Mark posted "news" over the weekend: Ubuntu (Canonical) is not negotiating a patent license with Microsoft. Well, of course not, Mark: no one ever accused you of being lame. :-)
Seriously, Ubuntu is not in the same league with the other s that have capitulated to the Microsoft FUD machine. Ubuntu is on a serious upswing, not downward spiral. Why negotiate for phantom benefits unless that's all you can hope to achieve?
All that said, Mark isn't writing off collaboration with Microsoft (or anyone else) forever. He just doesn't feel that this particular kind of "collaboration" makes sense:
In the past, we have surprised people with announcements of collaboration with companies like Sun, that have at one time or another been hostile to free software. I do believe that companies change their position, as they get new leadership and new management. And we should engage with companies that are committed to the values we hold dear, and disengage if they change their position again. While Sun has yet to fully deliver on its commitments to free software licensing for Java, I believe that commitment is still in place at the top.
I have no objections to working with Microsoft in ways that further the cause of free software, and I don?t rule out any collaboration with them, in the event that they adopt a position of constructive engagement with the free software community. It?s not useful to characterize any company as ?intrinsically evil for all time?. But I don?t believe that the intent of the current round of agreements is supportive of free software, and in fact I don?t think it?s particularly in Microsoft?s interests to pursue this agenda either. In time, perhaps, they will come to see things that way too.
This is a practical, constructive approach to working with Microsoft and to collaboration, generally. I'm just grateful that Mark spoke up to let the industry know that there are some vendors that can't be bought. Red Hat is on the record as saying that it won't engage in proprietary interoperability activities, and hopefully will remain firm in the face of Microsoft's pining for a tier-one Linux partner like Red Hat. Now Canonical. Who will be next?
OK, here's one from me: Alfresco won't engage in this kind of interoperability discussion predicated on patent FUD.