Shedding historical baggage, networking software player Novell announced plans to include a copy of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser with every copy of the company's flagship operating system.
Novell, previously a venomous Microsoft foe, has altered its attitude toward the Redmond, Washington-based software giant in recent years, a mood swing that has accelerated under the leadership of chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt. Adding IE to Novell products is the latest sign that relations between the two software companies have thawed.
Under terms of the deal, a copy of IE will ship with every NetWare operating system client update and will also ship with forthcoming versions of NetWare 5.0, the latest upgrade to Novell's core server software product, according to Novell. A copy of the Communicator browser from Microsoft rival Netscape Communications already ships with Novell products.
Novell also plans to bundle a version of Netscape's FastTrack Web server software with each copy of NetWare 5.0. Both browsers will interface with the Netscape server, according to Novell.
Senior executives from the company said Novell's previous attitude toward partnerships needed to change from the past, an evolution hastened by Schmidt's arrival. "We sort of wanted to have a new spirit of cooperation with just about anybody," said Chris Stone, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Novell.
Given the classically frosty rapport between Novell and Redmond, it may come as a surprise to some that the networking software maker would choose to add Microsoft technology to its own software, but Stone said the move is long overdue and could lead to other initiatives. "There's lots of discussions between the two of us," Stone said. "There's a huge overlap in our customer base."
Stone also stressed that Novell should not be included in the anti-Microsoft camp dominated by the likes of Netscape, Sun Microsystems, and Oracle. He said Novell had "no time" to fight with Microsoft over the hot topics of the day, such as operating systems and the Java programming language. "We're trying to be the platform for the Net," Stone said.
Novell also announced yesterday that the company's NetWare 5.0 operating system software has begun shipping ahead of a schedule announced in August. The good news is another indication that the previously struggling software firm may be righting itself. Late last month, the company was buoyed by another positive fiscal quarter.
Meanwhile, Novell is continuing its strategy of providing interoperability and adding functions to Microsoft's Windows NT client and server operating system. NT has encroached on Novell's classical strength, but working with NT is now seen as preferable to direct competition with Redmond's corporate operating system.
Last week, Novell announced that plans to offer a version of its directory services software package which runs on NT are in full swing, with a test version of its Novell Directory Services now available.