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Steve Ballmer Quotes on Linux, Free Software, and Novell

[From [ Jason]]

And we agreed on a, we call it an IP bridge, essentially an arrangement under which they pay us some money for the right to tell the customer that anybody who uses Suse Linux is appropriately covered. There will be no patent issues. They’ve appropriately compensated Microsoft for our intellectual property, which is important to us. In a sense you could say anybody who has got Linux in their data center today sort of has an undisclosed balance sheet liability, because it’s not just Microsoft patents.


We’ve had an issue, a problem that we’ve had to confront, which is because of the way the GPL works, and because open-source Linux does not come from a company — Linux comes from the community — the fact that that product uses our patented intellectual property is a problem for our shareholders.


What [Novell and Microsoft] agreed, which is true, is we’ll continue to try to grow Windows share at the expense of Linux. That’s kind of our job. But to the degree that people are going to deploy Linux, we want Suse Linux to have the highest percent share of that, because only a customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft. And we took a quota, you could say, to help them sell so much Suse Linux. That’s part of the deal.

Ballmer on Novell, Linux and patents


[L]et me be clear about one thing, we don’t license our intellectual property to Linux because of the way the Linux licensing, GPL framework works, that’s not really a possibility. The cleverness was, how do we get protection and respect for our intellectual property in a world in which that license agreement works? So the two top level points, as Ron [Hovesepian, Novell President and CEO] whispered to me, technical interoperability and patent peace of mind, and we’re trying to provide both of those things to our customers in a way that works for the business interest of the open source development community, and the Microsoft development community.

Consumers can, if they want to, now go buy what I’ll call the best possible form of Linux, the form of Linux that gives you peace of mind, and interoperability, and that’s SUSE Linux Enterprise, or SUSE Linux in all of its forms.

Steve Ballmer: Microsoft and Novell Collaboration Announcement


"I suspect that [customers] will take that issue up with their distributor," Ballmer said. Or if customers are considering doing a direct download of a non-SUSE Linux version, "theyll think twice about that," he said.

Ballmer Invites Patent Talks with Competing Linux Vendors


The deal that we announced at the end of last year with Novell I consider to be very important. It demonstrated clearly the value of intellectual property even in the Open Source world. I would not anticipate that we make a huge additional revenue stream from our Novell deal, but I do think it clearly establishes that Open Source is not free and Open Source will have to respect intellectual property rights of others just as any other competitor will.

2007 Financial Analyst Brief (.DOC)


If anybody thinks open-source alternatives are free, I guess as they say, you can see me after class. [...] I will tell you that in any comparison that you would do of Windows with Linux, which is an open-source alternative, we will prove to you that when it comes to total cost of ownership our stuff is more economical, whether it’s the other patent-licensing costs that you might have to pay to use open-source software, which is kind of a big unknown right now [...]

Steve Ballmer: National Retail Federation Annual Convention & EXPO


There was the technology shift potentially to open source that we confronted four or five years ago, where we’ve done a very good job of competing against that new technology/business model. Today we live in a world where I think people worry about the risks in software plus services, and advertising, both of which I want to talk about during my talk today. And what do I tell our people, the only way to really win this game is to go out there and do it every day. Nobody talks as much today about the risks in our business that come from Linux and open source. They’re still there, they’re going to be there every day, and yet we’ve done a very, very good job, I think, in the marketplace versus those risks.

Financial Analyst Meeting 2008


[W]e’ve worked very hard on making the value of a commercial company surpass what the open source community can deliver, because frankly, it’s not a business model we can embrace. It’s inconsistent with shareholder value.

Financial Analyst Meeting 2007 (Commentary: Steve Ballmer, 2 Years Ago: Open Source “Not a Business Model we Can Embrace”