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Novell forces customers to pay for maintenance

Patches and service packs? That'll cost ya

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First, partners and users complained that a lot of the content that Novell contends is its own "intellectual property" in its support knowledge bases is actually coming from partners and users. Restricting access to the knowledge base was therefore a bit suicidal, and after hearing the complaints and listening, Dragoon said that Novell was going to reverse this policy and would be notifying customers and partners shortly of this change.

The second change is one of timing, not a reversal of policy by Novell, requiring customers to be on a maintenance contract to get service packs and patches for Novell's software. Dragoon says that Novell will extend that original November 15 deadline into 2010 to give customers more time to plan and budget for the changes.

Dragoon is completely unapologetic about this change, by the way. "Novell is one of the outliers in not charging for security patches and technical documents," he said, explaining Novell's original plan. "Frankly, the long-term viability of these products depends on Novell having a revenue stream to continue to innovate."

Dragoon says that Novell is well aware that the one big exception to this characterization is Microsoft, which does not charge for patches and updates as well as for security patches. "But they charge you in different ways."

Novell's original communiqués with its partners and users were poorly worded in that they didn't say what products would be affected by the changes. Hopefully Novell will be more precise when it talks to end users the next time, but in the meantime, El Reg can tell you generally what products this change in patch and service pack access applies to: Open Enterprise Server (the hybrid NetWare/Linux stack), GroupWise (its messaging and groupware), its PlateSpin, Managed Objects, and ZENworks systems management tools, and its identity and security management products. ®

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