NetWare is a network operating system developed by Novell, Inc. It initially used cooperative multitasking to run various services on a PC, and the network protocols were based on the archetypal Xerox XNS stack. NetWare per-se has been superseded by Open Enterprise Server (OES). The latest version of NetWare is v6.5 Support Pack 5, which is identical to OES-NetWare Kernel, Support Pack 2.
NetWare evolved from a very simple concept: file sharing instead of disk sharing. In 1983 when the first versions of NetWare were designed, all other competing products were based on the concept of providing shared direct disk access. Novell's alternative approach was validated by IBM in 1984 and helped promote their product.
With Novell NetWare, disk space was shared in the form of NetWare volumes, comparable to DOS volumes. Clients running MS-DOS would run a special Terminate and Stay Resident (TSR) program that allowed them to map a local drive letter to a NetWare volume.
Clients had to log in to a server in order to be allowed to map volumes, and access could be restricted according to the login name. Similarly, they could connect to shared printers on the dedicated server, and print as if the printer was connected locally. NetWare established the dominant position in the market in the early and middle 1990s by developing its XNS-derived IPX/SPX protocol as the local area network (LAN) standard.
For the rest of the Wikipedia entry on the above term, go here.
This 2004 Podcast from ITconversations talks about the various phases Novell as a company went through until today. go here.