Wow. Talk about the lion laying down with the lamb! In a joint announcement today, Microsoft and Linspire, a Linux distribution popular with consumers and SOHO, said they will collaborate ina number of areas to promote interoperability and a better user experience for Linspire's customers. While maybe not the biggest deal Microsoft has announced recently, it's noteworthy as another indication of the company's increasingly relaxed posture towards Linux and has more than a bit of irony attached to it.
In Linspire's early days, founder Michael Robertson called the distro Lindows and was
forced persuaded by Microsoft to change the name to avoid "confusion" in consumers' minds. Robertson, at the time, mused about changing the company and product name to Michaelsoft but opted to takesafer route of calling it Linspire.
The companies announced their collaboration will be in the following areas:
- Document format compatibility. Linspire will join with Novell Inc., Microsoft and other companies to develop and distribute open source-licensed translators that allow OpenOffice and Microsoft Office users to better share documents. These efforts will enhance customer choice by enabling effective translation between Ecma Open XML and OpenDocument Format documents.
- Instant messaging. Linspire will license Microsoft’s RT Audio Codec to promote voice-enabled interoperability between Linspire’s Pidgin instant messaging client and Microsoft’s instant messaging clients for business, Microsoft Office Communicator, and, for consumers, Windows Live Messenger.
- Digital media. Future releases of Linspire will now support the latest Windows Media 10 audio and video codecs, allowing Linspire and Microsoft Windows users to better share digital media files.
- TrueType fonts. Linspire will license popular Microsoft TrueType fonts, including Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman and Verdana, so Linspire users have improved experiences creating, editing and viewing files and documents.
- Linspire customers only receive these three technologies (instant messaging, digital media and TrueType fonts) if they purchase a patent SKU. The technologies are not shipped with all Linspire 5.0 distributions.
- Web search. Linspire will select the Live Search service of Windows Live as the Linspire 5.0 default Web search engine, allowing Microsoft to bring Live Search to a broader set of users and providing leading search capabilities to Linspire customers.
Interesting. This appears to create a platform for Microsoft to make a number of its core technologies work on Linux. There's no indication what the "patent SKU" will cost or how soon it will be available but this is a story I plan to keep an eye on.
Update: TechCrunch says this is just the latest member in the Anyone But Redhat Club.