Microsofts Muglia Talks Longhorn, Novell and Java

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-11-17 Print this article Print

Q&A: Windows Server "Longhorn" is now in the spotlight following the release to manufacturing of Windows Vista and Office 2007.

BARCELONA, Spain—Now that Windows Vista and Office 2007 have been released to manufacturing, the spotlight is on Windows Server "Longhorn." Bob Muglia, Microsofts senior vice president for server and tools sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli at TechEd: IT Forum here to give an update on Longhorns road map, discuss the companys controversial deal with Novell and give his thoughts on Sun Microsystems decision to license Java under the GNU GPL. Tell me about the recent deal with Novell and what the executive thinking was behind that?
Weve been working a long time to try and get an agreement with a major distribution vendor. We did the XenSource deal in the summer, which focused on virtualization and interoperability, and you could say they are under contract to us to provide a piece of Longhorn Server.
The work with Novell is somewhat different because really, they are a major distribution vendor and its really focused on interoperability there. There are a couple of major parts to that: One is responding to the demands customers have about this to have Linux and Windows interoperate; while the other piece is that this is the answer to questions customers have had about the assurance that they are in compliance with intellectual property rules with Linux. Click here to read more about whats covered by the Novell-Microsoft patent agreement. Since the advent of open-source software and its usage by business customers, there has been an open question about intellectual property. So this deal is a milestone in that it shows how commercial and open-source companies can work together to assure customers that when they acquire Novell SUSEs open-source technology they are in compliance with, and are respecting, all of the intellectual property that exists in the environment. Under the terms of the deal there is no covenant for the two companies not to sue one another. The patent protection is just for customers, right? That is the case and customers are the ones that matter here and were the focus of the deal. When you start getting into broader covenants not to sue between two companies you hit a whole set of different intellectual property rules. Novell filed an 8-K recently in which it said that you have agreed not to do a similar deal with another Linux vendor to encourage the adoption of Linux and Windows virtualization solutions through a subscription certificate program. Doesnt that go against all your talk of wanting to get agreements with the other Linux vendors? We do want to be open to everybody, but there is no limitation in the agreement that prevents us from working with the other distribution vendors to get a similar set of intellectual property patent protections for their customers, and we very much would like to make that happen as its good for customers and the other distribution vendors. However, the ability we have to offset customer costs associated with that transition is a Novell-focused thing and what that comes down to is that you get some advantage to being first. It was a fairly substantive step for Novell to make this transition and we will help those customers make that transition. Are you talking to Red Hat in this regard on an ongoing basis? We have been and we do communicate with Red Hat, and in fact we continue to reach out and want to work with them and want to structure a relationship where Red Hat customers can be assured of the same thing that Novell customers are. Do you think thats likely? Youll have to ask Red Hat that question. I hope so. We really want to do this. Next Page: The motivation behind the deal.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel