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November 2, 2006

Microsoft Warms to Linux, Makes News with Vista

Microsoft made news on several fronts recently.  Some of it was expected and some of it is startling.  The expected news is that Vista for Enterprise will be released on November 30th along with Office 2007 for business customers.  The consumer versions are still scheduled for some time in January.

The more startling news is that Microsoft has signed an agreement with Novel to work with that company to make its brand of Linux work with Windows Server.  This comes after the years of vilification over Linux in comments by top Microsoft executives.  Claims were made that Return-On-Investment was higher with Windows, that Windows was more reliable, and with case studies trumpeting Microsoft-friendly scenarios.  That didn't stop customers from adopting Linux, however.

If Microsoft didn't find Linux religion, it at least found reality in that Linux wasn't going to go away any time soon, especially with Oracle getting into the business.  Now Microsoft gets a toehold in the Linux environment with a partner who isn't completely hostile to it, and perhaps blunting Oracle's business push somewhat.  The CEOs of both companies, Steve Ballmer and Ron Hovsepian, were on hand to announce the deal which include Microsoft recommending Novel to customers wanting to run Linux; an agreement not to sue each other's customers over patent infringement; and a joint research facility that will help customers work on integration strategies with Lunix, Windows Server, Office, and Open Office. 

Nonetheless, Steve Ballmer made clear that the two companies were competitors despite the agreement.  Europe will likely look favorably on the deal as server interoperability is the big issue in competition concerns there.  While this move may not solve Microsoft's antitrust problems with the European Commission, it shows some acknowledgment that not everyone wants the complete wall to wall Windows experience.  Of course, Microsoft has a habit of announcing deals that signal a new attitude in dealing with customers and competitors on one hand and executing them in the same heavy-handed way in which the company has always operated.  We'll see if this is the same or not in due time.

Somewhere in between expect and startling is the news that Microsoft has bowed to pressure and changed its Vista licensing agreement on the transferability of licenses between machines.  The first terms to come to light limited the transfer from one machine to one other.  Most consumers wouldn't be affected by this as the OS is tied to pre-configured machines from Dell, HP, and others.  Still, these terms drew immediate criticism from individuals who build and upgrade their machines on a regular basis.  Microsoft now allows multiple transfers of the OS provided it is not shared between existing devices.  In other words, one license per one working machine. 

Oh, and while we're on the subject of expected news, IE7 is now being pushed out as a critical update via Windows update.  I tried to get it for one of my machines (which I built myself) and the update did not go as planned.  In fact, I now have to reinstall Windows on that machine to clear up the problem.  Good thing the XP operating system license allows me to do this, and good thing that the Vista licensing will continue this policy.

November 2, 2006 | Permalink

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