Microsoft has a long history at killing competition. They started with Novell's Server market, they tried to do with Java, and today they are trying to do it against the Anti-Virus vendors. They succeeded against Netscape, gained significant grounds against Sony's Playstation, and killed a thousand other products that I can't name because I forgot about them after Microsoft obliterated them out of the market. If any of you are XBox lovers, I don't have to tell you that in the war over consoles Microsoft has been losing money on every XBox it sells. Zune (the competition to iPod) is said to have a similar strategy. In short Microsoft has a huge bank balance and can pump in a lot of money until the competition goes bankrupt.
As a result of this announcement its not a surprise that the Linux world is almost up in arms against Novell for giving in for a few pieces of silver. I on the other hand have a different prespective on it.
- Microsoft isn't interested in suing anyone (anytime soon atleast) because of its Vista launch schedule and the tricky negotiations going on in Europe
- SCO has already tried the same FUD which Microsoft is accused of trying. In fact if you remember Microsoft had "licensed" SCO unix in a similar deal which was indirectly used to fund SCO's battle against IBM/Linux
- Most of the other visible products Microsoft has went after till now have been markets where Microsoft didn't really have a foothold. Linux is one of the very few unique products which started up as a competitor to Microsoft has has gradually increased in popularity over the years. [Firefox/Mozilla is the other one which I admire]
- The other interesting point to note is that unlike most other commercial vendors who got nailed by Microsoft's pump and dump strategy, Linux is not a commercial entity which can go bankrupt. They can kill Novell, but it will be very hard for them to kill the whole linux movement.
My personal analysis is that Microsoft is afraid.
- Its so afraid of loosing this battle that in its moment of desperation its ready to do anything short of launching a Microsoft branded Linux distribution.
- The Financial deal Microsoft and Novell signed has a few hints of where this might be heading.
- To begin with its clear both of them want to integrate each others OS using each others technology to provide a better virtualization experience.
- Its also clear that though Novell might use significant portions of proprietary Microsoft technology (for example for authentication, authorization and accounting) Microsoft will mostly be using GNU code to which Novell doesn't have any rights anyway.
- So why is Microsoft paying Novell ?
- And what's the deal with 240 million dollars for linux license subscription cost ? What is it going to do with that many copies of linux distribution ?
- Oh wait, they could embed it into your Microsoft operating system ? Have you ever thought which distribution of Linux you would use if your Microsoft OS copy you already have, has a Linux distribution pre-bundled with it?
- Novell also mentions that it will pay Microsoft a minimum amount of licensing fees, which can increase depending on its own sales. So may be it will sell Windows as well... who knows. But it will sell something with at least some part of Microsoft code in it.
- Finally based on my personal opinion (with no understanding of financial details) it almost looks like Microsoft has kind of bought a share of Novell's company and wants a piece of the action every year.
- May be Microsoft is going to announce something even much more significant which will dramatically increase Novell's sales. May be Novell is an investment after all... not just a pump-and-dump target.
My thought process finally took me to the one place I didn't want to go... Its the thought that Microsoft will soon bundle Suse linux with one of its own products.
Coming back to the discussion on whether we should abandon Suse or not, I personally think it doesn't matter as long as Microsoft is not trying to kill it. Stop acting like a 5 year old kid who doesn't like the big guys. If anything, you should be excited about more commercial support behind your favourite OS. And if they really do bundle Suse with every Desktop/Server OS thats exactly what I wanted when I joined the revolution. Linux on every desktop...
I have said this before, and I'll continue to say it that I'm not opposed to Microsoft Linux as long as others can innovate and keep Microsoft on its toes.