Bonum Certa Men Certa

Red Hat-Microsoft Agreement Not Malicious, But Was It Smart?



THE epic video shown above is just over one year old and it serves as an important reminder of Microsoft's motives and attitude towards Red Hat. Nothing exists which suggests that anything has changed since then, except posturing. In fact, Microsoft reiterated the threats against Red Hat some months ago [1, 2]. Microsoft has not changed with regards to FUD and it is actively looking to spread more such fear, to this date.



When the press approached me (just 10 minutes before the embargo got lifted), my initial instinct was that "it could be worse." At least two readers immediately disagreed, taking into account IRC and comments. They thought it was very bad. Shane rightly suggests that "true interoperability requires no agreement, just adherence to open standards (or at least working documentation)." I strongly agree with that personally. "Microsoft wants a level playing field, as long as they own the patent property rights on grass," said one reader in IRC.

“This would help marketing of RHEL and Linux in general (with KVM 'baked in').”It seems safe to imagine that a lot of this is to do with hypercalls, which bring up questions that we debated before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

It also appears possible, having not seen the pertinent details, that Red Hat will benefit if its newly-/recently-acquired KVM technology, for example, can virtualise Windows well. This would help marketing of RHEL and Linux in general (with KVM 'baked in').

On the other bright side, if Hyper-V becomes not a SLES-only area for decent performance, then companies will be less inclined to purchase vouchers from Microsoft/Novell (Microsoft openly calls these "patent royalties" now). Hasn't Red Hat distanced itself from Xen somewhat, for obvious reasons [1, 2]? It's partly because of Microsoft's malicious, self-serving strategy around hypervisors. They hoard the market using partners and allies, but they cannot swallow the entire ocean.

Novell has admitted that for its 'interoperability' needs* (patent deal) it had received privileges and was granted access to Microsoft source code. Novell's Justin Steinman said this to Business Review Online in 2007. Does Red Hat get the same privileges that may serve more as a path to SCO-type actions ("you saw our code and copied it")? Is only one side receiving source code? If so, there is reciprocity really. Can the user run Hyper-V under Red Hat Enterprise Linux?

No?

Well, it's proprietary, it's Windows-only, but then again, KVM isn't suited for Windows, either.

Red Hat realises that a two-way solution may be essential, but it's not something to be terribly excited about. If someone walks over for a quiet dinner with the mafia don, it may be harmless, but it's still within the mafia, so it's hard to be enthusiastic about the idea. This is the same company that repeatedly issues direct accusations and threats against Red Hat and its customers. It has made no promises to end this extortionate affair, even when its own ecosystem asked the vicious 'emperor' to put up or shut up.

Looking at the news for a bit, we discovered that Jason Stamper got notified in advance when the scoop was still embargoed. Here is his update which contains this quote from Microsoft:

Asked how this deal compares to Microsoft’s interoperability agreement with Novell, Mike Neil, Gm virtualisation strategy at Microsoft said: “The interoperability announcement we are making today with Red Hat should be seen as more of a one dimensional agreement, whereas our deal with Novell was a multi-dimesnional agreement that covered patent rights, business collaboration and an IP agreement.”


Microsoft's media mole soon wrote about the announcement on behalf of Fort 25[sic], whose goal is to fight directly against GNU/Linux by coercing open source projects. They have people to assist with The "Schmoozing" for Windows Initiative.

Savio Rodrigues is very easily fooled by Microsoft, so it's not surprising that he drank the Kool-Aid and asked for more, but one the other hand, Groklaw too expressed cautious optimism.

Congratulations to Red Hat for refusing to buckle on this vital matter, and to Red Hat Legal for working out the details, and a tip of the hat to Microsoft, for facing reality and doing the right thing. And thank you, EU Commission, for creating a reality that makes it possible for the GPL to find a level playing field.


Groklaw had also praised Red Hat for settling the Firestar case in a GPLv3-compatible fashion [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and since the site is mostly silent these days, the fact that Pamela Jones saw the need to make a statement sure speaks volumes.

Here is the coverage from Matt Asay, who wrongly believes that hatchets are being buried and everyone can sing kumbaya (well, not in these words).

Today both Red Hat and Microsoft lowered their guns long enough for customers to win. They did so without encumbering interoperability with patents, which will be critical to ensuring that Microsoft can lower its guard further to welcoming open-source solutions to the Windows fold as a full partner.


We are pleased to have been cited by ComputerWorld for our take on this subject. Here is an important gem from the article.

Yes, you read that right. Microsoft is saying that they made this deal because of Microsoft customer demand to run Red Hat Linux.


Back in September 2008, Steve Ballmer that “forty percent of servers run Windows, 60 percent run Linux...”

Is it possible that Microsoft has just become so frail that it's willing to sign patents-free deals with Red Hat just to keep inside the market? Several months ago a source revealed to us that Microsoft had failed badly with Red Hat. They just couldn't get a patent deal, no matter how hard they tried. ____ * Compatible to Windows, interoperable to Windows, Winteroperability.

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