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Microsoft To Announce Linux Partnership 534

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Microsoft is entering into an unusual partnership with Novell that gives a boost to Linux, people familiar with the companies tell From the article: 'Under the pact, which isn't final, Microsoft will offer sales support of Suse Linux, a version of the operating system sold by Novell. The two companies have also agreed to develop technologies to make it easier for users to run both Suse Linux and Microsoft's Windows on their computers. The two companies are expected to announce details of their plan today at a press conference in San Francisco. In addition, Microsoft won't assert rights over patents over software technology that may be incorporated into Suse Linux, the people said. Businesses that use Linux have long worried that Microsoft would one day file patent infringement suits against sellers of the rival software.'"
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Microsoft To Announce Linux Partnership

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:38PM (#16694041)
    They want their ice back.
  • Hey Novell! (Score:5, Funny)

    by snuf23 ( 182335 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:39PM (#16694045)
    Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Why, yes, to the tune of Zappa's "Keep it greasy (so it'll go down easy)"
  • Did I not RTFA correctly, or is Satan breaking out his ice-skates??

    Does this mean that SUSE is now as good as dead, or poised to take over?

  • Um... er... but... wtf... *Head Explodes*
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:41PM (#16694103) Journal
    I dont understand why Microsoft has been so friendly to OSS sofwtare on windows, but this is well strange.

    Microsoft has been nicer since Bill Gates left the CEO position to Steve Balmer but Microsoft must have an incentive. Why would Microsoft help a competitor? Especially one that is very entrenched in the server market which MS wished it owned like the desktop market.

    I wonder if there are clauses in that agreement for MS to pull a SCO if they feel to threatened? This is the same microsoft that screwed IBM twice with DOS and OS/2 and Netscape so I am skeptical.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The most obvious explanation I can think of is that they have decided Linux is not going to displace Windows on the desktop, and that the technologies in question are useful on the desktop rather than on servers. If SuSE (and others) take up Microsoft solutions on the desktop, they will not be developing parallel solutions.
    • Very simply... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by turgid ( 580780 )

      I dont understand why Microsoft has been so friendly to OSS sofwtare on windows, but this is well strange.

      By getting their technology ("Intellectual Property", patents etc.) into SuSE Linux, the automatically get Novell and all of its SuSE customers hooked on MS IP. Then, other users will succumb, because they will see the features in SuSE and either migrate or demand it in their own distros.

      Then, Microsoft goes back on the deal and wipes out corporate Linux, and probably forces all of those users on to

      • Much as I wish your plan B were the case, I think your first stab is more likely.
      • Don't blame Microsoft for OS/2's deficiencies, blame IBM. Gates tried to convince IBM not to use so much assembler, but IBM were drawing on centuries of experience - or something - and were not listening. It took the Cookie Monster (Gerstner) to pull IBM's arrogance.

        If the Linux side play their cards carefully, Microsoft will not be able to go back on agreements. Insisting developments are Open Source will be essential.
        • Microsoft found it very convenient to tell WordPerfect that OS/2 was the answer. That they should put all of their efforts into WordPerfect for OS/2. And then Microsoft pulled out Windows 3, and Word for Windows.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by turgid ( 580780 )

          And do you think Microsoft's "promises" not to charge for patents, and so forth, will be worth the paper they're written on, if they are indeed written down at all?

          RMS is indeed a wise man.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why would Microsoft help a competitor?

      Maybe you could ask Steve Jobs. I think he might know.
    • Unlike many competing products, the linux market doesn't require you to buy out rights to use the software. MS can join in the linux market, rather than fighting it tooth-and-nail, and probably manage to make a profit from it alongside their windows products. If their offering are good enough, competing linux products might also dropped off, which puts the ball in MS's side of the court.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by VEGETA_GT ( 255721 )
      I think it has to do with the fact hey are going to develop software to run both suse and windows at the same time. think about it, getting suse users to run windows on thre sytem while not having to lose suse, its another license and more cash for M$. Also they could make the software buggy specifically towards suse and O darn, its easer to deal with windows in this setup, then guess what people well use.
    • We do Linux too! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jhines ( 82154 )
      It sounds like some ammo for the sales force, when the client mentions Linux, and keeps MS in the bidding.
    • by yurik ( 160101 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:57PM (#16694457)
      I suspect Microsoft needs a common programming platform, and its Mono they are after.

      The adaption of .NET in the enterprise was very slow, mostly because most backends have been exclusively Unix/Linux based. Having two infrastructures at the same time is fairly expensive to maintain - an enterprise basically needs two groups of admins.

      Mono solves the problem of running .net on Unix, but its legal status makes many people worried, thus Java is much heavier present in the enterprise, thus eventually it will get to the point of having as nice UI as WinForms from both visual and developer's perspective. The moment it happens, being a cross-platform Java will run on both Unix & Windows - not good for MS.

      This partnership sends a clear message to all enterprise architects: Mono is OK, we won't sue you. The extent of this is unclear... Will wait and see :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by head_dunce ( 828262 )
      Microsoft is seeing open source applications, like SugarCRM, come into the business market and fast. These open source applications have to run well on Microsoft operating systems, but right now they run better on Linux. For example, that's why they're partnering up to make PHP run better on M$ products. [] I think they tried to do this on their own with Longhorn, and although it may come out at the end of the month, I doubt it's what they originally had planned. With Novell losing their top 3 kernal programm
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      IE for Linux and MSN for all searching?
    • I am also very surprised at this announcement. Microsoft has been very careful to make sure that none of their employees actually see any GPL'ed code, for fear that they will be forced to GPL one product after another (the viral license theory). Of course, they have a separate GNU lab, which is responsible for "services for UNIX," and which will probably be involved in this Suse deal...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 )

      Microsoft has been nicer since Bill Gates left the CEO position to Steve Balmer but Microsoft must have an incentive. Why would Microsoft help a competitor?

      Specifically, so they can prove they have competitors is my cynical response.

      When people say MS is a monopoly, they get to point to Apple and Linux and say "see, we have competition". By helping Linux, they can keep that interpretation in place. In this case, specifically in the enterprise segment.

      As soon as it looks like they have no viable competitio

    • by mnmn ( 145599 )
      Tell the 'people' to stop smoking the illegal stuff since April is far away.

      The people should know that Microsoft knows Linux is their capital enemy and that if they lose the binary compatibility market, customers will simply choose the superior and free OS along with the free office suite. Microsoft knows thats bad. And the people are not in the know.
    • by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @05:47PM (#16695297) Homepage
      Pretty simple, really. It's a defensive move. They NEED to be involved in Linux, especially overseas, where they can't get away with charging US prices (and can barely enforce the licenses anyway).

      And don't expect MS to try and make SuSe proprietary; they're doing this precisely because they need an alternative product line, to gain an entry with customers who won't use Windows.

      Expect to see a LOT of SuSe in China.

      The lesson from this and the Oracle move is that it makes more economic sense for huge software companies to handle the distribution, and to benefit from the various synergies and good will that it creates, rather than to start a company that does nothing but Linux (and trying to figure out how to monetize free software). MS will eventually profit more from Linux than Red Hat ever did, but not by charging for the software.

      Linux has "won", in a sense.... it's reached enough critical mass that there's a mad rush to be the one who gives it away. It may never outnumber Windows, but it will ALWAYS be a factor from here on out. The only question remaining is who will eventually buy Red Hat (sure, they may try to restructure, but they'll never be able to make a go of it with MS and Oracle trying to outdo each other at giving it away). SAP and HP are the first names that come to mind. Maybe Sun, but they couldn't afford it. Intel would have antitrust problems. Not sure if IBM would still be interested.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The clue is in this line: "The two companies have also agreed to develop technologies to make it easier for users to run both Suse Linux and Microsoft's Windows on their computers."

