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Novell Gets $348 Million From Microsoft 308

An anonymous reader writes, "Novell has published additional details about its agreements with Microsoft concerning Windows and Linux interoperability and patents. It seems the company is receiving an up-front payment of $348 million from Microsoft, for SLES subscription certificates and for patent cross-licensing. Microsoft will make an upfront payment to Novell of $240 million for SLES subscription 'certificates' that Microsoft can use, resell, or distribute over the term of the agreement. Regarding the patent cooperation agreement, Microsoft will make an up-front net payment to Novell of $108 million, and Novell will make ongoing payments totaling at least $40 million over five years to Microsoft."
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Novell Gets $348 Million From Microsoft

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  • ibm and redhat? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:30AM (#16763225)
    i don't know anything about law but now that SCO v. IBM is winding down, and many think SCO will lose big, won't IBM and RedHat do something? I'm guessing copyright infringement was the first salvo against Linux and the next attack will be patent based. I've heard IBM has a huge software patent portfolio...wouldn't RedHat and IBM do something similar to the Microsoft/Novell deal? Unless their current involvement in the SCO lawsuit forces them to stay quiet until the case is over. If it's true that Microsoft funded part of SCO v. IBM then this does seem like their next method of attack in Microsoft's war on Linux.
  • by arthurpaliden ( 939626 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:36AM (#16763275)

    Read the press release, it is not a patent deal, that would put them in violation of the GPL. Instead it is a conenant not to sue.

    So if I understand correctly. Microsoft is admitting that their software violates some of Novell's patents.

    However, instead of protecting themselves and their customers by doing a cross licensing deal with Novell, Microsoft is keeping themselves and their customers at risk by entering into a non binding revocable 'covenant ' instead.

    I wonder how well this will sit Microsoft's shareholders knowing that this risk exists and it is not being addressed permanently when such an option exists.

  • My bet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:39AM (#16763305) Journal
    that this includes a deal to not persue much further the SCO case. While the feds may go after MS for their involvement with the shady deal with SCO, this is probably an early payoff to Novell to drop it. I just wonder if this allows Novell to go after Sun or did MS protect them as well?
  • by Salvance ( 1014001 ) * on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:40AM (#16763311) Homepage Journal
    Great point!

    My fear was more on the standard distros including too much MS code that may have security issues. You are right that enterprises could just pick and choose what they want ... but many smaller shops (and definitely home users) just install the basic distro without much customization.

    Is a Linux kernel with MS shims and apps better than MS by itself? Probably ... and your take on "MS Linux" being more interoperable is certainly attractive ...
  • by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:44AM (#16763333) Homepage Journal
    Remember when Microsoft gave Apple $3XXM, and the Mac Vs. Windows lawsuits were settled? Chances are that Microsoft is now doing the same with Novell, and Novell still owns some patents for Unix that it did not sell to SCO, and Novell was a major player in the IBM vs. SCO lawsuit. Microsoft is just trying to CYA itself, because obviously Vista infringes on some Unix/Linux patents. This is just a way of Microsoft saying to Novell, we'll give you some money to save your company, like we did to Apple, if you promise not to sue us.

    I wonder if there will be a SuSE version of MS-Office, like the OSX version of MS-Office created out of the Microsoft-Apple deal?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:46AM (#16763363)
    Novell is in huge financial trouble. If you read the article, they are trying to negotiate with their major debtors to come to an agreement and continue payments. Wells Fargo and Citibank are calling two of their major loans out against Novell. Also note the rumors of layoffs, investigating other financial mishaps, and the late filings of their earnings. This is what causes many companies to start heading down the tubes. The whole Microsoft agreement is essentially Microsoft cashing in on Novell after they made some financial mistakes and need someone to bail them out of it. Just watch as Microsoft ends up having major influence in the direction of Novell. This isn't a bad thing though. It means there will still be two main players in the Linux Business market. It's Microsoft's way of also creating some feirce competition against Redhat. Not to mention Oracle has their sites on Redhat and are taking shots at them. The whole support agreement with Oracle deal is meant to take out Redhat's major market. With that and a soon to be beefed up financial stability of Novell and push for SLES, Redhat will had some hard roads to go through. It's no surprise that MS sided with Novell when they saw Oracle make their move against Redhat. Interesting times in major Linux vendors are ahead. It should be interesting to see how it all turns out.
  • Embrace and Extend (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr Bubble ( 14652 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:48AM (#16763379)
    Maybe Microsoft thinks that they can gain a significant share of enterprise Linux installations with a distribution they control. Then, they will do their classic embrace and extend to use the leverage to their advantage.

