The “broad collaboration agreement” covers a range of technical, business, marketing and intellectual property commitments. Microsoft said that the commitments will provide customers with enhanced interoperability, more effective systems management solutions and intellectual property assurances “all of which extend a bridge between open source and commercial software and deliver customers real value in mixed systems environments”.
For Xandros and its customers, it’s a get out of jail free card if and when Microsoft starts the open source equivalent to World War 3 by taking legal action against Linux over alleged patent violations.
The deal includes:
Systems management interoperability: “value-added heterogeneous management capabilities” which in English translates to co-operative interoperability development between Xandros and Microsoft.
Server interoperability: Xandros will license a broad set of Microsoft server communications protocols allowing it to interoperate more smoothly with Windows Server
Office document compatibility: Xandros will join Microsoft and other companies in building open source translators fostering interoperability between documents stored in Open XML and Open Document Format.
Microsoft sales and marketing support: Microsoft will now endorse Xandros Server and Desktop as a preferred Linux distribution
Intellectual property assurance: Microsoft will make available patent covenants for Xandros customers that will provide customers with confidence that the Xandros technologies they use and deploy in their environments “are compliant with Microsoft’s intellectual property”.
There was a lot of surprise following Microsoft’s announcement of a deal with Novell last year, and although the Xandros deal follows Novell, there is still bound to be surprise considering many thought the Microsoft-Novell agreement may have been a one off. The extension of intellectual property assurance to another Linux distro will no doubt cause a flurry of discussion in the open source community. My only question: who will be the next Linux deal in Microsoft’s continued efforts to strength the anyone but Red Hat Linux marketplace.