Red Hat itself has a deal with Microsoft to improve inter-operability between the two company's products but the statement made by the Linux vendor today was somewhat provocative.
While hailing the contribution as "significant" and "important news" the Red Hat legal team could not resist making reference to the fact that Red Hat itself is the largest contributor to the kernel.
This was preceded by: "It seems like only yesterday that Microsoft was declaring Linux, open source software and the GPL to be the axis of evil. Now Microsoft is making a credible opening bid to become a member of the Linux community."
The statement also pointed out that the contribution was to Microsoft's benefit "as a selling point for Windows."
The fact that the GPL is still the centre of FOSS development was rubbed in, in a somewhat patronising manner. "In the past, Microsoft has been critical of GPL licensing, but it has evidently accepted the reality that copyleft licensing is here to stay. The GPL is still by far the most used open-source license, and it has been a major contributor to the growth of free and open source software.
"As far as the kernel community is concerned, at this point there’s simply no viable alternative. Microsoft’s acceptance of the GPL suggests a new level of thoughtful realism in Redmond. This too is encouraging."
Microsoft has, in the past, referred to the GPL as "viral".
The legal team also could not resist pointing out that there were other issues to be resolved. "But there is still an important issue that needs to be addressed before Microsoft can be considered a full-fledged member of the Linux community – the issue of patents," it said.
"Over the years, the individual and corporate members of the community have through formal and informal steps made clear that they will not pursue or threaten patent litigation in the Linux area.
"Patent threats are irreconcilable with the norms and values that are at the heart of Linux. To win the respect and trust of the Linux community, Microsoft should unequivocally disavow such conduct and pledge that its patents will never be used against Linux or other open source developers and users."
I wouldn't be holding my breath on that last expectation.