Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Nov 2007 17:33 UTC, submitted by WillM
In the News One year after sealing their surprise alliance, Novell and Microsoft have announced an expansion of their technical collaboration to 'link together the existing Windows and Linux frameworks'. The firms will extend their existing collaboration to focus on virtualisation, standards-based management, directory and identity federation and document format compatibility. As part of this process, Microsoft said that both companies are 'now working closely' at the Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab in Massachusetts.
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RE[4]: Good for Novell!
by mnem0 on Fri 9th Nov 2007 10:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Good for Novell!"
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For many years, Microsoft has prevented competitors from creating software that interacts with their software and the data it creates. They have embraced not only proprietary software (which I can tolerate) but also proprietary interfaces, protocols, and formats.

There is a moral argument against this, but I believe that the practical argument is much stronger. For years Microsoft has impeded your ability to get your work done by preventing competitors from delivering potentially superior drop-in replacements. This is part of a cynical market strategy that assumes that customers won't switch to competing products if it requires a disruptive infrastructure transition and a problematic data migration.

By radically lower customers' expectations of interoperability, Microsoft now receives enthusiastic praise for any amount of cooperation. That Novell had to play rotten patent games with Microsoft in order to gain highly limited cooperation on interoperability is absurd. The same offer has not been extended to Red Hat because they refuse to validate the false relationship between patents and interoperability.

Absent from this interoperability agreement is some really critical sticking points such as Exchange. Microsoft proprietized corporate email, and they just won't let go. This is an artificial barrier to competition. Undocumented protocols should be illegal in the absence of an open-source implementation. This isn't a philosophical or moral argument. It's purely practical.

If you really want to get your work done, then you should demand that Microsoft unconditionally release royalty-free specifications for its software products. Otherwise you're not getting the the quality of software you deserve, because potential competitors are being stifled. Microsoft has no right to pick and choose its competition. That's your job as a customer. Nor should Microsoft have the right to charge for the privilege of interoperability. Otherwise there is no pretense of a free market for software.

Microsoft has good products and plenty of smart developers. What are they afraid of? Why don't they want to compete unless its on their terms? Why are vendors like Novell so willing to agree to an unequal playing field? And why are people so delighted to see token cooperation from a company that has so brazenly refused to compete to the detriment of software users everywhere?

Excellent comment! I agree completely with every single point you make. I think you just described _exactly_ what the real problem is, and I'm very glad you took the time to write it down in such a clear manner.

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