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Microsoft and Novell Open Interoperability Lab 113

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the still-in-the-skeptic-camp dept.
An anonymous reader writes to mention that the Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts opened today. The lab is supposed to allow both Novell and Microsoft developers to work together for better interoperability between SUSE and Windows Server. "Located in Cambridge, the 2,500-square-foot lab and workspace will be home to a combined team of the best and brightest Microsoft and Novell engineers focused on making Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise work better together. The first priority for the lab team will be to ensure interoperability between Microsoft and Novell virtualization technologies. Additional work will include standards-based systems management, identity federation and compatibility of office document formats."
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Microsoft and Novell Open Interoperability Lab

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  • itsatrap? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:10PM (#20575343)
    I predict that this will get tagged as "itsatrap"--Microsoft has a history of joining efforts only to undermine them later. (E.g. "embrace, extend, extinguish")

    Having said that, Microsoft, like many gigantic corporations, has several "personalities" in the sense that different divisions may be operating on different guiding principles that don't necessarily mesh with each other. In this case, for instance, I'm willing to believe that the MS engineers joining this interoperability effort will genuinely do good work towards making MS products work with Linux in a smart and efficient way. So, I can see a lot of good coming out of this.

    Yes, we should be wary of any attempt by MS higher-ups to subvert this process and use it to break interoperability (or to make Linux look "unfit for business" or whatever)... but to some extent I'm willing to give MS another chance here.
    • Agreed. Microsoft is a many-headed beast, and not all of them are evil. Hopefully this is a start of Microsoft's turning from the dark side. (But then, with Darth Ballmer at the helm, Microsoft can only be so good.)

      • Is that what "identity federation" is? Or is that a clever name for Team Fortress matches between Microsoft and Novell? Hehe.
    • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:32PM (#20575741)

      Of course it's a trap. Imagine you were walking along and you saw a bear trap on the ground, with a trip wire beside it leading to a gas canister. A cage is suspended over it by a rope, and there's a sentry gun mounted nearby. You might think, "this is a trap", unless you were a Novell executive, in which case you would step into the the apparatus try to find ways to "interoperate" with it.

      • Re:itsatrap? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:41PM (#20575873)
        You failed to mention the money dangled over the trap.

        This lab is the result of the Microsoft-Novell FUD agreement.

        And at 2500 square feet, I.E., a 50x50 foot room,
        the techs don't have a lot of room to interoperate.

        It's a farce to appease the EU.
        • Yeah, but it's in Cambridge where software engineers are used to be tucked into tiny cubicles!

          But then again, it being Cambridge, the land of the FSF, MS is walking into pretty hostile territory. How many MIT hacks will be pulled on that office is beyond my guess...

        • The article was sparse on details, here's a better one: [computerworld.com]

          The 2,500-square-foot lab was completed in July and includes about 80 servers that are running Intel Corp. dual- and quad-core chips, as well as dual-core chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

          So far, the lab has four engineers on staff, with another four to be hired by the end of the year, Hanrahan said. Other engineers from Microsoft and Novell facilities around the world will also work in the lab, he said.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And at 2500 square feet, I.E., a 50x50 foot room,
          the techs don't have a lot of room to interoperate.
          Might not be so bad. Maybe the room is 10x250. Perfect for some impromptu geek sports events. ;-)
        • And for some strange reason, the techs wearing the lab coats look like those drawings from Gary Larson's The Far Side. Wait...they're cardboard cutouts! It's a trap!
    • No research needed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
      I love the monthly new-years-resolutions to work harder at/invest more in interoperability.
      It's actually not that difficult. Have most of your apps spit out strings of text in some documentable (or, ideally, document*ed) format and basically voila!
      What's difficult is having interoperability without actually having it. In fact, I suspect they could research that until doomsday.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ch-chuck (9622)
      I remember the "Novell Migration Tool" from circa 1996 - it allowed you to 'legally' voilate Novell license agreement (more than the licensed number of users could connect to a Novell server).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I'm willing to believe that the MS engineers joining this interoperability effort will genuinely do good work towards making MS products work with Linux in a smart and efficient way. So, I can see a lot of good coming out of this.

