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Microsoft apologises to Novell but court case continues

NetWare not 'obsolete', Novell wants damages

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Microsoft has formally apologised to Novell for sending out advertising suggesting the company's operating system NetWare was obsolete and wouldn't be supported in future. It has promised not to repeat the allegations and will send out "corrective" information to the same 3,000 Novell customers it originally targeted.

Despite the apology though, Novell has vowed to continue with its lawsuit against the Beast of Redmond for damages stemming from the "harm to Novell caused by Microsoft's campaign of false statements".

Microsoft didn't have much choice but to apologise after its marketing teams got a little carried away in the massive hype build-up to XP. The advertising came in the form of a breakfast cereal packet which read: "What's the expiration date on that NetWare platform? As a result of the recent Cambridge Technology Partners merger, Novell is shifting its focus from software development to consultancy services. You're left with a server platform without the full support of its manufacturer. Which means increasing costs as it rapidly becomes obsolete, forcing you to implement time-consuming retrofits."

Now all the people that received the packet will get a second piece of advertising which says: "Contrary to the statements made about Novell on the package by Microsoft, Novell has advised Microsoft that it is growing and expanding its software business, while adding significant resources to its existing consulting services business. Accordingly, Microsoft retracts its statements that Novell will not fully support NetWare, that NetWare has an 'expiration date' or that it is or will become 'obsolete,' and that NetWare will become costly and time-consuming to maintain."

Not enough for Joe LaSala, Novell's senior vice president and general counsel, though. Sensing a rare victory for the networking company over Microsoft, he is milking it for all its worth. He said, among other things: "We are anxious to move to the next phase of the litigation where discovery will begin and we will put together our case for damages."

For Novell, it's a case of every dog has its day. We should point out though (as we did when the lawsuit was filed at the start of the month) that concerns about NetWare's future existence are hardly anything new. ®

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