New Microsoft deal in the works with Red Hat? Don't bet on it

Summary:There's a story making the rounds today that Microsoft is poised to sign a new technology partnership with Red Hat that could be as sweeping as the one it signed with Novell. There's only one problem with the report: Red Hat is denying it.

There's a story making the rounds today that Microsoft is poised to sign a new technology partnership with Red Hat that could be as sweeping as the one it signed with Novell.

There's only one problem with the report: Red Hat is denying it.

I asked the open-source vendor for comment on the original story and received back this statement, via e-mail, attributable to Red Hat Associate Deputy Counsel, Mark Webbink:

"While we are engaged in activities around interoperability with Microsoft, those activities only involve technology development. All announcements with respect to those activities have already been made public."

(One of these interop deals, announced in the fall of 2005, involved Red Hat's JBoss subsidiary and Microsoft. The other, announced last week on February 13, was Red Hat's decision to join Microsoft's Interop Vendor Alliance.)

It sounds like Webbink gave the same statement to VNU that Red Hat's public-relations department supplied to me. So what's behind VNU's story claiming the Microsoft-Red Hat odd couple are prepping a new partnership?

It could be a case of pure journalistic sensationalism. Or it might be that Microsoft is trying to get the industry to believe that Novell isn't the only one interested in a sweeping technology and IP arrangement.

The first paragraph of VNU's February 19 story makes it seem like the latter. VNU's story states:

"Microsoft is to form a partnership with Red Hat to improve the interoperability of Windows and Linux, according to Tom Robertson, Microsoft's general manager of interoperability and standards."

Microsoft and Red Hat both have acknowledged that Microsoft has tried to get Red Hat to sign an all-encompassing technology/marketing/patent deal. But Red Hat execs have been quite plain in their disinterest in a Novell-type partnership -- while, at the same time, telling customers to go ahead and take Microsoft's Linux voucher money.

I understand why Microsoft would like to get another open-source vendor or two to sign a Novell-type deal. After all, there's nothing like the smell of FUD to get customers ready to buy Linux to reconsider the wisdom of their decision. But I am doubtful Red Hat will be the one to cave.

Do you think another open-source vendor might take the bait? If so, who?

Topics: Open Source

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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