Nearly two years ago now, Microsoft and Novell raised collective open source hackles with the announcement that they had entered an interoperability agreement that included patent protection. Novell signed the patent provisions of the agreement but stood by its assertion that it was in no way admitting that Linux violated Microsoft intellectual property. Eventually, the parties agreed to work together in spite of their disagreements concerning the intellectual property issues.
Since then, Microsoft has warmed considerably to open source. The company has two OSI-approved open source licenses now, works with the Eclipse Foundation, sponsors the Apache Software Foundation, and has sent representatives to speak at several open source conferences in recent months. Microsoft's activity has decreased skepticism in the wider open source community, but some are still reluctant to buy that Redmond's new attitude is genuine.
Maybe the latest news will help: eWEEK reported Wednesday that Microsoft and Novell have extended their interoperability agreement. According to writer Darryl Taft, Microsoft has pledged to purchase as much as $100 million in "certificates that customers can redeem for support," and the companies are growing their business and sales relationships. The expansion is motivated in large part by customer demand for interoperability between Novell's SuSE Linux and Microsoft Windows, Microsoft's Susan Hauser told eWEEK.
The new investments will not take effect until Nov. 1, 2008. In the interim, the companies will continue to seek customer input regarding the work toward interoperability.