Last week I got a surprise call asking my opinion on whether the $100 million influx of funds was going to make a big difference in SCO's future. All I could think was: "Damn, someone brought SCO back from the dead!?" I've since seen speculation that Microsoft, or specifically Bill Gates, is funding this personally and other insanity so I figured I'd weigh in on this non-news event.
$100 Million Drop in the Bucket
The deal is actually a $5 million equity deal followed by a $95 million loan at aggressive terms (which given SCO's lack of material assets is interesting in and of itself). My guess is that the "investors" felt that IBM was likely to be willing to spend more than $100 million to make this mess all go away and that would support their investment. The risk is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the related attorney's fees, which seem to make up most of the collateral, were pre-paid.
While anything can happen, so much time has gone by since this thing got started that I'd be surprised if anyone on the IT side cared a great deal one way or the other. It would be an incredible stretch for anyone to suggest any effect whatsoever on Linux or Windows adoption based on SCO's being brought back from the dead as a kind of zombie SCO. (For some reason I want to play Michael Jackson's "Thriller" right now.)
Microsoft's Lack of Interest
With no likely benefit, there should be little interest in Microsoft investing in this renewed effort. And the kind of negative and counterproductive press it would pick up if this involvement was discovered would keep most Microsoft executives well away from this effort. I had to laugh at the suggestion that Bill Gates himself would be behind this, given that Bill has been removed from day-to-day Microsoft stuff for nearly eight years now and most recently began his final separation from the company.
His focus today is on his charitable trust, which appears to be working on getting clean water, medicine, food and jobs to underdeveloped countries. In short, outside of a few speaking engagements, Bill really hasn't had that much to do with technology of late. In fact, I don't recall an instance where he has ever written a big personal check for something like this, even when he was running Microsoft.
Microsoft's current strategy is to interoperate and compete on merit. Management honestly believes that will give the company the best competitive advantage, and that the shortcomings surrounding the Linux stuff are largely economic. I think they have also finally realized that every time they bad-mouth Linux, they simply contribute to the marketing of Linux and have decided, with possibly one exception, to stop.
Fueling SCO would seem to increase the controversy and probably help Linux more than hurt it. That is, if it had any effect at all, which is in and of itself questionable. Think about it; that is something you wouldn't want to do if it was your money.
SCO stopped really being relevant some time ago. It may be able to get IBM to pay what the investors seem to be expecting, but I don't think it will have much, if any, effect on the broader market unless it first regains control of the UNIX IP and then is acquired by a large company that is well funded. If it wins the Novell appeal, I would expect IBM to offer to pay it in exchange for eliminating this IP risk to Linux. All of this would happen with little or no effect on anyone else. If it loses the Novell appeal, it just ends more quickly.