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Microsoft Backs Novell's Linux Platform

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don

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Post Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:24 am

Microsoft Backs Novell's Linux Platform

Microsoft Corp. has embraced Novell Inc.'s open-source software platform, forming a technological truce between two longtime antagonists who want to make it easier for the still-dominant Windows operating system and the increasingly popular Linux system to work together.

The agreement announced Thursday between the world's largest seller of patent-protected software and a leader in the open-source software movement has potentially important business, technical and legal implications.

"This builds a very important intellectual-property bridge between the open source and proprietary sides of software," Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said shortly before the companies formally announced their alliance in San Francisco.

Financial terms of the arrangement weren't disclosed.

The alliance is primarily aimed at the growing number of major companies and government agencies that rely on elements of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft's Windows and Linux to run their computers.

"It all comes down to recognizing there is a mixed environment out there," Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said during a Thursday press conference.

The partnership's impact on consumers appears to be inconsequential except for a commitment to improve the interaction between Microsoft's top-selling suite of Office software and a free alternative known as OpenOffice.

Microsoft's stamp of approval, extracted after six months of negotiations, represents a coup for Waltham, Mass-based Novell as it touts the advantage of its version of Linux over other varieties made by competitors such as Red Hat Inc.

After news of the deal leaked, Novell's shares shot up 92 cents, or 15.7 percent, to close Thursday at $6.79 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, where Microsoft's shares dipped 4 cents to finish at $28.77.

Under the partnership, Microsoft's sales team will offer its corporate customers a chance to license its Windows operating system as part of a package offering maintenance and support for Novell's Suse Linux platform.

Novell primarily relies on the fees for customer support to make money off the Linux software, which is developed by a global community of programmers who aren't tied to any single company and freely share improvements to the code.

Ballmer stressed that Microsoft will first try to convince corporate customers to use Windows exclusively before relenting to the notion of a hybrid system using Suse Linux.

To encourage more companies to embrace Novell's open-source platform, Microsoft has pledged not to assert its patent rights over any of its technology that may be blended with Suse Linux.

The concession is meant to address the concerns of many corporate users who have been reluctant to use Linux because they feared Microsoft might retaliate with patent-infringement claims.

"This is a big day for Microsoft customers," said Stuart Cohen, chief executive officer of the Open Source Development Labs, a Beaverton, Ore. group trying to expand corporate America's reliance on Linux. "They are being told by Microsoft that they can use Linux and not worry about it. That's a big statement."

Microsoft's patent waiver only applies to users of the Suse Linux platform.

The new partners have a stormy history.

In 2004, Novell reached a $536 million settlement with Microsoft over antitrust complaints in Europe and then sued its rival again in the United States. The U.S. suit alleged that Microsoft withheld technical information about Windows that Novell needed for its word processing program. Novell has since sold WordPerfect, but its antitrust claim remains alive.

Microsoft's decision to work with Novell reflects the increasingly important role of Linux's open-source software in corporate computing systems. About 20 percent of corporate America relies on some form of Linux, Cohen estimated.

Because it's available for free, Linux software long has been has been a source of consternation for Microsoft, which makes most of its money from the sale of its proprietary software.

"I have had a lot of conversations with (Ballmer), and I can assure you he wasn't usually smiling when we were talking about Linux," said Shane Robison, chief strategy and technology officer for Hewlett-Packard Co.

But Microsoft has been under increasing pressure to loosen up, and not just from customers who want to be able to run Linux with Windows.

Online search leader Google Inc. also is giving away more Web-based software, including word processing and spreadsheet programs, and last year promised to work with Sun Microsystems Inc. to help distribute OpenOffice.

Just last week, Oracle Corp. provided the Linux system with another major lift by offering steep discounts on product support of the Linux platform provided by Red Hat Inc.

Microsoft's backing of Novell's Linux platform may raise even more worries for Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat, whose stock price has dropped by 17 percent since Oracle launched its assault.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Original story:
http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2006/11/0 ... x-platform

Don
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Negrita

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Post Fri Nov 03, 2006 2:58 pm

Re: Microsoft Backs Novell's Linux Platform

Excuse me for being a paranoid sceptic but this smells like a precursor to Microsoft buying out a major competitor.

