But Wait, There's More
Just when you thought the situation could not get any more strained or strange, network operating system maker Novell apparently has told The SCO Group that it had only sold SCO the source code to Unix System V back in September 1995, not the copyrights or patent portfolio related to Unix. Back in March, SCO launched a $1 billion lawsuit against IBM that purported, among other things, that IBM had leaked Unix source code and programming techniques owned by SCO to the Linux community and that it was in violation of its Unix license. SCO also has put Linux customers and distributors on edge by claiming that Linux shops might be liable if it decides to pursue them for illegally using its intellectual property. SCO apparently has conceded that it does not own the patents and copyrights to Unix, just the contracts that enforce the licensing of Unix to other vendors. By the way, the Open Group owns the trademark to the word Unix and is responsible for certifying various Unixes as Unix-compliant. SCO now says its lawsuit with IBM does not involve copyrights or patents, but a breach of a contract that stipulated IBM could not redistribute Unix source code. Makes you wonder exactly what SCO was thinking it got when it bought the Unix source code back in 1995. Odds are that Novell and SCO will end up sorting this out in court.
Microsoft and AOL Time Warner have settled an antitrust lawsuit that AOL Time Warner initiated in January 2002, claiming that Microsoft had illegally used its monopoly position to drive Netscape from the browser market. AOL, which bought Netscape in March 1999 for a staggering $4.3 billion, paid dearly for essentially being ejected from the market. Sun Microsystems picked up the Netscape server-side middleware (now sold as the Sun ONE stack) for a song. With AOL Time Warner struggling under a mountain of debt and Microsoft keen on paring down its legal battlefronts, it isn't hard to see why the two have agreed to bury the hatchet. To settle the lawsuit, Microsoft is paying AOL Time Warner $750 million and is giving a seven-year license to the Internet Explorer browser for use in AOL online client software. The deal is probably a death warrant for the Netscape browser, which will live on as the open-source Mozilla browser if AOL Time Warner decides to kill it. Microsoft's antitrust lawsuit with the Department of Justice and its lawsuit with Sun related to Java are still alive, and the European Union is still contemplating taking Microsoft to court for antitrust violations.
After facing nearly a year of harsh criticism of its Licensing 6.0 and Software Assurance pricing practices for desktop and server software, Microsoft has tweaked its pricing and rolled in a bunch of freebies to its software products. Since last July, commercial Microsoft products (as distinct from consumer products) have to be acquired with Software Assurance maintenance contracts. The revised pricing Microsoft announced under the Licensing 6.0 umbrella raised prices for many corporate accounts. Starting September 1, to ameliorate disgruntled customers, Microsoft is allowing workers free home use of their desktop office software on their home PCs, as well as a number of enhancements to support and training on both desktop and server platforms. You need a Ph.D. in marketing to make heads or tails of Microsoft pricing, so it is hard to say how much this will help make Licensing 6.0 palatable. What Microsoft is doing is throwing more stuff in the basket--some of which may not matter to customers--while keeping its prices for the software and support that companies need to buy the same. Expect more grumbling.
It takes two companies to make a market, and that is perhaps why Fujitsu Siemens has backed both SuSE and Red Hat as the official Linuxes for its Primergy line of Intel-based servers. SuSE is an important ally for Fujitsu Siemens in the European market, particularly in Germany, which is also where SuSE hails from. Red Hat is important to Fujitsu Siemens as it tries to get a better toe-hold on the North American server market. Fujitsu Siemens does not want to back only one commercial Linux distributor, and that is why it has chosen to partner with number-one Red Hat and number-two SuSE. These two are arguably the only major Linux vendors that matter, now that The SCO Group has alienated the Linux community. That Fujitsu Siemens did not partner with Turbolinux, which arguably has the best support for Asian languages, doesn't necessarily mean that it won't in the future.
Jim Stracka, founder of OS/400 security software company PentaSafe Security Technologies, which was acquired by systems management and security software maker NetIQ last year, has a new gig. Stracka has joined forces with founder and former CEO of Icon Strategies, Mark Blankenship, to cofound W5 Technologies, in Houston. The new company's product is a software offering called Enhanced Sales Process technology, designed to help companies use the Web and e-mail to track sales-related activities originating from environments that aren't conducive to electronic tracking, such as direct mail, print advertising, and tradeshows. W5 Technologies is delivering this offering as a Web-based service, via the application service provider model, with help from VeriCenter, also in Houston. Stracka has big plans for his new endeavor. "We built PentaSafe with over 200 percent year-over-year growth and headcount growing from seven to 250 in the first three years, and that was selling only to a niche security market," he says. "W5 has a potential client base exponentially higher than the security space--every company has a sales process. With this super-charged sales force, we plan to grow W5 at an even faster pace than PentaSafe."
The article on W5 Technologies originally contained several errors. The article incorrectly stated that Mark Blankenship was CEO of Shell Chemical Company; he is in fact a founder and former CEO of Icon Strategies. The article also originally misspelled Mark Blankenship's name. Guild Companies regrets the errors. [Corrections made 7/08/03]
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