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Microsoft and Novell: Linux Lip Service or Fundamental Shift?

At first, it seemed like a blockbuster. Microsoft, for whom open source is the Saddam Hussein of software, formally agreed to support Novell's version of Linux. I've gotten more questions about this than almost any other subject (except "Is that your real hair?").

After my heart stopped racing, I realized this is a huge deal for Novell, but far from a seismic shift for Microsoft.

What Steve Ballmer announced was Microsoft's intention to treat Novell's Linux server software as if it actually exists. There will be no patent disputes, and Microsoft will answer questions about Novell's Suse software -- if you have a coupon and a pre-existing Microsoft support contract, of course.

If you think about, this is akin to Microsoft agreeing that IBM mainframes have a right to exist and interact with Windows servers. If this was all about the desktop, where Microsoft has two monopolies (Windows and Office), now that would be something to write about.

Posted by Doug Barney on November 07, 2006


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