Steve Ballmer has reissued Microsoft's patent threat against Linux, warning open-source vendors that they must respect his company's intellectual property.
In a no-nonsense presentation to New York financial analysts last Thursday, Microsoft's chief executive said the company's partnership with Novell, which it signed in November 2006, "demonstrated clearly the value of intellectual property, even in the open-source world."
Steve Ballmer The cross-selling partnership means that Microsoft will recommend Suse Linux for customers who want an environment mix of Microsoft and open-source software. It also involves a "patent cooperation agreement," under which Microsoft and Novell agreed not to sue each other for patent infringement.
In a clear threat against open-source users, Ballmer repeated his earlier assertions that open source "is not free," referring to the possibility that Microsoft may sue Linux sellers. Microsoft has suggested that the Linux operating system infringes some of its intellectual property, but it has never named the patents in question.
"I would not anticipate that we make a huge additional revenue stream from our Novell deal, but I do think it clearly establishes that open source is not free, and open source will have to respect the intellectual-property rights of others, just as any other competitor will," Ballmer said.
Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, Linux, Statement