Despite the fact that the Nov. 2 announcement of an agreement between Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash., and Novell Inc. of Provo, Utah, on a new joint venture has sparked surprise for industry observers, many agree, at least initially, that the partnership will help those shops that run a mixture of Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems.
"Coming from our perspective, we see nothing but good things coming from it for our government clients," said John Weathersby, executive director of the Open Source Software Institute of Hattiesburg, Miss. "I hope this moves us all towards interoperability. For anyone who runs a mix of Microsoft Windows and Linux, especially SUSE Linux, this is good news. It will make it easier for customers to manage these environments," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during a conference call during the presentation.
The two companies will also work jointly on developing software to make the two OS'es play more nicely with one another, initially focusing on virtualization, asset management and document formats, according to Ballmer. In the field of document sharing, for instance, Novell agreed to add Microsoft Office's Open XML format within the Open Office open-source office suite, available on the SUSE distribution. Currently, Open Office uses the Open Document Format, another Extensible Markup Language-based format. Microsoft has also agreed to not hold users liable for any patent infringements against Microsoft that may be inherent in the open-source portions of SUSE Linux Enterprise.
Although Weathersby voiced concern over the fact that the patent protection extended only to Novell's distribution and not to the open-source world in general, he expressed optimism about the arrangement overall. "I think this represents one more step in the maturing of our marketplace," Weathersby said.
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