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Novell and Microsoft Make It Clear: They Want to Replace GNU/Linux with Patent Royalties

Steve Ballmer license
Image from Wikimedia



Summary: It's time for Novell and Microsoft to kiss in public again, but who would cover this non-event?

IT'S this time of the year again. Novell and Microsoft go on the record and tell the public how much they love each other. Other companies that signed patent deals with Microsoft (e.g. Turbolinux) occasionally do the same type of thing. It helps Microsoft promote the perception that it is a welcomed friend of GNU/Linux, despite cursing it and even suing it.



It needn't be explained why this is damaging. It is disappointing to see Novell participating in these charades even after the TomTom/FAT debacle.

One journalist told us, "I'm going to struggle to say anything nice about Novell's news that it's cleaning up on Linux by pal'ing around with Microsoft. I'll probably not say anything to avoid giving it any air time."

The pro-Microsoft Gavin Clarke covered this non-story from Microsoft and Novell nonetheless. No wonder, it's promotion of Microsoft and its ally. He wrote:

Now, Microsoft is attempting to exploit its controversial relationship with Novell to ride this recessionary wave. The objective is to maintain Windows' place in the server room by propping up Novell's SuSE Linux against rival distros.

The software giant claimed Wednesday there had been a doubling of business related to its relationship with Novell during the last six months. Playing the recessionary card, Microsoft said that as companies look for "value," they are "signing on for the interoperability and intellectual property peace of mind solutions" offered with Novell.


There is that term again -- "intellectual property peace of mind." They are using scare tactics to make sales.

In simple terms, Novell's goal (with Microsoft) is to ensure all GNU/Linux in use starts paying Microsoft for some software patents it won't reveal. Novell is carrying out Microsoft's dirty job in exchange for some money. To suggest anything else is to put lipstick on a pig.

Sean Michael Kerner covered this PR fluff as well, which is disappointing.

In 2006, when the initial partnership agreement was signed, Novell was shipping SLES 10. As part of the partnership agreement, Microsoft is reselling SLES subscriptions. According to Heystee, Novell handles the Linux renewals for their joint customers that might be moving to SLES 11.


"SLES subscriptions" (or "vouchers" rather) Microsoft is already referring to as "patent royalties". This was discovered last year. They are quite blunt about what it's really all about.

“Microsoft struggles for itself at the moment, so it's not floating Novell anymore.”We advise readers to see the statements from Hovsepian and Russell in Q1 -- statements where they said that they had struck no major SUSE contract. It's true. None. Just look at the trail of press releases. The same goes for Q2, but this time they probably did not say this explicitly (in the earnings call at least). A lot of Novell's business is being transformed from something proprietary to Linux (OES2 for example), so they are good at delivering an illusion of growth where it's more to do with evolutionary migration and reclassification.

Microsoft struggles for itself at the moment, so it's not floating Novell anymore. Microsoft's earnings were down 32% (expect something similar in July's report), it has canceled around 15 products in 8 months, and it is borrowing money. Microsoft lost $18 billion in 1998 (says Smithers) and there are many reasons to believe that Microsoft is not saying the truth, not just because one of its employees/accountants blew the whistle and got paid $4 million to shut up.

Novell is meanwhile offshoring parts of SUSE to Taiwan and it truly shows. The following video reached YouTube a couple of days ago.



The presence of IDC aside, watch the big Microsoft banner/s at the back. They must be a very major part of SUSE now, at least based on this presentation. Technical content aside, watch the reasons for audio being stripped off: "This video contains an audio track that has not been authorised by WMG. The audio has been disabled."

Nice, eh?

About a week ago, the video titled "Patriot Novell Computex Moblin" reached YouTube as well.



There are no complaints to be made about that last video, but it comes from the same event.

Update: That second video got removed altogether.

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