Extending a partnership established in 2006, Microsoft has renewed a working agreement to resell SUSE Linux and help develop new Windows interoperability tools for the OS.

As part of the four-year extension to the deal, Microsoft will purchase and resell $100 million (£60 million) worth of SUSE licences.

"It's a natural progression of the relationship," said Frank Rego, Attachmate SUSE senior product manager of global business development. "We'll do the same thing we've been doing for the last five years, jointly addressing issues around Linux, Windows interoperability."

If you can't beat them...

In 2006, Microsoft reached a deal with Novell, which then managed SUSE. Microsoft agreed offer sales support for the Linux-based operating system, and co-develop technologies for the OS. 

With the partnership, the two companies stated they wanted to better service enterprise organisations that run both Windows and Linux.

As part of that deal, Microsoft agreed to purchase and resell $240 million of SUSE licences. Microsoft subsequently sold $156 million of these licences and followed up the deal with another agreement in 2008 to resell another $100 million worth.

Thus far, the partnership has served 725 customers, including enterprise users in fields of manufacturing, oil, healthcare and finance. It has also helped manufacturers such as Dell more easily package SUSE-based systems.

Windows integration

This new deal is different only in that the partnership will focus exclusively on Windows interoperability with SUSE Linux, whereas the previous partnership also focused on interoperability with non-SUSE Novell software. "We're focused solely on the Linux piece," Rego said.

Some of the future research work may entail getting Microsoft System Center and SUSE Manager to work in closer harmony, particularly in regards to cloud deployments, Rego said.

"We've had a particularly good working relationship with Microsoft on the technical side. We were working engineer to engineer with them, and that was really successful," Rego said.

In April, the Attachmate Group purchased Novell for $2.2 billion. Attachmate subsequently set up the SUSE-related operations as a standalone business unit within the company.