Turbolinux, Microsoft in Patent Cross-Licensing Deal

The agreement is the first between Microsoft and a Linux server and desktop platform distributor in Asia.

Linux vendor Turbolinux is expanding its relationship with Microsoft with a patent cross-licensing agreement with the software maker.

The deal, which was announced by the two companies Oct. 22, is the first between Microsoft and a Linux server and desktop platform distributor in Asia. Turbolinux is headquartered in Tokyo.

It brings to five the number of Linux vendors that have entered into patent agreements with the Redmond, Wash., software maker. The others are Novell, XenSource, Xandros and Linspire.

This latest agreement between Microsoft and Turbolinux has four key elements: intellectual property assurances, interoperability, greater desktop collaboration and business alignment.


Read more here about Linspires patent agreement with Microsoft.

On the intellectual property assurance front, Microsoft and Turbolinux will share their patent portfolios in a move designed to further advance interoperability between Linux and Windows on the server front, further their research and development collaboration, and give Turbolinux Server users the assurance that Microsoft will not sue over its intellectual property.

Earlier this year, Microsoft claimed that free and open-source software violates 235 of its patents, but the company so far has not specified which patents these are.

The interoperability component of the deal will see the two companies collaborate on a single sign-on solution for customers operating in mixed-source environments, which will enable them to use one set of credentials to log onto Windows-based and Turbolinux devices.

"This should improve computing efficiencies and cut down on internal IT costs," said David Kaefer, general manager for intellectual property licensing at Microsoft. "Turbolinux is now one of Microsofts preferred Linux partners, and we are looking forward to continuing to build bridges between open-source and commercial technologies."

The deal also includes a Workgroup Server Protocol Program evaluation license, which lets Turbolinux evaluate additional technical collaboration opportunities for the future.

With regard to desktop collaboration, Turbolinux desktops will now feature Live Search. This move expands the companys earlier agreements with Microsoft under which the Linux vendor used the Microsoft Windows Media Format collaborated on Microsofts Office Open XML document format.


Turbolinux has joined the Ecma Open XML-Open Document Format Translator Project. Read more here.

For its part, Turbolinux management is hopeful the move will help boost demand for the companys solutions.

"When strong Microsoft customers are evaluating Linux, we want them to see Turbolinux as the distribution that works best with their existing Microsoft investments," said CEO Yano Koichi. "Together, we can do much to reduce the cost and complexity of running mixed Windows and Linux IT environments, and we believe this agreement gives our company a significant edge in the marketplace."

On the business alignment side, the deal includes an R&D interoperability lab that will be housed in the same building as Microsofts Beijing office and that will focus on testing and showcasing solutions for customers and partners.

Turbolinux will also participate in the Interoperability Vendor Alliance, a Microsoft-sponsored community of software and hardware vendors working together to enhance interoperability.


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