Microsoft and Novell: The Ultimate Love-Hate Relationship

Former Novell CEO Ray Noorda used to speak about coopetition -- the need to both cooperate and compete with technology companies. But the current Microsoft-Novell relationship is giving new meaning to the term coopetition, especially during this week's BrainShare.

On the one hand, Microsoft and Novell continue to push ahead with their joint work, where they've announced several customers wins involving Windows and Linux running side-by-side in corporate data centers. But on the other hand, even some of Novell's own executives regret a patent deal with Microsoft.

On a completely separate matter, Novell continues to push forward with a lawsuit against Microsoft, in which the company alleges Microsoft deliberately targeted and destroyed its WordPerfect and QuattroPro programs in order to protect its Windows operating system monopoly, according to the Associated Press.

Ironically, as Novell's BrainShare event opens in Salt Lake City, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request by Microsoft to have the suit dropped.

Novell sold off WordPerfect and QuattroPro to Corel in 1996, but Novell nevertheless filed suit against Microsoft in 2004.

No doubt, Microsoft clobbered Novell in the desktop application space. And in Microsoft's defense, Novell's missteps developing WordPerfect for Windows 95 and its inability to get the NetWare channel to support WordPefect were factors in Microsoft's desktop victory, The VAR Guy believes.

Still, open source has given Novell a new chance to compete on the desktop, this time with SuSE Linux striving to capture 1 percent of the desktop and laptop market. That sounds like a nominal goal, but Novell does have to walk before it can run, as the old saying goes.

Microsoft and Novell should have plenty to talk about at this week's BrainShare, even as their lawyers continue to trade blows in court.

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