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Microsoft Corp.’s Linux point man is at it again.

This week, Martin Taylor, Microsoft’s general manager for platform strategy, isn’t touting any new Microsoft-funded studies aimed to demonstrate that Microsoft’s total-cost-of-ownership numbers beat those of its Linux competitors.

Instead, he is targeting one of the newer and increasingly powerful Linux players, Novell, by crusading to capture NetWare defectors before they have a chance to migrate to Linux.

On Tuesday, Taylor and his team rolled out a new set of programs, under the “Mid-Market NetWare Migration Promotion” banner, aimed at convincing Novell’s installed base—especially midsize companies—to move to Windows Server 2003.

What will be the outcome of Microsoft’s programs? Read what David Coursey has to say.

Microsoft is offering U.S.-based NetWare customers a voucher worth $600 toward channel-partner migration services for each NetWare server they are willing to convert to a Windows Server 2003 one.

(The fine print? Each of these Windows Server 2003 systems must include 50 client-access licenses. The maximum value redeemable per customer is 25 systems, worth a total of $15,000. The Microsoft offer lasts until May 1, 2005, or until the first 1,000 redemptions are made, whichever comes sooner.)

Microsoft also is offering NetWare customers considering moving to Windows Server one online training voucher and unlimited technical support via newsgroups at no cost.

“Novell, with its SuSE [Linux] acquisition created a new wave of momentum for themselves,” Taylor said. “But they also created a bit of an inflection point,” in terms of requiring NetWare users to choose whether to upgrade to Linux or switch to an entirely new platform.

“The NetWare installed base feels a little like the NT 4.0 and Unix installed bases,” Taylor said. “They know they are going to move to a new platform at some point. But the question is, to what?”

Taylor said Microsoft’s decision to launch the NetWare program one week after announcing that it had settled most of its antitrust complaints with Novell was purely coincidental. He said that Microsoft had been working on the details of the migration program for several months and “we knew we needed to get going.”

Read the full story on Microsoft Watch: “Microsoft Makes a Play for Novell Users.”