      Um, no. They will do work towards making Linux work with MS products. Whether this work will be good or not remains to be seen, but their track record does not speak well for them. No doubt much of this work will be closed-source proprietary software designed to run on Linux. And I have no doubts that one of their first jobs will be porting WGA to Linux.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Having this on one's Resume is going to be a red flag. I for one will be shooting down anyone with this on their Resume. It's right up there with having semi-recent SCO experience on your Resume IMO.

      Good luck to the "top" engineers who end up working there. You are a pariah, possibly to both camps.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by value_added (719364)
      In this case, for instance, I'm willing to believe that the MS engineers joining this interoperability effort will genuinely do good work towards making MS products work with Linux in a smart and efficient way.

      Not to be flippant, but wouldn't a "smart and efficient way" include a decision on the part of Microsoft to stop "not interoperating"? Seems to me that over the years they've actively and repeatedly pursued a course that was designed to maintain monopoly and thwart interoperability of any sort.

      Then a
      • Re:itsatrap? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by michrech (468134) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @02:42PM (#20576967)
        What's worse, MS really never had to do any of the work. All they had to do was document their protocols (and provide them in a GPL friendly way) so that the Samba folks (for example) could create *all* the software to make everything work. On top of that, MS could have reaped TONS of free positive publicity.

        Though I am stuck using MS at work, and at home (for a couple games I like to play that aren't available/playable on any other platform), and don't really mind using the products (because, in this case, they are the right tool for the job), I very much dislike the company (in the way it does business... I'm sure at least some of the people that work there are great people otherwise...)

        Not to be flippant, but wouldn't a "smart and efficient way" include a decision on the part of Microsoft to stop "not interoperating"? Seems to me that over the years they've actively and repeatedly pursued a course that was designed to maintain monopoly and thwart interoperability of any sort.
    • Re:itsatrap? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @03:01PM (#20577239)

      Yes, we should be wary of any attempt by MS higher-ups to subvert this process and use it to break interoperability (or to make Linux look "unfit for business" or whatever)... but to some extent I'm willing to give MS another chance here.
      I am also hopeful. But I am also highly skeptical. Such an outcome is very possible but would go against a long standing history. At this point, it would take some extraordinary steps on Microsoft's part to demonstrate that there is no trap. I believe it is entirely possible for them to do it. After all, IBM of all entities has made such leaps. A key to their credibility is the license and projects they work with.

      Microsoft has learned a lot about business from IBM in the past. Let's see if they can follow those footsteps going forward. I hope they do.
      • Face it, the lessons Microsoft learned from IBM were from the IBM of the sixties and seventies. You know, the IBM that would crush anyone and anything that threatened to "interoperate" with IBM equipment. There's a guy named Amdahl that could probably enlighten you about that.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The ISO should be the only interoperability lab needed, at least if everyone plays it fair. This is just Microsoft and Novell admintting they'd rather fragmentate the market further by sharing trade secret behinds closed doors rather than advocating open standards.
  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:12PM (#20575383) Journal
    Now you can autospace like in Word5 or do pagebreak Wordstar style! OOXML coming to Linux!!
    • I've started getting OOXML documents from my colleagues, and I'm loathe to shell out for Office 2007 or fiddle with the converter plugin for earlier versions of MS Office (which I still occassionally have to run in a VMware Windows instance due to crazy formatting or macros). I switched to Linux right around the time of the Windows ME debacle, and I have no intention of switching back. I have used OpenOffice successfully since then, and for the most part it's been fine. Now I'm faced with having to bring
  • Ho Hum. (Score:1, Funny)

    by abug (1082487)
    Tale as old as time True as it can be Barely even friends Then somebody bends Unexpectedly Just a little change Small to say the least Both a little scared Neither one prepared Beauty and the Beast...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Novell showed up in timely fashion but the Microsoft Engineers were mysteriously left locked out outside the building after failing to realize that the staff fridge door needed to be opened and the microwave oven set to 3:50 cook time before there card lock would work...
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Interoperability Lab -- Security Warning

      The publisher could not be verified. Are you sure you want to try to interoperate with this company?

      Name: Microsoft
      Publisher: Unknown Publisher
      Type: convicted monopolist
      From: Redmond, WA

      (( Run )) ( Cancel )

      [x] Always ask before selling out to this company
  • I suspect that this is little more than a veiled attempt to scream "We're working on interoperability - now government, leave us the hell alone!"
  • Peer or puppet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alext (29323) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:22PM (#20575567)
    An obvious benchmark to track is the number of changes going into the Windows Server product for compatibility vs. those going into Suse Linux.

