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Novell Moonlight 2.0 Gets Microsoft's Blessing

Moonlight for all Linux Users

  • December 17, 2009
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
Sean Michael Kerner

Microsoft and Novell are broadening their three-year-old patent agreement, extending it for the first time to include all users of Moonlight, Novell's open source implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight media framework -- regardless of their version of Linux.

In 2006, Novell and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) entered into a joint patent and interoperability agreement, giving Novell users the OK to use open source technologies on which the software giant has said it may have intellectual property claims.

As a result of today's expansion of that deal, Moonlight users will enjoy protection under the patent covenant regardless of whether they're using Novell's (NASDAQ: NOVL) Linux distro or another distributor's.

"A really important change in how the community and individuals will see and use Moonlight is a change and extension to the patent covenant that Microsoft provides to Novell and its end users," Brian Goldfarb, director of Web and user experience platforms at Microsoft, told InternetNews.com. "We're now increasing the reach of the agreement -- Microsoft's commitment not to sue Novell or Novell customers now extends to redistributors."

"We're 100 percent supportive of what Novell is doing and that we provide the assurances required for anybody in the ecosystem to have access to use and contribute to the technology," he added. "It's a big step forward in our relationship and a big win for the open source community and a great testament to Microsoft's continued engagement with that audience."

Concerns over the patent covenant and how it could affect usage of open source technologies beyond Novell's user base emerged within weeks of the original 2006 agreement.

"In many ways, this will alleviate the concerns and the few naysayers that we've seen in the community around the limitation of the patent covenant," Goldfarb said.

Moonlight 2.0 debuts

It's a major validation for Novell's Moonlight, which today saw the release of a new version of the software.

Moonlight 2.0 provides open source users with Microsoft Silverlight 2 compatibility as well as some compatibility with Silverlight 3. As part of the Moonlight 2 release, Microsoft is also extending its support by helping Novell to get up to speed for the Moonlight 3 release set for 2010.

"We are deeply committed to the success of Moonlight and having a highly compatible implementation of Silverlight for Linux," Goldfarb said. "That commitment spans more than just words: We provide Novell with tests, specifications and engineering consulting, and we're really ramping that up even more to help accelerate the timelines for future versions of Moonlight."

Version 2 of Moonlight was first previewed in May with a beta release following in August.

There is one catch, however.

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