Linux Community Rejects MS Patent Claims

Earlier this month, Microsoft and Novell inked a wide-ranging agreement through at least the year 2012, with the goal of making Microsoft’s Windows and Novell’s SUSE Linux operating systems work together better. Part of the agreement involves Microsoft and Novell cross-licensing patented technologies to each other.

Since the agreement, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other company executives have ruffled feathers of the Linux community by asserting the Novell deal is tantamount to an admission that Linux infringes on Microsoft’s intellectual property. The implication may be chilling for businesses and enterprises which depend on Linux: the patent-licensing agreement would make Novell immune from any infringement suits brought against Linux by the deep-pocketed, litigation-hardened Redmond software giant, but the same can’t be said for other Linux providers, including Red Hat.

The Linux community has reacted with a mixture of amusement and effrontery, noting that Microsoft has been rumbling about Linux infringing on Microsoft intellectual property for some years now, but has yet to take even preliminary action against Linux for infringement. Linux has also faced a significant legal threat when SCO, IBM, and Novell became embroiled in a long-running suit over Unix-related copyrights; during that time, adoption of Linux was not impaired, but continued to grow.

Linux developers have been very careful path to keep clear of proprietary technologies which might encumber the free operating system. In an open letter to the Linux community, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian strongly states that his company’s agreement with Microsoft is an not an admission—tacit or otherwise—that Linux contains Microsoft intellectual property: “Our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents,” wrote Hovsepian. “Our stance on software patents is unchanged by the agreement with Microsoft.”

Microsoft, for its part, is sticking to its guns and says it and Novell have “agreed to disagree” on whether the deal means Linux infringes on Microsoft technology, while acknowledging “Novell is absolutely right in stating that it did not admit or acknowledge any patent problems as part of entering into the patent collaboration agreement.”

Industry analysis seems to agree that Microsoft’s sabre-rattling at the Linux community—in the form of vague mumblings about patent violations—is intended to put a scare into businesses and enterprises relying on Linux. This, in turn, would drive those Linux users towards Microsoft’s preferred Linux partner—Novell—and away from companies with whom Microsoft has no partnerships—like Red Hat. Microsoft no doubt hopes that, by introducing these users to Microsoft technologies by way of its partnership with Novell, these users may “switch” from Linux to Windows-based systems, or at the very least, they’d become customers of a Microsoft partner rather than businesses operating entirely outside Microsoft’s revenue stream.

Computing

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.
Computing

Get the Surface Pro 6, with keyboard included, for $1,000 at Microsoft

Thinking of buying a Surface Pro 6? Microsoft is currently running a deal on its latest Windows 2-in-1, letting you bring one home for $1,000 with the keyboard included in the price.
Cars

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.
Deals

Looking for a Chromebook? The Google PixelBook just got a $200 price cut

Once relatively obscure, Chromebooks have come into their own in a big way in recent years. One of our favorites is the super-sleek Google Pixelbook, and it's on sale right now from Amazon for $200 off, letting you score this premium laptop…
Computing

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Computing

Nvidia’s GTX 1650 graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over the 1050 Ti

Rumors suggest Nvidia might soon launch the GTX 1650, and a leaked benchmark listing from Final Fantasy XV suggests that the new graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over last generation's GTX 1050 Ti. 
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Computing

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 
Mobile

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.
Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Deals

Time to do taxes? Save up to 50 percent on H&R Block tax software this weekend

Tax season is stressful, and with new tax laws in effect this year, it's not a bad idea to get some help. H&R Block has you covered: For two days only, you can save 50 percent on its great software so you can file your taxes online and save…