    If Suse has to make all the running it will be pretty obvious who is wearing the trousers (as we say).
  • Novell professes to deal only Open Source - so why is there a necessity for this interop stuff... except for some PR stunt?

    The only reason I can think of is if MS wants to share some details only with Novell and not the entire Open Source community.

    Which implies no one will touch open source offerings from Novell that implemented flawed MS tchnologies - like Mono, Moonlight, Silverlight, Novell OOO, etc.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:27PM (#20575637) Journal
    Microsoft has been trying to create a secure OS for over a decade. They have also been trying to dominate the desktop market at every opportunity. They have not done either very well. It arguable that they dominate, but that was not done in a lab, it was done in a marketing team meeting room.
    • In that vein, I'd figure they would've had an easier time (license-wise) to take a BSD kernel, obfuscate the hell out of it, and lash a Windows UI and all the 'doze-specific APIs on top of it.

      I mean, there is historical precedent (Windows' TCP/IP stack), less effort required to "play nice" w/ FOSS-friendly corps, and they'd (for once) have something more secure than what they've been issuing forth in the OS market.

      /P

  • Mhmm! (Score:2, Funny)

    Additional work will include standards-based systems management, identity federation and compatibility of office document formats.
    Compatibility: Microsoft's #1 goal!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arivanov (12034)
      Actually yes. You forget another mantra "I love standards, so many to chose from".

      I suspect that they have learned the lesson from SOAP that having an interoperable standard does not necessarily decrease business. It increases it if the standard complexity is above a certain threshold.

      So some of them have seen the light of more revenue on the horizon already. It is a matter of the rest of the company following suit.
  • by xednieht (1117791) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:28PM (#20575659) Homepage
    how tomorrow's lawsuits start?
  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:35PM (#20575775) Homepage Journal
    It's about time for Microsoft to properly implement IMAP, LDAP and CalDAV in Exchance. I can't wait.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:37PM (#20575819)

    Phase one - embrace. [linux-watch.com]

    Phase two - extend. [slashdot.org]

    Phase three - extinguish. [wikipedia.org]

    Been good knowing you, Novell.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft will abandon their OS in it's current form after two more releases. Vista 20?? and Vista 202?

    Then it will be MS-UNIX under the hood.

    Otherwise the rest of the world is going to be on the metric system while we're still on the imperial system of Lord Gates.

    Apple did it. MS will too eventually and I'll have my flying car!
    • UNIX is a commodity OS and MS would make more money selling mice than they would selling a MS-UNIX.

      Of course if Windows went away and it was all UNIX, perhaps a new generation of developers would get sick of it and create a new and better OS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Unix underpinnings + Windows GUI + .Net, etc would not be a commodity, and they would be following the Apple route. They could build on top of OpenBSD, and return to cross-processor compatibility fairly easily. However, there's no need to. They have the VMS underpinnings from NT, and what they need to do is return to the earlier implementation, force backwards compatibility with 95/98, etc, into Virtual machines, and otherwise undo insecure solutions designed to work around programs that expect the end u
        • Apple is famous for not caring about backwards compatibility and they have a devoted following that will go along with almost anything. Also the Mac ecosystem (hardware and software) is much less diverse and complex; thus reimplementing the "Mac experience" based on BSD wasn't that hard.

          MS customers are not so forgiving. Reimplementing Windows with a Unix core would be an enormous undertaking that is unlikely to be a cash-positive move for MS. Besides, most of the complexity of Windows wouldn't go away by c
  • Woah, looking like that time that IBM and Microsoft put together a team of the best and brightest to develop the next generation of operating systems: OS/2. They got all the way to when MS released Windows 3.0, with an API that didn't match with OS/2, and then IBM was maintaining the OS/2 2.x system while Microsoft was developing NT OS/2 3.0. Then Microsoft took all of that collaborative work, and made off with it, calling it simply Windows NT.
    • by Ilgaz (86384) *

      Woah, looking like that time that IBM and Microsoft put together a team of the best and brightest to develop the next generation of operating systems: OS/2. They got all the way to when MS released Windows 3.0, with an API that didn't match with OS/2, and then IBM was maintaining the OS/2 2.x system while Microsoft was developing NT OS/2 3.0. Then Microsoft took all of that collaborative work, and made off with it, calling it simply Windows NT.

