The VAR Guy admits it: He left Novell for dead last year. But recent conversations with the company forced him to rethink all of those negative notions. In a few markets, Novell may actually thrive. And in one particular market, Novell could give Microsoft a run for its money.

Let's be clear: Novell SuSE Linux has reasonable momentum on desktops and servers, but Novell won't topple Windows in those markets. Not now. Not five years from now. Microsoft's biggest Linux worry remains Red Hat.

Still, there's a market niche where Novell could give Microsoft really big headaches. It's the embedded software market, where SuSE Linux Enterprise Real Time and SuSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service (not exactly embedded, but stick with The VAR Guy) are promising offerings.

Good to Great?

Frankly, Novell needs to put more marketing resources behind its embedded and point of sale Linux efforts. The VAR Guy didn't even know Novell competed in the point-of-sale software market until a few weeks ago. But yes, Novell does have relationships with IBM, NCR and other retail device market leaders.

Now, for the broader opportunity: Cnet's Matt Asay accurately points out that Microsoft is highly concerned about embedded Linux. (Asay's blog is fast becoming The VAR Guy's favorite daily read.)

Admittedly, The VAR Guy is twisting the facts ever-so-slightly with this blog entry. Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service isn't exactly an embedded operating system.

But the bigger issue is this: Novell has a real opportunity to gain far more traction in the embedded and retail verticals. But the company will have to work hard.

Mainstream sites, such as Wikipedia's Embedded Linux page, don't even mention Novell.

And Novell's representatives weren't aware of OpenBravo, an up-and-coming open source point of sale application provider.

Still, the embedded and point of sale markets are opening their arms to Linux. Hopefully, Novell will respond in kind.

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