MS makes no tactical changes to combat Linux threat

Microsoft's chief Linux strategist said this week that the company won't change its strategy "one ounce" in the wake of Novell's acquisition of SUSE Linux.

Martin Taylor, general manager of platform strategy at Microsoft, said Novell's acquisition plans simply provide "further evidence that Linux is going to continue to consolidate and become more and more commercial."

"From our perspective, it means that Linux will move toward being held up to the commercial standards," Taylor said. "And that gives us an opportunity to look at things like cost, reliability, interoperability and even security for that matter on a more balanced playing field."

John Enck, an analyst at Gartner, said Novell's acquisition of SUSE elevates the Linux threat on the server operating system for Microsoft, although not by "orders of magnitude." He said Microsoft will have to decide how much more emphasis it wants to put on the low-level infrastructure part of the market where Linux plays, such as Web serving, file and print services, and management services, now that it has been making a push up the stack to focus on enterprise features.

But one area Microsoft will have to concern itself with is the 1,600 worldwide partners Novell has as Linux advocates, according to Enck. He said Microsoft will have to step up the training for sales consultants in the field to thwart the threat.

"The big thing is Novell is credible," Enck said. "It's someone with proven enterprise and field services (experience) that you can't wave your hands and dismiss."

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