Microsoft Extends Interop Patent Deal to SUSE


From the ‘Deal Goes On’ files:

Back in November of 2006, Microsoft announced a deal with Novell that shook the Linux world. It was a mutli-year interoperability and patent deal that served as the base for much of Novell’s Linux revenues for years afterwards and firmly established SUSE Linux and Microsoft’s Linux partner.

With the sale of Novell to Attachmate for $2.2 billion earlier this year, one question that was not answered was the status of the Microsoft deal which has brought hundreds of millions of dollars to Novell. That question has now been answered.

Microsoft is extending its deal to SUSE.

“This relationship will extend through Jan. 1, 2016, with Microsoft committed to invest $100 million in new SUSE Linux Enterprise certificates for customers receiving Linux support from SUSE,” Microsoft said in a statement.

So Microsoft is renewing this deal for another five years, which is a big deal. The $100 million is a lesser deal since the original deal with Novell had a $240 million line-item for SLES certs.

To my naked eye, this looks like a slowdown in SLES sales by Microsoft, then again all previous extension to the deal have come in $100 million increments as well. And hey $100 million in today’s economy is still alot of money.

Even more important than the money is perhaps the continued patent covenant, which is intended to protect SLES users. No Microsoft has not sued any Linux vendor directly – oh wait they have, haven’t they? If you count Android as Linux distro, Microsoft has been aggressively going after open source and Linux related alleged patent infringement.

No this deal isn’t a surprise (considering also that Microsoft was part of the patent group that sought to acquire most of Novell’s patents), but it is still important to note that the 2006 Microsoft/Novell deal is still alive and will continue for at least another five years.

This deal hasn’t stopped Red Hat or Ubuntu from pushing forward and it hasn’t crippled Linux in the way that some worried about five years ago either. It’s a good deal for SUSE as they’ve got $100 million in accounts receivable, beyond that I’m not sure that many in the Linux ecosystem need worry (much if at all).


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