      Remember the recent MSoft/Xen collaboration? MS is making a version of Windows that can serve as the hypervisor that other OS's run on top of. Microsoft's interest here is to make sure Windows is at the bottom layer so they can enforce DRM, "trusted computing" and ultimate control of the box, and collect fees when everyone is usi
  • Now BSD will die for sure....
  • by Cruxus ( 657818 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:42PM (#16694131) Journal
    How will the open-source community view SuSe Linux now? I can only imagine the brand will soon have the same stigma as Windows does. Will there be exaggerated anecdotes about how frequently SuSe "WinLinux" crashes compared to "real" distros?
  • As Scott G. McNealy said to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown back in 2001, "The first hit of heroin's always free."

  • Could this be the first step on the path to Microsoft Linux? Maybe they plan to embrace-and-extend their competition (Redhat) away, at least in the server room.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MarkGriz ( 520778 )
      "Could this be the first step on the path to Microsoft Linux?"

      Yep, they've already trademarked the name Microsux
  • On the surface, this seems like a good thing. So was is my skin crawling?
  • IE for Mac (Score:3, Funny)

    by porkThreeWays ( 895269 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:47PM (#16694227)
    and I'm sure it'll have all the quality of IE for mac...
  • This is an omen. Something big is going down soon. I doubt it will be pretty.
  • After all the news lately, Admiral Akbar isn't even surprised anymore.

  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:48PM (#16694259) Homepage
    1. It's a trap!
    2. Embrace (today) Extend (tomorrow) and Extinguish (next year)
    3. There's going to be a whole lot more newsgroup traffic from MS support phone jockies from whatever developing country they live in this year.
    4. MS says "All your corporate monies belong to us!".
    5. Redhat should be renamed DeadHat.

    Good thing I'm on Debian Etch. Which has been running beautifully despite the "testing" moniker.

  • Microsoft? Linux? Pact? Did someone leave out the word Devil? And is it really MicroFAUST? ;P
  • shove away from SuSE. Looks like it's time to complete my switch to Ubuntu.

    It makes my head hurt to think of the number of ways Microsoft can screw over the Linux community by including code in a distro and later claiming it's proprietary.
  • In addition, Microsoft won't assert rights over patents over software technology that may be incorporated into Suse Linux

    Against SUSE or against linux/competitors in general? Perhaps they'll allow SUSE use of patented technology but still bar it from the rest of the linux community.
  • Perhaps they're gearing up for Microsoft Linux.
  • by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) * on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:57PM (#16694445) Journal
    MS Salesman: Hello, you left a voice message for us. You said you are looking for Susie. There's no Susie here. My name's Steve. How may I help you?

    Customer: Oh, hi Steve. Not "Susie", "Suse".

    MS Salesman: No one here by that name. But how may I help you?

    Customer: Well, we need highly scalable, robust Web services with low cost-per-seat and low TCO running on older hardware with industry-leading uptime.

    MS Saleman: Gotcha! I'll ship you some Windows Vista licences right away. Don't worry, there's a GUI for all that Interweb stuff.
    • Actually it's bronounce Sooh-Zah, and Microsoft will say "Why, sure you can play your John Phillip Sousa music on Windows!"
  • From the article...
    In addition, Microsoft won't assert rights over patents over software technology that may be incorporated into Suse Linux, the people said. Businesses that use Linux have long worried that Microsoft would one day file patent infringement suits against sellers of the rival software.
    It worries me that this might end up causing problems where MS agrees not to sue Novell for something the put in suse, so novell develops something and releases it under the GPL, then other distributions get
  • That M$ would go with the inventors, SCO!
  • by Tony ( 765 )
    I do wonder if this is related to Oracle's recent announcement in any way?

    Or I wonder if they have decided to use a Linux kernel for their next iteration of MS-Windows the same way Apple used a *BSD kernel in OSX?

    Or I wonder if someone wanted some ad impressions, and so cooked up this baloney story to get some page hits?

