SCO's ill wind blows no good for Microsoft

Microsoft is not benefiting from The SCO Group's intellectual property dispute with IBM despite the market uncertainty the legal fiasco is creating. Microsoft Australia's platform strategy manager Martin Gregory has rejected claims the software giant is a beneficiary of the dispute pointing out that software will continue to be chosen on merits and Unix is now being replaced by Linux more than Windows.

"When considering operating system deployments, the key characteristic is competition and it’s clear that Linux is replacing high-end Unix systems, because the x86 architecture has a better price-performance," he said.

"Open source and Linux has attracted a huge amount of attention but a lot of it is inflated."

When asked about Microsoft’s motives for licensing SCO’s Unix intellectual property, Gregory said there were two reasons for that.

"We value our own intellectual property and that of others, so that was just another example of cross-licensing," he said. "Secondly, we are always looking to improve integration with our services for Unix offerings so this agreement furthers our ability to do that."

Enterprises looking to reduce total cost of ownership through platform migration will do so for value reasons rather than the uncertainty surrounding Linux and SCO, he said.

IT departments are still spending a lot of time "watering and feeding" their systems, he added.

"I regularly talk to our customers and find out what they want from Microsoft," Gregory said. "Customers are looking at technology on a broader scale than ever before in order to gain more productivity and spend less time on administration."

According to Gregory, there are three areas that underpin decisions relating to platform migration: understanding TCO, value, and support.

"The essence of a proper migration plan is making sure the skills and procedures for the new product are thoroughly understood," he said. "We made huge steps from NT to 2000 and now to 2003 which represents better value because employees are empowered for more productivity." Regarding integration, Gregory said Microsoft is committed from a "network, directory, and application point of view."

"End-to-end coverage is important to any enterprise and we have spent the time to richly integrate our platforms," he said. "Customers see value in a consistent developer and user interface that is unique."

Gregory said that this integration is beginning to extend to the mobile enterprise.

"The same programming environment can be applied to servers, desktops, and mobile devices," he said. "This has advantages with internal and commercial development since the platforms are not as varied."

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