Wow – who would have thought that Microsoft and Novell were partnering up to offer not just technical interoperability but licence and legal interoperability between Windows and Linux?
Ray Noorda's only been dead a month – is he turning in his grave already?
The technical parts of this agreement cover virtualisation – to run Linux apps on Windows, and Windows apps on Linux; Management by Web Services – so you don't have to have a pair of machines just to manage your server room; and Document Format Compatibility, so you can use whatever Office Suite floats your particular boat, and share documents with the guy down the hall who uses the stuff from the other religion.
The legal part of this agreement is probably the one that's going to cause most excitement (because the technical parts were fairly readily available already), in that Microsoft promises not to sue SUSE Linux users, and Novell promises not to sue Windows users, for any patent violations between Windows and Linux.
Also, Microsoft will not assert its patents against individual noncommercial open source developers, or against individual contributors to SUSE Linux. How cool is that?
My Take: I think this comes as a relatively obvious result of the battles between Microsoft and Linux with cries of "we might just sue your customers, so people better not buy your software" – if you scare everyone away from the field, nobody benefits. This way, two rivals get to boost each other's sales.
You have to love it.
And you want to be the first in your field to think of it.