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Microsoft, Novell Have Much to Prove

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Microsoft and Novell have been making a big deal of their big deal to work together to soothe customers' cross-platform pain points. But it remains to be seen whether and how far the deal will end up extending beyond the realm of press releases and presentation slide decks.

In fact, vaporous cooperation pledges aren't even the worst of what might come of the Microsoft-Novell deal. Many in the open-source world fear that the deal's patent pledges represent a route through which Microsoft could litigate GPL-licensed software projects into submission. This fear was real enough for Jeremy Allison—who, as one of the primary developers of Samba, certainly knows a thing or two about Microsoft, Linux and proprietary protocols—to tender his resignation from Novell.

For now, I'm prepared to set aside such fears. Microsoft knows that patent wars are bad for business, unless you happen to be in the business of pumping out pleadings. However,

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