Microsoft has joined forces with a Chinese Linux distributor, China Standard Software, to jointly develop and sell mixed-source cloud-computing products.
A deal between the two announced on Monday aims to make it possible to run China Standard Software's (CS2C) KeoKylin Linux Server products on Microsoft's Hyper-V Open Cloud architecture. The companies said they have also signed "a mutually beneficial customer legal covenant agreement".
"Through this collaboration, we seek to support our joint customers in China with solutions for the cloud, which will help them build upon their existing operational investments, yet also allow them the flexibility to capitalise on strategic opportunities that may arise during this period of expansive change and growth," Simon Leung, chief executive of Microsoft Greater China Region, said in the statement.
Microsoft and CS2C will sponsor a joint virtual technology lab in Beijing for development and testing purposes. Specifically, the lab will "focus on the certification of CS2C NeoKylin Operating System on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V, creating Microsoft Systems Center management packs for CS2C NeoKylin Operating System application workloads, and incorporating support for CS2C NeoKylin Operating System within the Hyper-V Cloud architecture", the companies said.
The Chinese software provider will also join the Interop Vendor Alliance, set up by Microsoft in 2006 to promote interoperability between Microsoft systems and other companies' software and hardware.
Although the partners did not give more details about their "mutually beneficial customer legal covenant agreement", it is likely that this is a similar agreement to that struck between Microsoft and many other companies that sell Linux-based products.
Microsoft maintains that Linux infringes on a variety of its patents. Although it has never publicly identified the patents in question, the software maker has successfully got many Linux-using companies to pay out, or risk opening themselves and their end users up to legal action.
In July, Microsoft renewed a lucrative deal with Suse that ensures roughly the same kind of server system interoperability described in the CS2C deal, with legal protection for Suse and its customers.
Fu Boning, the deputy director of the China Ministry of Agriculture's Information Center, said in the statement on Monday that users were "glad to see co-operation between different operating system providers". He added that "with more and more collaboration from vendors, the customers' entire information system will be better protected".
As with many Western tech companies, Microsoft is keen to tap into the Chinese market, which is the largest in the world. In July, the software firm signed a major co-operation pact with Baidu, which will see Microsoft supply results for English-language queries on the Chinese search provider's site.
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