Novell takes MS money, then stabs 'em in the back

Novell's marketing director Justin Steinman says "Microsoft is Novell's No. 1 (sales) channel in the first quarter of 2007". Despite that, Novell just announced that they're partnering with the EFF to reform software patents, and releasing previously secret details of their infamous 2006 pact with Microsoft.

In the "turnabout is fair play" department, Novell announced today that it's partnering with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in their effort to reform software patents worldwide. Novell will help the EFF with lobbying efforts, and contribute "significant resources" to EFF's Patent Busting project. Nat Friedman, chief strategy and technology officer for open source at Novell says:

Today's announcement is a logical next step for Novell in its efforts to make patents a non-issue for the software community. Software patents hobble open standards and interoperability, impede innovation and progress, threaten the development of free and open source software, and have a chilling effect on software development. Our partnership with EFF is about creating a world where software developers and users do not to have to worry about patents.

In related news, Novell says it will be sharing details of its infamous November 2006 patent pact with Microsoft for the first time in a regulatory filing later this month. The agreements will be published as attachments to the SEC filing, with "some details redacted".

Novell is making these moves after being caught off-guard by a virulent backlash in the open source community over its Microsoft deal. There's no doubt the pact was a money-maker for Novel -- Novell's marketing director Justin Steinman says "Microsoft is Novell's No. 1 (sales) channel in the first quarter of 2007" -- but the goodwill lost with the engineers that make the software it distributes was enormous. The most recent draft of GPL version 3 was delayed specifically so it could be reworded to prohibit such exclusive pacts in the future.