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We’ve recently ran some articles on Ubuntu as an up-and-coming freeware contender in the OS market. While not there yet, Ubuntu’s commitment and resources make it a serious contender.

Apparently Microsoft is not about to step aside and let these Windows-wannabees take market share without a serious fight.

According to a recent Fortune article:

Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users. Users like you, maybe…Microsoft is pulling no punches: It wants royalties. If the company gets its way, free software won’t be free anymore.

This is the opening salvo in what promises to be a long, contentious and far reaching process that may culminate in court decisions impacting software patents. And don’t think Linux is the only target – freeware such as OpenOffice is also in Microsoft’s cross hairs as well.

As someone who had been ripped off by intellectual property thieves, I’m not averse to protecting one’s IP. However, there is a very fuzzy area once you get beyond outright plagiarism, and the whole question of software patents is one that is going to take some time to play out.

However this drama unfolds, I think the viability of freeware OS and productivity software alternatives is on the upswing, much to our benefit. If they were not, I doubt Microsoft would take the time and effort to take them on. If you have not yet looked into freeware alternatives, do yourself a favor and browse around – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

More reading:

Ubuntu: Microsoft is Patent Pal
Linux infringes Microsoft patents, claims Ballmer
Dell joins Microsoft Linux ‘protection’ deal
Microsoft takes on the free world
Microsoft is not the real threat

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