Oracle's squeeze play on Microsoft may backfire

Microsoft's legal budget must give its accountants fits, even with all of that cash in reserve. Sometimes, however, a courtroom brawl comes calling even when Redmond's just minding its own business.

That was the case this week, when Oracle executives starting hinting that they may use legal means to force Microsoft to hand over documents from its landmark antitrust case so Oracle can use them as ammunition in its own fight against the Department of Justice.

The DoJ has sued Oracle to stop its attempted hostile takeover of PeopleSoft, which makes line-of-business applications that compete with those from Larry Ellison's company, as well as Germany's SAP.

Victory at what price?

For Microsoft, the best part about this legal wrangling is that it emerges as a winner -- no matter the outcome.

If Oracle beats the DoJ in court and somehow manages to win over PeopleSoft's shareholders -- a big if, mind you -- then Microsoft has one less competitor as it tries to crack the enterprise market with its own business applications. If Oracle loses the PeopleSoft sweepstakes, that will surely take a financial toll on Oracle, which will also benefit Microsoft.

This may just be one of those rare instances where the inside of a courtroom isn't such a bad place for Microsoft to be.

In unrelated courtroom antics, SCO Group rolled out more lawsuits this week. The company, which lays claim to the Unix code in Linux, is dragging automaker DaimlerChrysler and auto parts retailer AutoZone into court over their use of Linux. This is a new tactic for SCO, which has set its sights so far only on software makers.

Again, this may prove to be a boon for Microsoft. SCO is likely to ultimately fail in its attempt to frighten companies into buying Linux licenses, but in the short term, many may stick with Microsoft rather than risk litigation through a Linux deployment.

Good news, bad news

New research from the Burton Group on Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 is a classic case of good news, bad news. While crediting Microsoft for making its new server operating system safer than any previous version, analyst Daniel Blum also said that Redmond still has a long way to go.

In his report, Blum said that because of security issues, companies with "high-risk" applications may want to consider running them on Linux, or even Unix, instead of Windows. "One thing is clear in black and white: Windows has been attacked by these large-scale viruses and worms [such as Blaster], and that hasn't happened to Linux and Unix yet," Blum told SearchWin2000.com.

Another piece of recent research was a little more positive for Microsoft. The Radicati Group said that Microsoft's Exchange will continue to dominate the messaging market over the next four years. Currently, Exchange holds 31% of the market, with an installed base that will total 114.2 million mailboxes by the end of this year. Exchange's share of the market will rise to 33% by 2008, representing 225.2 million mailboxes.

Wooing Exchange 5.5 users

One of Radicati's analysts, Teney K. Takahashi, predicted that Microsoft will continue to hold its strong position in messaging because it is likely to retain a major chunk of the Exchange 5.5 customer base, which will need to migrate to something new when extended support for that product expires at the end of 2005.

That's about the time that Boston starts getting ready to throw out the welcome mat for Microsoft. This week, Microsoft announced that it's holding its 2006 TechEd show in Massachusetts' capital. The conference, which is expected to draw about 10,000 IT administrators, will be held at the newly constructed Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Maybe Boston's infamous Big Dig highway project will be finally be done by the time those attendees come to town.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

In Oracle suit, will Microsoft be elephant in courtroom?

SCO sues AutoZone, DaimlerChrysler over Linux use

Report rates Windows Server 2003 security

Exchange to retain dominance, study finds

Boston to host Microsoft's TechEd in 2006

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