Weiss says that what Microsoft really wants, rather than royalties, is to get large Linux users to buy into the agreement that Microsoft has with Novell, and to purchase SUSE Linux rather than any other Linux.
Its a step by step process of fighting Stallman, intimidating the market, and trying to create a flow of momentum toward Novell SUSE, he says.
Its not necessarily that Novell has to be the winner, but if Novell gets bigger and more powerful, then they hope that Red Hat will maybe come into line. Or, if they dont come into line, then the market gets more fragmented between multiple Linux distributions, and maybe the users will find that its better to go with a homogeneous approach like Microsofts.
Microsoft is saying, We will protect you if you go with SUSE, a stance that could conceivably cause some migration away from Red Hat, he says. Then Red Hat stock plummets, and Novell becomes more of an important distributor. Theres confusion in the market, migration going on from one distribution to another, and Microsoft sits on the sidelines watching the jousting.
Gladiators in the Ring
Certainly the open source community has defensive measures in progress. Among other tactics, the Open Invention Network is gathering a portfolio of patents. Some observers suggest that, if Microsoft were to litigate, the OIN would reply by taking legal action against Windows based on this accumulated IP. Its a counter attack portfolio, Weiss says.
At the end of the day, Microsofts motivation is partially saber rattling, Gillen says. The company wants to protect its brand from encroachments by Linux and other open source software. Theyre creating a certain amount of fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Its about protecting against the lost revenue they would experience if Linux damages their position in the market, he says. Thats really what its about.
Notes Weiss: So we have a multiple number of scenarios there, and its really like two gladiators in the arena or multiple gladiators, feeling each other out, stomping around the ring, and making some noises and threats. But nobodys thrusting yet. So far, Theyre positioning.