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Microsoft details Linux collaboration

Microsoft Corp., whose Windows software is battling Linux programs for corporate customers, will make it easier for companies to use both.

Microsoft is working with Linux software maker XenSource Inc. to make sure files created on Windows machines can be used with Linux, Bill Hilf, Microsoft's general manager of platform strategy, said Wednesday. Hilf described the collaboration in Microsoft's first-ever keynote address at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston yesterday.

The efforts mark a thawing between Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, and the companies and developers that back the free Linux operating system.

Windows in 2005 became the top server operating system by revenue, accounting for $17.7 billion in sales, according to Framingham-based technology market researcher IDC. Linux, however, is coming on. With $5.7 billion in sales, Linux gained 23 percent in 2005, compared with 11 percent for Windows.

Also yesterday Microsoft said it would will sell copies of its Windows operating system to Chinese personal computer makers TCL Group and Tsinghua Tongfang Co., in deals that promote the paid use of software in China.

The deals are a victory for Microsoft in fighting piracy in China, the number two PC market in the world. Microsoft has been lobbying the Chinese government to crack down on software theft and needs more sales there to counter slower growth in the United States and Western Europe.

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