We rarely write about Microsoft any more. Compared to Google, Microsoft has less and less effect on the business strategies of our corporate clients. Yet in the past two weeks, there has been a major sea change afoot that warrants commentary. Microsoft has apparently stopped seeing Linux as the enemy and realized that it’s time to co-opt Linux.
Linux is winning on the server. There’s no question about the fact that customers large and small want to mix and match Linux and MS boxes. Trying to fight against that customer tide wasn’t working. So Microsoft made peace with Novell (along with an infusion of $442 million) and is now promoting SUSE Linux and MS/Linux interoperability. Add to that news the fact that Oracle is now offering cut-rate prices for support of Red Hat’s Linux, and you have a major seismic shift afoot.
The Linux community is worried about fragmentation of Linux--two many variants promoted by too many strong parties. I don’t think these latest industry machinations are about fragmentation. I think they’re more about capitulation. Linux on the server is big business. It’s a business that Intel, Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun still hold dear. It’s a business that Microsoft can’t afford to lose to Oracle, Linux, Google, et al.