Microsoft Corp. announced that it will license instant messaging and digital media technology to a small desktop Linux distributor, Linspire Inc., adding to a growing number of deals meant to help the Windows operating system work more smoothly with open-source software.
The company was founded under the name Lindows in 2001 but took $20 million to switch to Linspire as part of a trademark infringement settlement with Microsoft. Kevin Carmony, Linspire's chief executive officer, said settling the trademark lawsuit took care of any problems between the companies.
"For me personally, Linux in its formative years was about, 'The reason you should pick Linux is, it's not Microsoft,'" said Carmony.
"I'm beyond that," he said, which is why he said he approached Microsoft a year and a half ago to explore possible deals.
Under the agreement, Linspire will license Microsoft code related to Voice over Internet Protocol, Windows Media files and TrueType fonts. With the addition of the Microsoft code to Linspire's operating system, users will be able to voice-chat with Windows Live Messenger buddies, watch Windows Media video and audio files on open-source media players, and view and create documents using familiar typefaces.
Linspire also agreed to set Microsoft's Web search engine as the default on PCs that run its operating system.
As in a recent deal between Microsoft and Xandros Inc., a distributor of Linux mainly for servers, Linspire will work with Microsoft on technology to translate between two different types of documents: Microsoft-developed OpenXML format and the Open Document Format.
The agreement also protects Linspire users against legal action by Microsoft, which claims open-source software violates more than 200 of its patents.
Microsoft gave similar protections to end-users in deals with Xandros and major Linux distributor Novell Inc. to ease legal worries among a growing number of companies and government agencies that use both Windows and Linux software.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has also included patent covenants in recent agreements with consumer electronics makers, whose music players, digital video recorders and other devices often include open-source code. The protections were part of patent cross-licensing deals with Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Worldwide.
The open-source software community broadly includes both individual programmers and companies such as Red Hat Inc., which gives away a Linux-based operating system software and makes money from related services. Open-source programs can be distributed - and modified and redistributed - without charge.
The patent protections Microsoft included in these deals sparked outcry from some in the open-source world. Free software advocates say that under open-source licenses, the code Microsoft shares with some open-source partners should become freely available to all.
Microsoft, Instant Messaging, IM, Digital Media Technology, Licenses, Licensing, Policy, Linspire, Announcement