Redmond (WA) - No, it's not a misprint: Microsoft today announced one of those if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em decisions and confirmed that it will be working closely with Novell to improve the interoperability and manageability between Windows and Linux. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will even recommend Suse Linux Enterprise for mixed OS environments.
If you are still rubbing your eyes: Yes, Microsoft has officially jumped on the Linux bandwagon. Having taken shots at each other for more than a decade, the two operating systems are growing closer with Windows and a major Linux distribution promising more interoperability for users who are running both packages on their computers.
Microsoft and Novell have entered a cross-patent licensing agreement and partnership, which aims to provide the customers and developers more flexibility when using both operating systems. Under the terms of the agreement, Novell said that it will establish "clear leadership" among Linux platform and open source software providers on interoperability for mixed-source environments. In return, Microsoft will officially recommend Suse Linux Enterprise for customers who are asking for Windows and Linux solutions. Microsoft will also distribute coupons for Suse Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support,
"They said it couldn't be done. This is a new model and a true evolution of our relationship that we think customers will immediately find compelling because it delivers practical value by bringing two of their most important platform investments closer together," said Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer in a prepared statement. "We're excited to work with Novell, whose strengths include its heritage as a mixed-source company."
In detail, Microsoft and Novell have agreed to create a joint research facility at which Microsoft and Novell technical experts will architect and test new software solutions. The key research areas of the collaboration cover jointly developed virtualization solutions, web services for managing physical and virtual servers and a simplified combination of Microsoft Active Directory with Novell eDirectory systems as well as document format compatibility: Microsoft and Novell said that the two companies will work together on ways for Open Office and Microsoft Office system users to share documents; both firms said that they will take steps to make translators available to improve interoperability between Open XML and Open Document formats.
Part of the agreement between the two companies is a cross-patent licensing agreement, which "resolves" patent issues between the two companies and "enables a combined focus on virtualization and Web services management to create new opportunities for our companies and our customers," Microsoft said. As a result, the company will provide a covenant not to assert its patent rights against customers who have purchased Suse Linux Enterprise Server or other covered products from Novell. Novell said that it will provide an identical covenant to customers who have a licensed version of Windows or other covered products from Microsoft.