Ok I have researched through alot of this stuff over this last weekend (between moving to a new house) and read quite a few blogs. Here is the latest from M$
http://www.informationweek.com/news/sho ... =199501831
See Groklaw too about what PA is saying (shes the one that really helped to take down SCO with her legal insights). In short, this is ad hominum the soup de jour for M$ and its thier modus operendi. Now to translate, this is what M$ does and they do it oh so well - namely, strongarm tactics, otherwise known as semi-legal extortion. Heres a few points:
1.) M$ is losing market shares now to linux and other open source solutions with big business and possibly government as well. This is mostly due to Vista amongst other corporate mismanagement issues IMO. Bottom line is that thier bottom line is shrinking; not by much maybe, but its not moving in the correct direction to satisfy thier shareholders and thus, Ballmer (aka monkey boy) is now on the chopping block to get things back on track, again IMO, but one does not have to search very hard to look at the company's financial situation.
2) This tactic has worked very well in the past. SCO as an example. Even though SCO failed par excellance to win any judgements against thier customers about Linux patent violations (and SCO had a far better case btw than does M$). SCO is now going bankrupt, or soon will, mostly as a result of thier legal pandering. However, just the threat of legal action nowadays sends companies reeling. Most big businesses and Government agencies will not embrace a product that hovers under the dark cloud of possible litigation. That would mean spending millions to invest in a network/computer system that may end up becoming illegal or legally enmeshed in the outcome of whatever happens with the M$/Linux court battle. They simply wont take that risk, and rightly so IMO. So, all M$ really has to do is grumble and threaten and coerce, and they get what they want -- regardless of wether their threats have any real teeth or fact!
3) The Novell deal with the devil strengthened thier case! Yup, exactly as the bulk of the linux/open source guru's predicted, here it is. Novells deal with M$ in effect said "ill pay you royalties of what I make off our Linux products so long as you dont threaten to sue my customers with patent violations". Question - is Novell in violation of any patent violations by providing SLED solutions to companies? I dont think so, but thier customers, ie. big companies, are paranoid about even the slightest hint of any legal grumblings, and they want guaranteed freedom from prosecution, and so the Novell/M$ deal was done. This worked unfairly in M$'s favor of course, and was about the most moronic thing that Hovsepian could have done because it put the whole linux world at risk from M$ by giving thier claims some legitimacy, ie "well, even Novell thinks that Linux violates our patents, or why would they even do this deal for immunity with us?". Now, Hovsepian could have told thier customers, "Linux/open source products are covered under the GPL, and M$ has no claim over that or any patent violations. Novell's legal team will always remain hard at work to cover our products.", but no, they made the deal and now M$ has some additional ammunition; nonsense or not, it is just the kind of thing that those with multi-million dollar investments dont want to hear.
4.) As per the link above, M$ exec's say they will not sue Linux users. Now I ask you, does it make sense to you that they would threaten to sue open source and then say they wont sue Linux users? Again, more proof that this is just M$ acting like M$. Thier target is big business and government, NOT everyday Linux goobers like you and I. Small cookies vice big $$. In effect, what M$ wants is to profit off Linux. A kind of "you scratch my back and ill protect yours" type of arrangement. Forget the fact that M$ has no claim whatever to Linux/Unix, nor has or ever will be able to prove that in a court of law, they can threaten it, and given thier stature (60 Billion at last count) they have quite alot of muscle to get what they want (800 lawyers working for them!!.. 800?!).
What should we do? Do nothing. M$ is doing what they always do because it has worked for them in the past. They have always used shady business tactics (Big surprise!!) and seem to have no intention to stop now. I believe that if they try to take on the open source world, they will fail as have others. They are terrified of the GPLv3 and this is thier way of saying "release that and well sue, because it will screw up our shady business deal with those idiot morons over at Novell and Dell who actually think that we have any patent claims over Linux!".