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Microsoft surrenders its patents to Linux

October 10, 2018.

Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.

Microsoft campus, Redmond, Washington. © iStock.

Since the departure of Steve Ballmer, who was of the opinion that Linux was the pox for anything related to intellectual property, it’s been a veritable honeymoon between Microsoft and Linus Torvald’s brainchild. Latest installment in this new love affair: the Redmond firm announces that it signed up to participate in the Open Invention Network, a group of about 2,400 companies that have agreed to cross-license their patents on a royalty-free basis for use by the “Linux System”, a collection of projects including the Linux kernel, many tools and utilities built on top of Linux, and large parts of Android. Member companies promise not to assert their patent rights against the Linux Community. Microsoft has made billions from its extensive library of software patents. Notably, a number of Android vendors, including Samsung, pay the company a royalty on each phone they ship with exFAT file system. Giving up its claim to those revenues is sign of a sea change, not only for its business model but also its corporate culture. By joining OIN, Microsoft may be able to convince even the most jaundiced skeptics that it really does love Linux and open source.

Ars Technica, “Microsoft promises to defend—not attack—Linux with its 60,000 patents.”