A Guess To What Microsoft and Novell is All About
So my best guess as to what Microsoft is doing partnering with Novell is not the same as everyone else. Everyone else in the Linux community mainly seems to think that this is some kind of a horrible wicked attempt to destroy the Linux movement from within. IMHO Microsoft would not waste their time on destroying Linux. While it is a threat to their web server marketshare, it is not a threat to their internal office server business, nor is it a threat to their Office productivity marketshare, nor is it even a threat to their desktop operating marketshare. In fact, Linux is really not much of a threat to Microsoft at all.
There have been a few interesting events happening inside Microsoft, as far as Linux is concerned, over the past year. The first was their hiring a devout Linux advocate and allowing him to help them understand Linux. The second is his leaving. The third is Microsoft copping to the problems inherent in the Windows codebase, IE that it is un-fixable. I'm sure that Jim Alchin and Bill Gates' departures have something to do with this. Microsoft is doing the obvious. They are doing what they always do, what they did when they started the company. Instead of doing a rewrite of Windows, which would be prohibitively expensive, they are shopping for a kernel. As always, Microsoft wants to copy Apple. What did Apple do when they needed a modern OS, they copped a Linux kernel, really basically a complete OS, modified, re-released the changes and additions they have made to the kernel to the Open Source community, put all of their proprietary code on top of that spiffy new OSS OS core and called OS X. Microsoft is doing the same thing.
So then the question, why Novell? Well, frankly the XGL / Compiz windowing manager that Novell has integrated into their Linux distro, indicates that Linux is almost ready to support Direct X. This was one of the main things holding Linux back from being a true replacement for Windows. Once Microsoft saw this, they realized that it was only a matter of time before there was a real Linux gaming community. This community would directly compete with the XBOX, and Microsoft's efforts to be the “living room PC.” Secondly, Novell's implementation of Wine is pretty good, it runs most of Microsoft's stuff. Thirdly, Microsoft has been working very hard to help the developers build Mono to allow the .net framework to operate on Linux with no modification.
What does all of this add up to. It adds up to Microsoft being able to ditch their old hacky code by allowing legacy software to run in Wine, so corporations with old COM+ based code will be happy. It allows new applications based on the .net frameworks to run flawlessly in Linux. Finally, gamers will be happy because their new .net / XNA games will run perfectly in the new Microsoft / Linux OS with Microsoft's port of DirectX. Therefore, Microsoft will have a new modern OS that is backward compatible with with their old apps, that will allow them to compete and benefit from Apple and that open source community modifying the darwin kernel, since that stuff always makes it into the other kernels as well. It improves Microsoft's image. It's win / win overall for Microsoft and Novell. It actually is a win for Linux, since it will finally make it to user's desktops. I'd expect that the next upgrade to Windows that will probably come in 2008 / 2009, or alternate version will be based on the Novell SuSE core.