When former arch enemies Microsoft and Novell come together to collaborate over a Linux project, you just know that it's time to break out the tinfoil hats out because people are going to read all sorts into this.
The Microsoft press release makes interesting reading:
Under the agreement, Novell is establishing clear leadership among Linux platform and open source software providers on interoperability for mixed-source environments. As a result, Microsoft will officially recommend SUSE Linux Enterprise for customers who want Windows and Linux solutions. Additionally, Microsoft will distribute coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support, so that customers can benefit from the use of an interoperable version of Linux with patent coverage as well as the collaborative work between the two companies. [emphasis added]
Wow! You have to read that several times before you can take it all in.[poll id=13]
The latest agreement focuses on three specific technical areas:
- Web services for managing physical and virtual servers
- Document format capabilities
I believe that the benefit of the agreement from Microsoft's perspective is that is allows them to work on ways to improve interoperability between Office and OpenOffice, an area where they've been vulnerable for some time. Now Microsoft can appear to support open source while at the same time ensuring that both Windows and Office keeps a foot in the door. It's a win-win deal for Microsoft and Novell - Microsoft gets to have a guiding hand in Linux adoption in business circles and Novell gets protection from any possible competitors.
I don't think it will take long for the open source community to respond to this deal, and my guess is that there's going to be a lot of scared developers out there who are going to have an automatically negative knee-jerk reaction to this news. This is Microsoft entering the open source arena in a big way, and that can only mean one thing - they've seen a profit there. Novell's SUSE now has some serious backing and that can't be good news for the other major player in the arena - Red Hat.
I expect there to be some casualties as a result of this deal. And with that in mind it's hard to tell whether this is a good thing for Linux or not. If you're OS agnostic and just want to get a job done, this is deal going to make life easier in the long run.
I guess time will tell.