Looks like Microsoft is starting to get the idea, work with companies and maybe you can make more money than trying to put them out of business. Microsoft and Novell have signed an agreement that will allow open source Linux, in this case Suse, to work with Microsoft software. They plan on developing a joint research facility to test and develop interoperable solutions, such as virtualization, where they can run virtualized Windows on Suse Linux and vice versa, they will work together to make it easier to manage mixed environments, and Novell will support the development of translators to help OpenOffice users benefit from Microsoft’s Open XML file format.
Microsoft will distribute coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support, so that customers can benefit from the use of an interoperable version of Linux with patent coverage, as well as the collaborative work between the two companies. Although, I saw it mentioned on some blogs that they will still try to kill each other in the market place, but they will listen more when their customers tell them they want both.
Under the technical collaboration agreement, the companies will create a joint research facility and pursue new software solutions for virtualization, management and document format compatibility. These are potentially huge markets IDC projects the overall market for virtual machine software revenue to be more than $1.8 billion by 2009, and the overall market for distributed system management software to be $10.2 billion by 2010 and the companies believe their investment in interoperability will make their respective products more attractive to customers.
Under the patent cooperation agreement, both companies will make upfront payments in exchange for a release from any potential liability for use of each other’s patented intellectual property, with a net balancing payment from Microsoft to Novell reflecting the larger applicable volume of Microsoft’s product shipments. Novell will also make running royalty payments based on a percentage of its revenues from open source products.
Under the business collaboration agreement, the companies will pursue a variety of joint marketing activities to promote the adoption of the technologies they are collaborating on. In addition, Microsoft will purchase a quantity of coupons from Novell that entitle the recipient to a one-year subscription for maintenance and updates to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Microsoft will annually make available approximately 70,000 of these coupons to customers, with a mix of priority and standard support services. By providing its customers with these coupons, Microsoft is enabling companies to benefit from the use of the new software solutions developed through the collaborative research effort, as well as a version of Linux that is covered with respect to Microsoft?s intellectual property rights. Source: Microsoft
Todd Bishop at his Microsoft Blog noticed in the agreement that Novell will be making running royalty payments to Microsoft based on a percentage of its revenues from open source projects. In return, Microsoft will promote Novell’s Suse Linux to customers who decide to got he open source route.
A web cast will be available here.
The Wall Street Journal had this to say,
Microsoft has at times spooked the Linux community with statements that stressed it indemnifies Windows customers against claims of patent infringement. Some people in the open-source community regarded those statements as thinly veiled threats that it would eventually file patent-infringement suits against Linux users.
Microsoft’s move to embrace only Novell’s software could be seen by skeptics as a move to divide the Linux community. “There is bound to be some animus, just because of who Microsoft is,” said Daniel Ravicher, legal director of the Software Freedom Law Center, a public-service law firm that represents open-source developers. Source: WSJ
You can bet whatever the deal is, it will benefit Microsoft more than Novell.