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Microsoft and The Linux Foundation agree on something

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May 19, 2009

Microsoft and The Linux Foundation are both opposing a law group's proposal that would create an implied warranty that all software products ship without any material defects.

This is probably the first time the two agree on anything...

The software giant and the Linux group have apparently joined together, at least on this issue. In a letter to the American Law Institute (ALI) taking issue with its proposal, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation strongly believe that the proposal could do a lot more harm than good.

Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez said "while the principles reflect hard work and some thought by the ALI, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation believe that certain provisions do not reflect existing law and could seriously disrupt the well-functioning software industry for both businesses and consumers, as well as create uncertainty for software developers."

As can be expected, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation certainly aren't the only ones against this. The University of Houston also wrote an agressive critique of the ALI proposal.

The ALI is meeting in Washington May 21 and is scheduled to take up the issue.

Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin noted that its partnership with Microsoft makes for strange bedfellows, but added that the proposed legal standard by ALI would negatively affect the Linux community, open source and all commercial software producers alike, Oracle included.

Gutierrez also said that Microsoft and its partner in this effort don't necessarily see eye to eye on everything, but that agreeing on 80 percent of the terms is a big improvement when compared to previous meetings.

"The principles outlined by the ALI strongly interfere with the natural operation of open source licenses and commercial licenses as well by creating implied warranties that could result in a large amount of unnecessary legal problems, and which in turn would severely undermine the sharing of technology," Gutierrez said.

He added "the fact that the Linux Foundation and Microsoft are joining forces may be viewed by some as remarkable, given that our differences receive far more public attention than when our interests converge. The software industry is diverse and sometimes contentious, but if nothing else it still unites us in what we all believe is the sheer power of software in today's modern world."

"I hope that this represents just one of many opportunities to collaborate with the Linux Foundation and others going forward. We have a lot more that we can do together," said Gutierrez.

The joint letter comes just a few months after Microsoft (for the first time) sued a company over its implementation of the Linux kernel. The company eventually settled with "TomTom" but the move has created uncertainty over whether Microsoft intends to take legal action against Linux vendors that refuse to take a license to Microsoft's patents.

Source: The Linux Foundation.

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