Itís been quite a week or so for Linux. First Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison announces that Oracle are to provide support for Red Hat Linux, and now executives at both Microsoft and Novell have revealed that they are to enter into a broad partnership to provide support to Linux. A new agreement will ensure that Microsoft will offer sales support for SUSE Linux, the Linux distro that is sold by Novell. Together, the two companies will develop technologies to make it easier for users to run both SUSE Linux and Windows on their computers.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, said in a prepared statement. "This is a new model and a true evolution of our relationship that we think customers will immediately find compelling."
Both companies claim that the move is because corporate customers have made it clear they want to use a blend of technologies. This does of course sound like quite a strange thing for Microsoft to say (the phrase "cold day in Hell" springs to mind), but there's more: part of the agreement between the two companies covers patent cooperation and calls for both sides to agree not to pursue patent infringement claims against the other's customers.
"Too often technology companies ask their customers to adapt to them," said Ron Hovsepian, chief executive at Novell. "Today, we are adapting to our customers."
I canít help but see the parallels between Oracle offering support for Red Hat Linux and Microsoft now endorsing SUSE. Call me paranoid, but it feels that something is going on here, especially with the two events coming so close together, they must be in some way intertwined.