A week without some news about Microsoft and its document standards battles would be like a week without rain. Based on the number of items this week, it must be rather soggy outside.
Last Friday the Free Software Foundation released the GNU General Public License, version 3 and there have been a variety of reactions, not all enthusiastic. Since one of the avowed targets of GPL v3 was Microsoft’s recent patent deals with Linux distributors (e.g. with Novell and with Xandros), there was great anticipation for what Microsoft’s reaction would be to the final version. That reaction was announced yesterday and is basically the claim that GPL v3 does not apply and a disclaimer to make sure it never applies:
Microsoft added a third Linux distributor to its open source patent protection program today when they and Linspire announced a licensing and technical collaboration agreement. There are some novel aspects to the agreement, compared with the prior ones with Novell and Xandros, which reflect Linspire’s business model of shipping the Debian (soon Ubuntu) Linux distribution with proprietary add-ons that make it more acceptable for consumer desktop use.
Today, Microsoft and Linux distributor Xandros signed an agreement reminiscent of the controversial Microsoft-Novell deal. Microsoft and Xandros will work together on interoperability, Microsoft sales and marketing will tout Xandros as a “preferred Linux distribution,” and everybody’s favorite part:
Through the agreement, Microsoft will make available patent covenants for Xandros customers. These covenants will provide customers with confidence that the Xandros technologies they use and deploy in their environments are compliant with Microsoft’s intellectual property.
We’ll see how this plays with the Open Source crowd, particularly since the final draft of the GPL version 3 license, while grandfathering the Novell deal, would not apply here. See also Richard Stallman’s take on how GPL 3 will provide to all Linux users the same Microsoft patent protection extended to Novell.