Bonum Certa Men Certa

Interoperability the Wrong Direction and the Wrong Way (Updated)

As promised, here is another look (among others) at what shall become "interoperability tax". The latest news is there to suggest that both Microsoft and Novell have ambitions to make free interaction between applications a thing of the past. Of course, this contradicts the whole raison d'être of establishing industry standards, including communication protocols. This also burns Red Hat's bridges and stifles antitrust litigation in the EU.

Have a look some of Microsoft's latest initiatives to go "open". Microsoft bothers to mention Novell as a cornerstone in interoperability press releases (see snippet from an example below), as though costly deals are a prerequisite.

Microsoft Corp. today announced a series of offerings that foster improved interoperability for online identity management.


Where is a wider consent and why are industry consortia contantly being ignored? Here is another example from the news:



Microsoft has developed a split personality when it comes to its public posture on open source software that could potentially create confusion among IT shops using both.

Last week, Microsoft said its patents were being violated by "Linux-like" software. This week company said it would link its Active Directory with the OpenLDAP Directory, which is an open source implementation of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).


It gets worse. It appears as though this deal with Novell motivates some people to move to Windows, not Linux. This relates to a dicussion that goes back to Novell's joint press release on HSBC. It said Windows was cheaper than Linux for that one bank. Novell gave its approval. In any event, here is the story of one software vendor that has just ported an application to Windows, reassured by the Microsoft/Novell deal.

Damian Reeves, CTO of Zeus, says his company is "relatively unconcerned" about any potential impact on Linux vendors and the Linux installed base. "There's a parallel with the IBM v. SCO dispute of a couple years ago when there was a lot of concern about whether using Linux was legal. That became a bit of a non-story and this may play out in a similar way," he says. He adds that any customers that are concerned about the issue can opt for Novell's SuSE Linux, which is covered by a Microsoft-Novell agreement that indemnifies customers against any legal liability.


The story contains negatives, not positives. Last but not least, see Microsoft's own perspective.

This creates a real problem for customers, and Microsoft's licensing program is designed to solve it, according to Muglia.

However, Microsoft has been accused of creating that very problem. Its patent licensing deals with Novell and other companies have come under fire for creating fear, uncertainty and doubt among users of open-source software.


How has Novell solved anything? It only isolated itself from the community, to reap benefits at the community's expense. It is discouraging to see that some people give Novell the benefit of the doubt. Others apologise. They want convenient shortcuts to functionality, even if it means compromising the need for free exchange of information and true industry standards.

Update: Novell has just pushed a press release boasting an interoperability award, but is it an accomplishment at all when it's done by punishing not only Linux rivals, but also the community that gave it Free software?

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