      There is more... As OS/2 had perfect, better than real Windows compatibility, nobody bothered to code natively for OS/2.

      Same goes for its excellent DOS support which was ahead of any DOS that time. Its DOS support was doing amazing things. That 32bit shell even having Arexx scripting ended up being a DOS emulator.

      Result? We all know it. That is why I am afraid of WINE, Cider stuff started to popup on Apple OS X. OS X deserves a lot better than Windows crap packaged in .app files. That is true even for game

  • by Epeeist (2682) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:42PM (#20575899) Homepage
    Looks like the ideal job for Miguel ;-)
  • Here's hoping they will come up with an extremely simplified AD plug-in of some sort. Yes, I know linux geeks, you can currently integrate with active directory, but it's nowhere near as simple as it should be. You can sit there and complain that it's MS's fault, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, and the powers that be don't really care. So, here's hoping for something good coming out of this.
  • How many people & how much equipment are stuck in a 50' x 50' room? By comparison, the standard North American semi trailer (trailer only, not the cab) is 53 ft. 2500 ft^2 sounds large at first until you really think about it...
    • Ya, my first thought when I read it was "well, I guess they are not too worried about interoperability. Between Offices, cubicles and labs, you are not going to squeese too many engineers into 2500 square feet."

      I guess we were supposed to read "2500" and think, ooohh what a large number... and not translate it into real terms.

  • Cause if it is, they're in for a world of hurt. [mzonline.com]
  • ...or they could just both make sure that their products implement and adhere to standards correctly.

    Though given the recent OOXML ISO happenings, maybe more companies will need these labs to make their products work together...
  • Obligatory... (Score:2, Informative)

    by that IT girl (864406)

    "...combined team of the best and brightest Microsoft and Novell engineers..."

    Best? Brightest? Microsoft??
  • 2500 sq ft? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by deander2 (26173) *
    2500 sq ft? that's not much of a lab...smaller than my house.
    as far as office space goes, this is pathetic. think one 50'x50' room.
    • Like everybody outside of the US I can't think in feet, so here is a conversion to standard units: 232 m or a ~15m x 15m room. Calling a small backyard office like that an "interoperability lab" is an euphemism.
  • you know it won't support other distros. there will be "technical roadblocks".

    meet the new novell, same as the old novell. deaf, dumb and blind.

    and owned by microsoft

  • ...to make Linux desktops work with Windows servers.

    Fookin' brilliant!

  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @02:41PM (#20576935) Homepage Journal
    ``The first priority for the lab team will be to ensure interoperability between Microsoft and Novell virtualization technologies.''

    That is definitely not the place I would start. First of all, I hardly think interoperability in virtualization is the most important, and secondly, as far as I know, we already _have_ interoperable virtualization.

    Instead of virtualization, I would start with file formats and move to protocols from there.

    Of course, neither of these would be issues if there were standards and both parties adhered to them.
    • as far as I know, we already _have_ interoperable virtualization

      Of course we do (several varieties of it, even), but Microsoft doesn't. They see that virtualizing Linux is going to be big business; their goal is make SUSE on Windows using Microsoft's virtualization solution the 'premiere' way to do that.

      My theory at least. Anyhow, I don't expect anything good to come out of this 'interoperable virtualization' issue except for Microsoft (and possibly Novell).

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        I was thinking along those lines, too. Probably, Microsoft's and Novell's mutual interest in this is that whatever software will be dominant in a few years, you can always easily run _their_ software alongside it. Virtualization fits that picture; just look at what Parallels is doing on Macintel: you can run Windows and its apps alongside OS X and its apps, all on the same desktop. It would be good for Microsoft and Novell if people ended up running SuSE, Windows and MS Office that way, after all, that woul
  • Linux can't even change (very well, yes I know there is ntfs3g) files with windows NT FileSystem. Those guys should care about those kind of things instead of virtualization IMHO :-P
  • I just hope all the Novel people behind all these moves are willing to be held responsible in some non-abstract form if all this dealings with Microsoft goes south. I can't think of any way that these deals would not benefit Microsoft, however I can think of how things can go wrong enough that it affects me way over here in Fedora. So I just hope that Mr. Miguel de Icaza and company will hold themselves accountable.
  • that way, the Novell engineers can play backgammon all day with the Sun engineers since they've been busy doing little for so long already. I'd mention the Microsoft engineers but Microsoft probably doesn't send any and just hires people off the street corners, tags-em with Microsoft badges and then tells them to talk about the weather when asked a question, any question. They wouldn't know how to play backgammon or even learn it. The Sun people are most likely starving for new players.

