Saw this on /. then followed it to the WSJ.. If this is real, then this is a good thing. SuSE is IMO one of the better distributions of Linux, certainly quite professional, and they use a modern kernel.
This latter issue is quite important. The 2.6.9 kernel in some dominant north american distributions is dangerously out of date IMO, as they do not support modern hardware without serious effort. SATA was not properly supported until their U2 release of the v4 product.
I am also impressed with Ubuntu. I have been following it for a while, and after seeing it in action on our little L. Flavigularis, I am considering moving systems over to it. From some other distribution (cough cough).
If Microsoft wanted to get really crazy, they should give serious consideration to buying Canonical or Novell/SuSE. Keep them going, infuse them with cash and resources, enable them to play better in the Microsoft world. Now why would Microsoft wish to do this?
In a word, OSX.
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