At the Novell BrainShare Europe 2004 conference in Barcelona, Spain, Novell Chairman of the Board and CEO Jack Messman talked up Linux and renewed his company's attack on rival Microsoft. Novell acquired two major Linux firms in the past year--SUSE LINUX and Ximian--and is in the process of combining technology from the two to create a new Linux desktop environment.
"Microsoft took away a lot of our new licensing over the years, and we learned to live on maintenance," Messman said. "Now the revenue generator around Linux is maintenance. The remarkable potential for Linux has become obvious to anyone who's paying attention. There are very few customers who are not doing something on Linux." Novell Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Alan F. Nugent added, "We're not abandoning Windows from a product perspective but we think the market will abandon Windows at some point. We will maintain our commitment to the Windows desktop for as long as our customers want us to."
Novell executives had more to say about Microsoft. "I'm of the opinion that innovation has been slowed in our industry because of the market position of Microsoft, which has sucked $60 billion from the market that could have been spent on innovation," Messman said. But Messman's most interesting comments regarded Microsoft's recent decision to strip the WinFS feature from Longhorn. "They wanted to cut us off," he said. "The more time we have to sell against Longhorn, the worse it is for them." Thus, Messman says, Microsoft will ship Longhorn early to prevent Linux from catching up to Windows.