But this week, Microsoft is poised to do some pummeling of its own, unveiling Tuesday its "Mid-Market NetWare Migration Promotion," a program aimed at snatching Novells customers before Linux does. Forgetting the Microsoft programs less-than-catchy name, the MMNWMP is aimed at getting people who have been satisfied enough with their old technology platform to switch to a new one. The length of time these customers have been using Novell products can be looked at in two ways.One is that their networks are so petrified that they will be almost impossible to change to anything new short of a total meltdown. Another view is that given enough hand-holding, and a very good deal, these customers are ripe for the picking. Guess which view is Microsofts?It may be a while before Microsoft turns these NetWare customers into profits, but as Bill Gates once famously remarked: The problem with losing a sale isnt just that Microsoft didnt make the money for itself, its that a competitor got it. Thus Microsoft is willing to make almost any deal to keep customers away from what it perceives as the Linux menace. For more insights from David Coursey, check out his Weblog. Its worth remembering that this "win at any price" strategy is what got Microsoft into legal trouble with Novell (and most of the rest of the world) in the first place. Microsoft seems to be using 2004 to clean up its legal messes with Novell, Sun, the company now called Linspire, the EU and others. Its spending to end these problems could top $5 billion, but its Linux battle may also be planting the seeds of future legal tussles with competitors like Red Hat, IBM and even Novell. Maybe in a decade Ill be able to resurrect this column, add the IBM and Red Hat settlements at the top, and report that history has, once again, repeated itself. It will be fun to watch what, if anything, Microsoft gets itself into. Contributing Editor David Coursey has spent two decades writing about hardware, software and communications for business customers. Before joining eWEEK.com, David was executive editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk and has been a columnist for PC World, ComputerWorld and other publications. Former executive producer of DEMO and other industry events, he also operates a technology consulting and event management business. A full bio and contact information may be found on his Web site (www.coursey.com). Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.