    But really, are thes
  • Dead or Alive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by decriptor (762523)
    The advantage to a lot of this is that its open source. If Novell was to be killed off as a result, we still have the code to go through choosing the pieces we want.

    So if some is tainted, then through it away. People act like they don't care, but seem to. I guess in a way, who cares if Novell dies, we have their code, right? But at the same time, who is going to pick up all of the coding that will stop if they disappear?

    Although, I am one of those that hopes, ad mist the flaws/bad choices, that they con
  • Any changes Novell makes to the Linux kernel or supporting OS code (and apps), all distributed under GPL, will be available for any other developer to use under GPL, as per the GPL.

    Novell's Linux products might eventually become traps for Microsoft lockin, but the code itself need not be if included in other distros. That would be up to the other distro.
    • Any changes Novell makes to the Linux kernel or supporting OS code (and apps), all distributed under GPL, will be available for any other developer to use under GPL, as per the GPL.
      Novell's Linux products might eventually become traps for Microsoft lockin, but the code itself need not be if included in other distros. That would be up to the other distro.

      Whilst that might be true for applications, for the kernel it's a different matter. We could find ourselves faced with two or more almost-the-same-but-diffe

  • ... after hearing of Microsoft's former partnership nightmares?

    Is Novell a Judas or just another plain old sucker?
  • Remember MS stole AD from Novell and destroyed WordPerfect with nasty marketing lies. Novell knows MS can not be trusted in any way.
    SUSE has only made Novell stronger. MS can never open up their huge bundled DOS or pay their taxes. If MS sent 4 engineers, then they're going to have to hire because that over half of their staff. Remember Ballmer told the EU that MS only has 500 employees and almost all of them are salesmen or attorneys.
    Novell knows exactly what is going on and like most collaborations with M
  • by icepick72 (834363) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @04:54PM (#20578983)
    Many are criticising Novell. On the other hand they are brave enough to walk a important tight rope and take the flack.
  • notice something? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AlgorithMan (937244)

    making Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise work better together. The first priority for the lab team will be to ensure interoperability between Microsoft and Novell virtualization technologies.

    notice, that the aim is interoperability with NOVELL, not GNU+Linux
    This must mean that they're mixing SUSE with MS Patents again, which means more vendor lock-in for Novell customers...

    I don't think there is any reasonable explanation, why MS is creating vendor lock-ins for Novell customers, except that the

  • The last time Microsoft worked got get interoperability with Novell products was in reality just so that people could easier upgrade from netware to windows nt. :D
  • The sad fact is for Linux to really get into more data centers and eventually corporate desktops they are going to have more interoperability with Microsoft. Microsoft is dominate in more data centers than it is not and most companies I have worked with will only allow Linux to be used in "large system applications" like Oracle and such.

    The main concern is with security ( I know it sounds laughable). Not with Windows or Linux but with the current solutions for interoperability like Samba, AD technology,
  • All I want is for my Linux servers to work right away on the latest Windows 2008 AD from day 1. I want to be able to give users one account that works for their workstation authentication, resourse permissions like printer and file server access on both Windows and Linux computers, DBs be it SQL 2005 or MySQL 5, and Linux be it SSH, VNC, or the console itself. How about being able to create OUs and apply group policies to linux machines that hand things like SELinux settings, Samaba shares, printers, file
  • ... Can be more than (basicly) just a file server. Over the past 3 years I've had to move a dozen customers from perfectly good, high up-time Linux servers to crap Windows 2003 servers because the applications that they relied upon moved to a database running MS SQL runtime on the server. This may, of course, backfire on the developers of those applications once MS decides to charge them a per-user fee that would greatly increase the costs of their products. Meanwhile, this simple maneuver has eliminated th

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