Microsoft and Novell on Wednesday announced an expansion of their interoperability relationship, with Microsoft agreeing to purchase another $100 million in certificates for supported installs of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Novell, in turn, will bolster the tools, support and training it provides to customers who deploy both Windows and Linux in their environments. The companies first announced their controversial relationship in November 2006.

"The collaboration between Microsoft and Novell has been built on our desire to meet our customers' real-life IT requirements as well as give our partners greater breadth in their solution offerings," says Microsoft COO Kevin Turner. "Some customers have told us they want to be able to run Windows Server and Linux together seamlessly, but in many cases, they need help with the transition to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from other Linux environments. Our increased investment in the relationship with Novell is intended to give these customers and partners the best possible Windows-Linux interoperability solution, while also extending their existing Windows Server investments and helping to give them \[intellectual property\] peace of mind."

Novell, of course, is one of a handful of Linux companies that sought to indemnify its customers against intellectual property patent claims from Microsoft. Its eagerness to work with the software giant touched off a d├ętente with Microsoft that other Linux distributors can only dream of, especially Red Hat, which has stubbornly resisted Microsoft's legal claims. Novell claims that Microsoft's IP claims are bogus but, like Microsoft, says that the partnership is critical for customers. Most enterprises today run heterogeneous environments, consisting of both Windows and Linux/UNIX systems.

Microsoft and Novell also operate a joint interoperability lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This facility is dedicated to solving interoperability issues with virtualization, identity federation, and systems management in heterogeneous environments.