Like most my initial reaction to the Microsoft/Novell deal was to wonder what it actually meant, and if could cause increased risk to the rest of the community. After reading various comments I have instead started to wonder if this deal is worth the paper isn’t written on in terms of the patent deals. Novell and Microsoft have tried to work around the GPL by signing a covenant not to sue over software patents instead of ‘licensing’ the patents in question. But if Microsoft use this deal indirectly as an excuse to sue Red Hat or Canonical I think Novell might find itself in hot water with GPL copyright holders, who probably will start taking them to court for violating section 7 of the GPL. So maybe Novell’s customer got peace of mind from MS patent lawsuits, but on the other hand I don’t think they feel the risk having their rights under the GPL nullified will be any less stress causing.
On ther other hand I would think Microsoft sees this risk and knows that taking down both Red Hat and Novell in one swoop would land them in deep water with anti-trust authorities again, so in essence this deal might mean nada.
On the other hand Novell might have handed Microsoft the best FUD tool since the SCO case. Time will tell.