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Yesterday Microsoft and Xandros Inc, a Linux platform provider, formalized a collaboration consisting of technical, marketing, business and intellectual property commitments. The various conditions seek to ultimately provide end users with stronger interoperability, intellectual property assurances and more effective systems management solutions. The pair are positioning the union as the creation of a bridge between open source and commercial software.New York-based Xandros provides Linux solutions and cross-platform management tools to small and mid-sized businesses. A pioneer for the graphical operating system that provides a clean Windows-Linux user experience, Xandros has long been chipping away at Windows Server and Windows XP sales, making it a savory choice for Microsoft's roving eye. “Companies today are running a mixture of Linux and Windows systems,” said CEO Andreas Typaldos of Xandros. “Cross-platform data centers are a reality. To meet evolving customer needs, vendors need to recognize the value of sharing intellectual property, developing more interoperable solutions, and providing management tools that are familiar and easy to use.” Over the next five years, Microsoft and Xandros will focus on five major goals: * Systems management interoperability. Xandros and Microsoft will develop heterogeneous management capabilities in future versions of Microsoft System Center and Xandros Systems Management products. Xandros will also implement the WS-Management set of protocols in its BridgeWays cross-platform management products and into other standardization efforts across the board. * Server interoperability. Enhancements to the Xandros Server will encourage stronger interoperability with Windows Server on the network. * Intellectual property assurance. Putting a framework in place to share intellectual property, and assure the availability of patented tools for clients, will equip Xandros and Microsoft to speed the development of interoperable solutions. * Office document compatibility. Xandros joins Microsoft in building open source translators that encourage interoperability between documents stored in Open XML and Open Document Format. Xandros will ship these translators in new releases of Xandros Desktop. * Better sales and marketing support via Microsoft. Microsoft will endorse Xandros Server and Desktop as a preferred Linux distribution, accounting for Xandros’ efforts to establish interoperability and IP assurance to customers. A team of Microsoft staff will also be trained on communicating the value of this collabo to customers and channel partners. Xandros will also become a member of the Microsoft Interop Vendor Alliance. This is the most current in a series of newly-formed relationships between Microsoft and other Linux platform or open source software providers. These include Novell, XenSource and Zend Technologies, among others. Other cross-platform successes for the giant include the introduction of Mono, a Novell project that runs .NET on Linux. While it's on a roll with all its open source/Linux relationship-building, maybe Microsoft can ask Xandros for pointers on its awkwardly-developing Viridian project. With its Xen offering, Xandros has had that newfangled 'virtualization' thing down pat for awhile now.