Microsoft connected to $77.6m SCO financing deal

, posted: 16-Mar-2004 22:45

Many in the Open Source community have long suspected that SCO is a hitman for Microsoft, with a mission to take out Linux even if it burns and crashes itself in the process.

Thursday last week it seemed the suspicions were confirmed when investment company BayStar Capital admitted that Microsoft had introduced it to SCO - leading to SCO's obtaining about US$50 million ($77.6 million) in funding. However, BayStar Capital also said that Microsoft didn't invest any money in the SCO deal.

Asked if the Redmond software giant was funding SCO's campaign against Linux, Chris Sharp, Microsoft's director of Platform Strategy for the Asia Pacific and Greater China region, categorically denied that was the case.

Sharp said any reports about Microsoft's involvement in funding SCO "are incorrect" and that the company was preparing a statement to the fact.

SCO is waging a war against Linux, which is used as the base for many free operating system distributions around the world. The US company claims that it owns the rights to the Unix operating system and that Linux illegally incorporates some unspecified code from that. SCO is asking Linux users to buy licences costing US$699 ($1085) per processor and has announced it intends to sue Linux users. Its first targets are US-German giant DaimlerChrysler and car parts retailer AutoZone.

New Zealand and Australian Linux are also being targeted, according to reports in IT media. SCO ANZ claims to be in talks with a couple of local firms about the licensing. Two large New Zealand Linux users, Massey University and Weta Digital, have already said they would not buy Linux licences from SCO.

Microsoft did pay SCO licence money last year for technology used in the company's Services for Unix 3.5 software. This allows Windows users to interoperate with Unix machines and compile and run Open Source software. Ironically, Services for Unix 3.5 is available for free from Microsoft.

However, Microsoft remains a strong supporter of intellectual property rights, according to the company's general manager, public sector Asia-Pacific and Greater China, Peter Moore. Without referring specifically to SCO, Moore said he "supports any company's right to protect its intellectual property".

Pointing out that software sales benefited more organisations than Microsoft alone, Moore said that "for each $1
revenue that Microsoft receives, our business partners get $8". He said that in New Zealand alone there were about 2500 organisations that were Microsoft business partners.

Sharp and Moore were here to take part in Microsoft's Software Dialogue media event, at which the company set out its position towards Linux and Open Source software.

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