Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Linux uses Microsoft intellectual property?

Analysts and open source fans have been watching the Novell/Microsoft partnership closely

Microsoft recently signed a deal with Novell because Linux currently uses Microsoft's intellectual property and Microsoft hopes to get "appropriate economic return" while Linux continues to use its intellectual property. While participating in a question and answer session during a conference in Seattle last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that Microsoft signed the deal because Linux "uses our intellectual property."

Microsoft originally entered the deal to offer sales support and technology sharing for Novell SUSE Linux at the beginning of the month. A reported $440m payment from Microsoft to Novell for coupons that would allow users to receive a year of support and maintenance for SUSE was one of the stipulations in the deal. More importantly, however, is an alleged $40m payment made to Microsoft so that the company would not sue Novell users for alleged patent infringement.

Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian recently issued a letter to the community that addresses some of the details between the Novell and Microsoft agreement. Here is an excerpt from his letter:

On November 2, Novell and Microsoft announced a significant, multi-part agreement to work together to improve the interoperability between Linux and Windows and for Microsoft to redistribute more than 350,000 subscriptions for SUSE Linux Enterprise to the Windows customer base over a five-year period. This agreement is at the heart of what IT users demand -- to deploy both Linux and Windows, and to have them work well together -- and many companies have spoken out in support of this new cooperation.

Customers told us that they wanted Linux and Windows to work together in their data centers, and so we agreed to develop new technologies and standards in server management, virtualization and document file format compatibility. CIOs want to focus on their business, and they want their suppliers to focus on improving operating system interoperability. The Linux community will benefit from the creation and release of the open source code to improve Linux's interoperability with Windows that will result from this agreement.

Novell SUSE Linux currently is the second largest commercial Linux distribution, following behind Red Hat.

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