By eweek  |  Posted 2006-11-30 Print this article Print

But we both know that the majority of those customers running Windows and Linux are running Red Hat Linux. So you now have this odd situation where one small set of customers running Novells SUSE Linux have patent "confidence," while the larger group of Red Hat Linux users do not. And Red Hat is refusing to do a similar deal with you and appears to be almost defying you to sue them for patent infringement. We wanted to, and still want to, do a similar deal with Red Hat. I have spent a lot of time with [Red Hat CEO] Matthew Szulik. I flew into Raleigh and spent time there, and we have a good personal relationship. We just havent yet managed to find common ground on the professional front.
But what about those Windows users running Red Hat Linux?
They are undoubtedly talking to Red Hat about this, and some of them will probably move off Red Hat Linux and onto SUSE Linux. We hope to do a similar deal with them to bring patent confidence to those mutual customers. But, if not, some of their customers may choose to move to SUSE. On the competitive front, Google has a share price of about $500 and is offering Gmail, Gdocs and spreadsheets for free, delivered over the Web, and speculation persists of its plans for an Office-like productivity suite. How seriously do you take them as a competitor in this space, and what is Microsoft trying to do to address and compete with their model and possible threat? We take all competitors seriously, and certainly any competitor who has proven they can do some things right, and Google certainly has done a good job in advertising in search. So, of course we take them seriously. With that being said, we have been competing with free productivity software, downloadable over the Internet, basically for 10 or 15 years, with StarOffice that became OpenOffice. The stuff was essentially free for a long period of time and the truth of the matter is that, just like with Linux, if we offer a better value proposition, people are interested. So we are going to continue to drive our value proposition hard, whether its with Office 2007 and the business infrastructure we announced today, whether its Office and Office Live for consumers and small businesses. We have brought prices down on the home and student version of Office 2007, which is just over $100 a year. Our guys like to joke that you cant do footnotes with the alternatives today, and thats just a small case in point. We are dedicated and will be world class at, you know, sort of ad-funding as a revenue model in addition to subscription and transactions. What are your favorite features in Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange? In Vista it is clearly the search capabilities. My favorite feature in Office is the ribbon, but more specifically comments, reviewing and annotating documents of all forms: spreadsheets, Outlook presentations, Word processing documents. I find it so much easier to both comment and to receive comments than I ever have before. And my second favorite is the calendaring stuff we have done in Outlook. In Exchange, I think it is the way search works across the Exchange back-end as well as the Outlook front-end. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.


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