dragoon_johnNovell Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon popped up in a surprising location this week. Dragoon, who also serves as Novell's channel chief, wrote a column on Forbes.com. In it, Dragoon declares consumers will be the big winners in the operating system battles between Apple, Google, Microsoft and Linux. The column is an interesting read. And it begs the question: Is Novell prepping more SUSE Linux desktop and mobile moves? Here are some answers.

Novell is best known for SUSE Enterprise Linux's position on corporate servers. Novell hasn't really been known as a major desktop or mobile software provider. But Dragoon's column waxes poetic about consumer and mobile trends -- and a fundamental shift in the operating system market:
"Like Henry Ford's famous line about the Model T car, "you can have any color you want as long as it's black," so it has been with operating system choice, with Windows being the default for most of us. So to say there's a battle going on assumes that there's a shift occurring in the enterprise and personal computing landscape; a shift that has fundamentally opened the door for new players to make their move."
For the most part, Novell has been cooperating and competing with Microsoft on the server. But does Dragoon's column lay the foundation for Novell to make more aggressive desktop and mobile Linux moves?

Hmmm. On the one hand, Novell is promoting ZenWorks as a way to assist Windows 7 deployments. But on the other hand, Novell has been taking a close look at Moblin (Mobile Linux) on netbooks and other mobile systems. Heck, Novell has even released MonoTouch, which allows .Net developers to write iPhone applications.

Yes indeed, Novell has dialed up the iPhone. The VAR Guy was surprised, too.

So in a way, the more Novell changes the more it stays the same. That long-standing commitment to competing and cooperating with Windows remains in place. Only, the competition seems to be moving beyond the server and onto the desktop and mobile devices.

Dragoon was careful not to pitch Novell's products and services in that Forbes.com column. But his words speak volumes: As the operating system battle between Apple, Google, Microsoft and Linux continues, Novell wants more mind share and market share with customers. Even desktop and mobile customers.

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