Novell is dead and Microsoft has eaten its heart

Acquisition puts what's left of Novell's legacy in Microsoft's hands

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Novell is dead.

 

OK, it's been dead for a while. Close to dead; undead.

Geeks of a certain age remember Novell as the first company that really got networking for normal people. OK, not normal, normal people, but not intense Unix geeks or mainframe deadenders, either.

It snuck into places nothing more sophisticated than PCs and word processors had ever been before, and helped wake up users to what computers could really do for them them, not the smug computer operators who were treated like priests and made clear the computers would help users only if they users chose to do things in the way computers decreed.

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NetWare was the original rogue IT project, launched as a way to turn around a bankrupt computer maker by a Californicated GE engineer returning to his roots in Utah, and written by a contractor who was as revered by geeks in his time as Linus Torvalds, but was twice as unintelligible.

Ray Noorda, credited with helping launch a major IT revolution in Utah, launched another one in corporate America, which suddenly realized it could do things with computers it had never considered before -- sharing a printer; sharing a file; sharing an off-the-shelf application they could actually use, rather than the incomprehensible objet d'art IT would hand-code over months and deliver without Help files, lists of commands or (pfah!) training.

NetWare was big. There was nothing else like it, except all the other file- and print-sharing applications that were already shipping, including Banyan Systems, Inc.'s VINES, which did everything NetWare did, but a lot better.

It didn't matter. NetWare was the thing, and Ray Noorda went a little crazy.

When Microsoft tried to add networky functions to Windows, Noorda began to hate. He focused all his energies on quashing Microsoft like the pretentious upstart it was.

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