Microsoft and Novell: BFFs no more
Well, that didn't last long. Barely three weeks have passed since archrivals Microsoft (MSFT) and Novell (NOVL) made nice with a historic pact meant to make Linux and Windows work better together. Ever since, there's been nothing but scorn heaped on Novell, which open-source diehards accuse of selling out to Microsoft. Now comes Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian with an "open letter" defending the deal and disputing recent comments from the Microsoft camp declaring victory in its longstanding claim that the Linux operating system violates Microsoft's patents.
You can read Hovsepian's full missive here, and Microsoft's "[we] have agreed to disagree" riposte here. But last week Fortune's Roger Parloff highlighted other problems with the 'patent cooperation' clause of the Novell-Microsoft agreement even before this week's dustup - namely, that the cooperation clause violates the license that underlies Linux.
Needless to say, the whole patent brouhaha now has the blogosphere calling for war. Stephen O'Grady at Tecosystems tells Microsoft, in a post titled "I liked it better when they were just aggressive," to cut out the huffing and puffing and just sue if it thinks it has a case against Linux developers. Meanwhile, Matthew Aslett over at Computer Business World calls on Red Hat to tap into its $1 billion cash reserves and launch a preemptive strike against Microsoft, just as it did three years ago against another Linux challenger, SCO.
The Browser's take? Novell knew full well what it was agreeing to when it included a patent cooperation clause as part of its 'multi-part agreement' with Microsoft and is now back-pedaling fast from the wrath of Linux defenders. As blogger David Berlind notes: Novell agreed to pay Microsoft $40 million as part of their deal, and "has yet to explain why", given its claims that Linux doesn't violate Microsoft patents. Both companies are looking to save face, but this furor too shall die down.
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