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Microsoft rekindles its war on Linux

May 14, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith has fanned the lingering embers of Microsoft's three-year-old effort to spread software patent litigation fears among the open source community. In an interview with Fortune, Smith claimed the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents, while popular Linux components run foul of another 193.

The fuss started back in November of 2004, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer fired a FUD missile at Linux, suggesting the open source OS flouted 228 Microsoft patents. This in turn begat a preposterous rumor that the Linux kernel would be rewritten.

Then, big open source proponents such as IBM and Nokia began making patent strength displays of their own. This culminated in the formation of the Open Innovation Network, a mutual defense patent “commons” founded by IBM, Sony, Philips, Novell, and Red Hat.

As a result, patent worries are down among Linux users over the last three years.'s latest reader survey, published earlier this month, suggested that only about 22 percent of embedded Linux developers take patent concerns seriously, down from 33 percent two years ago.

Which of these legal issues do you (or your company) feel are a significant concern in using embedded Linux?

Now, though, Smith appears intent on fanning Linux patent smoke into flame once more, perhaps as a way of promoting Microsoft's partnership with Novell.

eWEEK's Peter Galli has posted a detailed analysis of the interview and the Linux patent situation, here. Meanwhile, at Linux-Watch, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols suggests Smith was trying to get leverage for Microsoft against GPLv3.

The original Fortune article that started the fuss can be found here.

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