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'IP Peace of Mind' Year 2 for Microsoft-Novell

Microsoft and Novell issued an announcement on Tuesday marking the two-year anniversary of their controversial agreement surrounding Linux patents. In addition, the companies described a couple of updates that they plan to make available to their enterprise customers.

One of the updates to come is Novell's plan to deliver an advanced management pack for SuSE Linux Enterprise to be used with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. The pack is expected to be available in the first half of 2009, coinciding with the R2 release of Microsoft's management solution.

The advanced management pack will extend the capability of Microsoft's platform to manage both Windows- and Linux-based servers in one solution, according to the announcement.

The second development that the companies announced on Tuesday is the "upcoming beta availability of Moonlight," an open source version of the Microsoft Silverlight multimedia platform.

No date was announced, but Miguel de Icaza's blog stated on Nov. 10 that the Moonlight Beta 1 will be available "in the next few days." De Icaza is an open source software pioneer and vice president of the developer platform at Novell overseeing the Moonlight project.

In year two of their partnership, Microsoft and Novell have added "more than 200 new joint customers," according to the announcement. The partnership entails joint marketing, ongoing interoperability studies through an interoperability lab and intellectual property (IP) protection.

Under the deal, first announced in early November of 2006, customers that buy certificates from Microsoft get technical support on SuSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell and IP indemnification from Microsoft. The indemnification is a promise from Microsoft not to sue SuSE Linux Enterprise Server users for unspecified IP violations of Microsoft's patents.

The program is designed for organizations running mixed Windows- and Linux-based computing environments, promising them "interoperability and intellectual property peace of mind."

"The interoperability and IP peace of mind that our agreement provides is clearly resonating with customers," said Susan Hauser, Microsoft's general manager of strategic partnerships and licensing, in a prepared statement marking the anniversary.

Hauser noted that Novell is offering a "new Expanded Support program" that extends to "even more customers, including those running Red Hat Enterprise Linux."

Red Hat was not one of the Linux distributors that joined Microsoft's IP protection plan.

One of the benefits of Novell's expanded support is helping users switch from Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Novell's solution. A Yankee Group study cited by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley suggested that Red Hat lost some of its Linux server market share following the Microsoft-Novell agreement.

Microsoft early on tried to establish IP protection agreements with other Linux vendors, but it had few takers. Linspire, Xandros, LG Electronics and Turbolinux were among the few to agree.

The open source Linux community generally became incensed when a Microsoft exec told Fortune magazine that Linux operating systems violated 235 of Microsoft's patents.

As far as known, Microsoft has not actually carried out its implied threat to sue Linux users for violations of Microsoft's patents.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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