In a move that might surprise a few people, Microsoft adds 60,000 patents to the Open Invention Network

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Microsoft announced today that it’s joined open-source patent group Open Invention Network in an effort to help shield Linux and other open-source software from patent-related suits. As part of the deal, the software giant is opening a library of 60,000 patents to OIN members. Access to the massive portfolio is unlimited and royalty free.

It is, as ZDNET notes, a shift away from the aggressively litigious corporation of year’s past. Among other suits, the company had previously gone after a number of different companies in the Android ecosystem. Microsoft acknowledges as much in its announcement, adding that the news should be taken as a sign that it’s turning over a new leaf.

“We know Microsoft’s decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some,” EVP Erich Andersen writes in a blog post, “it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents. For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs.”

The news also finds the company looking to blur the lines between Windows and Linux development, encouraging devs to create programs for both operating systems, along with .NET and Java.

Last week, Microsoft followed the lead of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon by joining anti-patent trolling group the LOT Network.

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