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Novell congratulates itself for snogging Microsoft

Dowry for Linux-Windows nuptials tops $350m

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Novell wants you to know that selling its soul to Steve Ballmer was a really good idea.

On the last day of 2007, two separate Novell execs tossed up blog posts congratulating themselves for agreeing to that "interoperability partnership" with Microsoft, a year-old deal intent on forcing an unholy relationship between Linux and Windows.

Novell chief marketing officer John Dragoon is so keen to justify the pact, he even pulled out some numbers from Gartner. "Linux and Open Source technologies continue their advancement into today's data centers where according to Gartner, 67 percent of data centers run some combination of Linux and Windows," Dragoon said. "Serving this growing market reality was the driving catalyst behind our interoperability partnership with Microsoft."

And he wants to make it clear that the company will continue its good work: "Of course there’s lots more to do, not just on the interoperability front, but automating the management of the growing mixed source world and the bridge between physical and virtual environments."

Chief technology officer Jeff Jaffe concurs, arguing that Novell's Microsoft pact gives customers exactly what they want. "As I said last year, our strategy will stick with Novell for years, because it addresses a need that customers have that no one else in the industry is ready, willing, or able to address," he wrote. "That is the co-existence and integration of the innovative, rapidly emerging Open Source world with the trillions of dollars of proprietary software in the market.

"We started 2007 with the momentum of the Microsoft agreement. With that single agreement we clearly positioned our company at the heart of this interoperability problem. So what happened? Bookings went through the roof as customers saw the value in this partnership. We brought new marquee customers to Linux. Revenue took off. We grew share."

Jaffe is particularly excited about Linux-izing Microsoft's answer to Flash and JavaFX: "When we announced with Microsoft, we committed to create technical interoperability. In 2007, our two companies came through!" he exclaimed. "After Microsoft saw Miguel de Icaza create the Moonlight technology in record time, Microsoft asked us to bring their multimedia Silverlight framework to the Linux desktop. Can you imagine that Microsoft is a Linux desktop ISV? We are turning the flywheel on interoperability!"

Yes, he pulls out the exclamation mark twice. His excitement may have something to do with the fact that Novell's Microsoft agreement affords Novell a great deal of money. As the company's recent SEC 10-K filing (PDF page 11) points out, Ballmer forked over $355.6m in 2007. It's no wonder Jaffe and Dragoon are trumpeting the marriage of Linux and Windows. ®

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