Novell: Microsoft 'sucked $60bn' out of the industry

BrainShare: Novell's chief executive believes Microsoft's licence fees have hobbled the IT industry

Microsoft has sucked billions of dollars out of the IT industry that could have been spent in more fruitful ways, according to Novell.

Speaking on Monday at BrainShare, the company's annual user conference in Barcelona, Novell chief Jack Messman claimed that Microsoft's exhaustive licence fees for Windows have prevented end-user organisations and independent software developers from directing cash into more "innovative" software.

"I am of the opinion that innovation has been slowed because of Microsoft. It has sucked $60bn out of our industry that could have been used for innovation," he said.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on Messman's claims.

The solution, according to the Novell boss, will come through the movement to open source, which will force the further commoditisation of client and server operating systems -- allowing companies to spend more on development further up the application stack, said Messman.

"My vision is that companies won't have to spend so much on operating systems which have been commoditised and spend more on innovation," he said.

Novell is keen to position itself as a company able to offer a complete alternative to Microsoft from the client to the server, something that other Linux vendors such as Red Hat are currently shying away from. Novell claims to have increased its independent software vendor (ISV) and partner base by around 92 percent since its previous quarter.

Messman added that Novell is the only company offering support for third-party open source products such as the JBoss application server.

But despite vociferous support for everything open-source -- which included Messman running the graphics for his keynote speech off a Linux machine -- Novell admits that it will continue to support Windows for the foreseeable future.

"With a 94 percent market share we are not going to abandon Windows, that would be foolhardy -- but we do think the market will abandon Windows at some point. We will maintain a commitment to the Windows environment for as long as customers want us to," said Novell's chief technology officer Alan F. Nugent.

Novell made several partner and product announcements at the first day of the BrainShare conference including a partnership with German software maker Software AG to accelerate the adoption of Linux in the XML database software market.

Under the agreement, Software AG and Novell will jointly develop a database product based around on Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 and the German firm's Tamino XML Server and EntireX Mediator.

Novell also announced a deal with server and software company Bull to offer SuSE Linux Enterprise 9 on its whole range of servers including EXPRESS5800 and NovaScale Blade servers.

Another partnership sees Novell working alongside German e-commerce specialist Intershop to encourage online retailers to port their operations onto Linux. Under the agreement, Intershop will port its Enfinity e-commerce software suite to Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.