Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Nov 2006 22:05 UTC, submitted by anonymous
Novell and Ximian At a press conference in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce a new partnership between Microsoft and Novell. The unprecedented deal will have Microsoft offering a degree of sales support for Novell's SUSE Linux while both companies work towards better interoperability between their respective operating systems. As part of the agreement, Microsoft also promises not to wield its patent portfolio against SUSE Linux. More here. You can follow the live webcast announcement, by Steve Ballmer, here. Update: Novell has put up a detailed FAQ about this deal.
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My concern
by jackson on Thu 2nd Nov 2006 23:07 UTC
Member since:

My concern stems from this in the FAQ:

"By mutually agreeing not to assert their patent rights against one another's customers, the two companies give customers greater peace of mind regarding the patents in the solutions they're deploying."

By agreeing to this deal, does Novell indirectly give credence to Microsoft's claims of patent infringement in the F/OSS world? Could this deal be used by Microsoft as ammunition against other F/OSS companies that don't sign similar agreements? That's what has me worried.

Reply Score: 3

RE: My concern
by somebody on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 00:10 in reply to "My concern"
somebody Member since:

My concern stems from this in the FAQ:

And next point relieves that concern

"Q. The press release indicates Microsoft is also pledging not to assert its patents against individual, non-commercial open source developers. How is this connected to Novell?

Microsoft and Novell felt it was important to establish a precedent for the individual, non-commercial open source developer community that potential patent litigation need not be a concern. Microsoft is excited to more actively participate in the open source community and Novell is and will continue to be an important enabler for this bridge. For these reasons, both Novell and Microsoft felt it was appropriate to make this pledge for Microsoft not to assert its patents against the non-commercial community."

What I'm more worried is after 5 years. But even that one has no real solid ground.

I will take this agreement more like this "If we promised, we haven't yet give it away, but it was a hell of a PR move"

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: My concern
by DigitalAxis on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 00:48 in reply to "RE: My concern"
DigitalAxis Member since:

You mean like, five years later, Microsoft technology has seeped into the entire Linux infrastructure and at the stroke of midnight Microsoft fells the entire Open Source community with a single mighty patent swing, taking control of and destroying their rival?

I'm not sure I'm even paranoid enough to believe that.

Nevertheless, it's going to take a bit more to convince me that Microsoft is actually playing nice when for the last few years (and at the top of this page even now) it seems to have been their vested interest that Linux should fail.

Is this subversion from within? Is this "if you can't beat them, join them?" Is this just a patent move to protect themselves? Or is Microsoft just in the business of selling software such that we'll see Microsoft make a DE and/or office suite for Linux someday?

Yeah, I'm one of those people who's extremely suspicious of Microsoft.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: My concern
by de_wizze on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 06:58 in reply to "RE: My concern"
de_wizze Member since:

What about debian, ubuntu, gentoo, fedora, etc. do they fall under "non-commercial community" because it reads "...individual, non-commercial open source developers...". Those distros sound like groups of targets to me.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: My concern
by jackson on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 17:02 in reply to "RE: My concern"
jackson Member since:

Bruce Perens explains my concern better than I ever could:

"So, the protection of non-commercial individual contributors means that you can make Open Source, but if anyone actually uses it for something other than a hobby or a non-profit organization, there is an implicit threat that Microsoft can bring a software patent lawsuit against them - unless they are a customer of Novell."


"Even if everyone were to be protected regarding software that Novell distributes, there's the tremendous collection of Free Software that they don't distribute. A logical next move for Microsoft could be to crack down on "unlicensed Linux", and "unlicensed Free Software", now that it can tell the courts that there is a Microsoft-licensed path. Or they can just passively let that threat stay there as a deterrent to anyone who would use Open Source without going through the Microsoft-approved Novell path."

I think Perens hits the nail on the head. See his article here:

Reply Parent Score: 2