Bonum Certa Men Certa

Stormy Peters Comments on the Novell/Microsoft Deal and the Need for Vigilance

"[...] we [Microsoft and Novell] agreed on [...] essentially an arrangement under which they pay us some money for the right to tell the customer that anybody who uses Suse Linux is appropriately covered [...] They’ve appropriately compensated Microsoft for our intellectual property, which is important to us. In a sense you could say anybody who has got Linux in their data center today sort of has an undisclosed balance sheet liability, because it’s not just Microsoft patents."

--Steve Ballmer



It was earlier today that we wrote about the need to keep an eye open and not be distracted by labels like "Microsoft hater". Stormy Peters has shared the following thoughts about the Novell/Microsoft deal, including some of its impacts. She responded to yet another bundle of bad labels such as "purists" and "fanatics", which just come to show you how Microsoft et al incite and poison the public against critics and opposers (Microsoft Mouthpiece Rob Enderle going as far as comparisons to 9/11 terrorists while others join in).

twessels: Novell claims their November 2, 2006, agreement with Microsoft has helped push forward adoption of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in major commercial customer accounts. And having just attended Novell's BrainShare I can see that the technical cooperation between Novell and Microsoft is starting to bear fruit. Was the knee-jerk reaction of the purists and fanatics worth all of the rhetoric that ensued? And if not, why has Red Hat refused to even consider such an agreement with Microsoft? It seems that they lost out on having a powerhouse marketing partner, like Microsoft, driving business their way.

Stormy_Peters: "Was the knee-jerk reaction of the purists and fanatics worth all of the rhetoric that ensued?" Absolutely. The open source community needs the purists and fanatics to keep us straight. That said, the world is not black and white and business is not always evil. Also, businesses are using combinations of open source and proprietary software in very effective ways. So if the Microsoft agreement brings more customers to Linux, good. If some open source developers protest the patent agreement, good too. (Now hopefully nobody quotes just one part of this answer!)

ITgirl: So, is it safe to say that the whole Microsoft threats thing has turned into nothing ... do you think enterprises are at all concerned about that anymore? Do you think that Microsoft might still really take legal action against any Linux or open-source companies?

Stormy_Peters: First off, I'm not an attorney and I can't say whether the threat is real or imagined. However, I think Microsoft is adopting the open source software model more and more. I've definitely been hearing less concern around the whole Novell/Microsoft agreement. I think the patent and open source issue is still a very real concern. It's very hard for open source software developers to know if they've violated someone's patent (out of the tens of thousands out there) and very easy for someone to see if an open source software developer has violated their particular patent.


In a land of disinformation, defeating the Microsoft/Novell-imposed characterisation of the news can be hard, but at least we can try. It gets harder in the face of smear campaigns.

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