Aftermath of the Microsoft-Novell deal

In case you didn't get the news, yesterday, Microsoft signed a deal with Novell, meaning that:

As part of the deal, all future litigation against Novell will be halted, including patent infringement disputes. Microsoft will begin offering sales support and technical support for Novell SuSE Linux, an open source operating system available in several versions, including OpenSuSE (community developed) and SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (Novell developed, includes proprietary applications).

Many other things were announced along the lines of Microsoft and its stance towards FOSS, and you can read the whole of that at our sister site Gizbuzz. You can also read Microsoft's take on this at their Port 25 blog.

So, what will this mean for Novell and, more importantly, what implications does it have for the future of FOSS?

Hopefully, this will lead to better interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux (and hopefully all the other distributions and other FOSS operating systems as well). With Microsoft in the past having done quite a lot to hinder interoperability with other operating systems and their constant anti-trust lawsuits with the EU and others, if this does turn out to be a real attempt by MS to work with instead of against everyone else, this will undoubtedly help FOSS.

What is a bit more surprising is that part of this deal is that Microsoft will sell and provide after-sales support for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. This seems a bit strange to me, because as far as I am aware, I thought Microsoft's expertise with Linux stopped outside their Open Source Labs.

There's also good news in software patents. No, they're not going away (yet), but cruicially Microsoft will not assert patent infringement claims against individual FOSS developers. This clearly leaves a gaping hole for organisations building free software (for example the KDE project couldn't be considered 'individual developers'), but it's a step in the right direction.

One note though, Microsoft said:

"We're not getting into the Linux code distribution business."

So, no Microsoft Linux then. But I think there wouldn't be much jubilation if there was.

Still, it shows that Microsoft are kind of being forced to see Linux as a significant competitor and the FOSS model as a viable business model now, and who knows, this could help SUSE (and hopefully other) Linux to get more market share and boost open source in general.

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: Aftermath of the Microsoft-Novell deal

  1. # Posted on 03 November 2006 at 05:48 AM

    [...] When I reported yesterday on the Microsoft-Novell deal, I didn’t really look in much detail at the other side of the argument that this was a bad move for FOSS in general. [...]

  2. # Posted on 03 November 2006 at 05:57 AM

    [...] Come on, you know what this is about. [...]

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