Friday, November 17, 2006

Ballmer on Novell, Linux and patents

I'm far from the first to write on this, but I'm once again in the need of duct tape to keep my head from exploding (as Glen Beck puts it).

There are some insightful comments at the end of that page:

"because only a customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft."

I thought suse users had only paid protection money to avoid being sued for unspecified violations of Microsoft's alleged IP. Is he saying that suse customers have actually paid for a licence to use Microsoft's alleged IP? First it isn't a licence, then it is a licence. No wonder everyone is so confused over this. Even Steve can't keep the story straight.

What *is* Steve [Ballmer] saying exactly? Earlier, it was a license, then a covenant, then an agreement. Now Microsoft seems to be saying that it *is* a license. After all, if you pay someone in order to "properly" use (he avoided the word "legally", there, I note) their "intellectual property", what kind of agreement does that sound like?

It sounds a lot like a license, to me, and if it's a license, then Microsoft must consider itself to be the rightful owner of some specific patents or copyrighted material to be found in Linux. I wonder if the agreement spells out what those materials are, exactly? I know that if I was going to pay a premium and face lock-in with a single Linux vendor over a license, I'd want to know what I was paying for. I'd want to know that I wasn't being conned.

Let's get this thing over with, Microsoft. Either sue somebody for infringement, or quit acting like you might. It's put up or shut up time.

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