Is Microsoft Allowing Ubuntu Linux on Azure without a Patent Deal?

LinuxFrom the ‘Ethical Concerns’ files:

Microsoft alleged years ago that Linux and Open Source technologies infringe on over 200 Microsoft patents. It’s that basic allegation that Microsoft used to convince Novell/SUSE to sign a a Patent deal and it’s the same basic underpinning for a dozen deals with Android vendors.

So why is Microsoft allowing Linux to run on its Azure cloud? In particular, why Ubuntu?

Perhaps there is some kind of hidden deal. It’s a question I asked Canonical directly and this is what they told me:

“Canonical has strong principled positions on a range of topics,”Chris Kenyon, Vice President, Sales and Business Development, told me. “We do not and have not made compromises on those positions.”

That statement would imply that there is no patent deal with Canonical. But that hardly seems fair to SUSE then right? SUSE went out of its way to sign a special deal with Microsoft. How come Ubuntu gets to ‘play’ in the same field then?

It’s a question that I don’t have a definitive answer on. It’s the same kind of murky territory that Global organizations also face (in a significantly more serious sense, i’m just reaching and it’s not a direct comparison by any means) with China. Everyone wants to make a buck, but no one really wants to compromise their ethical standing.

I haven’t yet seen the full pricing for Azure and specifically the differences between SUSE pricing and Ubuntu pricing. Perhaps it’s just a margin thing that Microsoft builds in as a way to placate their intellectual property interests. Or perhaps they just don’t care at this point as Azure is trying to gain share.

It is however a curious question.

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