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Novell/Microsoft deal draws flak

Arif Mohamed

Open source advocates once again publicly criticised Novell's agreement to collaborate with Microsoft at Novell's annual Brainshare user conference last week in Utah.

The deal, signed in November 2006, means that Novell and Micro­soft will share and co-develop technology to make their software interoperate better. The agreement also protects users from being prosecuted for patent infringements.

HSBC said recently that it would be one of the first beneficiaries of the collaboration, with both suppliers working to optimise the bank's global IT system, which uses both Windows and Linux applications. Wal-Mart has also confirmed that it will work with Microsoft and Novell.

However, the Free Software Foundation, which represents open source users, said that such deals would "spread and make a mockery of the freedom of free software".

Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation, said that, by collaborating with Microsoft, Novell, a proponent of open source software, was not allowing its users to use software freely.

"Free software means software that respects users' essential freedoms, including the freedom to change the software so it does what you wish, the freedom to run the software, and the freedom to redistribute copies. The denial of these freedoms is what makes proprietary software unethical," he said.

Novell's president of EMEA, Volker Smid, said that Novell was collaborating with Microsoft because customers wanted help to make their systems interoperate better.

"We are part of the open source community, and we participate and initiate a large number of open source projects. We are in contact with the community, but we should take the customer's point of view into perspective. The amount of large customers' testimonies supports the move we have made," he said.

Microsoft and Novell sign agreement

HSBC bridges the Windows divide

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