Bonum Certa Men Certa

When Companies Eat Microsoft Bait, It Means Trouble

Novell could be the next Corel. Don't believe this ambitious statement? Then have a look.

October 3rd, 2000:

Corel Sells Out To Microsoft

It isn't quite as strange as Microsoft 's investment in Apple Computer several years ago, but it ranks right up there.


Here's a glimpse at the Apple deal.



This deal with Corel may also be similar to Microsoft's deal with Sun Microsystems. It's a purely strategic one, where the strategy does not necessarily benefit the customers, let alone the developers.

While in Microsoft's pockets, it is neither a coincidence nor a surprise that only Novell and Corel accepted Microsoft's coin-in-the-slot standard. It's a sockpuppet-style voice of approval. It was bought.

But let us return to the article.

...The companies said that Corel would develop and market applications for Microsoft's sprawling .Net initiative, which is based on Windows technologies.

While the investment is paltry by Microsoft standards, the implications are huge. For starters, what becomes of Corel's Linux plans? Corel has poured considerable resources into its Corel Linux operating system and porting its business and graphics applications to Linux. The company has positioned its Linux efforts as the linchpin of its comeback strategy, but there was no mention of Linux on the conference call Monday.

[...]

Microsoft and Corel have been fierce competitors since the latter bought the WordPerfect Office suite of applications from Novell in 1997.


Also worth reading is the interview with Corel's Linux VP on the deal with Microsoft. Given Corel's position at present, Novell has plenty of reasons to worry. Let us return to the recent interview which explains why Microsoft was willing to pay Novell so much money.

LinuxWorld: One of the persistent rumors that's going around is that certain large IT customers have already been paying Microsoft for patent licensing to cover their use of Linux, Samba and other free software projects. And the Novell deal -- isn't it just taking that and doing the same kind of thing wholesale?

Allison: Yes, that's true, actually. I mean I have had people come up to me and essentially off the record admit that they had been threatened by Microsoft and had got patent cross license and had essentially taken out a license for Microsoft patents on the free software that they were using, which they then cannot redistribute. I think that would be the restriction. I would have to look quite carefully. So, essentially that's not allowed. But they're not telling anyone about it. They're completely doing it off the record.

The problem with the Novell deal is -- Novell gave Microsoft what Microsoft dearly wanted, which is a public admission that they think that Linux violates the Microsoft patent.

[...]

LinuxWorld: Watching Novell management being subjected to this was like watching a child eating a bug for money. It's embarrassing.

Allison: It is humiliating. I was horrified to say. It was humiliating. Yes. It really is like, "Go on. Eat a bug. Go on. Go on. Here's some money. Eat a bug." Yes, sad but true.


This analogy is a wonderful one, especially if you happen have watched Fear Factor. Novell made a decision which it knew was a bad one. Short-term financial gains were enough to alleviate the fear and it left the audience (Microsoft in this case) highly entertained.

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