Microsoft’s recent patent suit against a prominent printer manufacturer ( that happens to use open source software in some of its products ) has raised more than a few eyebrows. This is the first execution of Microsoft’s threat against FOSS since its announcement over a year ago, when it indicated that FOSS was in violation of a number of patents. This particular lawsuit is aimed at the use Microsoft’s FAT patent. Consideration the proliferation of FAT support amongst pretty much every area of computing, this is going to be a very interesting court drama.
This is proof that interacting with Microsoft in a FOSS sense can get you in trouble. And a good reason to stay away from Microsoft-backed software such as Mono and Moonlight. Novell’s increasing involvement with Microsoft and it’s software stack is resulting in layoffs of pure FOSS staff ( including some on the OpenSuse project ) at Novell yet an increasing reliance on MS-orientated staff. This shows Novell’s obvious direction in terms of it’s software stack and technologies. Add to this Novell’s reliance on Microsoft investment and it’s own financial woes, and you start getting the picture.
Most Linux distributions these days do not ship any Microsoft-inspired software although OpenSuse with its Mono stack and Mono-tied Evolution is the exception. And perhaps this could cause a number of people ( both developers and users ) to back away from the distribution. So the choice is yours: involve yourself with Microsoft/Novell and be in the limelight or quietly go on about your work with distributions that have no ties to Microsoft.