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Microsoft's Ballmer: "we believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability"

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer claims that Linux infringes on some as-yet undisclosed MS intellectual property, and that therefore Linux users owe them money! Computerworld has an article presenting both sides of what is sure to become a hotly-contested and closely-watched news story.

I recall that the SCO litigation made waves throughout the open source community, yet Linux still exists. When a company as large and powerful as Microsoft becomes involved, things should get very interesting. People building critical systems on Linux will now be forced to at least consider that they may be at some kind of risk...

It's kind of funny to think about "Linux customers" though. Is that like being an "air customer"? Sure you can buy air from certain suppliers, or have services built around air, but air is essentially available to anybody in its basic form at no cost :-)

But will this really hurt Linux? People reconsidering their server deployment choices may or may not hurt Linux, but I have my doubts about what this will do to the Linux kernel. By its nature, it can morph and essentially route around damage. Serious damage would take longer to work around, but it will be possible.

Who really stands to take some damage are the Linux software vendors. As much as I like Linux technologically, I might reconsider deploying a large, critical piece of commercial software on top of it. Something running on Windows, OSX or Solaris might be "safer".

Posted on November 17, 2006 | Permalink | Tag this post with del.icio.us | This Post Now Lives Here


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