By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-11-17 Print this article Print

There are a lot of theories about why you did this deal and what your real motivation is. There were two motivations behind this deal for us. One was the interoperability that I mentioned and which is very positive for us in every sense. The second is to recognize, unambiguously, that there is value to intellectual property within open-source products that are used by customers and that that intellectual property should be honored. This deal provides a structure that makes it easy for customers to acquire their open-source technology while at the same time honoring the intellectual rights. And in that sense we think it is a milestone for the industry.
Does Suns decision to make Java available under the GNU GPL (General Public License) affect Microsoft and its .Net strategy in any way?
I dont think it really does. Obviously we have a relationship with Sun and we dont believe that relationship is impacted. We work with Sun on a number of different forms of interoperability, and I dont think this impacts that. I think it is a decision on Suns part about how they want to bring their products to market and thats fine. We dont think it will change the commercial acceptance of Java or J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) in the enterprise. Read more here about the backstory on the Java transition. We still believe, very strongly, both in the potential for software to be transformative and in the opportunity as an industry. I see the real value in the software and when we talk about software-as-a-service, it is a different services model to what Novell or Red Hat have. Its a model where customers acquire our software through a connection over the Internet and are getting it fed to them. But the underlying value is really in the software. But one of the things I think is very important is that as time has gone on we have separated in our mind some attributes of open source. There are two things: the open source development model, which is the community-based development model of which there are multiple ways of doing licensing, such as GPL-style licensing and BSD-style licensing, and then theres commercial licensing. We are clearly in the latter camp and we do ship products that include open-source-community-developed software that adheres to BSD-style licenses. Our Compute Cluster Server, for example, contains quite a bit of technology that was developed under open source and subject to BSD-style licensing. But people are looking at Suns GPL move with Java and asking whether Microsoft might now make the .Net Framework available under an open-source license in addition to your Shared Source license. Any possibility of that? First of all we do have substantive parts of the .Net Framework available through the open-source community and there are ongoing implementations of that. There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers. But we certainly have no intention of releasing the source code to .Net to the community, but the community is free to go with Mono and enhance that and build solutions for customers. Is Microsoft willing to look at a similar patent deal with Sun around the .Net framework and Java so that developers could freely build on both platforms? We already have a substantive intellectual property agreement with Sun, which we entered into a couple of years ago and I think .Net was a part of that, so that is in place already I think. So we made IP peace with Sun two years ago. Next Page: The Longhorn road map.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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