    Microsoft knows that no one ever got fired for buying IBM of Microsoft. IBM is pushing Linux and that doesn't help Microsoft. By providing a Microsoft-approved Linux, they can get a slice of the pie and out themselves into a position to do to Linux what they have tried to do with every other standard technology - embrace and extend it.
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @01:06AM (#16763525) Homepage Journal
    I read the form 8K on Edgar. Don't count on press releases.

    The companies are paying each other for covenants not to sue. It's there in black and white. I don't see that this is any different from a license, and I don't see that a judge would be swayed that a covenant in this context is any different from a license.

    It still sounds like a GPL violation to me. Now, we have to watch what FSF does. They own the C library that literally every program on Novell Linux uses. They have a reasonably strong case to enjoin Novell from distributing it, which would kill SuSE entirely. They have Red Hat to pay for the lawsuit.


  • Nope (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrcparker ( 469158 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @01:12AM (#16763565)
    Novell gets to scare people out of Red Hat, and Microsoft only has to compete with Novell in the future.

    Sure, Novell claims that the patent issue is not an important part of the deal, but I bet they use it as a selling point.
  • NTFS support (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @01:13AM (#16763575)
    Does this mean someones finally going to get NTFS working in linux?
    Because that's the first thing I'd do if I had $348 million to get more people to use linux...
  • That's something I've seen NOTHING about from Novell since the Microsoft merger, I mean deal.

    I've been wondering if the deal is intended to basically, persuade Novell that it doesn't need to be in the desktop space and to slow down the R&D in the desktop area. Perhaps MS actually got nervous when all the articles came out calling SLED10 the "Vista-killer"?

    Having reviewed two desktop distros (Lin/freespire and SLED10) for publication lately and I'm working on getting FC6 running (for review? Don't know yet, I'm getting VMware running on it at this point), I'd say that if the driver issue can be dealt with (preferably in a way that doesn't benefit Novell), the next rev of almost any Linux desktop distro will be ready for the unsupported home user assuming the OS is pre-installed by the computer builder. Linux desktops are generally ready for any company that can provide in-house support, but that was true last year.

    While Fedora Core has the reputation of being more difficult, one can run one script (Fedora Frog) and install practically all the hard stuff in a couple of hours, starting with multimedia. Note that of the two hours or so, you need to spend about 5 minutes around the computer. Similar scripts are available for other distros. (note: yes, Frog works in FC6, with minor glitches)
  • What's up with all the itsatrap tags today, anyway? Does someone think it's funny?
  • by Callaway ( 842055 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @01:58AM (#16763855)
    Indeed it is worth 10x as much. But then you have to factor in an extra compensation package for CEO, CFO, CIO, and any other C*O in the company totaling a measly $81 million dollars as a way of saying thanks for putting the Microsoft deal together.
  • OIN? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:11AM (#16763909)
    Novell is a member of the Open Invention Network []. A patent collective that is used to defend certain open source projects (if you sue project X or used of project X for patent infringement than they sue you). Afiak OIN is the reason that mono was included in fedora, because they were able to use it to defend against Microsoft patents.

    Thus if Microsoft sues someone for using one of those protected open source projects than OIN sues back.

    This brings up two interesting questions. First, since Novell is a member of OIN would they be considered partial owners of these patents and thus in violation of this agreement if OIN sues MS? (I suspect not).

    Second. What are the state of OIN's current patents? From the site it looks like OIN itself owns the patents (so they shouldn't lose any defensive power) but my strong suspicion is that Novell wouldn't be allowed to transfer any new patents to OIN since they could be potentially be used to sue MS (and thus in violation of this agreement).

    Does anyone know more about these issues and how this agreement might affect OIN?
  • by Laven ( 102436 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:13AM (#16763925)
    Excerps from my blog post [] of November 3rd, the day that Novell sold their soul and betrayed the community for a little short-term safety.

    As long as I work on the Fedora Project, Fedora will never compromise on the essential liberties of FOSS nor will it betray the community. But the price of liberty is not free, nor is it comfortable. And unfortunately, some "leaders" of our community [] are willing to compromise liberty for short-term convenience. I am disgusted by people like this [], and by Novell's betrayal of the community today.

    Novell has effectively traded Long-Term Liberty for Short-Term Safety.

    Red Hat supports causes that matter like providing the original seed money for Creative Commons []. Or being a key partner in the anti-software patent movement [] during the miraculous last-minute turnaround at the European Parliament last year. I am proud to be part of an organization that demonstrates such moral and ethical commitment.

