Hell Braces for Repeat of 2006 "Big Freeze"
In Sept. 1991, Microsoft exec Jim Allchin emailed CEO Bill Gates: “We must slow down Novell. As you said, Bill, it has to be dramatic. We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger.” And in 2001 Microsoft Chief Steve Ballmer likened Linux to “cancer.” Later that year, Gates derided open-source licensing models like the one used by Linux as “Pacman-like.”
That’s some heavy rhetoric. Certainly, it’s representative of the distaste with which Microsoft (MSFT) has viewed Linux and Linux vendors like Novell (NOVL) for the past decade.
So to hear back in Nov. 2006 that Microsoft was partnering with Novell to offer sales support for Novell’s SUSE Linux and cooperate with its old rival on Linux-Windows interoperability was astonishing–a bit like discovering that Stalin really sent Trotsky to Mexico for a nice vacation or that Itchy has shacked up with Scratchy.
And the unlikely partnership continues to astonish to this day. On Wednesday, the two companies expanded their interoperability agreement, with Microsoft agreeing to buy and resell up to $100 million in enterprise support subscriptions for Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server OS. That’s in addition to the $240 million Microsoft has already agreed to buy.
Odd, isn’t it, to see Microsoft marketing Linux like this? Odder still, to see Novell in an alliance with the company that hoped to “slaughter” it. So why did Novell agree to it? “Novell’s benefit is obvious, if not self-destructive,” Joe Wilcox explains over at Microsoft Watch. “The deal allows Novell to exist in the shadow of Windows Server, sustaining on its table scraps. Microsoft can offer customers that simply must have some Linux servers a sanctioned source for good tools ensuring interoperability with Windows Server.”