Why Microsoft and Linux Companies Are Tying the Knot

Opinion: Could it be because the move actually makes sense for both the Linux companies and Microsoft?

OK, so why have Novell, Xandros and Linspire all gotten into bed with Microsoft? Is it...

1. They were seduced by Steve Ballmers charming smile?

2. Theyve gone over to the dark side of the force?

3. Terror of Microsofts mighty patent portfolio had them groveling at Microsofts feet?

4. It actually makes business sense to give their customers some level of Microsoft software compatibility?

Before answering that one, lets ask the other question: Why is Microsoft getting all lovey-dovey with Linux companies? Is it...

1. Bill Gates love of penguin movies starting with The March of the Penguins to this years Surfs Up?

2. Darth Ballmers realization that he can turn against his evil master of proprietary software?

3. Microsofts quaking in its boots of what Sun, Novell and IBM could do to it with their patent portfolios?

4. It actually makes sense to develop some interoperability with Linux?

The answers? Its number 4 for both questions. Oh, and for Microsoft, its also a chance to spread some patent lawsuit FUD. I mean this is Microsoft were talking about, and at days end, selling fear is part of what they do.

Bad news, though, for Microsoft. No ones buying the patent FUD.

At the Linux Foundations "Collaboration Summit" at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif. last week, Dan Frye, IBMs VP of open systems development, said, "We all know the tired old legal FUD thats flying around," but, "We dont get calls asking about the legalities of Linux. We get calls about ease of use and what Linux works with."

I suspect Microsoft knows theres not a lot of value in its patent-infringement FUD card. After all, this isnt the first time Microsoft tried to play it...and the company didnt rake in the pot that time either.

No, the only people who really seem to be paying attention to Microsofts patent posturing are the Linux people, who are more than happy to heap scorn upon it. What I think many, but far from all, in the Linux community are missing is that there are sound business reasons for Linux vendors to partner with Microsoft.

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