    But ultimately, Red Hat cannot change the world alone. That is why the Fedora Project exists. We want to enable the community to work together to improve FOSS at a rapid pace, in partnership with the large and consistent contributions from our engineers. We strongly believe that this is the most effective way for the entire FOSS movement to advance. Yes, we made some big mistakes in our community relationship earlier, but we are learning, and continue to improve at an ever accelerating pace.

    For these reasons that I urge the FOSS community to support the Fedora Project through volunteer contributions of time and effort. Or if you lack time to contribute, please consider monetary donations toward any of the shared causes that we are fighting for. []
    Please read more in the original version in this blog entry.

    Warren Togami
    Founder, Fedora Project
    Software Engineer, Red Hat, Inc.

  • by Kerhop ( 652872 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @03:03AM (#16764211)
    Microsoft pays Novell $240 million and another $108 million for a total of $348 million. Novell pays Microsoft back $40+ million, so Microsoft is really only paying $308 million.
  • by f8l_0e ( 775982 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @04:27AM (#16764623)
    Microsoft is not directly targeting Linux, but rather apps/utilities that might persuade users from switching to it. There are two things that Novell has that Microsoft would want to bury or pollute. Evolution and Xgl. Decent email/collaboration/task management software could help corporate users break away from Outlook; and Xgl makes Aeroglass effects possible on modest hardware. I have a feeling that we'll see these two projects either stagnate (from Novell's end), or newly added features might find themselves getting non GPL code in them. I suggest forking the code on both now.
  • by jchenx ( 267053 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @06:00AM (#16765063) Journal
    And why aren't these instructions on the wiki? because giving someone instructions to put into a console is much more concise, simple, and much more difficult to screw up than guiding them through a GUI.
    Again, you still don't get it. That type of attitude is precisely why a lot folks still shy away from Linux. They don't want to be told to do X, and not understand why it is that they're doing it. Most people would prefer to figure out the answer themselves. For most regular users, that means playing around with the GUI and hoping that the right button clicks solve their problem.

    My wife hates it when I debug her computer problems just by telling her to do X, and don't explain why. The sense of being looked down-upon is what most people hate to feel. That's why she will rarely ever come to me for computer help, until she absolutely needs it. Or worse yet, she'll just give up on it entirely. You'd be surprised how common an attitude that is with many users.

    As someone who specialized in Usability for my Master's, I can honestly say that it would help tremendously if all software engineers were forced to watch usability studies involving normal computer users interacting with software. Or better yet, participating in such studies and/or tutoring such folks. You will quickly realize how attitudes like yours need to change, lest you continue to alienate people even more and send them running to easier-to-use (but less secure/powerful/etc.) alternatives.

  • by ookaze ( 227977 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @06:03AM (#16765081) Homepage
    It couldn't possibly have anything to do that virtually every common OS besides Windows IS a *nix variant?

    Perhaps. There are still no effort on interoperability on Windows.

    I decided, after 10 years on a Microsoft operating system I would dual boot XP Pro and a generic install of Ubuntu

    Why ? So you never used Linux before (at least, not in the 10 last years), point taken.

    Reinstalled XP Pro in about 40 minutes, including time spent downloading and installing drivers

    Must be a pretty streamlined process then, which betrays the fact that contrary to what you claim, you reinstalled your WinXP several time already.

    To get Ubuntu to install on my machine, I had to manually edit a config file to get the screen to display correctly, but could only do so *after* the Ubuntu installer crashed (like, duh?)

    Which is a complete lie. If you could edit a config file, that means Ubuntu was already installed. If the installer crashed, then it means one of two things :
    - You don't understand what you're doing, thought it crashed and rebooted the machine
    - It really crashed, but still managed to install the OS

    I found this out after digging through Ubuntu forum posts for about an hour (there was nothing in the Wiki related to this). I like the idea of moving to open source software, but the reality is it is not as universal or simple as Windows

    You never showed anything to assert this. You talked about installation issues, which do not show anything about Windows being simpler.
    Windows is not universal either, it works on x86 and limps on x86_64.
    And then, I'm sorry to have to tell you that once you have installed your WinXP, you still need the antivirus, antispyware, ... which are NOT simple things.
    So Windows is still harder and not universal.

    XP crashes for me (in the last 4 years of using it) have been rare, and when it is it is usually a memory leak from a particular application, not XP itself

    A memory leak should not crash an OS. Anyway, none of this has anything to do with interoperability.

