Five hundred years have passed, but the dark intrigue and Machiavellian schemes being spun by some of our most powerful contemporary princes undoubtedly would seem right at home in the infamous House of Borgia. Cesare and Lucrezia surely would have savored the corporate maneuvering we've witnessed this season by SCO Group, Novell, SuSE, PeopleSoft, Palm, Microsoft, Oracle, and the like. But for consumers of the products these firms make (and sometimes strive mightily to un-make), the plot twists can be dizzying, and the side effects might prove downright hazardous to the health of our IT operations and much more.

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