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Novell: Microsoft 'sucked $60 billion' out of IT

CEO Jack Messman tells conference crowd that Microsoft's license fees have hobbled the IT industry.

BARCELONA, Spain--Microsoft has sucked billions of dollars out of the IT industry that could have been spent in more fruitful ways, according to Novell.

Speaking on Monday at BrainShare Europe, Novell's annual conference here, CEO Jack Messman told customers and partners that Microsoft's extensive license fees for Windows have prevented end-user organizations and independent software developers from directing cash into more "innovative" software.

"I am of the opinion that innovation has been slowed because of Microsoft. It has sucked $60 billion out of our industry that could have been used for innovation," he said.

A Microsoft representative was not immediately available for comment.

The solution, according to the Novell boss, will come through the open-source software movement, which will force the further commoditization of client and server operating systems. That, in turn, will enable companies to spend more on development further up the application stack, Messman said.

"My vision is that companies won't have to spend so much on operating systems, which have been commoditized, and (can) spend more on innovation," he said.

Novell is keen to position itself as a software maker able to offer a complete alternative to Microsoft's products from the client to the server--something that other Linux vendors, such as Red Hat, are shying away from.

The company, based in Waltham, Mass., claims to have increased its independent software vendor and partner base by about 92 percent since its previous quarter.

Messman noted that Novell is the only company offering support for third-party open-source products such as the JBoss application server.

But despite Novell's vociferous support for everything open source--which included Messman running the graphics for his keynote speech off a Linux machine--the company has said it will continue to support Windows for the foreseeable future.

"With a 94 percent market share, we are not going to abandon Windows--that would be foolhardy. But we do think the market will abandon Windows at some point. We will maintain a commitment to the Windows environment for as long as customers want us to," said Alan Nugent, Novell's chief technology officer.

Novell made several partner and product announcements on the first day of the BrainShare conference, including a partnership with German software maker Software AG to accelerate the adoption of Linux in the market for XML database software. Under the deal, Software AG and Novell will jointly develop a database product based on SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 and the German company's Tamino XML Server and EntireX XML Mediator.

Novell also announced an agreement with Bull to offer SuSE Linux Enterprise 9 on the server and the software company's whole range of servers, including EXPRESS5800 and NovaScale Blade machines.

Another partnership will see Novell working alongside German e-commerce specialist Intershop to encourage online retailers to port their operations onto Linux. Under the agreement, Intershop will port its Enfinity e-commerce software suite to Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

Andrew Donoghue of London-based ZDNet UK reported from Barcelona.