Microsoft purchases Corel

Microsoft Corp. today announced it is buying Corel Corp. of Ottawa. The acquisition, according to a Microsoft representative, “leverages many synergies between the two companies,” especially in the areas of office productivity and graphics tools.

“Resistance is futile,” said Microsoft vice-president Dudley Goodfellow. “We will add their technological distinctiveness to our own. Their culture will adapt to service us.”

Aaaargh! No kidding, that article’s looming spectre gives me the willies. In the active world of my imagination it’s not always Redmond that grabs the reins; the same campfire tale can be told with IBM or Computer Associates in the leading role, although Microsoft always seems more likely.

But in a nice twist, that didn’t happen. Instead, Corel, a Canadian company, has grabbed Borland/Inprise Corp., an American vendor.

It’s usually the other way around; Canadians often watch as great technology goes south. Delrina, for example, had the market’s best fax and communication software until Symantec Corp. grabbed it back in 1995. Another case in point is the Canadarm, once owned by Spar Aerospace.

But not this time, bucko, and that’s good for Canada.

The other notable development here is the entrenchment of Michael Cowpland as our answer to the flash of Jeff Bezos or Larry Ellison. Cowpland’s company is smaller than some, but his dramatic sense and love of the spotlight are the equal to anyone, and strong risk-taking grandees like him raise Canada’s profile.

But despite all that goodness, there is one fly floating around in this soup, and that is compatibility. Corel and Borland/Inprise are strange bedfellows. Borland is known for development tools, plain and simple, while Inprise (“Inprise” is a reduction of “Integrating the Enterprise” by the way) implements infrastructure technology. Corel, on the other hand, is synonymous with graphics, and has since moved into office tools and the Linux market. Hardly a trouble-free blending of harmonious interests. Corel points to the two entities’ shared Linux interest as the glue that will bind this union, and there is certainly validity in that claim.

However, a stronger candidate for the deal’s raison d’