    Or I wonder if there just isn't enough evidence to say one way or the other if this deal is in any way real?
  • As I post this... 86 comments were before me. NONE rated above 2 yet. None were sticking out as a post.. i had to individually click every post to read them.

    It's like /. was spotlighted for a moment or something with this news.
  • The blurb implies that Microsoft will enforce their patents against distributions other than SuSE.


    The IBM patent portfolio may be the only thing holding Microsoft back from the destruction of the Linux OS.
    • The blurb implies that Microsoft will enforce their patents against distributions other than SuSE. Yipe! The IBM patent portfolio may be the only thing holding Microsoft back from the destruction of the Linux OS.
      On the other hand IBM has the ultimate patent portfolio. They even have a patent on how to search a patent portfolio. I don't belive for a second that IBM has any truly altruistic motives but that we should be greatful for having them in the Linux corner.
    • Given that the kernels are not significantly changed by the distribution sellers, could Microsoft sue (eg) RedHat for patent infringement while not sueing SuSE over the same piece of code? It would seem a bit strange to say of GPLed software that it can only be used if it was obtained as part of a SuSE distribution - the same software obtained from RedHat is infringing a patent. After all, under the terms of the GPL, SuSE can't prevent anybody else from getting access to the GPLed software in their distribu
  • Does this mean that using (parts of) mono will only be safe on the SUSE distribution?

    That would effectively make mono a proprietary technology.
  • Source Code (Score:4, Funny)

    by slackmaster2000 ( 820067 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @05:05PM (#16694587)
    The motivation here is obvious: Microsoft is trying to find a way get its hands on the source code for this new "Linux" technology.
  • Isn't that one of the signs of the apocalypse?
  • You have to think about all the recent chatter about Oracle having their own Linux distro, and suddenly 2 + 2 = 4...
  • Novell could be Microsoft's "gateway" into the open source world. They are compatible in that they are both for-profit corporations and therefore share the traits of monetary goals and risk-based aversion. They think more alike. Microsoft and Novell can make contracts that gives Microsoft the needed sense of security that the circumstances of their relationship would not change overnight. Novell gains credibility as Microsoft gives them a vote of confidence in the business world and Microsoft gets to bu
  • by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @05:14PM (#16694703) Homepage Journal
    Just more crazy speculation on my part, but could this partnership be a prelude to a future Microsoft buyout of Novell? Such a buyout would kill two big birds with one stone. First it would get Netware completely off the table as a competing NOS, not that it has been much lately, but there are still a lot of Netware installations out there. And two, it would get them into the Linux world with one of the best distros around, which also happens to be one of the corporate favorites. A grand strategy, I think, if true. This opening partnership approach might even steer them clear of antitrust entanglements during any subsequent buyout/merger.
  • It sounds to me like this, in conjunction with the release of Virtual PC for free, MS is gearing up for a fight in the virtualization market. They want to say "You need to run Linux for X, Y, and Z but you need Windows for A, B, and C? Run them on Virtual Server, with our bundled Windows Server + SuSE Linux! It will be a snap, just like Virtual PC has been for you for years" (which may or may not be true, but is a good sales line).
  • First, the FCC does something right [] and now Microsoft is getting into Linux?

    The "Gates of Hell are open and Satan is ice skating" trifecta is now in play.
  • The first trap that pops into my mind is that Microsoft will offer some proprietary server/service software for both Windows and SUSE Linux. Probably some kind of ActiveDirectory support or something. It will be easy to set up and use, and will work well in corporate environments where there are tons of Windows desktops.

    Fast-forward two years, after Vista's gotten entrenched (they wish) and Vista SP1 rolls out. SP1 depends on a newer version of the service. Microsoft releases a new version of the serv

  • Ballmer is going to be making the announcement at 2 p.m. PST. It's going to be transmited as a webcast in online [] (probably in a crippled patent-encoumbered file format). It seems a transcript will be posted 2 hours after it ends [].
  • ... or, at the very least the Ellison's.
  • > Microsoft won't assert rights over patents over software technology that may be incorporated into Suse Linux...

