Microsoft aims at NetWare users with migration campaign

Microsoft is stepping up its efforts to win Novell NetWare users over to its Windows Server 2003 operating system by offering migration products and support, the company plans to announce Tuesday.

Microsoft is hoping NetWare users will want to switch to its software now that Novell is moving towards Linux. Novell completed the acquisition of German Linux-provider SUSE Linux in January and plans to release in February 2005 its Open Enterprise Server, which incorporates SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 as well as the NetWare kernel.

"(Novell's Linux move) created an inflection point for their existing NetWare customers," said Martin Taylor, general manager of platform strategy at Microsoft.

From its own market research, Microsoft found that NetWare users in many cases also run Windows servers somewhere in their organization, but don't run Linux. "There is more of a newness factor to SUSE specifically and in some ways that is exciting for people and in some way it is daunting," Taylor said.

Novell argues that its Open Enterprise Server is not a migration but an update to NetWare 6.5. "You don't have to go to Linux, it is the equivalent of the next version of NetWare," said Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry. According to IDC, there were 2.7 million NetWare servers installed worldwide at the end of 2002.

In the U.S., Microsoft will offer training vouchers and online tech support via news groups to NetWare users considering a switch. Those who make the change can get a US$600 credit for services by Microsoft partners for each Windows Server 2003 license with 50 client access licenses (CALs) purchased in a migration, Microsoft said.

Additionally, Microsoft will offer training programs and a free tool called Services For NetWare to help users migrate from Novell to Windows. For complex migrations, Microsoft has teamed with Quest Software Inc. to offer a 20 percent discount on software that is designed to help customers with over 1,000 seats to move to Windows.

Outside the U.S., NetWare users interested in migrating can get the Services For NetWare migration tool, training by Microsoft and Quest, technical support in news groups and a the discount on Quest migration products. The $600 credit and online training voucher offer does not apply outside the U.S., Microsoft said.

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