Novell filed a lawsuit against Microsoft yesterday in its home town of Salt Lake City for making "false and misleading statements about Novell and its products in violation of state and federal laws".
It's furious about some advertising Microsoft sent out to Novell customers in which the Beast of Redmond alleged Novell was ditching its NetWare operating system.
The advertising came in the form of a breakfast cereal packet and read: "What's the expiration date on that NetWare platform? As a result of the recent Cambridge Technology Partners merger, Novell is shifting its focus from software development to consultancy services. You're left with a server platform without the full support of its manufacturer. Which means increasing costs as it rapidly becomes obsolete, forcing you to implement time-consuming retrofits."
The idea of course is that people should switch to Microsoft's software instead of worrying about Novell not supporting its products in the future.
Novell is not amused: "These questions and statements are completely false and misleading," said Stewart Nelson, Novell COO. "Microsoft has tried to create a fictitious end of life for NetWare to create fear and uncertainty within Novell's customer base and to discourage future customers from doing business with Novell."
Instead, a press release put out by Novell reads: "There is no expiration date for NetWare. NetWare has been and continues to be Novell's flagship software offering. In fact, development of NetWare 6.1 and future releases of NetWare has been underway for more than a year. Far from becoming obsolete, NetWare is a state-of-the-art networking platform, and it has Novell's full support both for currently shipping versions and versions yet to be announced."
Novell wants "corrective advertising", the pulling of the current advertising and damages, currently unannounced.
Of course we should point out that the rumour of Novell discontinuing NetWare is hardly a new thing. In fact, we can barely remember a time in the last two years when the company hasn't been asked by inquiring journalists if its latest reinvention will see the company ditch the operating system.
The company is widely believed to have given up trying to get NetWare on new computers and leave Windows and Linux to battle it out while it concentrates on its One Net dream (ripped off by MS in .Net).
But then there's a difference between asking the question and writing the rumour and being Novell's main competitor and putting out thousands of pounds worth of advertising. ®