Message to the Novell executive who signed the agreement with Microsoft

Message to the Novell executive who signed the agreement with Microsoft


Novell recently signed an agreement with Microsoft. From the press release:

Under the patent agreement, both companies will make up-front payments in exchange for a release from any potential liability for use of each others patented intellectual property, with a net balancing payment from Microsoft to Novell reflecting the larger applicable volume of Microsoft’s product shipments. Novell will also make running royalty payments based on a percentage of its revenues from open source products.

A day later, Ballmer came out with this statement:

The distributors of other versions of Linux cannot assure their customers that Microsoft won't sue for patent infringement. "If a customer says, 'Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work?' Essentially, If you're using non-SUSE Linux, then I'd say the answer is yes," Ballmer said.

I guess I should be angry at Novell. However, I realise that companies are actually just people doing their jobs. This is why I strongly think that the Novell Manager who dealt with the agreement with Microsoft should be sacked. Novel should do so as soon as physically possible - every day makes it worse.

I will call this not-so-bright manager "John".

I used to have respect for Novell. I was always a little unsure about them, but their fight against SCO showed Novell's good side. Then, I guess John came along, and thought in his ignorance that he was doing something good, and compromised Novell possibly beyond repair.

John, listen carefully: Microsoft doesn't make a deal with anybody - and I mean anybody - unless the final goal is to send the other party bankrupt; Microsoft will scheme, have "secret plans", misuse whatever power or technology you provide them, and eventually crush you. If you don't believe me, please allow me to refresh your memory - or maybe just tell you the story straight out. Since I can't possibly list every single fishy episode, I will just pick a few.

1990

Microsoft signed a contract with IBM: they will never ever be able to release their own operating system; and due to this, they will be able to "share resources" with IBM in order to release OS/2. Microsoft then releases Windows 3.0. They call it an "Operating Environment". The contract was disputed over the meaning of the term "operating system". IBM didn't fight very well, and they lost. Microsoft walked away with a lot of IBM's code, sold it as "Windows", and made tons of money.

1995

Spyglass develops Spyglass Mosaic, a fantastic internet browser; to do so, Spyglass licenses NCSA's source code, but never used it.

Microsoft needed a browser. So, they licensed Spyglass' code, with this arrangement: Spyglass will get a small quarterly fee, and a portion of the revenues for IE's sale.

The contract didn't talk about a minimum price set for Internet Explorer.

Microsoft gave away Internet Explorer for free -- they obviously worked out that a small percentage of zero is zero.

Eventually, Microsoft and Spyglass made up. I am sure Spyglass hoped for a much better return.Microsoft never mentions Spyglass in their page about Internet Explorer's history. Nice one.

2003

Sendo teams up with Microsoft. Microsoft apparently bought 10% of Sendo, and then walked away with Sendo's customers and technology. From the court's proceedings:

"Sendo alleges that Microsoft, which invested $12 million in the handset firm for a minority stake of about 10 percent, was struggling to break into the wireless industry, and that the software firm "recognized Sendo had the technology and experience it lacked to quickly penetrate this lucrative new market. As such, Microsoft set about through a secret plan ('The Secret Plan') to obtain that technology and know-how from Sendo with the false promises that Microsoft would co-develop, help finance, and the be the 'go to market' partner for Sendo's 2.5G Smartphone, the Z100."

For more information, you can read this article and this other article.

Dear John, do you see a pattern?

John, the list can go on, and on, and on, and on.

In every single case, you'll see this story repeated:

  • a company is convinced by Microsoft that they are offering a once in a lifetime deal;
  • the whole world pays for the mistakee;
  • the "single company" goes bankrupt

So, John, I am sure you had the best of intentions, but please, please just go away. If I were Novell's boss, I would sack you in no time and would try to get the contract cancelled. If you are indeed Novell's boss, congratulations: you are about to disappear, and we will need to work hard and pick up the pieces.

Free Software Magazine's readers: please contribute to this page with more of Microsoft's exploits, especially those ones where a well-meaning company is pushed out of existence by Microsoft's tactics.

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Comments

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

It's all for the good of their "customers" and their "shareholders" ... isn't it ?
At least that's what their smiling faces suggested.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Jorge Ruiz de Santayana, known in the US during his stint at UCLA (or was it Stanford?), as George Santayana.

Glad you remember.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Let's call Manager 'X' "Nat".

Having met that particular Manager X at a GNOME developer conference once this is not so surprising. Manager X spent time telling people how much money he personally made off the Ximian sale to Novell. While this was a hackers conference, he offered a slick marketing presentation on Ximian and the Sun Java Desktop and why every GNOME hacker should care first about how to make Ximian more successful, for that (and his personal fortunes) he told us was the definition of the success of GNOME as a project. Otherwise he showed contempt for everyone involved for the rest of the conference, including GNOME hackers, the sponsoring organization, and especially for Mr. Stallman, who also attended that particular GNOME developer's conference.

Tony Mobily's picture

Hello,

It's a pity you posted as anonymous. I would like to interview you, if possible.
This will require you tell me exactly who you are. However, your identity will be kept private to our readers and anybody else.

Get in touch with me if you like. Thanks.

Merc.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Hi, I'm Nat Friedman.

The statements made about me in this anonymous comment are not true. I have never marketed Sun Java Desktop nor Ximian at a GNOME developer conference. I don't think I've ever marketed the Sun Java Desktop at all, in fact :-). And I have nothing but respect and gratitude for all the fantastic work that's been done by free software developers around the world.

