Samba creates win/win situation with Microsoft and open source

Is the European Commission slowly forcing Microsoft to change its patent violations tune? Jeremy Allison, co-creator of Samba, is clearly optimistic. In a podcast with LinuxWorld editor Don Marti, Allison discusses the significance of the December 20 agreement between Microsoft and the newly created Protocol Freedom Information Foundation (spearheaded by Samba). The new agreement allows Samba and others to use Microsoft's proprietary source code to develop open source projects that are compatible with Windows.

"The new agreement is actually compatible with free software licensing, though it's not perfect," says Allison. He discusses the ins and outs of how Samba will pay the required 10,000 Euros to Microsoft to gain access to Microsoft's documentation (via the non-profit PFIF). He talks about how the agreement makes the European Commission happy. (In 2004 the European Commission found Microsoft guilty of monopoly abuse and demanded that complete interoperability information be made available to competitors. Microsoft dragged its feet and filed objections, but in September 2007 was overruled by a European court who told Microsoft to uphold its obligation to share protocol information. That order was the basis for the December 20 PFIF/Microsoft agreement.)

Plus, Allison crows that the agreement finally forces Microsoft to reveal a complete list of software patents that it claims to been violated, something that has never been divulged.

While this agreement may hurt Microsoft's credibility in its efforts to strong arm open source out of existence, ultimately the move helps everyone. It gives open source developers better access to the most popular operating system platform. Enterprises will get more choices for lower cost software. Windows gains better access to the highly creative, vibrant open source world.

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