this for years. It's that Microsoft's "blessing" of SUSE as the only legitimate Linux is not the way to compete in the open source marketplace. The problem is not that Microsoft wants to sell services for the Linux in its customers' IT operations, or that Oracle wants to kick Red Hat out of its customers' shops. The problem is that Microsoft is competing not on service or convenience, but by softly breathing Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt over the entire Linux landscape.


You may also wish to read this analysis of a pessimistic blogger. Luckily, Microsoft's latest attempt to recruit more victims has simply backfired. The plan to get other distributors to join ranks with Novell turned out to be a public relations disaster, as the following analysis suggests.

"I'm stunned that after taking a number of seemingly positive steps vis-a-vis its thinking and strategy around open source, Microsoft has decided to blow away any bridges it built in a matter of weeks," long time Microsoft pundit Mary Jo Foley opined.

She noted that Microsoft's threat to sue had backfired, and pointed to a website that lists over 300 open-source supporters that are openly asking Microsoft to sue them over alleged patent infringement.

Microsoft is now in a tough predicament. Either it must stick to its guns, or attempt to back off and sweep what could become a public relations disaster under the rug.

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