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Latest Microsoft Patent Protection Deal: Turbolinux

Microsoft has signed its first patent protection deal with a Linux vendor based in Asia.

Microsoft has signed its first patent protection deal with a Linux vendor based in Asia.

Tokyo, Japan-based Turbolinux and Microsoft have signed an agreement which, among other things, protects users of Turbolinux against any patent-infringement claims brought by Microsoft.

In addition to patent protection, the deal, signed yesterday, includes two major areas of collaboration: a single sign-on environment, whereby users can use one set of credentials to sign on to either the Windows or Turbolinux platform; and Microsoft's Live Search, which will be featured on Turbolinux desktops. Microsoft has been struggling mightily to give end users alternatives to Google search, and making Live Search the default will help some; but given the relatively small number of desktop Linux users, the ultimate effect may not be large.

Turbolinux, according to a press release, develops and sells the leading Linux distribution in Asia-Pacific. Most of the sales are in Japan and China. Turbolinux has both server and desktop offerings.

"Delivering value requires a vision for how to design mixed-source solutions that tackle clear customer priorities and a framework for sharing intellectual property," said Yano Koichi, CEO of Turbolinux, in the release. "When strong Microsoft customers are evaluating Linux, we want them to see Turbolinux as the distribution that works best with their existing Microsoft investments."

This is the first Linux IP protection deal for a number of months; last June, Microsoft racked up three similar deals in a 10-day span with Linux companies Linspire, Xandros and LG Electronics.

Microsoft claimed earlier this year that Linux violates 235 Windows patents, and although it has said it seeks cooperation with Linux rather than confrontation, many in the open source software community have viewed the patent violation claim as a threat to stop the usage of Linux. Linux is currently more of a danger to Microsoft in the server arena than on the desktop, but that could change as desktop Linux gets more user-friendly.

In fact, a number of Linux development companies have taken the opposite tack of Turbolinux and the others by boldly claiming they will never sign a patent protection deal with Microsoft. And Microsoft has yet to provide details about any of the 235 alleged violations.

The first patent protection deal Redmond signed was with former bitter rival Novell, last November. Since then, Novell has experienced a sales spike for its Linux products.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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