Like a man possessed, the CEO and president of The SCO Group, Darl McBride, opened the company's annual conference vowing that Unix will not die and that SCO will win its court case against IBM over Linux.

McBride, who has been running the company since 2002, told about 350 attendees that despite all of the criticisms SCO has received in the IT community, the legal battle continues to be the right path for his company and for the software industry.

McBride remained defiant despite continuing industry criticism and attacks against his company since it filed a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit against IBM in March 2003. "I may be wrong on this point, but I doubt it," McBride said, quoting the outspoken former basketball star Charles Barkley.

McBride said he's annoyed by critics who claim that SCO has moved from being an operating system vendor to becoming an intellectual property licensing company. "When people say SCO is just a litigation company, it really bugs me," he said.

And in an effort to prove his point, McBride announced new versions of its OpenServer 7.1.4 and SCOoffice Server 4.1. He also pointed to the completed rollout of new SCOx Web services, and new partnerships with hardware vendors.

Despite all the evidence pointing otherwise, he claimed the company had hit a home run in its goal of aggressively defending SCO's intellectual property in court. "We've obviously overachieved on that objective," he said. "If I had to make this decision [to sue IBM] ten times over, the decision would be the same one ten times. Big Blue is no doubt a formidable opponent and we still expect to win," he said.

SCO continues to maintain its legal position that it owns all Unix System V source code through past purchases from Novell and others. "We're obviously battling on various fronts on that," he said. Not least from Novell itself, which claims that SCO doesn't even own the rights to the code it is trying to argue is included in Linux.

McBride also made clear his overriding goal - the destruction of the free software movement: "Wait until the SCO battles are over and let's see if it's free or not." McBride has repeatedly said in the past that free software stifles innovation and harms the IT industry because companies can't produce great products without any financial return. He continued to rant: "Keep your eye on the [court] filings. Over the coming year, one of the things that you're going to see is that Big Blue has got big problems."

This year, SCO is celebrating its 25th anniversary; it was founded in 1979 as the Santa Cruz Operation. SCO is looking forward to another 25 years in business, McBride said. "As the head of this company, I can promise you that we will defend Unix and we will continue to see that it has a bright future. Financially, we're well prepared for this battle. We plan to be the ones standing after going 15 rounds."

If only everyone was as sure as McBride's of SCO's chances, then his decision to bet the company on a series of difficult lawsuits would not be questioned. Until the company has a single legal success, however, his confidence will not be widely followed.