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Microsoft-Novell Takes Open-Source to China 63

Bibek Paudel writes "In a move to tap the growing market of free and open source-softwares in developing economies, Microsoft and Novell have announced they were expanding their alliance into the Chinese market. Microsoft and Novell believe big enterprises in China are willing to pay to have the US firms keep hybrid systems updated and running and for assurances that there is permission to use patented software involved. The companies are marketing 'supported Linux' in which they take a fee to maintain software systems blending the open-source programs with Microsoft products such as Vista, Office, Excel and Outlook.The longtime US computer software rivals unveiled their alliance in late 2006, saying their engineers were 'building a bridge' between Microsoft's proprietary software and Novell programs based on the Linux operating system. Sunday was the first time the firms publicly targeted a specific country with their effort."
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Microsoft-Novell Takes Open-Source to China

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  • Considering how rampant software piracy has been reported to be in China, is this perhaps a sign that Microsoft is looking for a way to make a buck on that market, even if they can't sell much software per capita?
    • ^^ I thought all software in china is "open source" :)
    • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @01:24PM (#23147254) Homepage Journal
      In recent years Microsoft has been trying to cut piracy in China. For example, they've been working with the government to close down factories that produce illegal copies of boxed software. But Microsoft quite blatantly ignored the problem for many years. One theory is Microsoft was letting China get hooked on its software for free, and now that so much of their business depends on it they squeeze them for cash. I think this is just the natural next step to make sure the Chinese keep using their software and have the larger corporations there pay for it.
      • Are boxed copies being used within China or are they exported? I'd expect that most piracy within China is far more flagrant than that, for which you don't need any box.

        If anything, the Chinese will just learn whatever magic sauce the MS/Novell alliance can offer and then just do it themselves. If yo

      • by Gerzel ( 240421 )
        I think so to.

        I find it telling that MS is selling "Assurances" rather than actual software. If Chinese users don't get these assurances from MS does that by itself mean they are operating illegally?

        This strikes me to be the same kindo tactic that the RIAA has suggested in the past with people paying for the privilege to use P2P software. It is collecting money from people to make them feel safer w/o providing any actual safety nor any actual good in exchange.
    • This is equivalent to Microsoft throwing a few cases of SuSE coupons in with each freight container of surplus CRT monitors. Ultimately all of it winds up shredded and scattered in farmer's field somewhere, leaking its toxins into the ground.

      And from their point of view, better there than here.

      When they did this deal I suggested using them as wallpaper, but the labor to paper that many halls in Redmond is probably more expensive than doing it this way.

      • Ultimately all of it winds up shredded and scattered in farmer's field somewhere, leaking its toxins into the ground. And from their point of view, better there than here.Ultimately all of it winds up shredded and scattered in farmer's field somewhere, leaking its toxins into the ground. And from their point of view, better there than here.

        There's propaganda and real market value going on here. I read they were also selling them to the French Police for desktops and Renault for automotive systems, so th

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
        Actually the only toxin is the article itself. It is just a boring B$ advertising as news fluff piece, something to make the investors feel better about M$ after the very public vista disaster.

        For example "Statistics from industry-tracker IDC show that money spent on the type of paid Linux support being targeted in China increased 38.6 percent in the year after the Novell-Microsoft alliance". See it wasn't the hard work and good coding of all the Linux companies including 'Red Flag' Linux, only M$ can mak

    • For the Chinese to pay microsoft for some "compatibility assurance against potential lawsuit" type of thing would be stupid, degrading, and wasteful. It would not be much different from US citizens paying the police insurance against corrupt traffic department officials who tamper with the yellow light timing.

      The Chinese need to keep forging ahead with Red Flag Linux, along with Japan and Korea and anyone else looking to not be under the msoft-NSA official foot. If the msoft-NSA/et al foot is in China, then
  • Hmmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DaedalusHKX ( 660194 )
    I'm not sure if "being supported by giant corporations" was such a good idea for the so called "linux movement".

    Sure, easy cash was one thing, but selling out to Novell and the rest was a pretty stupid mistake. Recall the kindness of Novell when they buried one Kevin Mitnick for "looking at, and copying their source code"... yeah, that Novell.

    I have 50 bucks that say this will all be done to try to put Red Hat and the other useful groups out of business. After that, expect to see them claim that "most of
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @01:38PM (#23147498)
      Hell, after Stallman dies, I can almost guarantee that they'll buy out the entire GNU foundation or buy seats on the leadership of the GNU and steer it back into the fold.

      I'm sure Stallman would have a clause in his will that would forbid that. He would also probaly require the lawyer to refer to his last will and testament as the "GNUwill" and that his casket contain no proprietary parts. Also GPLv3 will be appended to the text on his gravestone which has to be constantly retroactively updated much to the displeasure of the person who carved it in stone for him.
    • by SEMW ( 967629 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @02:37PM (#23148486)

      I'm not sure if "being supported by giant corporations" was such a good idea for the so called "linux movement".
      The percentage of code contributions to the Linux kernel from individuals and volunteers working in their spare time is now down to 13.9%, and still falling. The vast majority of work is now done by companies (mostly Red Hat, Novell, and IBM). To quote directly from that Linux Foundation's April 2008 Kernel Development Report, "Even if one assumes that all of the 'unknown' [and untracable] contributors were working on their own time, over 70% of all kernel development is demonstrably done by developers who are being paid for their work" (source []).

