Is Novell our Eurasia ?

Most people, I think, know that Hamlet does not say "Alas Poor Yorick, I knew him well", and Mae West never said "Come up and see me some time". When I was active in Microsoft's private trainer newsgroups, a misquote from George Orwell would come up frequently in the form "But, Thomas, we have always been at war with Eurasia" or "But we have always been at peace with Eurasia" the nearest 1984 gets to this is this in Chapter five;
"She did not remember that Oceania, four years ago, had been at war with Eastasia and at peace with Eurasia. It was true that she regarded the whole war as a sham: but apparently she had not even noticed that the name of the enemy had changed. 'I thought we'd always been at war with Eurasia' "

And in chapter nine we get this.
"On the sixth day of Hate Week... [when] the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium ... at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally."

{Side notes
1. what did we do before search engines, on-line copies of books and so on ?
2. How did I manage before IE7 made it so easy to try more than one search engine for this stuff. }

Fun though it might be to paint a picture of Microsoft as something from Orwell (it makes a change from Star Trek) give or take a little bit of Newspeak, it's not really like that. However I've been having the "We're not after all at War with Eurasia" feeling following our announcement with Novell last week. I can't quite get my head around it; yes, I get what's been announced

  1. Technical cooperation the two companies will work together to deliver new solutions to customers, in the areas of Virtualization, Web services management and Document format compatibility.
  2. Patent cooperation, both will provide patent coverage for each other’s customers, giving customers peace of mind regarding patent issues. But
  3. Business cooperation a commitment to dedicate marketing and sales resources to promote joint solutions.

In one place I read that technical coopetition was supposed to include a joint facility mid-way between Provo and Redmond. Any residents of Horseshoe Bend Idaho will be overjoyed.  We announced support for Suse Linux on virtual server in April; In July we announced support for ODF in July. Last month ECMA TC-45 announced the final draft of it's definition of Open XML (the native format for Office 2007) - and Novell have been on the that Committee. So only Web services management is news.

The patent issue is interesting because Microsoft customers should have that peace of mind already though  Microsoft Intellectual Property Indemnification. Great for Suse customers. The conspiracy theorists have been having fun debating what drove it - did Novell have some patent(s) which could hurt Microsoft and vice versa ? Are we getting behind Novell purely to be well placed to stab them in the back ? and so on. I've no idea on either.

And then there is the issue of joint solutions. When Ray Noorda ran Novell he coined the term Coopertition to describe their relationship with us. (Until checking this I hadn't heard Ray died last month; sad news). Microsoft's Kevin Turner described this as "Shake hands but keep the other hand on your wallet". Talking of shaking hands look at the photo of Steve B and Ron Hovsepian (Novell's CEO) -  who looks cheerful and who looks like they've stepped in something sticky ? 
Novell has been trying to re-invent itself since Ray's time (it's attempts to do so under Eric Schmidt were disastrous). Is this another reinvention? Or a realization that Ray's idea of coopertition was smart after all . Both companies would like 100% of a customer's business, but it doesn't always work out that way. If that's what the customer wants, lets give them the best experience of each of the technologies: and that means working together.  Obviously Novell want their Linux solution to be used rather than another flavour, and they now have the odd position of being "Microsoft's preferred Linux". Again the conspiracy theorists would like to think this is somehow designed to isolate Novell from the rest of the Open Source players, but as a "Mixed source" company maybe they're closer to us anyhow.

I'm going to be fascinated to see how this one unfolds.


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Comments (2)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Hugh drew this, and Steve Clayton talks about it on his blog . I was going to post something about it

  2. Anonymous says:

    I blogged before about Google reading peoples documents , but one of my colleagues in the US shared this

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