Scrutinizing the Microsoft-Novell deal
So, a bit of software news yesterday.
Microsoft and Novell announced a partnership that will have them working together "bridge the divide" between Microsoft's Windows operating system and Novell's open-source Suse Linux.
The news came as a bit of a shock to much of the tech community. Microsoft has not exactly approached open source with open arms. (Bill Gates once referred to advocates against intellectual property as ".") And Novell and Microsoft haven't seen eye to eye in the past; Novell sued Microsoft for antitrust violations in 2004.
As the news made its way around the blogosphere, there were plenty of jokes about Hell and snowballs. Now bloggers are trying to figure out whether this deal means Microsoft is raising the white flag, or just trying to lull the open-source community to sleep while it plots its next move.
Blog community response:
"Don't be fooled by the sense that Microsoft's deal to cross-license and otherwise support Novell's Suse is a boost for Linux. The better way to look at this deal is to think of it as the first major step in Microsoft's plan to co-opt Linux and let its Windows monopoly live to dominate another day. It's a strategy that has worked before, and, judging the relative market clout of Suse vs. Windows, it's sure to succeed again."
"Either Microsoft is starting to feel the Linux heat, or they decided 'stop asserting their patent rights' to get themselves out of any more antitrust trouble. Or maybe, just maybe, Microsoft and Novell just want to get along for the kids."
"Excuse me while I go throw up. I gather Microsoft no longer thinks Linux is a cancer or communism. Now it just wants a patent royalty from it. Wasn't that kinda SCO's dream at first? A kind of royalty on every box sold, every server shipped? Blech. And this 'patent promise' is only for SUSE, so that tells the discerning observer that Microsoft will likely be suing others. As for Novell, if history means anything, it will end up Microsoft roadkill. It's so funny to me that nobody ever remembers what comes *after* the Embrace."
"(Ballmer) has a fiduciary duty to sell Windows, Windows, Windows, and to partner with whatever companies he thinks will help him sell more...Windows and with those that help him kill...Linux. Which camp does Novell fit into? Not sure, but I don't think it's in Novell's shareholder interest to help Microsoft with either goal. This isn't about helping Linux (SUSE Linux or otherwise), but rather about killing the only real threat to Microsoft's dominance in the operating system market: Red Hat."
--Matt Asay on Open Source