As the traditional computing industry continues to sink under a wave of new mobile technology, traditional computer hardware and software companies are struggling to find a place in the rapidly shifting landscape. This new reality was highlighted this week as two of the giants of 90s computing have now combined forces to stave off patent assaults.
Microsoft and Dell this week announced that they have signed a patent licensing agreement. The deal will allow both companies to cross-license patents and is an extension of the close working relationship the two companies have had over the past three decades.
“Today’s announcement builds on our history of collaborating to bring new technologies to market," said Neil Hand, VP of End User Computing Products at Dell. "The relationship between Dell and Microsoft continues to help Dell deliver choice and flexibility to customers looking for the best technology to meet their needs.”
Under the specific terms of the agreement, Microsoft and Dell will be able to use their combined portfolio of patents that apply to products such as the Android operating system, Chrome OS, and Xbox video game consoles. Royalties have been agreed upon for Microsoft to license Android and Chrome patents and for Dell to license Xbox patents. The terms of these royalty agreements have not been released.
“Our agreement with Dell shows what can be accomplished when companies share intellectual property,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate VP of Innovation and Intellectual Property at Microsoft. “We have been partnering with technology manufacturers and vendors for many years to craft licensing deals, instead of litigation strategies.”
In recent months, Dell completed a major buyout that brought the company back under the private control of investors including Dell founder Michael Dell and investment firm Silver Lake Partners. The company, like so many other traditional PC manufacturers, is converting its business to focus more on enterprise services and software.
Microsoft, under the leadership of new CEO Satya Nadella, is currently forging ahead with its plan to become a "devices and services company." The company fell behind others such as Apple and Google over the past decade and is now struggling to catch up in the mobile market while dealing with the fallout of its (relatively) unsuccessful Windows 8 release.