It's not exactly official just yet, but the latest word from "people familiar with the companies" being printed up by The Wall Street Journal is sensational enough to run even if we overheard a couple of bums whispering about it on the street. Apparently Microsoft has reached an agreement with Novell, wherein Microsoft will provide sales support to Novell's SUSE Linux operating system. We kid you not. The two lovebirds have also agreed to develop technologies to make dual-boot systems easier to operate, and Microsoft has promised not to assert patent rights over software technology that might show up in SUSE. Quite an interesting development, given Microsoft's heretofore complete disgust for anything Linux related, and made even more miraculous in light of the specifically bad blood between these two companies -- remember that $536 million antitrust settlement a couple years back? Either Microsoft is starting to feel the Linux heat, or they decided "stop asserting their patent rights" to get themselves out of any more antitrust trouble. Or maybe, just maybe, Microsoft and Novell just want to get along for the kids. Steve Ballmer is expected to make the official announcement of this hell-freezing agreement in San Francisco this afternoon.

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Microsoft supports Linux via Novell; Satan phones Gates regarding temperature