Microsoft has agreed to sell cancer. Or least to support Novell's SUSE Linux and be more friendly to the open source operating system.
In a bizarre corporate tie-up, Microsoft looks set to announce this afternoon a partnership with a company it's spent years trying to crush. The company will reveal a support and software development deal with Novell around SUSE Linux. In addition, Microsoft is expected to pledge that it will not sue over IP issues around the OS.
CEO Steve Ballmer has scheduled a press conference this afternoon in San Francisco where he'll likely provide more details on the deal.
If correct, this would be Microsoft's latest tie-up with an open source company and a tacit recognition that Linux is becoming a force cannot be ignored. In the last two years Microsoft has struck deals with MySQL, JBoss, SugarCRM and Zend to improve these technologies running on Windows, while announcing support for Linux in Windows Virtual Server 2005 and a broad relationship with open source virtualization player XenSource.
A relationship with Microsoft is significant for Novell, which has struggled to turn Linux into the corporate success story it had hoped for when it bought SUSE.
Investors appear bullish about Redmond's aid, sending Novell shares up 20 per cent after learning of the possible deal. Perhaps Microsoft can sell Linux better than the folks in Utah.
Red Hat certainly will take notice of this deal. Last week, Oracle beat up on the Linux seller and now the other major proprietary software vendor has chipped in. ®