Novell Inc. has completed its conversion to Linux by launching an attack on Microsoft Corp., claiming that the company has stifled software innovation and that the market will abandon Microsoft Windows at some point in the future.
Perhaps Waltham, Massachusetts-based Novell is gaining in confidence and attitude following its recent adoption of Linux, but at its BrainShare Europe conference in Barcelona, chairman and CEO, Jack Messman, sounded like a Linux convert.
I’m of the opinion that innovation has been slowed in our industry because of the market position of Microsoft, which has sucked cash from the market that could have been spent on innovation, he said.
Messman certainly came out fighting, opening the company’s conference with the proud statement that it was not using a single copy of Windows. This year the BrainShare network doesn’t do Windows, and neither do I, he said. It is our vision to create a world without information boundaries.
Microsoft’s Windows remains a core platform for Novell’s software, however, and the company was quick to point out that it will continue to support Windows, even if it thinks there may come a time when that is no longer necessary.
We’re not abandoning Windows from a product perspective but we think the market will abandon Windows at some point, said chief technology officer, Alan Nugent. We will maintain our commitment to the Windows desktop for as long as our customers want us to.
Nugent also criticized Microsoft’s attitude to Linux, indicating that it revealed how much of a threat the open source operating system really is. You can judge Microsoft’s concern about anything by the amount of FUD they put out, and the amount of FUD around Linux is very high, he said.
Novell is lining up a new attack on Microsoft corporate desktop dominance and is in the process of converting its entire user base to Novell Linux Desktop but is being careful to try and stem the rise in excitement about the potential for Linux on the desktop.
Accordingly, Messman also toned down his comments. I don’t think we’ll see a major quick movement off Windows, he admitted. We believe there are niche markets where Linux will be adopted quickly.
Nevertheless, Novell is now in Linux for the long-haul having acquired Ximian and SuSE Linux, and Messman revealed that it is partially the effect that Microsoft has had on its NetWare business that has positioned Novell to make the most of its opportunities.
Microsoft took away a lot of our new licensing over the years and we learned to live on maintenance. Now the revenue generator around Linux is maintenance, he said. The remarkable potential for Linux has become obvious to anyone that’s paying attention. There are very few customers who are not doing something on Linux.