Microvell is the name of the new alliance between Microsoft and Novell not to create fear uncertainty and doubt in the Linux software market over whether you will get sued by Redmond if you run any other version of Linux other than MS approved Suse Linux – no no no no. But rather, this is $350M NET being paid to Novell for co-operating and allowing greater interoperability between Windows Server and Suse Linux. And of course the first thing you do to bring those two enterprise operating systems together is to add to Open Office- Novell Edition, the Microsoft Office competitor, the ability to use Microsoft Office 2007s OpenXML in addition to the ODF basic standard.
Now this has the look and feel of a good will gesture. Open Office is strengthened because it can read both OpenXML and ODF files. But there is a bit more than goodwill here. Novell is now doing things the way Redmond wants Linux to evolve. Infoworlds Tom Yager catches this trend in his Ahead of the Curve article on December 04 2006 – Microvells Big Chill. In effect, Tom sees Redmond angling towards a resurrection of Advanced Server for Unix as a way to siphon money off of integrating Windows and Linux. Over at Linux Watch, the view is that the Linux community is dead set against the deal – and only a narrowly defined “paper over the big picture” marketing study can rescue that perception.
Now some readers may say why look in askance on an interoperability and co-operation gestures by Microsoft. “They are damned if they do co-operate and they are roasted if they dont co-operate”. To which I would respond dont treat us as being stupid. Why lace your “goodwill and interoperability gestures” with direct threats against Linux and potential patent infringements. No less than CEO Steve Ballmer saying on conclusion of the agreement that Linux users have patent infringement balance sheet liabilities with Redmond due to their use of Linux. Here is what is heard => “We come in peace and co-operation … oh and by the way here is our patent nuclear bomb and we intend to wield it in the near future if things dont go our way”. Now to put this into perspective think of IT patents as nuclear weapons – everybody knows if IT patents get used in market share wars, it will be havoc and utter devastation because everybody, including Linux and Open Source, has “killer patents” against everybody else. This is a war of deadly attrition where only the lawyers prosper mightily. So it is like Gay Bashing or Religious Politics – nobody comes out a winner. And all this chest thumping by M. Ballmer is tantamount to sheer irresponsibility. And this from a Microsoft that has been found on the wrongside of contractual law, good will and simple business trust countless times in its past.
This Machiavellian malfeasance, “playing hardball” in Microsoft speak, is totally inappropriate as Microsoft courts continued enterprise IT trust about the security and integrity of its systems let alone trustworthiness of its business operations and ethics. Microsofts board, shareholders (many of whom are employees) and customers should rightfully be asking is this the right strategy and tactics to take Microsoft to the next level? Microsoft is engaged in a series of ads touting their software as being so popular and prevalent they are “people ready” . But are the people ready => the Microsoft rank and file employees, customers, partners, and shareholders ready for another period legal brinksmanship of 5 to 10 or however many years it takes to subvert and control Linux and Open Source with these short sighted and disruptive tactics. Many will have to ask whether they can afford to work for or with a Microsoft that is still not “good business practices ready”.