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Linux and Microsoft: Let's Make One Thing Perfectly Clear

So, ho hum, big yawn, Microsoft signed another Linux patent deal, this one with electronics maker LG. Redmond's neighborhood racket continues apace, with Microsoft bullying Linux vendors into patent agreements. That's the way we see it.

With all that RCPU has written about this topic (and there are too many links to drop them all in here), there's one thing we'd like to make perfectly clear: We're fans of interoperability, which has become a forgotten aspect of these Linux deals but was the central issue when the Novell story first broke. We're not fans of legal battles, patent bullying or operating system zealots of any stripe.

Yes, we've criticized the Free Software Foundation -- still a bit of a questionable organization, everything considered -- for not being more open to interoperability with Microsoft. And we do feel that interoperability with Windows will help Linux gain credibility and greatly expand its presence in the enterprise. In that sense, the FSF hurts itself with its fiercely anti-Microsoft rhetoric.

But we also feel as though Microsoft, while it has the right to enforce whatever patents it feels Linux infringes upon, should put up or shut up with the legal saber rattling and focus on making Windows work better with Linux in IT environments rather than simply shaking down Linux distributors and customers for their legal lunch money.

The initial promise of the Microsoft-Novell deal -- the notion that partners and customers might be more readily able to sell and deploy Linux and Windows together -- probably still exists, and it's that hope for greater interoperability that we like about the Microsoft-Linux deals. But what we don't like is Microsoft's mobster approach to patents, and the FSF's apparent rejection of the notion of intellectual property and obstinate anti-Microsoft stance (from a technology perspective, from what we can tell, and not just regarding patents).

Again, nobody wins with the situation we have now. The folks who will suffer more than anyone else likely will be the partners who want to satisfy their customers and IT administrators who want to maximize their technology investments in two great platforms. Microsoft, FSF -- please find some spirit of "coopetition" and spend your time improving your respective operating systems rather than lining up lawyers for a courtroom death march. Everybody will be better off in the long run.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 08, 2007 at 11:54 AM


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