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Microsoft and Novell working for Windows-Linux interop

Microsoft and Novell sitting in a treeMicrosoft and Novell have announced a collaboration "to build, market and support a series of new solutions to make Novell and Microsoft products work better together." The two companies, once upon a time fierce competitors, will be providing improved interoperability and support between Windows and Linux, in particular Novell's SUSE Linux. Microsoft will be recommending SUSE Linux to its enterprise customers and providing coupons for SUSE Enterprise Server support and maintenance. The companies will also be providing each other's customers with patent coverage for their respective products. "Microsoft and Novell are enabling customers to take advantage of each other's products where it makes sense in their enterprise infrastructure," says Novell president and CEO Ron Hovsepian. "We jointly believe that our business and patent agreements make it possible to offer the highest level of interoperability with the assurance that both our companies stand behind these solutions."

According to the press release, Microsoft and Novell are making "three important commitments" to the open source community: "First, Microsoft will work with Novell and actively contribute to several open source software projects, including projects focused on Office file formats and Web services management. Second, Microsoft will not assert its patents against individual noncommercial open source developers. And third, Microsoft is promising not to assert its patents against individual contributors to OpenSUSE.org whose code is included in the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform, including SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop." That third one is pretty important for small-time developers, but falls short when, say, a for-profit open source company wants to use one of those developers' GPL'd code.

The Microsoft-Novell agreement will be in place until "at least 2012." Does this really "make sense for the open source community," as Novell officials say? Time will tell.

Tags: interoperability, linux, microsoft, novell, open source, OpenSource, windows

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