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10/23/2007
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Microsoft Pledges Not To Sue Turbolinux Users

The collaboration agreement protects users of Turbolinux's open source server software.

Microsoft said it will not pursue any legal action against Linux users who use a server distribution of the open source operating system offered by Turbolinux.

The pledge is part of a "broad collaboration agreement" that Microsoft on Monday said it has struck with Turbolinux, which specializes in distributing open source software in emerging markets like China, Japan, and India.

"The agreement will provide intellectual property assurance for Turbolinux customers who purchase Turbolinux Server," Microsoft said in a statement.

Microsoft claims that Linux and other open source programs violate more than 200 of its patents, though it has yet to specifically identify any of them. The open source community has denied the claims.

To date, Microsoft has not pursued court action against Linux users, but it has launched a campaign to extract licensing fees from Linux distributors in exchange for legal indemnification of their customers.

The Turbolinux pact follows similar deals that Microsoft has struck with Novell, Linspire, and Xandros.

Earlier this month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer -- using Red Hat as an example -- hinted that Microsoft may ultimately pursue claims against Linux users who use distributions of the software from vendors that don't have licensing agreements with Microsoft.

"People [who] use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to eventually compensate us," Ballmer said at a company event in London.

Beyond the patent pledge, Microsoft said its deal with Turbolinux includes work on Windows/Linux interoperability -- including a single sign-on system -- and the use of Windows Live Search on the Turbolinux desktop.

"We can do much to reduce the cost and complexity of running mixed Windows and Linux IT environments, and we believe this agreement gives our company a significant edge in the marketplace," said Turbolinux CEO Yano Koichi, in a statement.

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