In a move that mirrors last year's patent covenant with commercial Linux provider Novell Inc., Microsoft and Linux platform provider Xandros Inc. have announced a collaboration agreement that promises to protect customers from patent infringement suits.
According to Microsoft, it will make patent covenants available for customers of Xandros Server, Desktop and BridgeWays systems management suite. These covenants "will provide customers with confidence that the Xandros technologies they use and deploy in their environments are compliant with Microsoft's intellectual property."
By putting a framework in place to share intellectual property, Xandros and Microsoft can speed the development of interoperable applications, said Andreas Typaldos, chief executive officer of Xandros, in a statement.
The agreement reaffirms comments put forth during a recent SearchEnterpriseLinux.com interview on Linux patents with Sughrue Mion patent attorney John Rabena. In the interview, Rabena said that Microsoft, with its saber-rattling over 235 alleged Linux and/or open source patent infringements, was deliberately attempting to get other companies to enter into Novell-like patent agreements.
Under the Novell agreement, Microsoft offers sales support for Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). The two companies also have plans to simplify running the Windows operating system and SUSE Linux in mixed operating system environments, including the co-development of virtualization products and document sharing between office suites Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.
Xandros and Microsoft, meanwhile, have laid out a five-year roadmap for operating system interoperability, based on five primary efforts:
- Systems management interoperability. Xandros will partner with Microsoft to deliver heterogeneous management capabilities that will work with the next generation of Microsoft System Center and Xandros Systems Management products. Xandros will also join Microsoft in implementing the WS-Management set of protocols in Xandros BridgeWays cross-platform management products and in various systems management standardization efforts.
- Server interoperability. Xandros will license a broad set of Microsoft server communications protocols. Xandros will develop enhancements to Xandros Server, allowing it to interoperate more smoothly with Windows Server in a network setting.
- Office document compatibility. Xandros will join Microsoft in building open source translators fostering interoperability between documents stored in Open XML and Open Document Format. Xandros will ship the translators in upcoming releases of its Xandros Desktop offering.
- Intellectual property assurance. Microsoft will make available patent covenants for Xandros customers.
- Microsoft sales and marketing support. Microsoft will now endorse Xandros Server and Desktop as a preferred Linux distribution. In addition, a specialized team of Microsoft staff will be trained on the value propositions of this collaboration to customers and channel partners. Xandros will also become a member of the Microsoft Interop Vendor Alliance.