Novell and Microsoft: The Vista Impact

The historic deal between Novell and Microsoft represents a huge course change in Redmond – and puts Vista in a new light.
Posted November 3, 2006

Rob Enderle

Rob Enderle

There is nothing more indicative of change than the recently announced partnership between Novell and Microsoft. Unlike the Sun partnership, which seemed to be more about Sun getting money from Microsoft than anything truly material, this one has teeth and addresses the critical needs of both companies and the customers who use their products. It easily makes SuSe Linux the favored product and creates the strongest argument yet that the Microsoft of today isn’t the Microsoft of a few years ago.

Advancements to Vista going forward will reflect this partnership, making this version of the Microsoft OS the most compatible with Linux ever and much better suited for mixed environments than earlier versions.

While much of the benefit may not emerge until well after Vista ships, the ability for Vista to slipstream in changes and for Novell to better integrate their offerings with Vista going forward is a powerful argument for considering this OS in a different light.

Windows Vista Deploy or Wait

The one lesson we should have – but generally didn’t – learn over the last decade was that we need to make our own decisions with regard to when we deploy new products or whether a company, any company, can be trusted.

Regardless of what Microsoft said, Windows NT wasn’t ready for the enterprise any more than much of the Client Server technology we saw in the ‘80s, or desktop Linux today. In many ways Windows Vista is the result of what corporate buyers requested from Microsoft in a new product: it is vastly more secure, easier to manage, and less disruptive when patched, and it is designed to be patched and patched often to deal with exposures we are going to face going forward.

While it has a pretty face, it also has a solid foundation and anticipates changes in user authentication, data encryption, and trusted links to remote resources. If properly implemented it could eliminate most of the actual exposures that have been putting companies and government organizations in the news of late resulting from stolen or lost laptops.

This isn’t to say you should deploy, but that you should take a look at the desktop problems and exposures you are struggling with and assess whether this product will improve your situation. Many will probably conclude that it won’t but, based on our own testing, many who otherwise may not look at the offering will find it critical.

For the next few months you’ll hear a lot of folks pull out their old dusty recommendations and recommend waiting until SP1 or SP2 or moving to something else. I’ll bet most have no more idea of your actual needs than we do. This is a decision you need to make on your own and the only thing foolish about it would be if you let someone who has no clue about your needs tell you what to do. It is worth your time to look at Vista and make this decision yourself.

In a way Windows Vista is a metaphor for a changing Microsoft, one trying to balance the needs of conflicting corporate and consumer audiences, respond to threats from competitors and governments, and position itself against the largely hosted opportunities of the future. It is also a signal that your world is once again changing – and staying up with that change should, unfortunately, be a priority. The good news is that, for once, it may allow you to get in front of some problems.

In the end I’m not advocating Vista as much as I’m advocating you do the work and make the decision to move, or not move, based on your unique needs, not the moldy old recommendations of the last decade. We are well into the next century and I think more of us, and I include myself, should be basing our decisions on current information not the tired policies of years gone by.

Ranked as one of the most influential technology specialists in the world, Rob Enderle is the Principal Analyst for the Enderle Group, a firm focused on making a positive difference with emerging technology in the corporate and consumer markets.

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