In a deal that brings together companies that Linux backers consider bogeymen, The SCO Group announced Monday it has shaken hands on a licensing agreement with Microsoft over SCO's Unix operating system.
Through the deal, SCO has licensed Unix technology -- including source code and patents -- to Microsoft, said Chris Sontag, senior vice president and general manager of SCO's SCOsource, a division in charge of managing and protecting the company's Unix intellectual property.
This deal ensures Microsoft is in compliance with SCO's Unix intellectual property and will help Microsoft improve the Unix compatibility of its products, specifically Microsoft Windows Services for Unix, Sontag said.
Windows Services for Unix, now in Version 3.0, consists of different components that bridge the gap between Windows-based and Unix-based systems running in the same network, according to information on Microsoft's Web site.
The product's services include file sharing, remote access and administration, password synchronization, common directory management, a common set of utilities, and a shell, according to Microsoft's Web site.
Microsoft didn't immediately return calls seeking comment on the deal.
The deal is not a reward from Microsoft for SCO's recent legal challenges to the Linux operating system, Sontag said. Microsoft has been very vocal about the threat that Linux poses to its business.
"That is simply not the case," he said. "This is a standard, straight-up Unix licensing agreement like many we've done in the past" with other companies, he said.
Seeing Microsoft playing nice with SCO doesn't surprise advocates of software that users can freely modify, copy, share, and redistribute, also known as free software.
"I'm not surprised to see Microsoft supporting efforts to make free software look bad," said Bradley Kuhn, executive director of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a tax-exempt charity that fosters the development and use of free software. "Microsoft is supportive of anything that goes against free software."
Kuhn also complains that SCO is being loud in its allegations while refusing to be specific about its claims, a common grievance that those in the Linux camp have been aiming at SCO. SCO officials have said the company will, in time, present concrete evidence in court.
Until evidence is put forth, the FSF deems SCO's allegations to be baseless and condemns what it considers to be a SCO campaign to spread confusion and fear about open source and free software, Kuhn said Tuesday.
For example, the FSF has inferred from various SCO pronouncements and documents that SCO is alleging intellectual property infringements in the FSF's GNU software, Kuhn said. Thus, the FSF has been in touch with SCO to request that SCO be specific about the problematic code, but has received no response.
A spokesman for SCO said Tuesday that SCO is finding its code illegally copied in the Linux kernel and outside the Linux kernel, but has not yet done analysis on the GNU specific components yet.