Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Microsoft Just Did Something Big With 60,000 Patents

Microsoft Just Did Something Big With 60,000 Patents

Attempts by Microsoft to heal the rift following Ballmer's departure have often been derided as attempts to 'embrace, extend, and extinguish', but of late the company appears to be having a little more success in convincing the world it has changed its ways: Microsoft has added Linux to Windows 10 via the Windows Subsystem for Linux, which left beta in July past year, joined the Linux Foundation in November 2016, and has even ported some of its server applications to the platform.

In a move that might surprise a few people, Microsoft announced yesterday that it's joining Open Innovation Network (OIN) - an open source patent consortium - and making its entire portfolio of patents open source.

The OIN group formed in 2005 to protect proponents of the open source Linux operating system from legal actions, and now covers a broader range of open source technologies. We began this journey over two years ago through programs like Azure IP Advantage, which extended Microsoft's indemnification pledge to open source software powering Azure services.

Andersen's mention of "friction" is putting it lightly. This resulted in frequent clashes with the Android community and others but Microsoft is intent on leaving that behind.

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Since then, times have changed; the IT space is no longer dominated by Windows, but by a collection of platforms, which include Linux-based systems. Microsoft will add almost 60,000 patents to OIN, vastly enlarging its existing pool of 1,300 global patents.

Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, The Linux Foundation offers his thoughts below.

Microsoft didn't get into specifics about how the new patent licensing arrangement will work, so it isn't totally clear if the software giant is ending any ongoing royalty payments from Linux vendors.

Microsoft hopes its move to support the group "will attract many other companies to OIN, making the license network even stronger for the benefit of the open source community". It's also worth noting that the members of OIN can cross-license their patents to other members.

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