[MSFT:GPL'd Software] Open Door Policy for Open Source Pact

by M. David Peterson

*VERY* informatiave Q&A between Jeremy Kirk from IDG and Bill Hilf from Microsoft regarding the recent MSFT/Novell deal,

Q&A: Microsoft open to open-source pacts | InfoWorld | News | 2006-11-06 | By Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

DGNS: It seems like a veiled threat to Red Hat users -- there's only one way to protect yourself legally and that's by using Suse Linux.

Hilf: There's no threat. There's a fundamental premise that we need to have the market understand we have a substantial amount of intellectual property in the operating system space.

IDGNS: Is Microsoft going to approach other open-source vendors?

Hilf: Our door is open to anyone to do a similar deal.

IDGNS: Why do this deal now rather than a few years ago?

Hilf: We started on the general framework for this three years ago. The deal with Novell started about six months ago. There was just a lot of work we needed to do to understand the GPL side of it and not violate the GPL. We don't actually license patents in this agreement. There is no patent cross-licensing. We are saying we are providing coverage for Novell's customers from a Microsoft intellectual property perspective. That allows us to work with the GPL because the GPL is very specific about licensing of patents. That took a while to get to that point from a legal framework.

So what's the bottom line? First, a bit more from the beginning of the interview,