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Xandros is licensing key communications protocols from new best friend Microsoft on email and collaboration - areas where they compete.

The open source specialist will implement Microsoft's ActiveSync and Outlook-Exchange Transport protocols, enabling over-the-air synchronization of email and calendaring between mobile devices and servers, and improved communication between email on Windows clients and Xandros's Scalix sever.

Scalix is an email, calendar and messaging subsidiary owned by Xandros, whose eponymous server is pitched as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange.

Xandros hopes Scalix can now rival Microsoft Exchange in terms of connectivity and interoperability with Windows Mobile based smartphones, and Windows desktops, laptops and handhelds. Scalix claims more than one million deployed mailboxes.

Despite the companies' potential rivalry, Microsoft called the agreement a milestone in Xandros's vision to deliver a complete Linux stack and "make certain that its stack is interoperable and integrates within existing customer IT infrastructure ecosystems, for both platforms, applications and messaging".

The deal is one of the first tangible deliverables to emerge from the companies' relationship, announced amid much controversy in June. Under that deal, Microsoft promised to license a broad set"of its server communications protocols.

Microsoft stands to gain in a number of ways. It is likely to try and convert Xandros and Linux users to Windows over the long term. Interoperability will also help continue sales of Microsoft's Windows software in environments where Linux has become established or is gaining credibility.

Microsoft is also likely to take licensing revenues from Xandros. Under the typical five year ActiveSync licensing deal Microsoft charges $100,000 or the first year's royalties - depending on which is higher - with a per unit royalty charged after that.

Interestingly, Xandros' partnership with Microsoft is slated to last five years. Terms of this particular segment in the companies' alliance, though, were not revealed.®

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