      Or take distros. Look at the well-put-together and widely used distributions, and they all have one thing in common: whilst being community efforts, they are usually sponsored by or affiliated with a corporation. Ubuntu - Canonical; Fedora - Red Hat; Madriva - Mandrakesoft, etc. The only major exception I can think of is Debian.

      The fact is that without the support of corporations, following from the efforts of people like Bruce Perens to persuade companies of the benefits of following an open-source business model, Linux would be vastly behind where it is today.
      • That can't be said enough, a lot of the things Linux is currently capable of would not otherwise have been possible, or at least would not have happened yet.

        Vendor support and development is a huge advantage.
        • Yeah, right. I'll believe that when I can install Linux and have it detect all my hardware Just Right.
          And when it doesn't lock me out of my data because of brain-dead security settings. And when I'll find software that does what I need it to, using all the same toolkit. (KDE is almost there... and has been for ten years...)
          When vital applications such as OOo don't take an hour to load.
          When X11 finally at long last gets multi-threaded.
          When NTFS support does not hog the whole CPU doing I/O, because lobotomize
      • Debian is sponsored by many companies who use it, and lately some development is sponsored as part of the Google Summer of Code. Now you could even argue it's indirectly supported by Canonical, since a lot of the work done on Ubuntu benefits Debian almost as much.
      • You can say the same kind of thing about what constitutes "Windows". What Microsoft provides is a rather sparse framework for the non free community to fill in with drivers and applications that do useful things. This is natural because there are far more of us than there are people working for Bill Gates directly.

        The difference, of course, is freedom. In the free software world, there's no central tyrant to extract tolls for every little piece of information or SDK. It is true that a lot of work is no

      • Yep, I'm not talking about the companies we've known and been supported by (and have supported when our cash flows and cheapness allowed) but more referring to those particular bastions of liberty like Novell, Sun, IBM, etc. Sure, IBM may be "reformed" today, but either way, even that company has some blood on its hands far into the past.

        Novell has more recent blood. Microsoft I don't even need to go into.

        Going off to RedHat, Mandrakesoft and Canonical (or hell, even the nonprofits, Gentoo Foundation, etc
        • I should've proofread. I should've instead mentioned, that it wasn't to replace Netware 8, but instead to replace the Windows desktop which they lost to the competing Active Directory services provided by microsoft's own Windows 2000 and later editions.

          As a result, while buying Suse may have been a smart business investment, be assured that Novell will have little compunctions overwriting the will of their programmers who may or may not enjoy working with Unix, if a good screwover/partnership with Microsof
    • I'm not sure if "being supported by giant corporations" was such a good idea for the so called "linux movement". my thoughts precisely.
    • That is only a problem if you still consider Linux anything more than an operating system. It is not a movement, a religion or a cause.
      • Indeed... that's why I specifically termed "the so called OSS movement"... or "the so called Linux movement".

        Frankly, I kind of like Linux. Even though I keep my servers more heterogeneous than that. Another "Rule #1" among all my others.

        "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

        Let me rephrase, I still like Linux. If MS and Novell turn it into something else, we shall see. If that occurs I have no doubts that the market forces (not just referring to money here, people) will force a massive fork in ideolo
    • Microsoft can exterminate commercial vendors but they will always crop up faster than they go down. Community developed distributions will continue, with or without commercial help and there will always be a market for customizing that free software for particular clients. Customization is what most IT work is and most IT workers would prefer to have restrictionless raw material.

      It's doubtful anyone will be able to corrupt the Free Software Foundation or the GNU Project. Too many people understand the p

      • I call one Prior Art to the stand.

        Recall that in 1776, at least 5 to 10% of the American populace valued some concept of freedom. They had had themselves a revolution back in 1774 and were pretty eager to not let the other 90 to 95% of cowards and sheep give it up. Yet no later than 1791 they had lost everything they had gained, and centralized government, control, and slow growing tyranny was back in mode.

        What do you expect of that precedent? Yep, exactly... seems to have some eeerie similarities here.
  • Why China? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stox ( 131684 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @01:16PM (#23147058) Homepage
    Because they figure that they will get the least resistance from true open source users there. Microsoft is going to try everything it can to dilute the effects of open source on their business strategies. China is the perfect place to build some momentum, and then trumpet their success on the rest of the market.
    • by jav1231 ( 539129 )
      Exactly. The Chinese people pretty-much do what the government wants. Microsoft can pick up a few million users in one fail swoop. Novell is there to lap up some crumbs that Microsoft might leave behind. Essentially, they can show them they are OSS friendly while holding copies of Windows behind their back.

