The day has finally come. Microsoft has acknowledged the existence of Linux by allowing one of its own applications to be ported over to the rival operating system.
Earlier this week the software giant quietly announced that it had selected media player developer InterVideo to port its Windows Media technology to Linux for use in consumer electronics such as set-top boxes and personal video recorders.
While this may not seem like a big deal, it does show that Microsoft has realised that it cannot afford to ignore Linux.
Steve Ro, chief executive at InterVideo, said that the open source software is popular for such devices because it offers a "stable low cost solution for multimedia functionality".
Specific technologies involved in the deal are Windows Media Audio and Video codecs, Windows Media file container, Windows Media streaming protocols and, of course, Microsoft's Digital Rights Management.
But users will not be able to download a copy of Windows Media Players for their Linux machines. The resultant technology will only be available to manufacturers for integration into their products.
However, Mike Davis, senior research analyst at Butler Group, suggested that it is not entirely unthinkable that Microsoft will offer a downloadable version for Windows.
"The version of Windows Media Player you get from an initial installation is not the full product," he said.
"If you register the player online, which involves answering some very personal questions and effectively allowing Microsoft a good look at your PC, then you get the full version. Otherwise you're left with a cut down version.
"If they applied this tactic to Linux users, imagine the information they could get their hands on."
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