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24 December 2009, 12:54

Microsoft promises not to press charges against Moonlight users

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Moonlight Logo As announced a week ago when version 2 of the Moonlight plug-in for Firefox was announced by Novell developer Michael de Icaza, Microsoft has published a new Moonlight patent agreement. Now, Microsoft says that it will not press charges against Moonlight users who employ a patented technology in Moonlight 3 or 4.

Moonlight allows multimedia content and WMA files implemented in Microsoft's Rich Internet Application (RIA) technology, called Silverlight, to run on Linux operating systems. Primarily developed by Novell, the software has yet to be used by a number of Linux distributors because some of the technologies implemented are protected by patents and these distributors did not feel that the previous promise not to press charges against Moonlight users and distributors went far enough. Specifically, the pledge only applied to users who received the software from Novell. In addition, Moonlight is based on Mono, which has repeatedly been a bone of contention in the open source community; and when Mono is missing, such as in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Moonlight will not work.

The next few weeks and months will tell whether the "Covenant to End Users of Moonlight 3 and 4", which Microsoft can revoke at any time, will convince additional distribution vendors to implement Moonlight. But developer Tom "spot" Callaway, Engineering Manager and Red Hat legal expert at Fedora, made it clear that the Fedora project, sponsored largely by Red Hat, will continue to leave the software out. One of the reasons was that the new promise does not protect Linux distributors any more than the old one did.


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