Microsoft's decision to partner with Novell was driven by a desire to create fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) in the minds of those considering a move to Linux -- and to sell more copies of Windows, according to analysts.
The partnership, which was announced earlier this month, was touted by Microsoft's chief executive officer Steve Ballmer as a way of helping "bridge the divide between open-source and proprietary source software".
However, analysts are advising CIOs to not let the announcement affect their IT purchasing decisions in the short term.
Dr Kevin McIsaac, an analyst at Sydney-based Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS), believes the move has been very effective at generating confusion in the market.
"I wouldn't make too much of it as it stands -- it falls into the category of FUD... Microsoft is trying to make it a little less easy for people to make decisions around Linux.
"It looks like a way to drive a wedge into the market and take a poke at Red Hat. Red Hat is somewhat beleaguered already but Microsoft has been working on them for some time," McIsaac told ZDNet Australia.
In a First Take advisory posted by Gartner last Wednesday, analysts George Weiss and John Enck pointed out that this is not the first time Microsoft has made such a deal.
"Microsoft has made similar promises with other competing vendors in the past. We don't doubt the sincerity of this promise; however, we believe that, to make good on their promise, Microsoft and Novell must act quickly and provide definitions and time lines by 2Q07," the analysts wrote.
They also said that although the deal may go some way to put CIOs' minds at ease when it comes to Linux patents, "Microsoft may be opening the door with the promise of Linux but using this to push Windows into the sales cycle".
Indeed Microsoft's deal with Novell appears to have created some uncertainty in the market. David Hayes, president of the Sydney Novell User Group (SNUG), told ZDNet Australia that he expects end users to benefit from the relationship, but remained suspicious about Redmond's intentions.
"I have a feeling that a company of that size only does things where there's a financial benefit to them. So I'll be suspicious until they sign a further agreement after the five years, said Hayes.
"I would hope that Microsoft don't just turn around and say 'thanks very much, got all we want out of it, see you later'." he added.
IBRS's McIsaac said that whatever the motivations behind the deal, enterprises should take full advantage of the money Microsoft has decided to throw at the partnership: "I would certainly put my hand out to Microsoft for money or any certificates they are willing to give me".
"My enemy's enemy is my friend and [Microsoft] is partnering with SuSE because it is the enemy of Red Hat," added McIsaac.