Joint letter to the Open Source Community
From Novell and Microsoft
Today's announcement of the collaboration between Microsoft and Novell marks
the beginning of a new era: Microsoft is coming to terms with Linux
Over the past six years, we've seen the effect that the open source community
has had on Microsoft. They've shared some source code, driven community projects
like IronPython and WiX, and they continue to work with a number of open source
software companies like JBoss, SugarCRM, XenSource, and Zend.
However, today's news is a big step forward for the Linux market. Today, for
the first time, Microsoft is collaborating directly with a Linux and Open Source
software vendor. With this news, Microsoft is saying that Linux is an important
part of the IT infrastructure.
More importantly, Microsoft announced today that it will not assert its patents
against individual, non-commercial developers. Novell has secured an irrevocable
promise from Microsoft to allow individual and non-commercial contributors the freedom
to continue open source development, free from any concern of Microsoft patent lawsuits.
That's right, Microsoft wants you to keep hacking.
Why is Microsoft doing this? Because they recognize that customers today are
deploying mixed source solutions - Windows and Linux - and they want these solutions
to work well together. This will help Microsoft by making it easier for Linux customers
to deploy Windows in their Linux environments. Microsoft is committing significant
resources to promote joint Windows-Linux solutions. This is all about co-existence
and giving customers greater choice.
The collaboration has multiple pieces:
- Patent coverage
- The concern over potential patent infringements makes some people nervous
about the deployment of open source technologies.
- To do this, Novell and Microsoft are providing covenants to each other's
customers, therefore releasing each company from the other's patent portfolio.
- What it really means is that customers deploying technologies from Novell
and Microsoft no longer have to fear about possible lawsuits or potential
patent infringement from either company.
- Microsoft and Novell will collaborate in enhancing and developing the
functionality required to efficiently virtualize Windows on Linux and Linux
- Both will now be first class citizens in data centers, addressing the
needs of mixed environments. They will both enjoy optimized, supported and
tuned device drivers to maximize their potential.
- Virtualization Management
- As a plus, the companies will work together to implement the necessary
standards to manage data centers that run mixed environments (WS-Management).
- Novell will develop tools to manage virtualized Windows machines, and
Microsoft will develop tools to manage virtualized Linux systems.
- Office Open XML
- Novell engineers have been working for the last year together with Microsoft
engineers through the ECMA TC45 working group in producing a complete specification
that would allow for interoperability across office suites.
- Novell will develop the code necessary to bring support for Office Open
XML into OpenOffice, and we will contribute that support back to the OpenOffice.org
organization. We will also distribute the Office Open XML plug-in in our
own edition of OpenOffice. In addition, we will participate in the Open
XML Translator open source project.
- Read Novell's statement on file formats for office applications
- Collaboration Framework
- One of the most important components of the collaboration agreement
today is that we have setup a framework between Novell and Microsoft to
discuss future collaborations.
- Today's announcement marks the beginning of a new era, and should not
be considered a limitation. With the collaboration framework in place, we
will periodically evaluate areas where we can work together improving the
interoperability of our products.
- Mono, OpenOffice and Samba
- Under the patent agreement, customers will receive coverage for Mono,
Samba, and OpenOffice as well as .NET and Windows Server.
- All of these technologies will be improved upon during the 5 years of
the agreement and there are some limits on the coverage that would be provided
for future technologies added to these offerings.
- The collaboration framework we have put in place allows us to work on
complex subjects such as this where intellectual property and innovation
are important parts of the conversation.
- Novell customers can use these technologies, secure in the knowledge
that Microsoft and Novell are working together to offer the best possible
This is a watershed moment for Linux. It fundamentally changes the rules of the
game. We're really excited about this deal, and we hope you are too.