"The first thing that came out of my mouth when I met with Microsoft was that we needed to do better document interoperability between Office and OpenOffice. That is super-critical and has always been critical for Linux," Carmony said. The office document translator work is particularly important to Microsoft, since it is one of the top priorities for its enterprise customers, Kaefer said.On the instant messaging front, Linspire will license Microsofts RT Audio Codec (a device or program capable of encoding and decoding a digital data stream) to promote voice-enabled interoperability between Linspires Pidgin instant messaging client and Windows Live Messenger on the consumer front and Office Communicator, Microsofts instant messaging client for business. Windows Messenger is the predominant IM client internationally, and Linspire, which does a fair amount of business in Latin America, was suffering from not having the next level of interoperability on that front, Carmony said. "This is basically voice over IP chat between our instant messaging clients," said Kaefer. "We at Microsoft have been trying to achieve IM interoperability at different layers over the years," and while the Linspire and Microsoft IM clients already had text-based interoperability, the deal adds voice-based interoperability. Future releases of Linspire will support the latest Windows Media 10 audio and video codecs, allowing Linspire and Microsoft Windows users to better share digital media files. Linspire recently shed light on its new "Wiki-ized" CNR. Click here to read more. "We already had a Windows Media 9 license, but that was coming to an end and so I wanted to expand that with access to Windows Media 10," Carmony said. Linspire will also license popular Microsoft TrueType fonts, including Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman and Verdana, to give its customers better experiences when creating, editing, and viewing files and documents. Many Linspire customers are mainstream computer users, so they want things to look the same as they do with Windows, and a big part of that is fonts. "So it was a culmination of a lot of little pieces that, when added to all the other pieces in Linspire, would continue to make it a compelling operating system going forward," he said. Linspire has decided not to make the instant messaging, digital media and TrueType fonts available to the current and future Freespire products as well as to the existing Linspire 5 distributions. Linspire 6, which is due for release in early July, will include all of these technologies. "While we certainly have the option of offering a version of Linspire without these technologies, I personally would prefer not to do that and I do not anticipate that will happen down the line," Carmony said. "We did this so as to simply limit customers from wanting to mix and match the technologies they wanted included in their distribution. Customers will be able to get the community-based Freespire distribution, which does not include these three technologies, or buy Linspire, in which it is included," he said. Linspire is not going to raise the retail list price of Linspire 6 from the $59.95 charged for Linspire 5, even though it has all these new technologies bundled in. "I think thats a pretty good deal," he said. Freespire currently includes a number of proprietary options, such as video drivers, and so is not a 100 percent true open solution, Carmony said. "The true die-hards in the free and open-source community are already avoiding both Freespire and Linspire because of this," he said. "I expect the reaction to this deal with Microsoft to be less severe in our user base as we have never been against mixing open-source and proprietary technologies in the same product. We could lose some customers, but I expect the additional functionality this deal brings will win us 20 new customers for every one lost." For Microsoft, the agreement is the latest in a series of collaborations with Linux platform and open-source software providers, including Novell, JBoss, XenSource, Samsung, Xandros, Zend and Fuji-Xerox. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Click here to read more about how Microsoft gave Xandros Linux users patent protection.