Like a lot of people, I went "what the
But first, keep in mind that other companies have made mis-steps before. Who can forget the Sun SCO license purchase? But Sun also gave us the code base for OpenOffice, as well as Java.
Novell, in the meantime, has funded opensuse as well as various projects, and defended linux (SCO vs Novell / Novell vs SCO) at considerable cost. Does this sound like a company that wants to undermine linux?
It doesn't matter how Microsoft tries to spin the deal - the deal is not a "payment for Microsoft IP in Linux" no matter how much they say otherwise, since there is no Microsoft IP in linux
The simple answer is it can't be - so perhaps the FSF, and the rest of us, should stop drinking the Microsoft Purple Kool-Aid. The "patent pledge" is a sop to PHBs who get the warm fuzzies from that sort of thing
Taken in that light, Novell's public statements make more sense.
Customers told us that they wanted Linux and Windows to work together in their data centers, and so we agreed to develop new technologies and standards in server management, virtualization and document file format compatibility. CIOs want to focus on their business, and they want their suppliers to focus on improving operating system interoperability. The Linux community will benefit from the creation and release of the open source code to improve Linux's interoperability with Windows that will result from this agreement.
Our interest in signing this agreement was to secure interoperability and joint sales agreements, but Microsoft asked that we cooperate on patents as well, and so a patent cooperation agreement was included as a part of the deal. In this agreement, Novell and Microsoft each promise not to sue the other's customers for patent infringement. The intended effect of this agreement was to give our joint customers peace of mind that they have the full support of the other company for their IT activities. Novell has a significant patent portfolio, and in reflection of this fact, the agreement we signed shows the overwhelming balance of payments being from Microsoft to Novell.
Since our announcement, some parties have spoken about this patent agreement in a damaging way, and with a perspective that we do not share. We strongly challenge those statements here.
We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents.
Our stance on software patents is unchanged by the agreement with Microsoft. We want to remind the community of Novell's commitment to, and prior actions in support of, furthering the interests of Linux and open source, and creating an environment of free and open innovation. We have a strong patent portfolio and we have leveraged that portfolio for the benefit of the open source community. Specifically, we have taken the following actions
Really, what's Microsoft going to do? Suddenly start suing if people other than Novell continue to redistribute linux? They'd have to "show the code" - something they will never do, and we all know it. It didn't work for their SCO sock puppet, and we still don't know how much that particular fiasco is going to end up costing them if IBM or Red Hat is successful in piercing the corporate veil and someone "drops the dime
So, why not take a chill pill, enjoy the weekend, and relax - Microsoft "donated" half a billion to encourage linux growth. Take it in the same vein as the Microsoft ads on slashdot or in the various linux magazines