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12.04.08

How Novell and Microsoft Cooperate Behind the Scenes

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Servers, SLES/SLED at 10:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft is paying companies — in the form of discounts — in order to give the illusion that everyone respects Microsoft’s argument that Linux infringes on Microsoft IPR and that software patents are universally scary. This payment is akin to those OOXML briberies where Microsoft offered money to partners in return for support. Novell was paid as well, for a variety of things, including IPR FUD and OOXML support.

Digging a Little Deeper…

THIS is rather rare and it is very hard to find truly investigative journalism. Yes, investigative journalism, as opposed to those who are just echoing press releases and phonecalls/E-mails from companies’ PR departments (or hired peripheral agencies), whose goal is to force-feed journalists with disinformation and hyped-up ‘infoggerations’.

One fine example of investigative journalism is, sadly enough, also overly restrained. Consider this example of Microsoft machinations. It is one which only reaches the light of day in the blog of a journalist, but not in actual articles that receive wider exposure. This was the story behind a more nominal story.

About Today’s Story…

Today, we wish to present a story that is hidden behind another story, which is equally interesting. It is the story behind Microsoft/Novell coupon deals. It is a story the companies will not tell you about (and neither will journalists, who are deliberately kept in the dark). As some background, consider this item which explains how Novell uses GNU/Linux FUD to market itself.

“The voices behind the scenes need to be heard too and this site seems like a good venue for this.”Let’s look at the anatomy of a Novell/Microsoft coupon deal, shall we? It is a well-coordinated marketing plot, which is described by a leak we have just received from an anonymous concerned witness. The voices behind the scenes need to be heard too and this site seems like a good venue for this.

The source tells us that the events were observed a long time ago, so there is no danger of the company’s identity being known (never mind identifying the source of this leak). In fact, after Novell sealed deals with dozens of companies large and small, it would be impossible to say which is which. Let’s call it $Company from here onwards, as though it’s a parameter.

Here’s How It Works…

SLES/SLED vouchers (yes, that’s essentially GNU/Linux support/patent ‘licences’) were offered to $Company by Microsoft. Mind the fact that it’s Microsoft, not Novell. We have said and seen this before, but it’s worth hearing from a bystander or eyewitness. This confirms the fact that it’s in Microsoft’s interests to have companies ($Company in this case) ‘hooked’ on a GNU/Linux distribution which Microsoft gets paid for. Also, by later announcing this, Microsoft uses $Company’s credentials as some sort of implicit acknowledgment that patent ‘protection’ is needed for GNU/Linux deployments. It’s precedence that builds expectations.

What was interesting and revealing about Microsoft’s approach is how it came about, though. The deal offered sported a massive discount in SLES/SLED support from Novell for every voucher. In other words, to Microsoft, successfully promoting a ‘Microsoft tax’-encumbered GNU/Linux distribution is even worth ‘sponsoring’, probably for the reasons cited above.

The exact figures when it comes to the discount were not known, but they were very significant. We’re talking about high double-digit figures (%-wise). This reduction in support charges per voucher is so significant that it makes one wonder if Novell and Microsoft are interested in getting people ‘addicted’ to (maybe even stuck with) SUSE more than they are interested in actually making money, at least in the short term. Remember those infamous Windows-only, SuSE-only “interoperability” hooks and shims.

“Remember those infamous Windows-only, SuSE-only “interoperability” hooks and shims.”Depending on the size of the company at hand (never mind the size of $Company), significant amounts of money can be seen as savings. If you are a small business looking for a GNU/Linux server, then you’re looking at some nice savings that cannot be ignored. Medium-sized deployments can probably even help create new jobs by saving so much money. For large companies, this is highly significant. If you look at hundreds of thousands of instances (let’s say Google, which has about a million, according to analysts), this type of saving may reach several $billions. Google uses Red Hat and Debian by the way, for all I can tell based on readings and past interviews with them, but they rarely require outside support.

Whatever the number may be, the discounts are very significant. It begins to look very compelling from a straight commercial perspective.

More interesting is another curious fact: Microsoft is apparently offering companies seats on the board of the “interoperability” committee run between Novell and Microsoft. Small customers need not apply, but we have already seen some interesting inclusions in all sorts of “interoperability” labs. This seems like part of the “interoperability” buzzword stunt.

If you thought that was bad enough, then wait. There is more. It is a requirement of the offer that a press release is issued to announce deals. The press release needs to be a joint statement, which means that $Company gets to say what it wanted, but Microsoft would get to say what they wanted, i.e. $Company would have no control over the statement that it is willing to make. It is natural to assume, based on previous press releases, that Microsoft wants to inject its “patent” and “intellectual property” poison (FUD) into the press release.

It has generally been accepted that the “intellectual property” argument from Microsoft is false, but one cannot get the discount without Microsoft getting something back. In other words, Microsoft gives discounts in return for “intellectual property” FUD against GNU/Linux. It’s using SUSE to achieve this.

All the Pieces Come Together

These joint press releases are something that has not escaped my attention (and Shane’s). But now we know how the plot works. The same goes for OEM 'recommendations' of Vista; even obvious things require solid proof.

What remains more of a mystery is how Microsoft approaches GNU/Linux distributors and gets them to surrender. Turobolinux’s fall, for example, was gradual. It first accepted OOXML servitude and later it swallowed a patent pill even though it knew that it would not be grandfathered by GPLv3, unlike Novell. We have heard some stories from Jeremy Allison about how Microsoft fools Linux companies, but each and every situation is probably different and unique.

One must wonder not only why/when/how Turobolinux, Xandros, and Linspire surrendered (and received money to do so as well), but also how Microsoft approaches companies like Red Hat, Canonical, and Mandriva. We have found some stories about this game of mating and wooing, which luckily never materialised, i.e. so-called ‘raping’ efforts have been unfruitful to Microsoft.

In Summary

This is very significant. We have already seen the threats and arm-twisting Microsoft is pulling against large corporations to make them buy “we-won’t-sue” vouchers. What a racket. The tactics needed to get publicised. And now they are, so they can be cross-referenced. This carries the untold element of this branch of stories.

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9 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 5, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Gravatar

    So, Novell is then contributing to the insecurity and economic downfall of many nations. MS is giving us these:

    http://securityvulns.com/Udocument888.html

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=2232

    So, by spreading M$ technology, Novell will also be spreading the technology of failure. The hospitals are still not cleaned up, nor are the bases. These put an inappropriate load on the staff and end up taking enormous quantities of resources away from the core missions.

    How many patients and soldiers must die before MS executives and their collaborators are taken to task? Many, such as the MSCEs, can probably get away with fines and/or community service. However, the ringleaders, Gates, Ballmer, Allchin and co, are candidates for the gas chamber.

  2. AlexH said,

    December 5, 2008 at 4:42 am

    Gravatar

    How many patients and soldiers must die before MS executives and their collaborators are taken to task? Many, such as the MSCEs, can probably get away with fines and/or community service. However, the ringleaders, Gates, Ballmer, Allchin and co, are candidates for the gas chamber.

    You can’t be serious?

  3. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 5, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Gravatar

    Hey. Sometimes bad people do bad things, deal with it. In this case it’s your zeros at&from MSFT killing both your economy and your fellow countrymen.

    In the case of hospitals:

    Downsize hospital staff by any large percentage and there will be a corresponding increase in deaths, both short term and long term, as a result in the reduced service. Do that same reduction of service instead by torpedoing the infrastructure with *known* defective, unreliable, insecure and inefficient software and the result is the same, albeit while eating more of the budget.

    Do that over time and in the face of advice and data to the contrary and you have documented that the individuals involved are going out of their way to cause harm. People that cause massive damage and death are dealt with by law and are in a bad position. Those that do it knowingly or repeatedly are in a worse position. Those that do it both knowingly and repeatedly are in a far worse position. And worst are those that do it knowingly and repeatedly and fight attempts at prevention.

    Now look at how few deaths and how little economic damage, relatively speaking, Osam bin Laden has caused compared to the zeros at&from MSFT.

    It’s not as dramatic as Bhopal, but more intentional and far more resulting deaths, suffering and costs.

  4. Josh Bell said,

    December 5, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Gravatar

    You aren’t serious are you? You have now blamed Microsoft for soliders and patients dying. That’s unbelieveable.

  5. Ian said,

    December 5, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Gravatar

    Needs Sunlight, how old are you?

  6. stevetheFLY said,

    December 5, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Gravatar

    boycottnovell.com – all the quality and respectability of USENET in one oozing package

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  7. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Gravatar

    @Josh: Depending on how you slice it the hospital administrators that make the agreement to deploy M$ could be called liable for the deaths. However, at the end of the day, they would only make that mistake as a result of the tremendous marketing and lobbying effort put on by M$.

    It’s along the same level as using melamine in food. People get sick or die who would have otherwise stayed healthy. Lots of money is lost that would have otherwise been spent on progress rather than cleanup. Why should it be any different just because it is “…with a computer” or part of a cult?

  8. AlexH said,

    December 5, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Gravatar

    Actually, it wasn’t the attempt to assign blame for death/murder that caught my attention, more the idea that gas chambers might be a solution or punishment.

  9. G. Michaels said,

    December 6, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Gravatar

    That’s the kind of quality people Roy likes to attract. Robotic consent and unbridled hatred of whatever it is he’s attacking this week.

    Works wonder for the blurb nation. See? See how many people agree with what I’m saying? I must be right!

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

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