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Shuttleworth denies rumours of Microsoft deal

By   |  June 20, 2007

Mark Shuttleworth wrote a blog posting last week in which he denied the truth of the rumour that Ubuntu is in discussions with Microsoft aimed at an agreement along the lines they have concluded recently with Linspire, Xandros, Novell and others.

"We have declined to discuss any agreement with Microsoft under the threat of unspecified patent infringements."

He explained his stance that "allegations of ‘infringement of unspecified patents’ carry no weight whatsoever", saying that he believes they don’t have any "legal merit, and they are no incentive for us to work with Microsoft".

He believes that a promise by Microsoft not to sue for infringement of unspecified patents has no value at all and is not worth paying for. Furthermore saying that it "does not protect users from the real risk of a patent suit from a pure-IP-holder … People who pay protection money for that promise are likely living in a false sense of security."

He did however welcome Microsoft’s stated commitment to interoperability between Linux and the Windows world.

On the issue of open standards on document formats, he said he has "no confidence in Microsoft’s OpenXML specification to deliver a vibrant, competitive and healthy market of multiple implementations. I don’t believe that the specifications are good enough, nor that Microsoft will hold itself to the specification when it does not suit the company to do so."

Based on the fact that the Open Document Format specification is a much better, much cleaner and widely implemented specification that is already a global standard, he said he would invite Microsoft to participate in the OASIS Open Document Format working group.

Although doubtful of the current agreements path that Microsoft is taking with Linux, he stated that he has no objections to working with Microsoft in ways that further the cause of free software.

"I don’t rule out any collaboration with them, in the event that they adopt a position of constructive engagement with the free software community. It’s not useful to characterize any company as ‘intrinsically evil for all time’."

"All the deals announced so far strike me as ‘trinkets in exchange for air kisses’. Mua mua. No thanks," concluded Shuttleworth


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