Don’t be afraid, I just want to interoperate

Well this little mini drama between Microsoft and Red Hat continues, where Microsoft is trying to form a “partnership” for “interoperability” and Red Hat is freaking out because if makes any deal with Microsoft the nutbags in the Linux “community” will accuse Red Hat of selling out and making a deal with the enemy. See here. Basically Microsoft is doing its Eddie Haskell act and pretending it just wants to play nice and interoperate and do what’s right for customers blah blah mwah mwah. You believe that? Me neither. So far Microsoft has rounded up all the other idiots in the Linux “market” (hard to call it a market but whatever) and got them to sign deals and agree, implicitly anyway, that their Linux stuff may infringe on Microsoft patents. Linspire, Xandros, Novell, and a bunch of embedded Linux guys have all bought tickets on the Redmond Railroad to secure “peace in our time.”

Now Microsoft is closing in on Red Hat, forcing Red Hat’s hand by saying that if Red Hat doesn’t play ball with Microsoft it will look like a holdout, a radical, a weirdo freako company that doesn’t want to put customers’ needs ahead of its own socialist agenda. And until Red Hat signs a deal Microsoft will keep steering enterprise Linux business to Novell. Which, believe me, is starting to pinch Red Hat. Look at their last quarterly results. Their top line is growing, but check out their operating costs. They’re working a lot harder to make their numbers. That’s going to keep being a problem. Worse yet, very soon they’re going to start suffering some real pain thanks to the GPLv3 which is going to mess up the entire operating system. This is why it sucks not to own any IP. This lack of control over its core product has always been the true Achilles’ heel of Red Hat. They tried to present this as a virtue, talking about “flexibility” and “freedom.” But at the end of the day if you don’t make your own stuff you’re at the mercy of the people who make it for you. Um, Red Hat shareholders and institutional investors? Let me introduce you to Richard Stallman, the man who actually controls your company. You’re just as free as Richard says you can be.

So Microsoft just slowly coils itself around Red Hat (by making deals with everyone else in its space) and gently begins to squeeze. Ubuntu, the other holdout, is probably less worrisome because they’re not really gaining much traction yet and Microsoft feels pretty sure on the desktop. (How else to explain the fact they’re charging four hundred friggin bucks for the top version of Vista? Jesus.) Microsoft’s real goal, the one that has consumed it for 20 years, is cracking into the data center. They thought they would take over the Unix market by now, using low-cost Windows servers to displace Sun, HP and IBM. Instead Linux zoomed in and took that market. In the world of Beastmaster Bill this just means it’s going to take longer to get what he wants because there will be an extra hurdle to get over. But he’ll get there. Wait and see. Red Hat will cave. They don’t have a choice. All they’re doing now is delaying and looking for a way to make a deal but save face with the freetards.