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Novell Outlines Details of Agreement With Microsoft

Novell today published additional details on the agreements announced with Microsoft on Nov. 2, outlining the substantial commitment made by both companies to address customers' growing requirement for Windows and Linux interoperability.

The details were made available by Novell in a filing with the SEC. The financial terms of the agreements include payments for pre-paid SUSE Linux Enterprise subscriptions, sales, marketing and development commitments, and payments under the patent cooperation agreement.

The company also provided answers to a series of questions raised by the open source community in an FAQ posted on its website. Novell reinforced its commitment to working with the open source community and to fully meet the requirements of the GNU General Public License ("GPL") which governs the distribution of Linux and other free software.

"The financial commitments Microsoft is making as part of this agreement are significant," said Ron Hovsepian, president and CEO of Novell. "This will help drive Linux more rapidly into the enterprise and government arenas, broadly expanding opportunities for Linux and open source. This is good for Novell, but it's also good for the community because it will make Linux and open source much more prevalent and drive demand for Linux-based solutions."

As part of the business cooperation agreement, Microsoft will make an upfront payment to Novell of $240 million for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscription certificates.

Microsoft may use, resell or distribute them over the term of the agreement, allowing customers to redeem a single or multi-year subscription for upgrades, updates and technical support from Novell.

Microsoft will dedicate $60 million total over the five year period for marketing Linux and Windows virtualized scenarios and will also spend $34 million over the five year term of the agreement for a Microsoft sales force devoted primarily to marketing the combined offering.

Additionally, under the business collaboration agreement, Microsoft agreed that for three years, it will not enter into an agreement with another Linux distributor to encourage adoption of Linux/Windows virtualization solutions through a Linux subscription certificate program. IDC projects the market for virtual machine software to be $1.8 billion by 2009.

Under the patent cooperation agreement, Microsoft will make an up-front net payment to Novell of $108 million, and Novell will make ongoing payments of at least $40 million over five years to Microsoft, based on percentages of Novell's Open Platform Solutions and Open Enterprise Server revenues.

Novell also published answers to a series of questions raised by the open source community regarding the agreements. A primary question pertains to Novell's compliance with the terms of the GPL. As explained in the FAQ and below, the patent agreement complies with the GPL.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.