When Microsoft announced availability of its Silverlight 1.0 multimedia building block earlier today, the big news was that Novell would provide a Linux version of the tool.
In his blog Novell (and former Ximian) whiz kid Miguel De Icaza called this “an historical collaboration between an open source project and Microsoft. They have collaborated with other folks on the server space (Xen and PHP) but this is their first direct contribution to the open source desktop.”
The result of the collaboration will be “a 100% compatible Silverlight runtime implementation called “Moonlight” [which] will run on all Linux distributions, and support FireFox, Konqueror, and Opera browsers,” wrotes Scott Guthrie, GM of Microsoft’s Developer Division in <i>his</i> blog.
You might also wonder whether this work—which smacks contract development—is part and parcel of the earlier Microsoft-Novell era of good feeling announced last year.
Apparently not. According to a Microsoft spokeswoman:
“The good working relationship between Microsoft and Novell announced back on November 2nd of 2006, which was a set of agreements to collaborate on IP, business, and technical matters and based on customer desire to address the challenges of operating mixed source environments. This paved the way for the companies to work together on multiple opportunities, including bringing Silverlight to Linux. It’s not technically part of the agreement.”
Microsoft is not commenting on financial aspects—if any—behind Novell’s Linux work.
So here’s a rather sobering question: Has Novell, once the “A”-number-one-kingpin-of- network-operating-systems, become little more than a contract programming house for Microsoft?
Barbara Darrow, a Boston-area journalist, can be reached at email@example.com.