Moonlight and the dupe quiz? Microsoft or Novell?

Is Novell using Microsoft, or is Microsoft using Novell? Come on. Are you serious? Is there any doubt?

Simon Phipps takes apart the licensing maze required to start "enjoying" Novell's Moonlight. Novell clearly wants to be popular with someone, and so has settled on Microsoft.

Stephen Walli, for his part, thinks that all of this shows just how brilliant Novell is. All I can say is that sometimes things look smarter from the outside than they do from the inside. Stephe sometimes gets carried away in thinking that people actually intend all of the intelligence of which he accuses them.

However, one thing is clear and Stephe points it out:

Novell is anchoring itself rapidly as the other cornerstone for cross-platform programming between Windows and Linux. This gives them a valuable community center of gravity with respect to the enterprise that is much more valuable with customers than "we're not Red Hat".

Yes, it's definitely something. But I think it's starting from a position of weakness, not strength. In other words, if someone is going to be Microsoft's toady, Novell wants to be darned sure it's them. It would be much better to command interoperability from a position of strength, as Red Hat is doing (or as MySQL is doing in databases, JBoss has done in application servers, etc.), rather than between mouthfuls of Microsoft's toejam.

Microsoft doesn't respect Novell. Microsoft uses Novell. Novell has a temporary use for Microsoft as its sycophant to "prove" that Microsoft cares about interoperability. "See! We interoperate with Linux, provided that it's a Linux we can crush at a moment's notice the minute too many of you care about it. We'll even keep tabs on your Linux adoption with our nifty coupon program."

Novell needs to keep growing its Linux business independent of Microsoft. Then, and only then, will it be able to talk interoperability with Microsoft as an equal and then, and only then, will customers truly benefit. Customers that are locked into the Microsoft + Novell platform are not any more free than they were with just Microsoft. In fact, they may be worse off, because they've been duped into believing they actually have freedom.

Watching shadows on the wall....

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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