[Cialug] MSFT to partner with Novell
morej at alliancetechnologies.net
Sun Nov 5 13:56:29 CST 2006
Hello folks, sorry for the delay here. I apparently picked a heck of a
week to take a vacation.
There is a lot of business and political talk to wade through, but here
is the gist of the agreement:
1) Microsoft and Novell will "actively" contribute to several open
source projects, specifically Office and Web Services.
Logically, this *probably* means that MS code will go through
Novell to be merged into open source projects.
MS is being pushed in this direction anyway, due to Open Office and
My opinon: This is a good thing. Novell's history of testing and
bug fixing will complement MS's depth of knowledge of their file
Issues from reverse engineering will be reduced.
2) MS agrees not to "assert its patents" against noncommercial open
source developers or developers whose code is accepted into the
commercial SUSE* line.
My opinon: MS has been less legalistic as of late, so this doesn't
really cost them much. Novell (commercial) and the Debian/Ubuntu
(noncommercial) line are clear winners here. Red Hat, however,
does not seem to be covered. Further, this *could* be the start of
a patent-centralization effort, which would be good.
Unknowns: MS has licensed a lot of patents, and it is unlikely
that this agreement covers those. We will likely see some squabbling
over this before everything clarifies. If it stabilizes properly,
we might be able to see free (as in speech and beer) and legal support
Windows multimedia formats. This would be a very good thing.
3) There is some odd financial terms which involve MS paying Novell and
Novell paying MS. This will likely effect stock prices, causing
protection for both. On the other hand, if one massively
destabilizes, it could bring the other with it. However, neither
has been a star in the market for a long time, so this will likely
not effect us. Also, some are saying that this could conflict with the
Realistically, Novell and MS have excellent lawyers. I'm sure that
they've worked this out already and that what is being thought of as
"royalty payments" is more likely a fee for accessing one anothers'
4) MS will offer customers licenses to Novell's Linux (SLES). This
makes sense for MS, as they do not have to create their own Linux
we've been expecting for a while), and they can push a Linux that
is already fairly well accepted. It's great for Novell, as it
opens the market for them. The free Linux versions (Fedora,
OpenSUSE, Debian, Ubuntu, ...) will likely not be effected. Again, Red
is a clear loser here, as many folks that would have gone the RH
route will wind up with SUSE under existing MS contracts.
5) MS will be marketing SUSE. OK, I admit that this will be weird. I
don't know what this will look like, but MS has, in the past,
been very good with TV and magazine spots. They also like to give
things away. Whether this means easier access to CDs
or penguins with MS logos on them (shudder) remains to be
6) My opinion: Ron Hovsepian is amazingly customer-centric. If this
goes his way, we will see tremendous changes in the marketplace that
makes it easier to use IT. This is the one to pay attention to, as
it could effect all of our wallets. We all know that one of the reasons
pays well is because it is hard to understand. If this
"partnership" is successful, the technology will be easier and easier to
use. Great for
customers, but not so great for those in the industry that are
still using the "complex == job security" model. We are seeing
and cooperation among all of the major players: Novell, Microsoft,
Oracle, IBM, Intel, AMD, etc. This means that as more and more things
that "work out of the box", we all become more replaceable. This
is definitely a time to watch the new technologies and replace legacy
and home-brew systems, of you may find yourself being replaced
7) Also my opinion: It is realistic to expect that, at the end of this
agreement, we will see the ability to run MS products directly on Linux
as Linux/Open Source products directly on Windows. Some
a) Support for Red Carpet (yum, apt, etc) repositories on Windows
b) MS SQL Server on Linux
c) IIS on Linux
d) Seamless installation and GUI configuration of Apache on
e) The choice of MS Office and Novell Open Office on Vista
f) The choice of Vista and SLED on new workstations from Dell, etc
In the end, the success of this agreement will depend on how well both
Novell and MS can handle the operations-end of the agreement.
MS has not been so good about this in the past, and the cultures do not
exactly mesh. However, both CEOs are strong enough people that
if they both want this to happen, it probably will. We know that Ron
wants this badly. The big question is whether Steve Balmer will carry
through. Either this will help Linux or not. I don't really see how
it could hurt it.
-Josh More, RHCE, CISSP, NCLP
morej at alliancetechnologies.net
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