Novell Netware is a network operating system developed and maintained by Novell, Inc. It initially used cooperative multitasking to run as a server atop a Personal Computer, and the network protocols it used were based on the archetypal Xerox XNS protocol stack.
In the early to mid 1990s the NetWare platform was the most popular operating system dedicated to serving files over a Local area network (LAN). In the later half of the 1990s NetWare was eclipsed by the popularity of Microsoft Windows NT Server (now known as Windows Server 2003).
Since Novell has shifted its strategy and now embraces open source software, NetWare has been deprecated, in favor of Open Enterprise Server (OES). The latest (and most likely last) version of NetWare is v6.5, which is identical to OES-NetWare Kernel, Support Pack 2. (OES can run on top of a NetWare-based operating system or on a Linux-based operating system).
In 1983, Novell introduced NetWare, the first LAN software based on file-server technology. Novell developed a PC networking system that designated one machine to manage the network and control access to shared devices, such as disk drives and printers. A centralized NetWare server would be dedicated to sharing files over a LAN to other clients running their own client operating system (clients could be UNIX-based, DOS/Windows based, etc). This centralized model made backups easier, and the server could be made redundant to provide for hardware failure.
Through the 1980s corporate networks came to rely on the new client-server model of computing. By the early 1990s, Novell's NetWare operating system, updated to add key features for distributed enterprises, led this market with a nearly 70 percent share.
In the 1990s, Microsoft began to take notice of NetWare's market share on the server front, and the Windows NT project directly targeted NetWare's market: corporate networks. In time Windows Server based operating systems grew in popularity, and NetWare saw a sharp decline.
Novell has since changed its strategy and has bet the company on "Open Source"-based products, and Novell has rebranded NetWare "Open Enterprise Server," with a version that runs on the NetWare kernel (for backwards compatibility) and a version that runs entirely on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). Novell NetWare itself is considered deprecated.
- "Novell History" (Retrieved 2007-04-19).