Microsoft's Identity Wedge

Novell is becoming a one-way mirror. Microsoft technology flows through it into the open source world. But the technology itself remains closed to the open source world. Open source developers only see Novell.

You might think of this as the other shoe dropping regarding Microsoft's deal with Novell. (Picture from the KMUTT School of Architecture and Design in Thailand, which does usability testing.)

While attention has been focused on the cross-licensing, which implies Microsoft holds patents on Linux, it's clear now that Novell will become the route through which Microsoft technologies reach the open source market.

Take today's announcement of Infocard Selector. On the surface, a graphical way for users to pull virtual credit cards from their virtual wallets. Virtually good.

But look under the hood. You have Microsoft CardSpace, the company's identity management product, tied into Bandit, a standard interface for identity products, all linked to Higgins, Eclipse's open source identity framework. Oh, and Novell says this will be a "licensed product," whatever that means. (It means the keys are held by Novell.)

This is not a secret. The technology link-up was originally announced last year.  It was demoed at Brainshare. It's not the dish I want to point out here, but the recipe, the method.

Novell is becoming a one-way mirror. (Thus the picture above.) Microsoft technology flows through it into the open source world. But the technology itself remains closed to the open source world. Open source developers only see Novell.

To me, it feels like open source is being treated like a perp in a Law & Order episode. So is Steve Ballmer Cassady or Green? (Yeah, I miss Lenny Briscoe too.)

 

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