As The SCO Group Inc.'s reseller and developer community gathers for its annual SCO Forum convention in Las Vegas this week, one question on many attendees' minds will be whether the company's future will be as a software vendor or as a litigator. Though SCO's lawsuits against IBM Corp., Novell Inc., DaimlerChrysler AG and AutoZone Inc. have attracted a great deal of attention in the last year, they have not helped SCO's bottom line. The company is facing mounting financial losses, which have been spurred by millions of dollars in legal fees, a flagging Unix business, and anemic sales of its SCOsource Linux licensing program, which brought in just $11,000 in revenue during the company's most recent financial quarter.
In the face of these challenges, SCO has apparently chosen to make the company's core Unix business, and not its legal adventures, the center of this year's show. SCO will spend the week discussing new Unix products, such as the first developer preview of its next generation of OpenServer software, as well as a new developer program it expects to launch by year's end, called the SCO Marketplace Initiative, which will use an online bidding system to attract developers to work on SCO's Unix operating systems.
The IDG News Service interviewed SCO Chief Executive Officer Darl McBride before the start of SCO Forum to get his thoughts on the direction of the company, the likelihood of more customer lawsuits, and his company's recent decision to revive the Unix System Laboratories name that AT&T had used for its Unix business in the early 1990s. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.
IDG News Service: Why haven't more customers signed up for your SCOsource licensing program?
Darl McBride: There have been a lot of third parties that have jumped into the fray and put indemnification programs in place -- big vendors coming out trying to say "Don't worry about it, it's not a problem."
Rather than trying to pound through all of those issues on a daily basis, we've been content to say, "We're going to work our issues through the courtroom, and when everything is resolved there, we'll be good to go, and then customers will know exactly where everything is. In the meantime, customers that want to move now and remove the cloud of uncertainty, we have a program for that. So we're fine with where things are right now.
IDGNS: By saying you're fine with things, do you mean that you don't expect to be launching any new lawsuits against Linux users?
McBride: I think right now we've got the claims in front of the various courts that we need in order to get our complaints heard and to get them argued and to get resolution. With respect to being more vocal or going after new targets at the customer level, we don't see the need for that. We had the need to get the basic issues on the table, but we're fine to argue the merits of what we have out there right now (in) the current litigation setting.
IDGNS: How many people are working on the SCOsource initiative?
McBride: Within the company, less than 10 people. There are occasions where it will be a little bit bigger than that, we'll have a few things come up that will require a bit more horsepower. We do have, obviously, a lot more attorneys than that, who are focused on SCOsource. But the majority of the company resources are very directly pegged to the SCO Unix business.