    • China is one of the few countries today with many fast growing industries. Microsoft needs a solid base of customers there right now if they want to have many more in the future.
    • Re:Why China? (Score:5, Informative)

      by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @01:32PM (#23147384) Journal
      That building momentum step you mention is one HUGE assumption. You have heard of Redflag Linux? []

      I'd say that MS/Novel have their work cut out for them. As soon as they start telling people in China that OSS and GNU/Linux are good products they will instantly have competition from at least two localized Linux distributions. I am not too certain that Chinese (who obviously won't or don't pay for software licenses at a MS pleasing rate) are not going to be too thrilled to pay for support of something that is not giving them exceptional value to start with, in comparison to other products freely available.
  • China plans to export Democracy to the US. Film at 11:00.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by peragrin ( 659227 )
      Don't you mean China plans to export captialism to the US?
  • Say what? (Score:3, Funny)

    by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @01:28PM (#23147324)
    "Microsoft and Novell believe big enterprises in China are willing to pay to have the US firms keep hybrid systems updated and running and for assurances that there is permission to use patented software involved."

    How do I mod the article +1 Funny?
    • Yeah, the Chinese sure have a record of hand wringing over the fact that they might not have assurances to use patented software. LOL
  • China plans to export Democracy to the US. Film at 11:00. I'm glad I'm not the only one that sees it too. When MS comes up with an effective business model (or, you know,starves as a company) wake me up.
  • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @01:44PM (#23147576) Journal
    THAT will teach those pesky Chinese not to infiltrate our networks!
  • by arrenlex ( 994824 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @01:49PM (#23147656)
    So in other words, Novell tells us that the Microsoft deal was a mistake [], when the result is appeasing those who are mad at them for betraying open-source to Microsoft. Now? Oh look, there's more money to be made -- by the way, it was a good idea after all. All this will do is establish a link between Linux and Microsoft patents in this unstable software market; a link which I assume Microsoft wants be able to export to software markets in the US. China is a big corporate player, and if they're able to say that MS approved Linux is being sold in China, they are much more likely to be able to swindle naive CEOs into paying for MS Linux here as well. Anyone else getting tired of this general corporate swindling?
    • It might be a mistake but its still a deal and I suspect one they couldn't get out of if they tried. Besides, did anyone really think that because they admitted they had screwed up they'd suddenly turn down all those nice little vouchers that mean sales of Suse? Lets face it, they are playing a dangerous game, courting MS to get compatibility and acceptance whilst trying to sit on the fence and not get completely hosed in the process.
  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Monday April 21, 2008 @01:53PM (#23147720)
    Is MS going to support "Red Linux" or whatever its called. They don't seem to trust any software made somewhere other than China, and I don't blame them. I think MS is doomed on this initiative. Hey, maybe the Chinese will eventually buy MS? They have so much of our money now.
    • The Chinese more than anyone anyone else shouldn't support pervasive MS Software simply because they've been using holes in that very same software to spy on everyone else. Why the hell would they want to roll out the those known security flaws inside of their own government and corporations?
  • The first one is always free...
    • SuSE Linux used to be free, prior to the sell out to Novell, that is.
      Speaking of which, Im currently searching for a SuSE 9.2 distro DVD which seems a hard task as Google finds bazillions of old news linking to long since deleted mirrors. Is there any spot in the web where outdated ancient Distros get archived (for download)
  • If history is any indication, this is a ploy by MS to get Novell to totally destroy Novell

    Novell, per usually is more than willing to participate

  • It serves the leaders of the country to retain control of the people by making sure that every piece of software contains something for the government. Free software leads to free minds, is what they might be promoting. I think monopoly and autocracy are good friends. Just MHO.
  • To the rest of us this is a LOL story, but lots of people around the globe still don't know Linux yet. Ready for MS/Novell to put the spin to paint themselves as the face of Linux to the developing world? MS-Novell knows that a rising powerful nation with 1/5 of entire planet population is the biggest user market they can pursue. MS will do anything to muscle in on the Linux action, maybe even including creating its own Linux brand (Windows 8?). OOXML is just a sampling. Still feel safe staying in the serv
  • Novell is quick becoming the legitimizing company for microsoft in the "open source" arena.

    The quotes become necessary, when the community allowed Novell, without strongly punishing it for it, to split the FOSS camp between "Microsoft backed FOSS" and just plain foss.

    Novell's sales strategy, their willingness to leverage of microsoft to move into what has, until now, been a Red Hat (a red hat that contributes to free software, that doesn not play into microsoft's hands, that only shipped GPL compatible java
  • Microsoft-Novell Takes Open-Source to China
    This headline tears me in so many different directions.... Is this a good thing? It has Microsoft and China so I feel like I should hate it, but it also talks about open source. Oh god, my head hurts... I think I have to take a nap.
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      Well I don't share your dislike for China, actually kinda like the country as a whole, and don't dislike their government any more than the government of the USA, but i digress. That Novel and Microsoft is involved, and that someone even thought to place a hyphen between the two is far more telling.
  • Microsoft and Novell believe big enterprises in China are willing to pay to have the US firms keep hybrid systems updated and running and for assurances that there is permission to use patented software involved.

    Microsoft and Novell believe big enterprises in China are stupid enough.
    Fotunately, they are wrong. I am tagging this "waterloo"

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev