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Microsoft Interested In More Linux Deals 256

Posted by Zonk
from the of-course-it-is dept.
eldavojohn writes "Microsoft has announced that it would be open to more deals similar to the one it just made with Novell. 'We will love to put that kind of agreement in place with anyone who distributes Linux software, Red Hat, whoever else,' Steve Ballmer told India's Economic Times. Considering the recent reactions to the Microsoft Novell deal, it would be interesting to see who else takes them up on the offer. Novell is due to receive USD $348 million in up-front payments. Will Red Hat cash out on this offer if it feels the impending pressure from Oracle's Linux? Will non-profit Linux distributions attempt to make deals with Microsoft?"
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Microsoft Interested In More Linux Deals

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  • Way too obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MECC (8478) * on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:59AM (#16794304)
    "We will love to put that kind of agreement in place with anyone [everyone] who distributes Linux software, Red Hat, whoever [everyone] else," Steve Ballmer told India's Economic Times.

    Way too obvious.

    "Mr Ballmer, on a visit to India, said that while he believed software would be increasingly downloaded and managed off the internet,"

    As in apt-get?

    ""I would say we are moving to a world where there is a lot more electronic distribution. It is a new style of software, not the old-style distributed electronically.""

    He's obviously not taking his meds - as in the 'raise my IQ above that of a carot' pill he must need each morning to get out the door.

    "The next frontier for us is to embrace a new business model. And if we embrace it well and that business model is subscription and advertising,"

    Curious that he left out 'make good software' and 'support'...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by SultanCemil (722533)
      You know, first posts are definitely a dying art. Whatever happened to someone just scribbling down "frist psot" and hitting submit? Where are the GNAA activists? The parent poster actually put together a coherent, rational post *relating* to the article (hell, he even quotes from it).

      Can someone explain to him the way things work around here - a misspelled rant about Natalie Portman and some grits would have gone a lot further, thats all I can say.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      He's obviously not taking his meds - as in the 'raise my IQ above that of a carot' pill he must need each morning to get out the door.

      For the last time, Senator Kerry -- if you're going to make "OMFG hes so teh stupid!" jokes, you need to be able to, say, spell "carrot" correctly.

    • Re:Way too obvious (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JonTurner (178845) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:51PM (#16794972) Journal
      "We will love to put that kind of agreement in place with anyone [everyone] who distributes Linux software, Red Hat, whoever [everyone] else," Steve Ballmer told India's Economic Times.
      Linux, being free (speech, beer) can't be bought and buried, so the traditional corporate stragegy of buying and dismantling a competitor won't work. And you just *know* that it drives them crazy in Redmond! They're sitting on mountain of cash and it won't help them a bit. It's the worst possible outcome -- they must compete!
      • One possible scheme (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <<slashdot.kadin> <at> <xoxy.net>> on Friday November 10, 2006 @01:15PM (#16795334) Homepage Journal
        Linux can't be buried in the same way that a proprietary piece of software can, granted, but I think that Microsoft thinks that it can be buried -- or at least made irrelevant -- through use of software patents.

        Basically, you engage in Novell-like patent cross-licensing deals with all the major Linux manufacturers, and push them towards one distribution ("MSLinux"). You drop hints about possible liability if anyone uses non-licensed distributions, discouraging their adoption and funding. Plus, you create a lot of proprietary, MSLinux-only 'compatibility extensions' that let it work with Windows. In the end, once "MSLinux" has captured a significant portion of the market, you cut of its air supply and let it die. This leaves people with little choice but to migrate to Windows, since the other Linux distributions are either perceived to be dangerous (due to patent landmines) or have simply been neglected and underfunded for so long, that they can no longer compete.

        It's not a total endgame against Linux, but it's a pretty significant move. The GPL prohibits Linux from ever being killed completely (particularly outside the U.S.); but if you get enough software patents, it might be basically impossible to use in any significant, competitive way, without opening oneself up to legal problems.

        The real unknown variable in all this is where IBM stands. They're obviously pro-Linux, but their support is generally indirect. You don't see them buying or operating their own Linux flavor or distribution outright. I wonder if Microsoft started buying up the competition, and the field started to narrow, would IBM jump in and pick up one of the players?

        IIRC, the Linux desktop that IBM was going to deploy companywide (which would have been significant in itself, they have something like 300k employees) was a RHEL derivative. I wonder if they have some relationship with RH that would make them a likely buyout, or at least patent cross-licensing target?

        That would be interesting; Novell and Microsoft and their patents on one side, and Red Hat and IBM on another, with the biggest repository of patents in the U.S. That would be an interesting showdown.
        • Good plan, but MS will be chocked by antitrust lawsuits, especially in European Union where they are already getting in trouble for small things like an integrated media player. Trying to kill the only realistic competitor doesn't look good. If Linux didn't exist, Microsoft would have to create it :-)
        • by init100 (915886)

          You drop hints about possible liability if anyone uses non-licensed distributions, discouraging their adoption and funding.

          Yeah, just like SCO dropped hints about liability for copyright infringement unless we would purchase their Linux "license". We all know how many bought that. A few lonely suckers, but not many.

          • by jimicus (737525)
            SCOs credibility was somwhere around zero in any case by that time.

            However, if Microsoft start talking patents, and the suits start listening and hearing things like "liability.... sue..... millions of pounds (or dollars if you're american)", emails are more likely to be sent. Emails like "We don't have any of that Linux, do we? Get rid of it, quick!"
        • meaningless (Score:4, Insightful)

          by oohshiny (998054) on Friday November 10, 2006 @04:03PM (#16797794)
          The problem with all those arguments is that Novell/SuSE, RedHat, Debian, and Ubuntu are largely just distributors and packagers of other people's software. They can't cut deals on behalf of the authors, and the original authors of that software are vigilant about software patents, as is the user community.

          Furthermore, we have had several software patent claims against FOSS and they have had no teeth: by the nature of FOSS projects, wilfull infringement hardly ever occurs, and damages are hard to claim. In the end, software patents are quickly and easily disposed of by FOSS by working around them.

          I think we should consider this spending mostly part of a big FUD and PR campaign on the part of Microsoft. In the end, however, it's meaningless.
    • by NineNine (235196)
      Curious that he left out 'make good software' and 'support'...

      That's because anybody with even the tiniest modicum of business sense realizes that not only does that business model not work, but part of the definition of "good software" is not needing support.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kimvette (919543)
        Well, considering that Windows comes with:

          - No support (aside from 90-day installation support, ONLY for the retail, not OEM version)
          - NO WARRANTY
          - Effective elimination of your first sale doctrine rights

        They know better to not claim "good software" and "good support" as Windows' strength(s).
    • by btarval (874919) on Friday November 10, 2006 @01:06PM (#16795212)
      "Curious that he left out 'make good software' and 'support'... "

      You've hit it right on the head. There are quite a few things Balmer is leaving out; and what he's not saying speaks volumes. He's also deliberately not saying that Microsoft wishes to become a good citizen of the Linux community.

      Or, in short, what he's telling us is that Microsoft is up to its old tricks again. One needs to ignore the smoke and mirrors, and instead read between the lines.

      That's why I object to Novell's deal. What they have done is to deliberately attempt to go around the rules that everyone must play by. That's not being a good member of the community; that's telling everyone else to f*** off, they don't have to play by the normal rules. Pure sleeze, which is the unfortunate norm of the closed source world. I had expected better from Novell.

      If Microsoft and Novell wish to foster respect and trust, they need to play by the GPL and not try to figure out ways to go around it.

    • by Qubit (100461) on Friday November 10, 2006 @01:06PM (#16795216) Homepage Journal
      Curious that he left out 'make good software' and 'support'...

      Does that really work?

      qubit@mslinuxbox:~$ make good software
      make: *** No rule to make target `good'. Stop.
      qubit@mslinuxbox:~$

      Hmm... doesn't work for me...
    • I think that what Ballmer and Microsoft are up to is to take over the distribution chain. What Microsoft wants to do is to became a one stop house for all software customers. If a customer needs/wants a commercial linux with support he/she can go to Microsoft and buy it. A customer benefits because he has only a one channel to work with, one vendor how quarantines and provides all the he wants. Microsoft benefits because it can at the same sell try to persuade customer to go for Microsoft products. Also by
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you can't fight 'em, join 'em. (and then, find a chance to backstab 'em)
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:03PM (#16794366) Journal
      Microsoft has always "gotten it".

      When competition becomes serious, "embrace and extend." This is exactly what MS's outlandish purchases in the 90s were about, and it seems they just forgot about it for a while (and were probably concerned about antitrust).

      Meet the new Microsoft... same as the old Microsoft.
      • by BecomingLumberg (949374) on Friday November 10, 2006 @01:40PM (#16795728)
        I fully agree, but see a different outcome. First, consider the revenue stream changes:

        http://www.hunterstrat.com/news/2006/10/26/microso ft-1q-fy07-earnings-segment-breakout/ [hunterstrat.com]

        Certainly, their client software is their cash cow, but see how little attention it is getting compared to servers and tools? Consider this: most windows liscences are sold at a steep discount when bundled with a PC... which does make MS profit, but a steadily decreasing one. I think MS is shifting their business model (which they are very good at). I won't say I know what they are up to, but it is clear that they have a long term plan.

        • I fully agree, but see a different outcome.

          ...

          I won't say I know what they are up to, but it is clear that they have a long term plan.

          Not sure I follow. What is the different outcome you see?

          For my part, I see an alternate distribution model in the works, as MS has come out and said -- but I think the business model doesn't change too much. The biggest change I expect is that MS will not have a near-monopoly on OS bundling by OEMs, and this is not a function of MS's recent actions, but instead of the m

          • You really think that MS will be losing interest in computers with Windows pre-loaded? Go to Circuit or BB and ask one of their computer guys how many people this year have asked for a computer without Windows on it (if he had any, ask him if they asked for a mac). People are not going to start asking for a computer with SUSE or Ubuntu or $DISTRO on it any time soon. From the grain of salt department / hell freezing over department, I could see that MS could be looking forward to a time that revenues from
        • After they keep saying it, including in TFA? Subscriptions and advertising.

          MS 1.0 = turn computing into an "experience" and sell the experience.
          MS 2.0 = add ads to the "experience" and rent it instead of selling it.

          Pretty straightforward. What I can't wait for is the next wave of FUD: "Linux isn't ready for the desktop because the advertising experience is severely limited."
        • Certainly, their client software is their cash cow, but see how little attention it is getting compared to servers and tools? Consider this: most windows liscences are sold at a steep discount when bundled with a PC... which does make MS profit, but a steadily decreasing one. I think MS is shifting their business model (which they are very good at). I won't say I know what they are up to, but it is clear that they have a long term plan.

          Yeah, right.

          Looks like the same business they've been in for years.
    • by argoff (142580) *
      I doubt it. If they got it, then they would GPL therir software and release their patents so they could be more effective as a service based industry instead of a control based one. What they get is the use of DRM to control content, I haven't herd anyone at Microsoft repudiate that intellectual property is their "crown jewels" as they call them.

      You see information is so easy to copy and modify that in a DRM world you can't have some content systems that are restricted and others that are not, otherwise a
  • 1-Create your own Linux distro
    2-Let M$ buy your soul
    3-Profit
    4-???
  • They can't just strike deals with everonye that distributes linux and add their 'touch' to it. You can't 'buy' Linux. You can have all the companies in your pocket that you want, but at the end of the day, it's still going to be free and maintained by developers from all over.
    • They can't just strike deals with everonye that distributes linux and add their 'touch' to it. You can't 'buy' Linux. You can have all the companies in your pocket that you want, but at the end of the day, it's still going to be free and maintained by developers from all over.

      Right. But unfortunately, I don't have Linus Tovalds' or Alan Cox's phone number to call up for tech support. Nor can I sue them when their code breaks costing me millions.

      Buy up all the companies doing 'supported' Linux and there wi

    • I love it when individuals think that they're smarter than all of the individuals in one of the smartest run companies on the planet...

      it's still going to be free and maintained by developers from all over.

      That's all well and good, but up to this point, "developers from all over" still haven't been able to put together a product that people will take for free. MS isn't going to "buy" anything. They're going to streamline and clean up SUSE and other products, to make them much more useable by people worki
      • There was once a man who was charged with a crime he says he didn't commit. He was tried and convicted. His sentence was far greater than the crime he was accused of committing. He, in a hand written form, petitioned the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court agreed to hear his case.

        It was argued that he didn't have legal assistance or any legal knowledge and that he should be given a new trial. The US Supreme Court agreed and ruled that everyone is now entitled to legal assistance and a lawyer will b
  • You know what, I am a nobody in the Linux world, but I support the deal. I have read what I think are the terms and have found that they not that bad.

    We'll be able to get SuSE Linux as we're getting the OS now. The difference is that the "threat" of suits will not be hanging on users of SuSE. This is not bad at all in my opinion.One thing I am sure of is that we will be able to play MS media files and use OpenOffice.org without fearing that a suit might be coming anytime.

    Now, can any slashdoter tell me wh

    • To me you sound like a fool, anyone else could threaten to sue users of SuSE for "IP" related issues, any one else could actually sue users for "IP" related issues, neither of which would be proof of "IP" related issues really existing. If there really is "IP" related issues in Linux, MS should spell them out, Novell at least should spell them out.

      For you to "support" this deal because the terms are "not that bad" sounds foolish. Do you think this is a reasonable way for a company to do business, trying to
    • Now, can any slashdoter tell me why this deal is really bad and should be avoided?

      I'm not saying either of those things - but I don't have the warm and fuzzies over this. Why? Because there is no immediate answer to the most obvious question; What does Microsoft believe they are getting for their 348 million dollars?

      I mean - they ponied up a third of a bill so that you'd be protected from lawsuits...from them. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to - say - not sue? I'd have to double-check my figures; but I'm pretty sure that will cost you nothing.

      They're getting something out of this (or at least they believe they are), and if you've directly benefited, then it's reasonable to believe that it's costing you something as well (TNSTAAFL).

      Maybe it's a good trade, maybe not, but Microsoft has earned a certain reputation among this audience.

      Time, and the trust of Linux users other than myself, will tell.

      • Mod parent up! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khasim (1285)
        Microsoft talks about "interoperability" with Linux ... but the source code is Open. They don't need Novell to help them with that.

        And certainly not at a third of a billion dollars for that "help".

        What, specifically, is being purchased?
      • by 10Ghz (453478)

        I'm not saying either of those things - but I don't have the warm and fuzzies over this. Why? Because there is no immediate answer to the most obvious question; What does Microsoft believe they are getting for their 348 million dollars?

        That has been my main question as well. Sure, some of that money was for SUSE-licenses. But that does not cove all of it. What exactly did Microsoft get for it's money? They got something, but we still have no idea what that is. And even though MS might have zillion dollars i

      • They're getting something out of this (or at least they believe they are), and if you've directly benefited, then it's reasonable to believe that it's costing you something as well (TNSTAAFL).

        And you are correct, it is costing SuSE users something, cash.

        "Novell will make ongoing payments of at least $40 million over five years to Microsoft, based on percentages of Novell's Open Platform Solutions and Open Enterprise Server revenues."
        http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS8976869042.html [desktoplinux.com]

    • by The Man (684)
      Perhaps because threatening someone to make you pay them is a crime? It's called extortion. In the absence of any solid evidence that Novell bought a license to use some specific code owned by Microsoft, or to implement specific Microsoft-patented technologies, that's all this "agreement" is. A goon walked up to your brother and threatened to break his legs unless he gave the goon $100. Your brother "agreed" to give the goon $100 in exchange for not doing something the goon couldn't legally do in the fi
    • can any slashdoter tell me why this deal is really bad and should be avoided?

      Absolutely.

      As with laptops and desktop hardware there is no reason I should be forced to pay a Microsoft tax for crappy software I have not intention of utilizing simply because Microsoft made some sweet deal with OEMs.

      Likewise there should be no reason why I should have to pay a Microsoft tax for bogus patents I have no intention of utilizing when I purchase a linux service and support contract.

      United States Patent and Trademark O

    • by westyvw (653833)
      I would rather face any threat of lawsuit now, rather then get "amnesty". This is a horrible idea. Do not give them any sort of validation to the notion that intellectual ideas are patentable. If I can solve a problem, using a unique algorithym, then they cant claim its something that I can not do.

      If you like this deal, I got some SCO stock to sell you. Look at how MS supported that mess.
  • by IcyHando'Death (239387) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:11PM (#16794486)
    Cringely's latest column (http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2006/pulpit_20 061110_001188.html [pbs.org]) is all about the Microsoft/Novell deal and Balmer's statement re other deals. He thinks Balmer's statement is deliberate deception to sow discord in the Linux space
    • So what if Balmer is sowing discord?

      All Novell has to do is be up front and specific in what what purchased, why and how it directly affects their business and end users and other Linux users.

      Since Novell does not seem to be willing to do that ...
  • 'We will love to put that kind of agreement in place ..."
    Sorry, but that's not how American English is spoken, so I really doubt it's a verifiable quote. This isn't meant to be a troll.

    Ballmer most likely said "We would like to put that kind of aggreement in place..."

    Again, not a troll, but I've seen that kind of "quote" in Indian English papers fairly often.

  • Ah yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jackjeff (955699) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:13PM (#16794512)
    So Microsoft gives money to NOVEL. In exchange NOVEL can tell its customers hey look, not only you have the right to use that (as before), but now also we can assure you that Microsoft won't sue you (never been done anyway).... ah great. I was sure they would never sue me before any way, there's no such broken e-patent where I live. Or maybe next time I fly over to the US, the DHS will arrest me?

    So what? Microsoft wants to give the deal to everyone.. ; hey i want to destribute my own distribution. Can I have a few milliion dollars too Steve? Just to make sure you won't sue me.... anyway, considered I have only $2000 in my bank account, even if you sued me, I would not even be able to cover your legal fee no?

    Mmmm.. now i'm trembling. In a few seconds, I will click on a button at a bottom of this page and I will send that to slashdot... and crap, Amazon has patented the one click... Microsoft the click which does different thing if you click for a long or short time.. Ah crap. Maybe using my penis instead of a mouse is not patented, who knows.
  • by chroot_james (833654) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:14PM (#16794514) Homepage
    There are a few comments here where people say "old news. apt-get. etc" While this style of distribution may be old news, it's not something people outside our community are aware of. Even if you hate MS, it's hard to deny how much research is done there. Somewhere around 1/4 of all computer graphics research is done there and they release papers for it too. Who knows what will come from them trying methods we hold dear. It could be good. If it's bad, then we don't have to care about their work.

    Information is information regardless of where it comes from. What I'd really like to see is MS learning a lot from Linux distros and then incorporates things I happen to love about linux and oss into the system my employer forces me to use (so I can read spreadsheets... ugh). It would make my working life more fun.

    The MS strategy here seems obvious to me. They bring a bunch of open source groups under their roof. The open source people who make money help MS make money as time goes by through support (not sure why MS is paying so much in advance, to be honest). The open source people embrace things like mono which work for any language (eventually) and on any system (mono). MS knows the uber geeks will probably still use Linux or Bsd or whatever, but they now can bring a LOT more open source software into the windows world. Beagle is a neat tool. Tomboy is neat. Are they neat enough for my mom to use on her windows computer? Possibly. MS could modify it and then redistribute, couldn't they? I think the gateway between free apps that are neat and their money making os is simply being opened.

    If our software really is so much better, then what do we have to be afraid of. The software is GPL'd which means we're safe from anyone taking it away from us...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by King_TJ (85913)
      I tend to agree. MS has already witnessed what BSD's code could do for Apple with OS X, and they're probably concerned, deep down, that maybe their proprietary OS core really isn't ever going to pan out as the best solution. (EG. They rewrote their whole TCP/IP stack from scratch for Vista, supposedly. Who knows what bugs will be exploited there in the years to come, or how long it will take to reach "maturity", where it's comparably as solid as the one used by free Unix OS's?)

      If they buy some friends i
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by chroot_james (833654)
        To take it a little further, Miguel has said many times he'd like to move all of gnome to mono. If that actually happened, you should be able to run gnome on windows. Then any compiz work going on is also windows work... Not sure how realistic this scenario is, but it certainly would be interesting! There's just to much to gain from sharing and I think MS is in a good position to make most of the money from it...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 6031769 (829845)
      Who knows what will come from them trying methods we hold dear. It could be good. If it's bad, then we don't have to care about their work.

      If they decide to patent it then we very much do have to care.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The software is GPL'd which means we're safe from anyone taking it away from us...

      Yeah, that's why DeCSS and the other LiVid projects did so well ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiViD [wikipedia.org] ) ... And why mplayer is hosted in freaking Hungary ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPlayer [wikipedia.org] ) , and why VLC has to live in France, and other non-US countries ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VLC_media_player [wikipedia.org] ) ... GPL is sure-as-hell NOT sufficient to stop people from taking software away from you.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:15PM (#16794528)

    The same way a humpback whale is interested in plankton.

  • Do No Evil? (Score:5, Funny)

    by LordPhantom (763327) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:16PM (#16794540)
    FTA: "People point to Google because Google is the emblem for somebody who has embraced a different business model than we have," he said.

    I'm guessing that that would be the "Do No Evil" part, Mr. Ballmer?
    • Whoa. You bought that whole "do no evil" thing hook, line, and sinker, huh? Well, there's one born every minute, so they say. Anyway, he meant making revenue from advertising and giving the product away for free. The whole "Do No Evil" is called "marketing". If it were authentic, it would be called a "mission statement".
      • Whoa. You bought that whole "do no evil" thing hook, line, and sinker, huh? Well, there's one born every minute, so they say.
        No, in your rush to make yourself feel "insightful" and/or "interesting" you missed the fact that it was intended as humor (a deliberate twist on "do no evail" as a business model) and I in no way ever implied -I- buy into it.
        Google "says" that, so my thought was more that Ballmar might be talking to it, and I found the cheap jab amusing.
        In short, I don't belive google really me
  • by Anonymous Coward
    [dons flameproof undies]
    I think if you have microsofted Linuxes, then you'll have the purists jumping ship wholesale, consolidating with other distros. What doesn't kill Linux only makes Ubuntu stronger, as they say.

    I'm really not worried. I won't be using Novell/Suse. I was hoping for Novell to crush MS like MS crushed Novell with NT. That's a giant monster battle over the city of Tokyo worth watching, if you ask me. But now they're partners, like Mothra and Godzilla, or whoever that was that teamed up
    • by joe 155 (937621)
      Well I happen to like RPM and really want to see Red Hat do well; I'm a Fedora user.

      Part of me knows I shouldn't be that worried because we know Fedora will always be free, they'd rather sink the distro than have to accept not being free, but the support from Red Hat is nice and I honestly think that Fedora would be worse without it.
      Should Fedora ever fall I'd have to look at another distro but I'd have to look into which one is the next most free

      Besides were all in it together and we all have a ves
  • Be afwaid ... be vewy afwaid ...

    Seriously - considering MS's past record with ex "partners" - I can't see why anyone else would want to "partner" with them .... Unless Novell wants to go the way of Corel very soon ...
  • by Coryoth (254751) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:23PM (#16794622) Homepage Journal
    Realistically Red Hat should at least go to the table with Microsoft, though presumably it will do so quietly behind the scenes. If nothing else it lets Red Hat get a much better idea of what Novell has signed on for and, through negotiations with Microsoft, a better idea of what Microsoft is willing to offer. Just testing the boundaries of what sorts of licensing and patent agreements Microsoft is willing to make could be very informative, and there's no compulsion for Red Hat to take the deal. It makes sense to at least find out what exactly is on offer.
    • I'm probably very late with this post, but here's an excerpt from RedHat's reply [redhat.com] to the Novell/Microsoft deal:

      Q: Did Red Hat consider a similar patent deal with Microsoft?
      A: An innovation tax is unthinkable. Free and open source software provide the necessary environment for true innovation. Innovation without fear or threat. Activities that isolate communities or limit upstream adoption will inevitably stifle innovation.

      Q: What's Red Hat's position on interoperability?
      A: Our business has always been

  • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:23PM (#16794624) Homepage Journal

    In the first articles I read on this, the idea I got was that people thought perhaps Microsoft set up this deal in order to legitimize the value of their patents so that they can later sue other distributors (and maybe users). The theory was that they'd be able to point to the deal where Novell paid them $40M for their patents and say "see, these are valuable, and the defendant is willfully infringing them, we deserve massive damages".

    Upon further reflection, that doesn't make any sense to me. Unless he's a complete idiot, the defendant's attorney would just say "Your honor, Novell paid $40M to the plaintiff as part of a larger deal that was offered by the plaintiff and netted Novell $340M, after the $40M payment. Novell didn't pay for these patent licenses, the plaintiff paid Novell to take them specifically so that it could use that deal as evidence of their value. No, your honor, the plaintiff has not established the value of these patents with that deal, if anything the plaintiff has established their lack of value".

    I think what's really going on here is that Microsoft is trying to disarm the opposition.

    See, the way big corporate patent battles often play out is that no money changes hands, because the defendant just points out all of their patents that the plaintiff is infringing. There are some big companies with big patent portfolios that have a vested interest in defending Linux. Novell and IBM are the biggest. I think that Microsoft is afraid to press its own patent claims because Novell and IBM might step in on the side of the defendant and offer to countersue for Microsoft infringement of Novell and IBM patents.

    BUT, if Microsoft can pre-emptively create cross-licensing agreements with the big potential Linux defenders, that problem goes away and Microsoft is then free to unleash its patent portfolio on Linux.

    I'm not too worried about Novell signing up, and I wouldn't even be too worried about Red Hat, since I don't think Red Hat has a lot of patents, but if Microsoft signs (or has already signed?) a big cross-licensing deal with IBM then I think there could be a very significant risk to Linux. I'm sure there are numerous patent cross-licensing deals in place between Microsoft and IBM because of their cooperative history in the past, but only they know whether or not those deals are sufficient to allow Microsoft to attack Linux with impunity.

  • They've got competition, and in order to head that off, they'll pay now. Much cheaper to pay $$$ now instead of losing $$$$$ later...
  • For some reason, this old saying came to mind:

    Once one pays Danegeld, one never gets rid of the Dane.

  • by creimer (824291) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:36PM (#16794768) Homepage
    LINUX: I'm not dead!

    CUSTOMER: What?

    MIRCOSOFT: Nothing. Here's your money.

    LINUX: I'm not dead!

    CUSTOMER: He says he's not dead!

    MICROSOFT: Yes, he is.

    LINUX: I'm not!

    CUSTOMER: He isn't?

    MICROSOFT: Well, he will be soon. He's very ill.

    LINUX: I'm getting better!

    MICROSOFT: No, you're not. You'll be stone dead in a moment.

  • by overshoot (39700) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:42PM (#16794842)
    Wow.

    The ink on the Novell-MS deal isn't even dry yet and Ballmer is publicly announcing his intention to violate it.

    In case nobody noticed, one of the clauses is that Microsoft won't cut any similar deals with Linux companies for at least three years. It's barely three days and they're already trolling for more.

  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:43PM (#16794850) Journal

    I've been looking at all of the threads here -- interesting points for and against what Microsoft is doing. For any other large dominant company I might look at this as an encouraging development that could help the Linux movement. But Microsoft's history and habits lead me to different conclusions, or at least instincts about their intent.

