Is Microsoft biting off more than it can chew? Perhaps.

Microsoft has just thrown the gauntlet at the open source community. In the latest Fortune article, Microsoft has come out to say that the linux kernel violates 42 patents and in general the open source community violates a total of 235 Microsoft patents.
Here’s my thought on it. I’m really not sure where Microsoft is going with this since they have been known to fund the whole SCO fiasco, in which SCO is taking a tremendous beating. They’re looking to do this royalty thing that they slipped in there after the partnership with Novell, in which Novell was booed by many open source followers. From a historical standpoint, linux was a reverse engineered process of Unix itself. So is Microsoft making the claim that Unix (which predates Windows) is also violating Microsoft patents? This would get into prior art. What’s even more interesting is that a lot of features in Microsoft Vista correspond to many unix type feature sets.
Linux is also being supported by some big corporate names such as Red Hat, and IBM. With the degree that the world is using linux, it’s pretty interesting that Microsoft waited until now to spring the loaded dice on the world. There definitely will be a lot of corporate battling from these business giants.
I also would be curious on where they stand on BSD. Since much of BSD and linux GUI both use X-windows and the office suites are all the same. Yet, if BSD comes under attack, then it’ll also bring in one of their biggest hardware competitors currently: Apple. This is due to the fact that Darwin that Apple bases their MacOSX on, is based on top of BSD.
Microsoft is stepping into a minefield and it might not be wise to start throwing out royalty rights as governments around the world are turning to open source. If they are perceived to be to be like the RIAA and suing end users for royalties because of linux use, then they’ll be a lot more than just the “Evil Empire”.

If push comes to shove, would Microsoft sue its customers for royalties, the way the record industry has?
“That’s not a bridge we’ve crossed,” says CEO Ballmer, “and not a bridge I want to cross today on the phone with you.” Top of page

Personally, this decision in my opinion is one where Microsoft really should let the sleeping giant be. It wouldn’t help their public relations or their image, and it could be the beginning of the end if they begin something they cannot finish. If the SCO suits are anything as a predictor, then Microsoft needs to tread very lightly here. It sounds like the above decisions were made by legal only, instead of considering overall consequences. While they haven’t stepped out in a all out frontal assault, the MS recon squads are out looking for any kinks. And that couldn’t be good for either side.