Microsoft hopes to strike a Linux pact with Red Hat, similar to its deals with Novell, Xandros and Linspire.
"We'd love to do the same deal with Red Hat," said Tom Robertson, general manager of corporate interoperability and standards at Microsoft. "We're always open to talking with them."
That sentiment has not so far been echoed by Red Hat's. The company has said it's not interested in a deal. Red Hat spokeswoman Leigh Day said that is still the case.
"We continue to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency," she said.
Still, some wonder - as Microsoft lines up the other Linux ducks in a neat little row - if Red Hat might be next, and rumours suggest a pact might be imminent. Microsoft's latest Linux deal came last Thursday with Linspire, a deal that would shield the company's customers from Microsoft patent-infringement claims. The deal follows one struck by Microsoft and Linux distributor Xandros, and a high-profile and financially significant deal with Novell last November.
Microsoft has said it is seeking these partnerships for a couple of reasons. The one Robertson is most interested in is interoperability, as he - along with Jean Paoli, general manager, interoperability and XML architecture - is in charge of Microsoft's 18-month company-wide strategy in this area.
Robertson said Microsoft customers have demanded the company address interoperability issues with other companies' software, including open source, and that IP in those products is a concern for them. "If you look across the industry, you see companies working together to address IP on behalf of their customer base," he said.
Microsoft has publicly said that Linux and other open-source software violates 235 of the company's patents. But rather than suing to settle these IP claims, Microsoft is striking individual deals, Robertson said. However, much has been made of the fact that the company has not publicly disclosed any of the patents it claims open-source software is violating.