The Microsoft Novell Linux Alliance

According to a story just put up on the WSJ, this afternoon Microsoft and Novell will announce a new alliance, based upon the idea that MS will provide sales suppport for Novell’s SuSE Linux, with the further promise that the two companies will work together to ensure intercompatibility for Windows and Linux running together. Finally, MS will not enforce any patent right claims against SuSE Linux.

The meaning of this move seems pretty clear to me, although we’ll see if more details come out with the actual press conference: this is a blocking move against Oracle, which a few days ago announced it would provide sales and support for Red Hat Linux.

I suspect Microsoft, which is not dominant in the server world, has decided the growth pace of Windows server is not enough to protect SQL Server and other server-based products (Exchange, Live extensions, etc.) going forward, now that Oracle is in the game.

While many people focus on Google as MS’ top competitor, that’s a consumer game; Oracle is a much greater threat, from the perspective of dominance in both database and now, suddenly, server operating systems (Linux/Unix variants dominate this platform).

You can almost feel Ray Ozzie’s hand in this decision. The next question will be: will MS actually release products running on Linux? My bet is that this is the question of the moment at MS, and will be heatedly discussed for the next couple of years.