RealTime IT News

Microsoft 'Protects' Japanese Linux Vendor

Though perhaps not as terrifying as Godzilla, Microsoft has managed to persuade a major Japanese vendor of Linux into buying patent protection.

Tokyo, Japan-based Turbolinux joined Microsoft in announcing a deal pledging that Microsoft will not sue Turbolinux users for any alleged infringement in open source code shipped as part of the Linux distribution.

At the heart of the patent protection is Microsoft's allegation that open source software infringes on the company's intellectual property.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has publicly stated that Red Hat users should pay as well, though no deal with Red Hat currently exists.

To date, Microsoft has yet to actually name any of the alleged patent infringements.

Another part of the Microsoft-Turbolinux deal concerns interoperability between the companies' platforms. To that end, Turbolinux will be working with Microsoft on a single sign-on solution that will provide for both Linux and Windows log-in. According to a joint statement, the deal also includes a Workgroup Server Protocol Program (WSPP) evaluation license that will further improve server interoperability.

"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," Turbolinux CEO Yano Koichi said in a statement.

Microsoft will also house a joint research and development interoperability lab in Microsoft's Beijing office.

A Microsoft spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Turbolinux is the fourth Linux distribution to sign up for Microsoft's patent protection in the last year.

Novell was the first when it struck its landmark deal in November. Two smaller Linux vendors, Xandros and Linspire, followed.

But though Turbolinux is now on board Microsoft's patent protection train, it may not necessarily be enough to protect its users from other patent-holding entities. Red Hat and Novell, for instance, have recently come under fire from patent-holding firm IP Innovation LLC, which has alleged patent infringement.

This is not the first time that Turbolinux has collaborated with Microsoft. The Linux vendor inked a prior deal with Microsoft to use the Microsoft Windows Media Format.