June 13, 2007 9:00 PM PDT

Microsoft signs technology pact with Linspire

Announcing the latest in a series of pacts with Linux sellers, Microsoft said late Wednesday that it has inked a deal with Linspire, a company it once sued for trademark infringement.

The two companies made peace in 2004, with Linspire agreeing to shed its Lindows name and Microsoft paying the company $20 million. Linspire also got the right to use certain Windows Media codecs and settled Microsoft's trademark infringement claims.

Under the latest deal, the two will be working more closely in a variety of areas, including instant messaging and Web search. In addition, purchasers of Linspire's paid Linux version will get intellectual property protection against any legal action by Microsoft for using the Linux desktop software. Linspire doesn't plan to include either the Microsoft technology or the patent protection in its no-charge Freespire product.

"We're going to include it with Linspire, and we are not going to raise the retail price," Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony said Wednesday.

It's just the latest in a series of Linux-related deals. Things started last November when Microsoft and Novell struck a controversial arrangement that provided, among other things, patent protections for users of Novell's Suse Linux. Microsoft has since struck a deal with Xandros as well.

Microsoft also has noted that Linux protections have been part of its recent cross-licensing pacts, including patent-swap deals with LG, Samsung and Fuji Xerox.

"What this deal is evidence of is this continued effort by a variety of Linux providers and Microsoft to build a bridge between our different platforms," said David Kaefer, Microsoft general manager of intellectual property licensing.

The companies did not go into the financial terms of the deal, but Kaefer said, "Clearly both of us expect to make money on the arrangement."

As part of the deal, Linspire will make Microsoft's Live Search the default search engine in Linspire and will get an extension to its license of the Windows Media technology, including access to Windows Media 10 codecs.

Microsoft also will license some fonts and voice over IP technology for use in instant messaging, while Linspire will join an effort to create translators between Office 2007's XML file formats and the OpenDocument format.

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20 comments

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Nothing new
Businesses have always had to pay bullies so they can keep doing their business peacefully.

Somehow the term "patent" lost its original meaning. It's used to mean that people would tell the world exactly how they thout something can be done and in return get some legal protection from society. It changed its meaning to "some legal landmines are buried in a heap of millions of pages of paperworks, disguised in way that you'll never know you hit one before it explodes. I know where I put them but you don't. If you pay me I promiss to disable them just for you so they will not explode when you or your clients step on them, but I will not tell you where they are or how they were disguised."
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Buh bye, Linspire!
By entering into that agreement you've made with MS, you've taken
the 1st step towards extinction.
Linspire, we hardly knew ye!
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS, a smooth operator
Microsoft is slowly and methodically acquiring the rights of GPL with each outfit it strikes a deal with. What will be the end result? Sure appears that there will be no more GPL, only Microsoft license and this simply means a monopoly of PC software. You can own a PC, but in order to use it anywhere you will have to pay Microsoft.
They already tried using the muscle tactics and that didn't work, so the slick method is the easier, softer way.
I use Microsoft mainly because I work on customers machines that have it installed. Good old PC DOS still works well for myself. As a decent system, Ubuntu does a pretty decent job right from the CD. Just have to keep an eye on Microsoft for the beginning of the end.
Posted by floridajimmy (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That is the beauty of the GPL
They could buy out every distribution, but they can't stop people from using it or developing it.

The GPL gives everyone the right to the source code and to modify it if they wish.

All MS has to fight back is FUD and these pointless pacts.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
The market will solve this problem.
I began using SuSE a couple of years before Novell bought it because I really liked that YaST tool. 7 out of the 10 servers I managed with SuSE have been replaced with other distro's since the Novell/MS 'deal', the other 3 will be down before this fall.

I was using Linspire and CNR for almost 3 years on one of my personal desktops. I actually liked it, it was my 'easy to use' even if dumbed down Linux PC. I canceled my CNR account and formatted that drive about an hour ago.

There are lots of other nice distro's out there, and I firmly believe this MS strategy of embrace and extend on Linux will fail. As is always the case MS is reducing our choices, but the open source movement is much bigger than MS ever will be. Just about everyone I know has been avoiding SuSE like it is a bio-hazard. MS's current strategy of dealing with Linux will fail.
Posted by Microsoft_Facts (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: The market will solve this problem.
No offense but that is the stupidest reason to reformat. I've been using OpenSuse since it came out and it's been a great system. Since Novell's deal with MS nothing has changed, and it's still great. If the deal ever somehow affects the quality of the distro then I would consider switching, but the knee jerk reaction to switch from just hearing the word Microsoft seems a bit silly.
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
Link Flag
wow.. people going to extremes!
Funny reading about reformatting hard disk within hours of the announcement,
converting servers and good byes to Linspire!