    I could list the litany of Microsoft's trespasses, not the least of which includes their DOJ conviction and subsequent Consent Decree which Microsoft seems to only loosely honor. Buy I need only look to the very recent past to find typical strong-armed and bullying Microsoft behavior, specifically their introduction of Zune and its associated music store silo.

    Microsoft brought big guns, and big players (Samsung, Creative, among others) to develop and create the portable music industry of "Plays for Sure". The idea was to have players and music compatible across a wide swath of hardware with a large musical repertoire for purchase.

    But Microsoft has thumbed its nose at that effort and struck out on its own with an incompatible "other" way of doing music... heck it's even incompatible with the old Microsoft Music Store! What the heck?

    So, while I can't predict or summon up the specifics of Microsoft's intentions to harm the Linux community and how Microsoft would do just that, but I sure have seen enough to be pretty sure their ultimate goal is to squash Linux, or make it completely theirs to the extent and extreme it no longer looks anything like the Linux of today.

    I hope the other Linux distros can withstand the Microsoft juggernaut.

  • Yawn (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Klaidas (981300) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:49PM (#16794926)
    *Yawn*
    Wake me up when they become partners with something like Debian
  • I am having a hard time getting what actual benefit Microsoft is actually receiving for its money.

    They are paying a pile of money to no be sued by a Linux vendor???

    In simple terms can someone explain:

    1: What it is microsoft claims to be paying for? And the realistic tangible benefit.

    2: Possible hidden benefits they get out of this?
  • So I'm having a hard time figuring out what MS is really trying to accomplish with this deal with Novell et al. Off the top of my head, I see the following possibilities:

    1. The truly want to Linux and produce a very of Linux with their 'touches' and make it free like all other versions. Basically, they give up on the whole competing with Linux and instead will transition to a FOSS based kernel with a for-pay MS GUI on top. Personally, I find this option the least likely.

    2. They plan to sow FUD within

  • by gosand (234100) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:54PM (#16795024)
    Linux companies should tell MS to piss off. Of course, money talks.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:57PM (#16795076) Homepage
    said the Spider to the Fly [love-poems.me.uk].
  • I can see that MS would want several Linux partners for several reasons: 1) When people want to go with a free OS, MS can push them towards the MS supported version so they will then be able to sell them Linux versions of applications. 2) No matter which government or country or industry decides they want to oust MS products from their IT departments, this gives MS a foot back in the door to start selling them more product again. "isatrap" is damned right. This play is simply MS try to re-assert its presenc
  • hey, they can't keep it from happening by 'mistake' to their own products, I'm sure they'd find a way to make this kind of thing happen in a 'partners' Linux product.

    This is actually kinda funny considering Sony is about to release the PS3. And it couldn't have happened to a more deserving company.

    http://forums.xbox.com/1/7864073/ShowPost.aspx#786 4073 [xbox.com]
  • If you tag everything "itsatrap", I suppose it's inevitable you'll eventually tag something that is actually a trap.
  • Nah, i dobut the offer will even be extended to them.

    I wonder when Microsoft will go after BSD... Its bound to happen eventually.
  • Who wants to join them!?

    Contracts are what you use on your friends...
  • to develop my own distro, sans mono and any other suspect code.
    This is what Linux is all about, if you don't like it, roll your own.
    I have no experience rolling up a distro from scratch but I see that now is the time to begin learning.

    I have been a loyal Suse fan for years now, I guess since about 7.3.
    No more. I'm phasing out my Suse installations beginning ASAP..

    Thanks Suse, it was a great run but the honeymoon is over and I want a divorce.

    Just say no to MicroSuse.
  • Someone else has mentioned it before: the real target here may be Oracle.

    It would make sense on some level: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. For the time being anyway. Novell and Red Hat are no serious threat to MS. Oracle may be. Oracle announced just recently they'd enter the Linux business and practically declared war against Red Hat. So what does Microsoft do? Use a deal camouflaged as a patent deal to pump money into all the enemies of Oracle to support them so that Oracle will fail on the Linux ma

  • Despite all the concern over the years, who would have guessed that Microsoft would, rather than competing in an open market, would just BUY the marketplace.
  • Makes just about as much sense...

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