Microsoft, Novell stressing China's Linux market

Novell Inc. and Microsoft Corp., trying to expand the reach of their unusual alliance, say they plan to put a bigger emphasis on the Chinese market.

The companies say they will make an extra investment to sell more support subscriptions for Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system in China. The idea is to court companies currently using Linux without any software support, often for free.

China is "quite a large and growing market in terms of Linux," said Susan Heystee, Novell's vice president and general manager of global strategic alliances. There is "a very large nonpaid Linux market" in China, she said, but many of those companies are now looking for support for mission-critical systems and for virtualization, setups where multiple operating systems can run on one piece of hardware.

Under their partnership, announced in November 2006, Microsoft agreed to buy and redistribute $240 million worth of SUSE Linux support certificates. The alliance was seen as unusual because Linux has long been one of the biggest competitive threats to Microsoft Windows.

As part of the 2006 deal, the companies agreed not to pursue claims against each other's users for patent infringement.

That provision has stirred controversy in the open-source software community by appearing to lend support to Microsoft's separate claims that Linux violates its patented technology. Novell has publicly disputed those claims.

As part of the announcement Sunday, the companies said People's Insurance Co. of China, Dawning Information Industry Co. and The Dairy Farm Co. will receive certificates from Microsoft for three years of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server support from Novell.

(Seattle Post Intelligencer)

The companies declined to say how much more they will be investing as part of the partnership's bigger focus on China.

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