basically tech

81 Microsoft, Linux, and patent questions

Friday 8th June, 2007

Microsoft, after having struck a deal with Novell, have also been busy making Linux/patent-related deals with Samsung, Fuji Xerox, Xandros, and most recently LG Electronics.

The Novell deal has been in the news for months now, and has been commented on to death. I'm not quite sure what Xandros thinks it's going to gain from this. Perhaps some extra corporate business? Certainly, it's lost a lot of face in the Linux/FLOSS community. For a company with such a community-driven base product, can it afford to do that, long-term? Time will tell.

The other three, Samsung, Fuji Xerox, and LG Electronics, have rather more transparent motives. They were bullied. They spend lots of money on Microsoft products, and probably get huge discounts. If they agree to simply sign a bit paper which indemnifies them from being sued by Microsoft for something which Microsoft could never sue them for anyway, then the big discounts continue. Some Open Source enthusiasts might boycott their products, but it's small change compared to what they would lose.

A comment on the Computer Business Review Open Source Weblog seems to hit the nail on the head:

The suggestion is that Microsoft is not so much protecting its intellectual property as it is its business model. By creating a group of ‘patent-approved’ Linux vendors and discouraging enterprise adoption of alternatives via the threat of litigation the company would be able to stifle disruptive business models and innovation – all without ever proving any intellectual property infringement.

I think we can expect a lot more of these types of deals to appear.