Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ballmer: Linux is infringing on Microsoft's IP

Steve Ballmer, the man up top at Microsoft whom you all know (monkeyboy dance, developers, Google chair toss), says that Linux users infringe upon Microsoft's intellectual property and that the only Linux distribution that is legal in his eyes is SUSE Linux, owned by Novell, which has payed $40 million to Microsoft, in return for Microsoft's promise not to sue SUSE or Novell later on for patent infringement. Actually, Novell paid this only after Microsoft gave Novell $440 million for service coupons. Ballmer says Microsoft is willing to make the same $40 million deal with other Linux distributions.

What the hell? IP infringement? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Just because the graphical interface of Linux also has Windows, buttons and a taskbar does not mean it's stolen from Microsoft. Unix and even Xerox have had this for decades. Microsoft in no way holds the patent to a WIMP interface. If that is even the part(s) of Linux that Ballmer is talking about. It's nowhere to be found what parts actually constitute the patent infringements.

Not surprisingly, the Linux community has responded furiously.
RedHat asked Ballmer to reveal what parts of Linux are infringing, so that they may remove or workaround the patent infringement.

The Samba group asked Novell to reconsider and undo the settlement, citing obligations to the open source community. Samba also mentioned that this deal is a GPL violation.

Novell says that the $40 million deal has nothing to do with settlements for patent infringements.

Linux users themselves are just laughing about this.

This could be fun. I'd like to hear Ballmer get all worked up and blurt out that Linux is illegal, except for the ones that paid him off. This is like the SCO lawsuits all over again.