Novell CEO rejects Microsoft comparisons

Novell's self-proclaimed "turn-around expert" is tired of the IT industry's Microsoft vs. anyone attitude, but refuses to play a tit-for-tat slanging match with the vendor.

Dr Eric Schmidt, Novell's CEO, said comparing Microsoft Windows 2000 (NT 5.0) with Novell's NetWare 5 or directory service offerings was "not comparing apples with apples".

Schmidt described Novell as more closely aligned with server-based proponents such as Oracle, rather than Microsoft's client/server networking focus.

However, he stated Novell has "worked hard" to change its relationship with Microsoft and is fully committed to interoperating with Microsoft's Active Directory.

Schmidt moved to strengthen Novell's position as a company dedicated to directory-enabled networking yesterday in a round-table style meeting with Australian and New Zealand media. Schmidt is currently visiting Sydney for the Christmas holidays.

"The world is defining itself into a Microsoft model," he said.

Schmidt continued by explaining conventional wisdom dictates, for example, either monopolies or the open-source model typified by Linux should dominate in the marketplace.

"Conventional widsom can be wrong," he said, stating there is no reason why users cannot demand both a monopoly and the open source model.

As for users who prefer to wait for the final release of Windows 2000 (NT 5.0), Schmidt commented: "When and if it ships it will have a differential impact on us."

He compared the NetWare 5 vs. NT 5 argument to users who wait for a cheaper calculator to arrive on the market. "At some point you need to decide your business needs this sort of functionality," he said of NetWare 5.

Schmidt is the man responsible for bringing Novell out of its financial difficulties over the last 18 months. However, Schmidt said he explained the task was actually more difficult that he had first expected. "What I didn't know was that I would become a turnaround expert," he said.

Schmidt said his strategy was to dig himself and the company out of trouble. "You have to find out what customers want and ship that now," he said.

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