Politics makes strange bedfellows, the saying goes, but software makes the strangest bedfellows of all. Onetime bitter adversaries, Microsoft and Linspire are the software industry's latest lovebirds as they signed a Windows and Linux interoperability agreement.
Announced Thursday, the deal is the latest in a series of agreements by Microsoft with Linux providers. The agreement will provide Linspire users with assurance that they won't be violating any Microsoft intellectual property and patents. Microsoft has been rattling its patents saber in recent months and the Linspire agreement is similar to a pioneering pact with Novell.
The Linspire deal also calls for the open source software provider to offer translators to improve the sharing of documents by OpenOffice and Microsoft Office users. Microsoft and Linspire noted that their efforts will lead to enhanced translation between Ecma Open XML and OpenDocument Formats. Microsoft has been engaged in an ongoing clash with competitors and some users over XML standards.
"Over the years, in an effort to expand choice, we have entered into dozens of agreements with commercial software vendors," said Kevin Carmony, Linspire's chief executive officer, in a statement. "It certainly made sense to collaborate with Microsoft, one of the most important partners in the PC ecosystem."
The agreement obliquely addresses a new competitive challenge to Microsoft in the form of Google, which has been moving more aggressively into office software in recent weeks. The Microsoft-Linspire deal calls for the delivery of advanced instant messaging features; Linspire will license Microsoft's RT Audio Codec to improve voice instant messaging between Linspire's Pidgin IM client and Microsoft's MSN IM products.
Linspire users will receive Microsoft's Live Search service (of Windows Live) as a default Internet search engine.
The companies said Linspire's customers will receive certain IM, digital media and TrueType fonts if they purchase a patent SKU.
Microsoft has signed up a group of Linux platform and OSS providers in recent months. In addition to Novell, already noted, other Microsoft partners include JBoss, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Xandros Inc., XenSource Inc., and Zend Technologies.
In 2004, Linspire agreed to drop its Lindows moniker after spirited litigation with Microsoft. The firms have been on good terms ever since.