But Microsoft and Novell already have a history in the Linux arena. Back in 2006 the two companies signed a controversial five-year agreement in the name of cross-platform software compatibility. "This set of agreements will really help bridge the divide between open-source and proprietary source software," Steve Ballmer said back then.
That deal will be expiring next year, however; what better solution for Microsoft than to buy up a bunch of Novell's assets instead? More ominously, what better tool to begin making Linux vendors an offer they can't refuse?
This seems an especially likely scenario in light of Linux's new prominence and Windows' shrinking role in large companies' purchasing plans.
'Embrace, Extend, Extinguish'
So if it does end up with some of Novell's Linux assets, it's not going to be a good thing. No matter what it might say, Microsoft's history of patent litigation and its repeatedly used "embrace, extend and extinguish" strategy proves that it is no friend of open source software.