Microsoft and Novell: The Odd Couple

The tech news is all abuzz about the announcement that Microsoft and Novell are working together on product integration, including integration between Windows and Linux technologies.

Several people have already commented that this is a strategic move by Microsoft to combat Oracle’s Linux play, and also to somewhat blunt the threat the Linux poses to Microsoft at the desktop by playing the indemnification card.

As Mary Jo Foley points out in a couple of recent blog posts, and as a few other folks have noted, Microsoft is essentially looking to prop SuSE Linux up vs Redhat/Oracle, and make the enterprise proposition seem less viable for other Linux vendors.  (Mind you, the Oracle announcement doesn’t really indicate a partnership between Oracle and Redhat. If anything, there’s a hint of underlying hostility brewing there.  We’ll just have to see.)

Back to Microsoft.  It is definitely taking a new approach to the Linux threat, under the guise of granting customers the interoperability that they want.  But there’s more:  Microsoft now has an opportunity to gain some traction for some of its technologies, such as the .NET Framework, on Linux.   And just think of the potential benefits of improved NDS and AD interoperability for organizations.

The indemnification piece is a factor as well, because it will weigh on the minds of many CEOs and CIOs as a way to avoid costly litigation when they are knee-deep in a Linux implementation.  Will corporate execs read the fine print to make their decisions, or will they simply take the path of which seems to hold the least resistance?

No matter how you look at it, Microsoft is going to gain from this relationship.  We’ll have to see how Novell fares.

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