As a company, I don't think Linspire was doing all that well before this. Both
Linspire and Xandros have been the 2nd or 3rd cousins to RedHat and Novell for
money-making distros.

They were destined to oblivion if they DIDN'T do something, and the Microsoft deal
came to them, they didn't have to hunt it out themselves.

RedHat, Debian (and Ubuntu) I see as holding onto their scruples the longest, and
doing a lot of defining the details to the community if/when they do.
Posted by dragonbite (452 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Missing the Foreseeable Future
This is typical behavior of a fish with poison spines flapping about the deck of a boat it just got landed on.

I think I see RedHat and developers as possible ultimate targets in this 'deal spree' MS is going on.

If you think about it, it plays out like this:

You have multiple vendors distributing similar, yet different product that manifested from a single idea: free, open source software.

Now that this (free) software has become mature enough to be a bottom-line threat to MS in the more visible markets, MS thinks it has to strike these deals in order to maintain its control over how PC's are made, what software is put on them, and so-forth.

And if you think about it, here's what I think it will ultimately mean:

The original deal it struck with Novell made this statement: "Customers who use Novell's Linux will be fine, but developers who don't develop for it exclusively will be in the sights for termination by litigation."

The distribution vendors that have struck this deal - whose customers are also seemingly protected by this potentially damaging legal quagmire - will end up in some turmoil as individual developers get sued for not developing mainly for the distribution being protected by the 'indemnity' offered by MS and the sell-outs. This in turn causes key projects to die off who haven't joined in the cross-burning, for lack of a better phrase, and the biggest sufferer will be those distributions who haven't signed the Devil's contract.

RedHat. Slackware. Ubuntu. Gentoo. Even Debian and its various forks.

If there was any detailed definition of 'divide and conquer' tactics in the software business...well...there it is - plain as day.

That's my prediction of this scene. I'm going to be watching this one closely to see how far off the mark I am and I'm willing to bet the symbolic $1 that this is how it's going to end up.
Posted by `WarpKat (275 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft signs technology pact with Linspire
I believe if for pay companies should comply, But I hate to see free software go down the tube
Posted by summers.dale (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is the point?
More ammo for the MS FUD campaign?

It is not like anyone with half a brain believes MS anyway.

MS can buy every distro in existance, yet that will not stop OSS because the GPL allows anyone to do anything with the software.

At worst, all MS can do is force a few distros to fork.

They can't compete with OSS and they can't kill it.

If MS had a clue, they would be spending their time working on something that can actually compete on the basis of quality, security and features.

Of course, that takes more work and skill then just spreading FUD.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The point
MS has an ENDLESS supply of cash, and since their defenders shall
remain sycophantic until the Earth spirals into the sun, they have
an infinity in which to battle OSS.
Businesses will run in terror in the face MS and their never-ending
lawsuits.
Sorry to break it to y'all, but Linux is dead.
Get used to it.
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Link Flag
Linux is dead
Talk about denial. I would say that its the other way around. Sounds to me that these moves are the last swings of a dying old aged giant. Linux keeps getting better and better every day and is being widely adopted. Whats more, Linux is slowly surrounding you, the problem is that you cant see it.

Cheers
Posted by amedina2008 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft's Plan, So Far...
Microsoft first made a pact with Novell Linux, Then with Xandros, now Linspire.

Seems Microsoft is spreading FUD using these three distros. More and more they are giving people the impression that if you're not using one of those three distros that the copy of linux you are using is violating their I.P. and only these three distros are exempt.

Personally, I think Microsoft is making all these pacts with all the small distros but not the large ones. Why? Because they want to scare people away from the larger distros (namely redhat and ubuntu).

The more people leave those two distros for distros controlled by Microsoft, the more linux will die until Ubuntu and Redhat are memories, then Microsoft can just buy out the distros entirely, then kill lnux once and for all.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Man, am I confused
Patent law, if memory serves me correctly, has to do with the sales of a patented product:

If a work is sold, and that work is covered by a rival's patent, then the illicit manufacturer of the work owes the patent owner damages for the gain that the patent owner would have enjoyed had he made the sale himself.

I have read opinions that state that any person can build for his own use a patented device, and if it is not sold to anyone else, he does not commit patent infringement.

In other words, patent protection does not work like copyright protection. Microsoft seems to be confusing these two pieces of IP law. A user of Linux is not selling anything. Please shed some light on my confusion. Anyone?
Posted by ronaldlees (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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