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Microsoft, Novell Defend Linux Deal

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Officials from Microsoft and Novell took to the stage at the Open Source Business Conference on Wednesday to insist their recent cooperation agreement was good for the open source software community, but they were unable to convince everyone of their altruism.

Sam Ramji, director of Microsoft’s Linux Labs, and Justin Steinman, director of marketing for Novell, told a packed audience at the San Francisco event that their companies’ agreement was helping to boost Linux adoption tremendously.

“The only way to do interoperability… you need to do testing, so you need sustained hard engineering… it’s extremely detailed challenging work that would not have been possible without the deal,” said Mr. Ramji.

The two companies last November agreed to a sweeping technology and marketing pact, under which they also agreed not to sue each other’s customers for using the other firm’s intellectual property.

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Microsoft patents attorney Jim Markwith told OSBC it would be "impossible" for Redmond's bureaucrats to respond to the volume of responses that would result form disclosure. Also, apparently, it's ungentlemanly to name names.

"Most people who are familiar with patents know it's not standard operating procedure to list the patents," Markwith said. "The response of that would be administratively impossible to keep up with." Far better to rattle sabers instead.

He spoke up during an Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) panel where Microsoft's director of platform strategy Sam Ramji joined Novell's director of marketing for Linux and open platform solutions Justin Steinman to explain why their controversial sales, marketing, technology and patent agreement is beneficial for open source.

Steinman trotted out names and numbers he claimed proved the agreement is driving adoption of Linux and open source.

And: Drivers, patents and other threats, yawn.

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