For his part, Steinman said that the reason Novell did this deal was to give customers what they had been demanding: interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux, "so of course they are going to say positive things about the deal." Asked about the criticisms of the deal, largely from open-source developers, Steinman said that OpenSUSE has been the top download on DistroWatch.com over the past month."If the community was really upset about this deal, Im not sure wed be on top of the download list. The words of the few were pretty loud, but the actions of the many speak even louder," he said.The deal has been extremely well-received, "with the exception of a vocal minority," Steinman said, adding that Novell has seen a lot of interest from customers since the deal was announced. "We have several very large customers who are close to closing with us as a direct response to this deal. A number of Red Hat customers have also expressed interest in moving to SUSE," he said. An executive at a Microsoft and Novell competitor, who asked not to be named, said the patent aspect of the deal between those two companies has completely "muddied" the waters around the issue of intellectual property and Linux and open source. "The only good thing about all of this for us is that it has forced many enterprises into re-evaluating their plans going forward, and we are making sure that our products are firmly on the table as they do," he said. Is Microsoft violating some patents covering open-source technologies? Click here to read more. But Microsofts Kaefer argued that the deal has clarified things and really showed how companies could collaborate and protect one anothers customers. "Microsoft and Novell stepped up and took leadership here, and people now have a clear way to move forward," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.