Microsoft

Joint Letter to the Open Source Community From Microsoft and Novell

Published: November 02, 2006 | Updated: November 10, 2006

Updated November 10, 2006

On the day of the public announcement of the Novell / Microsoft collaboration agreement, the following letter was posted on this site as an open letter to the community from Novell. The text represents both Microsoft and Novell’s commitments to the agreement and was jointly authored. You may find a mirror copy of this letter on Novell’s website here. We appreciate the feedback from the community regarding this letter and have amended our site in response.

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.

Virtualization

  • Microsoft and Novell will collaborate in enhancing and developing the functionality required to efficiently virtualize Windows on Linux and Linux on Windows.

  • 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.

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 joint solution.

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.

For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Links

Press Release

Frequently Asked Questions

Technical Cooperation Agreement

Patent Cooperation Agreement

An Open Letter on Patents

Community Commitments

An Open Letter to the Community

Community Support for the Announcement

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