Microsoft renews $100m Linux deal with Suse

The Linux-Windows server interoperability pact, originally struck between Microsoft and Novell five years ago, will now run until the start of 2016

Microsoft has again extended its server system interoperability pact with Suse, almost five years after the original deal was struck between the software maker and Novell, the company behind Suse at the time.

The new extension, announced on Monday, will run until 1 January, 2016. It again sees Microsoft commit to shelling out $100m (£61m) for Suse Linux Enterprise certificates, much as the last extension did in August 2008. The certificates will be used to buy support for Microsoft's enterprise customers who are running Suse Linux.

In addition, Microsoft will continue to refrain from suing Suse or its customers for using Linux, which Microsoft says violates its patents. The partnership also involves technical collaboration, such as work on combining Microsoft Hyper-V Cloud and Suse Linux Enterprise Server for customers who want to migrate to a private cloud architecture.

"Through our continued engagement on the technical side, an outstanding support offering from Suse and our ability to provide mutual IP assurance, we feel confident that we will be able to deliver core value to those running mixed-source IT environments well into the future — and into the cloud," Microsoft's open solutions group chief Sandy Gupta said in a statement.

It is not clear how much of the $100m payment agreed in the 2008 extension actually changed hands. Also, when that deal was announced, Microsoft had paid only $157m of the $240m commitment made in the original 2006 pact to Novell.

We feel confident that we will be able to deliver core value to those running mixed-source IT environments well into the future.

– Sandy Gupta, Microsoft

Suse is now a subsidiary of the Attachmate Group, whose $2.2bn takeover of Novell was completed in April. A consortium involving Microsoft picked up hundreds of Novell patents — although not its Unix patents — as part of that deal.

When Microsoft and Novell made their pact in 2006, it shocked the Linux community, as the companies were traditional enemies. Apart from a general drive to make Suse Linux and Microsoft Windows more interoperable for enterprise customers, the stand-out feature of the deal was Microsoft's promise not to sue Novell over patents it was allegedly infringing on by distributing Linux.

In May 2007, Microsoft revealed that it believes Linux violates 235 of its patents. Although the company has never publicly identified the patents in question, it has since succeeded in getting several companies, including Amazon, TomTom, Brother and Nikon, to pay it licensing fees for their Linux implementations.


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