So where IS the Novell Client for Windows Vista?

July 26th, 2007 by Jason Williams

As evidenced by the very first comment on my 4.91 SP4 blog posting, there is
a good deal of interest around the Novell Client for Windows Vista as well
as for XP/2000 and I owe everyone an update.

First of all, it is worth pointing out that Windows Vista was not a surprise
for Novell. The surprise for Novell was just how much Vista has changed
under the covers.

The Novell Client is unique in the way that it interacts with the Windows
desktop in three key areas:

Authentication / Login
User Interface
Not only that, but we also needed to update the client for both 32-bit AND
64-bit desktops as well as providing a single installer for both.

Unlike any other software product available for Vista, the Client has to
extend the login and authentication process (as well as being sensitive to
the new Vista security model), introduce a new protocol to the networking
stack (NCP) and also extend the Vista User Interface (via Windows explorer)
for networking and file access.

This is not as easy as it looks. Many of the UI and other elements that
Novell traditionally use have changed dramatically or no longer exist. In
particular the login/authentication process (or GINA) has been replaced with
a system known as a credential provider.

If this were not enough, many of the things that Novell use were in a state
of flux right up to the release of Vista, predominantly because they are
"plumbing" pieces that nobody but Microsoft really use, or so they thought.

The net result is that it took a LOT longer than expected to get everything
working efficiently and effectively.

It's not all doom and gloom thankfully. Recently the relationship between
Novell and Microsoft has improved to the point where Microsoft themselves
have offered to test the Novell Client against Windows Vista for us and have
provided direct assistance in getting the Client ready to ship.

So much for the preamble (I hear you ask), where's the client? Well, we are
in our final round of testing and we hope to get the client released within
a month (middle of August). It would have been sooner, however we have one
last remaining defect that Microsoft is helping us with blocking the
release. One day I'll blog on how Novell determines a product is ready to

As soon as we confirm that the blocker defect has been fixed we can run our
regression testing to ensure the fix did not introduce additional problems
and get the client into your hands.

It has been a long development road with some rather unexpected bumps in the
road as well as returning home at least once and starting again. When we're
going to release the client, I'll let you know.