(AFP) – Apr 20, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — Microsoft and Novell have announced they were expanding their alliance in making patent-protected and open-source programs interoperable into the hot China market.
The firms said on Sunday they are putting "particular emphasis" on China because increasingly sophisticated businesses rely on combinations of software based on Microsoft's Windows operating systems and non-proprietary Linux systems.
Free Linux operating systems are popular in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil, according to Novell vice president of global strategic alliances Susan Heystee.
Microsoft and Novell believe big enterprises in China are willing to pay to have the US firms keep hybrid systems updated and running and for assurances that there is permission to use patented software involved.
The companies are marketing "supported Linux" in which they take a fee to maintain software systems blending the open-source programs with Microsoft products such as Vista, Office, Excel and Outlook.
"We recognize that our customers want to use Microsoft products in heterogeneous environments, and therefore we are pleased to offer this option to meet customer needs in one of the leading global markets," said Ya-Qin Zang, chairman of Microsoft China.
"We are very pleased with the initial response in the Chinese market to our joint offerings for IP peace of mind and technology interoperability in such areas as virtualization and high-performance computing."
The longtime US computer software rivals unveiled their alliance in late 2006, saying their engineers were "building a bridge" between Microsoft's proprietary software and Novell programs based on the Linux operating system.
Sunday was the first time the firms publicly targeted a specific country with their effort.
"We've really seen in the market in China the need to have a supported Linux platform due to the level of mission critical jobs and the need for interoperability" Heystee told AFP.
Statistics from industry-tracker IDC show that money spent on the type of paid Linux support being targeted in China increased 38.6 percent in the year after the Novell-Microsoft alliance.
Novell reports it has invoiced 141 million dollars in "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions" during the collaboration with Microsoft.
"We are very pleased with the original approach by Microsoft and Novell to address our concerns about deploying and managing a complex high-performance computing infrastructure across two platforms," said Nie Hua, vice president of Dawning Information Industry in China.
"It is essential for our future competitiveness and success that we can simplify with such solutions."
Microsoft adamantly maintains it is not abandoning the proprietary software model on which its fortune is built.
"We still think there is a tremendous amount of value in terms of Windows and proprietary models," Microsoft general manager of strategic partnerships Susan Hauser told AFP.
"This is a pragmatic approach to there being a mix of platforms out there. This is a bridge between proprietary and open source."
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