    So far, every machine I've installed Linux on I've had serious compatibility issues in every case. I'm not trying to install Linux on my alarm clock here, these are every day, very common PC parts. I've yet to have a smooth Linux installation. It's simply not for mom and pop yet.
  • by mgblst ( 80109 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @07:38AM (#16765525) Homepage
    And you know, slashdot is only one person, not a group of people.

    I really enjoy when morons talk about Slasdhot as though it were a single entity, rather than a group of distinct people, with different opinions, and different viewing habits. Some people check slashdot every hour at work, some once a week. Some people have a great sense of humour and some don't. Some are just plain annoying.

    As to you final statement, every studies logic? Do you have any evidence to suggest that these are the same bunch of people, or are you just grouping all slashdotters together again, because it makes things easy.
  • Opposite experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @08:15AM (#16765717) Homepage
    The current machine I'm typing on, Celeron 1.4Ghz (P3 family) ABIT MoBo with BX chipset, Voodoo 3 Graphics card.

    Linux has always "just installed" on it. (First install on it was SuSE 8.0, upgrade several times up to openSUSE 10.1 ... I should consider the status of the Novell/MS deal before going beyond 10.2 ...)

    Windows is a another story. At the begining the machine was my brother's (still a teenager at that time). I managed to install him Windows XP, after several weeks fiddling with BIOS settings trying to find that peculiar configuration on which the installer of Windows XP SP1 won't b0rk. Got windows running for a couple of months. Then a massive Windows crash fucked up the installation beyond any hope. Tried to find again 'that magic BIOS configuration' that allows the installer to run (Was it compatibility problems with ACPI ? Something else ?). I just gave up. My brother preferred to try using Linux until he upgraded to a newer machine better supported by Windows. (As a side note, once I did the initial installation / configuration of Linux, he managed to do well. Granted a tennager may be more apt to adapt himself to a new OS than the average Aunt-Tillie...)

    When this machine became mine, I never bottered to try to install Windows again, and it has swallowed without complain all the Linux upgrades.

    The next machine my brother had was a Athlon 64, K8T mobo, with 1 Go DDR, Radeon 9600XT I bought and assembled for Christmas. Athlon 64 were a very recent newcomer on the swiss market back then (we even had problems of shortages).
    Linux installation was almost a kind of "put the CD in the drive and click 'Ok'" simplicity, even if the AMD64 version of SuSE 8.2 that I had in my posession was supposed to be experimental. Mostly no other complaint as of today (just having some problems to get AIGLX and Beryl working nice).

    On the other hand, Windows SP1 installer kept b0rking. I took several month, a few BIOS upgrades (not searching for an update. waiting for a new release from the manufacturer) and then a newer Catalyst (same stuff : had to wait for a few new releases) before we had a stable Windows installation that would accept the whole 1Go RAM and not showing massive graphical corruption. And that with a plain 32-bit version. (I gave a few tries with Windows XP 64 in the begining but that wasn't a success either).
    In the meantime my brother had once again to use linux.
    The same difficulty installing Windows XP on Athlon 64 was experienced by several friends who were early adopter to jump into the 64 bits wagon. Even as of today, Windows can't boot correctly with 3Go RAM, the third DIMM rests usually out of the computer unless I need to borrow the computer to do some scientific calculation under Linux.

    This two detailled examples and numerous other situations are the reason I *CAN'T* honestly consider the experience of installing Windows XP 'stellar'.

    And Linux installation, on the other hand, has regulary proved to be very felxible, with possibility to install over network and even over internet (no need to have original media), to install on headless servers (SSH is my friend), etc... which is either hard or impossible to replicate with Windows.
  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:11PM (#16769119) Homepage Journal
    Is there an example of an industry where this has worked as a strategy.

    It's called FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt [].

    This is a pretty classic example, actually; comment's like Ballmer's (yesterday), which hinted that people who used a non-Novell Linux would be sued, are its hallmarks. They're not tangible threats, and thus they're not things that can easily be defended against or refuted. They just serve to make the people in decision-making positions uneasy, and thus lead them down the path of least resistance. It's basically an attempt to make a smaller competitor look like an 'unknown quantity' in comparison to a well-known offering by a big-name company.

    Many people consider the first instance of "FUD" in the IT world to have been by IBM against Amdahl during the mainframe wars (this is mentioned in the WP article above), but as a business tactic I'm sure you could find lots more historical examples. (Things that come to mind -- early automotive manufacturers prior to the resolution of the Selden patent, various 19th century 'railroad wars'.)

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