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Microsoft, Linux Foundation find common ground

The two parties may disagree on many issues, but are united in opposition to a law group's effort to add an implied warranty to the software industry.

Finally, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation agree on something. Neither wants to stand behind their products. OK, OK, that's not fair.

However, the Linux group and software maker are both opposing a law group's proposal that would create an implied warranty that software products ship with no material defects.

The two joined forces on a letter to the American Law Institute taking issue with its proposal. Microsoft and the Linux Foundation believe the proposal could do more harm than good.

"While the principles reflect a lot of hard work and thought by the ALI, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation believe that certain provisions do not reflect existing law and could disrupt the well-functioning software market for businesses and consumers, as well as create uncertainty for software developers," Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez said in a blog posting.

The ALI is meeting in Washington this week and is scheduled to take up the issue, noted ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.

Microsoft and the Linux Foundation aren't the only ones against this. As Foley points out, the University of Houston's Raymond Nimmer also wrote a biting critique of the ALI proposal.

Linux Foundation chief Jim Zemlin noted in a blog that its partnership with Microsoft makes for strange bedfellows. But, he said, the proposed legal standard would hurt open source and commercial software makers alike.

"The principles outlined by the ALI interfere with the natural operation of open source licenses and commercial licenses as well by creating implied warranties that could result in a tremendous amount of unnecessary litigation, which would undermine the sharing of technology," Zemlin wrote.

Gutierrez also noted that Microsoft and its partner in this effort don't necessarily see eye to eye on everything.

"The mere fact that the Linux Foundation and Microsoft are joining forces may be viewed by some as remarkable, given that our differences receive far more public attention than when our interests converge," Gutierrez said. "Our industry is diverse and sometimes contentious, but if nothing else unites us it is that we all believe in the power of software."

Gutierrez held out an olive branch, of sorts. "I hope that this represents just one of many opportunities to collaborate with the Linux Foundation and others going forward," he said. "We have a lot more we can do together."

The joint letter comes just a couple short months after Microsoft, for the first time, sued a company over its implementation of the Linux kernel. The company eventually settled with TomTom, but the move has created uncertainty over whether Microsoft intends to take legal action against Linux vendors that refuse to take a license to Microsoft's patents.