A big announcement from Microsoft and Novell late last week. In it, Microsoft and Novell agreed to a very interesting partnership involving interoperability, marketing and patents, one that could make Novell the only huge power in Linux. While Linux users have obviously said no to Microsoft, they would still be more likely to choose the Linux vendor that is far more compatible with Windows, and that is real bad news for all the other prominent Linux vendors, like Red Hat.
Todd Bishop summarizes the deal. The key points are that the companies will collaborate on marketing efforts, with Microsoft offering up Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server as the Linux of choice for Windows-interoperable systems. Microsoft will even get 70,000 coupons for one-year subscriptions for maintenance and updates on Suse every year, to distribute to Microsoft customers running Suse.
Both companies agree not to pursue any patent infringement claims related to each other. Amazingly, Microsoft also agrees not to sue patent claims against individuals involved in open source projects. In addition, both companies will make upfront royalty payments to release any possible prior patent infringement, and Novell will keep making running royalty payments based on a percentage of its revenue from open source projects.
In terms of interoperability, both companies will offer virtualization technology to allow business customers to run Windows on Linux servers, and Linux on Windows servers. Microsoft and Novell will begin bridging gaps between various products so that they work together, including Windows and Suse Linux, Microsoft Active Directory and Novell’s eDirectory, as well as Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org.
Seriously, this is great news for anyone not producing a different version of Linux. Microsoft is slowly but obviously softening on open source, willing to deal with Linux in ways you wouldn’t expect an “Evil Empire” to even consider. I can’t way to start seeing results from this deal.
UPDATE: Google’s open source program manager, Chris DiBona, writes this message to his friend’s at Novell:
The Google Engineering Staff and Open Source teams are hiring.