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Big Brother Comes to BrainShare

In Pirates of Silicon Valley, a movie to which we just love to refer, there's a scene at the end in which Anthony Michael Hall's Bill Gates peers from a video screen over Noah Wyle's Steve Jobs at a press conference as Gates announces the investment by Microsoft that basically saves Apple.

In the background, onlookers and Mac fanatics boo and hiss at Gates' overwhelming mug. The Big Brother connotation is not exactly subtle, but what do you want from a made-for-TV movie? (By the way, if Pirates had been a theater release and not a made-for-TV flick, "I got the loot, Steve!" would have been one of the great cinematic catchphrases of the late 1990s. Alas.)

And so we jump forward a decade or so to this year's edition of BrainShare, Novell's annual user conference. Except, instead of Bill Gates -- or even Anthony Michael Hall -- it's Microsoft's Craig Mundie who's playing the role of big brother. OK, sure, the situation is different here. Microsoft's not saving Novell, and Mundie isn't exactly a lightning rod on the level of Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer. But in terms of clashes of cultures and an (at least partially) angry user base (including the ubiquitous "Microsoft-as-the-devil" reference), there's some drama playing out in Salt Lake City.

Just don't tell Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian that. He's busy telling everybody that the deal is just great for both parties. It sounds as though he'll have to do a little more convincing before he wins over his company's hardcore followers, though. But with new enterprise customers picking up on the deal and Microsoft pumping money into Novell and SUSE Linux, Hovsepian might not care all that much about the ranting of a few dogmatic Penguinites -- nor should he.

And speaking of Linux, after readers told us a few weeks ago to "Fear the Penguin!" blogger John Obeto II, managing partner and chief technology officer of Logikworx, responded with a hearty rebuttal. We'd like to thank John for his faithful readership and for taking the time to go into such detail in discussing a humble RCPU entry.

Redmond magazine, our sister publication aimed at IT folks, also got some talk stirred up with its March cover story on Microsoft opening the door to open source.

We always enjoy your comments on open source, Linux, Novell, Microsoft or just about anything else you want to talk about. Send them to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 21, 2007