If the folks at Red Hat needed any more proof for their allegations in a Deleware court that SCO is using scare tactics to frighten customers away from their 'wares, they got it today when the company announced their pricing for Linux users.
According to an article from CNet, the company will "charge" "customers" $199/seat for a desktop Linux IP license (note: no support, not even install disks, this is just for the right to use the code....) and $699 for servers until October 15, $1399 thereafter.
Those who like the Microsoft/SCO conspiracy theories will notice that the software giant is believed to have paid only about $5M for their right to use SCO "owned" technologies universally. If this is the case, then SCO would have received the equivalent of 25,000 desktop licenses from them considering how many millions of units they sell a year. And, if you look at it in server terms, $1399 each would put the license count at a whopping 3,600 units.
More important to the conspiracy theorist, though, is the possibility that Microsoft has a backdoor agreement to acquire SCO if they prevail in court. Think about it, $1399 additional cost in Linux would put Microsoft's Windows 2003 Server (Standard Edition) at a $200 price advantage to Linux, and Small Business Server would be directly competitive at that price ($100 cheaper to go with Linux).
The argument put forth by the "expert" surveyed in the CNet article that if you remove the pricing advantage that OpenSource development will go away and that everyone will drop Linux. I'm not sure about either of those ideas. First, OpenSource development goes on constantly on closed platforms, such as Windows, and semi-open platforms, such as Apple's MacOS (although Darwin is certainly open, the GUI parts and proprietary bits are definitely not).
But, going back to conspiracies for a moment, if you were Microsoft, wouldn't you agree to "license" the SCO software for $5M or even $5M per quarter in order to fund the legal destruction of the only viable competitor to the piece of the pie that you are currently aiming at (servers)? Especially if that money also gets you the ability to acquire the company for a bargain price later if they actually win the lawsuit? The FUD today is more than useful enough, but the opportunities available to SCO (and a partner like Microsoft) would be enormous if SCO were to win even a fraction of the judgments.
Run, Do NOT Walk, to FreeBSD!