"This is a big day for Microsoft customers," said Stuart Cohen, chief executive officer of the Open Source Development Labs, a Beaverton, Ore. group trying to expand corporate America's reliance on Linux. "They are being told by Microsoft that they can use Linux and not worry about it. That's a big statement."


Whooopeee!!!  :o Thanks to Microsoft for letting me know what I can or can't do with my computer. All this time I've been living in dread that Microsofts secret agents will come busting down my door and drag me away for daring to install a free, safe and competitive OS on my system.

Next thing you know they'll approve my daughters nature projects on GNU's and penguins being done on my home computer.
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There are 10 kinds of people, those that understand binary, and those that don't.
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mn_kthompson

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Post Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:24 pm

Re: Microsoft Backs Novell's Linux Platform

I think you're being too hard on Microsoft, Negrita; this can only be good news for the open source community.

Whether you believed in the threat or not, there was a very real threat out there that Microsoft, which has a ton of patents, might start flexing that muscle and run some linux vendors our of business.  Not having support for your products is not a good position to be in from a business continuity standpoint and so the safest course of action for some has been to not adopt.  Remember when SCO first started suing IBM over linux?  The primary concern in the open source community was that their action (along with their letters to companies) would scare people away from linux entirely.

Also if Microsoft is going to make their office suite work better with Open Office then it will benefit all users of OO, not just the ones that use SUSE.  I think this move, along with the recent change to the EULA in Vista regarding re installation of the product, show that Microsoft is taking serious steps to be less of a bully...and that is probably the best news ever for Open Source.  I admit that they should have done these things sooner.  However, when someone is doing something bad, and then they start doing something good, I'm not going to kick them around too much for having been bad in the first place.  I'm just going to say thank you.

By the way, Negrita, have I seen you posting on the Ubuntu forums?  Just wondering if it was the same person.
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Negrita

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Post Sat Nov 04, 2006 2:00 pm

Re: Microsoft Backs Novell's Linux Platform

mn_kthompson wrote:By the way, Negrita, have I seen you posting on the Ubuntu forums?  Just wondering if it was the same person.


Yes, I've posted rarely at http://kubuntuforums.net/, http://forum.nubuntu.org/ and also once at http://www.knoppix.net/forum/:) (Yes I know the last one isn't part of the Ubuntu project, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.)
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don

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Post Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:48 pm

Re: Microsoft Backs Novell's Linux Platform

Red Hat fires back: "We will be here in one year, Novell will not"

In the past two weeks, Oracle and Microsoft have fired salvos across -- and some would say into -- Red Hat's bow.

The Novell/Microsoft partnership had the desired short-term effect both companies were looking for: Red Hat stock went down, said Red Hat general counsel Mark Webbink in today's interview with SearchOpenSource.com. On the other hand, Webbink said, the hype surrounding the announcements from Oracle, Microsoft and Novell will be short- lived. In the end, Red Hat's high customer satisfaction ratings will allow his company to ride the tide. In one year's time, Webbink said, Red Hat would be the only Linux commercial vendor left standing, Microsoft support or not.


Check out the full article:
http://searchopensource.techtarget.com/ ... 57,00.html

Don
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skel

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Post Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:46 am

Re: Microsoft Backs Novell's Linux Platform

mn_kthompson wrote:
Whether you believed in the threat or not, there was a very real threat out there that Microsoft, which has a ton of patents, might start flexing that muscle and run some linux vendors our of business.  Not having support for your products is not a good position to be in from a business continuity standpoint and so the safest course of action for some has been to not adopt.  Remember when SCO first started suing IBM over linux?  The primary concern in the open source community was that their action (along with their letters to companies) would scare people away from linux entirely.


There is always a other side of the story. See the article "Novell/Microsoft deal: good for Novell, good for Linux?" at  http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS9843352777.html

The last line of this article from the author

Cynical? Yes. But after covering Microsoft for almost two-decades, I trust Microsoft the least when it looks like they're co-operating with others the most.


I love it  ;D
Skel

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