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To read comments to this article, go here
Linspire joins the plot
Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 08:57 AM EDT

Linspire has now signed a patent deal with Microsoft, which I'm sure does not surprise you. They've been foreshadowing it for some time. Linspire says that Microsoft will now help them deliver a "better Linux". As you know, that has long been Microsoft's dream.

Perhaps we need to define our terms. And the time frame:




Here's what the deal entails:

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.

Say, you antitrust attorneys general might want to know about that search detail. Yoo hoo, Google. And as for the rest of us, it's certainly true -- I swear on the Bible and everything -- that the reason I switched from Microsoft to Linux was so I could use Microsoft-only applications. Kidding. How stupid is this going to get before it's over? Kevin Carmony says, "I believe we can learn a lot from history." Indeedy. Here's their joint press release. So, let me guess. Is Freespire not included, by any chance? Why no, silly me. It isn't. Why did I even ask? What are the restrictions on distribution, by the way?

It's so nice of Linspire to help Microsoft out with its EU problem. I know we've all been so worried Microsoft would be forced to provide the marketplace with the necessary specs so we could all be interoperable. Now Microsoft can tell the EU Commission Linspire prefers to have Microsoft decide who can and who can't interoperate based on who signs up for patent chains and pays Microsoft for the privilege. Who wouldn't prefer that?

I did try to tell you some time ago the direction I saw Linspire headed in. One clue was when Linspire invited Rob Enderle to be its keynote speaker. Duh. I trust all the folks who told me I was way off base will now come and beg my pardon. Hardy har. But I had it right on the money, didn't I? So to speak. Hmm. That reminds me of another piggy graphic, which I'll entitle in Linspire's honor "The Linspire 'Better Linux' Concept of Community":


P.S. The GPLv3 draft outlaws deals like this. Nah. Kidding. What it does is spread the patents involved freely to everyone. Just saying. Don't say nobody warned you.


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