    The implied part missing from this statement is "against Novell". Novell will now be free to develop stuff that steps on MS patents, all open source and GLP-compliant, but other distros won't be able to use it for fear the MS will sue them. Esentially this is a move to try to biforcate the Linux market. They want infighting to slow down Linux development instead of the big feel-good code-shari
  • I had to check my calendar, for a moment I thought it was April already. We did just change the clocks.
  • by neiras ( 723124 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @05:35PM (#16695057)
    It's gotta be (at least partially) about Mono []. Novell's legal folks were doing a major patent review on it last I heard. I guess the "It'll all be okay! Trust us!" approach to handling potential legal action from Microsoft ended up not holding water with the sharks.

    Read Seth Nickell's thoughts on the issue [], particuliarly the section entitled "The Horror Story". It's happening.

    It's bad enough that Tomboy [] is in GNOME and F-Spot [] (Novell again) is so damned nice. Users are already demanding these applications, because the alternatives suck. Developers love C# 'cause it's so nice to build with. The first few hits are free.

    The whole Mono patent issue really strikes me as a Novell play for market share - they work a deal with Microsoft, write gorgeous apps in C# that everyone wants, encourage competing distros to integrate those apps, then laugh as Microsoft takes out their competition in court. Or something. IANAL, obviously. Hopefully I'm just being paranoid.

  • The Truth. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FatherOfONe ( 515801 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @06:17PM (#16695873)
    Ok, the real thing here is that Novell is all for the use of MONO and .NET. Microsoft likes that idea and will try and write some apps that currently will work with the .NET framwork that Novell has going for it now with SuSE 10.x. So it technically would be possible to buy a Microsoft app and run it on a Novell server. Will anyone do this?

    How many organizations want to run a .NET app on anything but Windows?

    Honestly how many .NET developers out there that want to target Linux?

    Now, how many Java developers out there that develop and use Linux?

    Most people would agree that there is around 1000 Java developers using Linux to every .Net developer, yet Novell appears to have an infatuation with .NET. Yet Novell seems to want to make Linux a .NET server at all cost.

    To be honest I really like SuSE 9ES and OpenSuSE 10 (for home), and I have for the most part overlooked the tools that now require .NET to work with SuSE, but I can only imagine that this is going to get far worse, and at some point I will have to switch distros because of Novells desire to become this "sub Vista" operating system.

    So the truth is that you won't see Microsoft write some cool application in Java or PHP or even C, but in C#, and it will somewhat work on SuSE 10.x or 11, then break with one "Windows Update". Of course nobody will ever use it in production except a handful of people, so it really won't matter.

    Novell isn't doing much here and neither is Microsoft. The only "good" this might do is make MONO better, but given it's track record that shouldn't be hard to accomplish.

    Poor Novell, they use to be a great company, and now they are reduced to begging Microsoft for applications. Just think what they could have done if they would have GPL'd NDS back in 1993. It could have become the defacto standard by now. Ahh, but you guys can at least open source all those cool .NET apps you have that nobody cares about.

  • by MadJo ( 674225 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @06:42PM (#16696283) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft won't assert rights over patents over software technology that may be incorporated into Suse Linux

    But what about Fedora Core, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Mandriva, Mepis, Debian, Gentoo, and all those other distributions. Are they too exempt from possible prosecution?
    I doubt that.
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Thursday November 02, 2006 @07:24PM (#16696851) Homepage Journal

    Fewer players in the Linux world, and preferably one dominant vendor, means one opponent for Microsoft. Would you rather fight a distributed and decentralized enemy, or a centrally-controlled one with a well-defined center of gravity?

    The more standardized and less fragmented Linux is, the more Linux is like the traditional competitors Microsoft is used to crushing. My guess is that Microsoft's current attitude toward Linux is based on this assumption. Will Microsoft's attempts to manipulate the Linux market succeed? Probably not. But that won't stop them from trying.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous