Linux code release was not compulsory, Microsoft says

Microsoft has denied it released a set of Linux drivers for its Hyper-V software because of "perceived obligations" to that licence.

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"The primary reason we made this determination [to release the code] in this case is because GPLv2 is the preferred license required by the Linux community for their broad acceptance and engagement," he wrote.

"For us to participate in the Linux Driver Project, GPLv2 was the best option that allowed us to enjoy the tremendous offer of community support. The community's response even within a few hours of posting the code was welcoming and we appreciate it greatly."

Microsoft's announcement on Monday that it was releasing 20,000 lines of code under the GPL came as a surprise to the industry and the open-source software community in particular. Microsoft touted the release as yet another example of its interest in working with the open-source community despite a past of thorny dealings.

The drivers Microsoft released, once added to the Linux kernel, will provide the hooks for any distribution of Linux to run on Windows Server 2008 and its Hyper-V hypervisor technology. Microsoft will provide ongoing maintenance of the code under the GPL, the company said Monday.

Many see open-source software as the biggest threat to Microsoft's software business, and while the company has indeed taken steps to work more closely with the community, the relationship is still tenuous.

Microsoft has made broad claims that Linux violates many of its patents, and it continues to seek royalties from open-source companies that use Linux-based software.

The most recent patent deal came last week with the Japanese company Melco Holdings -- the parent company of Buffalo and Buffalo Group. Microsoft and Melco agreed to provide Melco customers patent coverage for their use of Buffalo-branded network-attached storage devices and routers running Linux. In exchange, Melco will pay royalties to Microsoft.