If you'd like to talk to me about this directly instead of anonymous disparaging my name on this bulleting board, please feel free to email me at nat@nat.org.

Jeremy Turner's picture

Microsoft had an agreement with Creative, and they now have their own music player in direct competition.

"After a period of "love and friendship", Novell will probably have the same fate other partners of Microsoft had in the past. Zune is one example: from former ally, Creative turned to rival, while MTV has its days numbered with its URGE joint venture, since MS launched a separate music download service for its MP3."

- from http://www.playfuls.com/news_05038_The_Sweet_Kiss_of_Death_for_the_Penguin_Chameleon_From_Microsoft.html

Never trust Microsoft?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

See this link for a list of Microsoft's many acquisitions.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Just as Suse was starting to give MS a run for their money and the pressure of the movement to OpenDocument Format has MS scrambeling like crazy, what a horrible deal with such bad timing by Novell.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

My first reaction is that this was a move against Red Hat and an attempt to keep the Linux market fragmented and I wondered why they didn't promote Ubuntu but then I heard that Novell had some ammo against MS. I think a lot of us would like to see Novell burn for this but it's hard to guess how this will work out. They can't possibly think Microsoft has good intentions.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Microsoft announced its 'Advanced Server' back in the very early 1990s and that 'MS might not support Netware' in its next release of DOS. Novell's reaction was to buy DRI in order to be able to supply DR-DOS 6 as the client OS when MS DOS blocked Netware.

MS and Novell then made an agreement that Novell would not actively market DR-DOS and would not include bundled DR-DOS licences with Netware and MS would continue to supply Netware clients with MS-DOS. Effectively this killed DR-DOS and NW-DOS, and all the other DRI products.

MS then released a version of Advanced Server that would do connection sharing so that 100 users could access a 25 user Netware licence via shared connections. Potentially this reduced Novell's revenue by 75%.

You'd think Novell has learnt.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Remember the GEO os, and what happen to Corel. Oh and Netscape, DR-DOS,and that compression drive format. I see HD-DVD is sponsored by M$ too. Is everyone blind to what M$ is doing?
THis Posted by Me Kevin Power Watford Ontario CANADA

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

then why trust them.
bad move for novell

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

lets not forget the eolas debacle
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1895907,00.asp

and there's always stac
http://www.vaxxine.com/lawyers/articles/stac.html

how about embracing and extending symantec?
http://news.soft32.com/microsoft-sued-by-symantec_1484.html

or another?
http://www.theregister.co.uk/1998/08/20/microsoft_sued_by_yet_another/

Then shit goes on and on. Novell isn't going to be any different.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Recall Sybase cut a deal with Microsoft-- the deal, among
other things, involved a joint effort to port Sybase's
SQL Server to the Win32 platform. In the deal MS obtained
rights to the ported code. The next thing you know, MS SQL Server
comes out and Sybase is told to drop dead.

If they could fix Win32 security exploits as shrewdly as
they negotiate joint business deals, black hat hackers would
be extinct.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Sad that Novell and the SuSE Linux are going to disappear ;-(
I was just getting used to them...

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Remember the Sega Dreamcast? Microsoft sure does. Microsoft made a deal a long time ago with Sega to create the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast would run on Windows CE and Microsoft would help it to be successful.

The Dreamcast came out too early and it bombed. Sega pulled completely out of the console market, relegating themselves to just being a game publisher. Then along came the X-Box.

Do you have an old Dreamcast laying around? I do. If you do too, take a look at the controller. What do you see. That's right, it looks almost exactly like the X-Box controller, right down to the button configuration and button color scheme. And of course, the X-Box also runs on Windows.

So, Microsoft partnered with Sega and learned all of their console gaming technology, using the Dreamcast both as something to learn from and as something to test their theories on, and then they helped Sega bring it to market too early so it would fail. When it inevitably did, they took everything they learned and made their own console system.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

If you want to live in the past you will believe what is said. If you want to live influenced by the past, you will live sucessfully without the mistakes of the past. I would venture to say this "relationship" and that's about all we can call it, is INFORMED by the past and those mistakes will not happen, however, one cannot predict the future especially if they live in the past.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

well...if they cared what thought about the deal, they would probably have asked you already wouldn't they? Get over it jimbo...

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Nobody here to tell what happened to Borland/Inprise/Borland?

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Microsoft could steal the code regardless of the Novell deal since Linux is open source they don't need the deal in order to steal it :P

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

It is funny that no matter who is running Novell, and there have been quite a few since the days of Ray Noorda, they have always been able to snatch defeat from the 'jaws of victory'.

Engineering-wise, Novell was always brilliant, but management-wise they always take the wrong choice, as examples, ferret - 3D browser, circa early 90's, internal Linux team circa early 90's and WordPerfect buy-out to get into a pissing contest with Bill, when they should have concentrated on Web and HTTP, serving up files which NetWare did very well and efficiently.

As for the decision to drop development of tools in approx 94 resulting in half-measures for a 'C' debugger, you'd wonder what kool-aid they were drinking.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

another set of fools who trusted Microsoft when they did a technology swap deal...

http://speechtechmag.onlineinc.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=29495

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Tony Mobily's picture

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Tony is the founder and the Editor In Chief of Free Software Magazine