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A Microsoft-Red Hat warming trend?

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Linux
Microsoft

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Red Hat's Matthew Szulik met for more than an hour at a McCormick & Schmick's restaurant in New York in late March, sources familiar with the situation said. Microsoft initiated the meeting, one source indicated.

Red Hat declined to comment for this story. But Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, although not commenting on the Ballmer-Szulik get-together, said in an interview Monday that Microsoft is interested in meeting with open-source companies.

"There are some of those (open source) players that are looking at commercial-type revenues. We'll certainly spend time with those people to see what we have in common and what we can do for customers together," Gates said. However, he added, "I wouldn't say that there is some big, new development."

Microsoft generally favors proprietary software whose underlying source code is a closely controlled secret. Red Hat, on the other hand, supports open-source programming, in which source code may be freely seen, modified and redistributed by anyone. The company's chief product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, is arguably the most successful example of an open-source project being packaged for commercial sale.

Meetings between competitors' high-level executives aren't unheard-of. But Microsoft and Red Hat aren't just competitors for selling operating systems--they also are opposed on the issue of software philosophy.

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