09.21.07

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Linux-Windows Interoperability is Set Free

Posted in Europe, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Protocol, Red Hat, Servers at 1:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For a long time we’ve argued that Microsoft uses its ‘interoperability’ deal with Novell in order to exclude competitors and hopefully (for Microsoft) drive them out of market relevance. One sufferer, for example, is intended to be Red Hat, which was supposed to have been left behind when it comes to virtualisation compatibility and/or performance.

News about the approaching availability of an release candidate of Windows Server 2008 brought back an old familiar tune.

Neil showed Viridian running Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Edition on Windows Server. Novell and Microsoft are partners in building interoperability between the two operating systems.

Here is another article.

Neil also emphasised Microsoft’s newly co-operative attitude with Novell. “We’ve been working with Novell to optimise Linux on our platform,” Neil said. “I never thought I’d hear that statement,” Intel’s James responded.

Meanwhile, over in India, there’s a similar message being preached to the media

Finally Advani listed Novell’s advantages in this area including no additional cost per virtual machine and the company’s Interoperability Agreement with Microsoft.

From all the above, one might be left with the impression that unless you choose Novell, integration chaos will ensue. However, it is not the case. It’s merely Novell’s attempt to distinguish itself using factors like “patent protection” and “increased interoperability”. It’s about perception and about FUD. Microsoft is happy enough with such messages being delivered because that helps it capture a userbase that it can impose a sort of ‘tax’ upon (Novell customers).

Novell’s so-called competitive advantage is short-lived, however, because the ruling is Europe is bound to force Microsoft to give up its secrets, i.e. the protocols it ‘extended’ in order to stifle interoperability. Red Hat isn’t taking a passive stance either. It has already called for action.

Monday’s Microsoft ruling is good news for open source and proprietary vendors alike. But Michael Cunningham, executive vice president and general councel at Red Hat, believes the European Commission shouldn’t let up the pressure on the Redmond giant.

In due time, other Linux vendors will get all the information they require and be able to work properly with Windows, even without self-punishing patent deals.

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3 Comments

  1. Dustin Puryear said,

    September 22, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Gravatar

    Ha, very interesting! Obviously, for Novell, this WAS all about standing out with SuSE and being able to use it as a platform to sell products and services. You have a point in real-terms about how a release of Windows source will affect the Novell deal, but, I wonder, how far it will affect the deal from a very legal standpoint, since a patent is a patent. Thoughts?


    Dustin Puryear
    Author, “Best Practices for Managing Linux and UNIX Servers”
    http://www.puryear-it.com/pubs/linux-unix-best-practices

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 22, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Gravatar

    IANAL (let alone a legal rookie), but as I see it, one issue to consider here is that Windows code will be out there for people to see (c/f http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070917/D8RN77CG0.html ) and therefore be able to compare with Linux code. While this gives you insight into plagiarism (of which there is none), I don’t think it has any real effect on patent. All it enables you to do is find out if Microsoft implemented methods/algorithm on which it holds a patent in the USPTO.

    Until Microsoft tells which patents Linux infringes on (it’s afraid to do so and it’s possible that it never even compiled a list), all we can do it backward-engineer, so to speak, by looking at Microsoft’s patent portfolio to see if Linux implements something similarly. By looking at git/file documentation in Linux and aligning this against dates on Microsoft patents, prior art can be studied and then be used to trash (annul) quite a lot of Microsoft patents.

    It’s unlikely that anyone will volunteer to start such patent spraying project. It’s a total waste of time, but it helps in making (and proving) a point — the point that software patents are often worthless and Linux is in the clear.

  3. Dustin Puryear said,

    September 25, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Gravatar

    Software patents are.. well, I’m not convinced I know what they are. At best, they seem to be rather contrived at this point. We’ll see. I think the winds are starting to change direction.


    Dustin Puryear
    Author, “Best Practices for Managing Linux and UNIX Servers”
    http://www.puryear-it.com/pubs/linux-unix-best-practices

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