While many in the open-source software community have been critical of Novell’s patent protection agreement with Microsoft, accusing the company of selling out, the deal has been very good financially for Novell and in fact they are expanding its alliance with Microsoft into China.

The idea is to encourage companies currently using Linux without any software support, to pay for the service, support, and upgrades that companies like Microsoft and Novell can provide – thus tapping a quite large and still growing market. Three Chinese firms – People’s Insurance Company of China, The Dairy Farm, and Dawning Information Industry – will be among the first to purchase from Microsoft three-year licenses for Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server software. The companies declined to say how much more they will be investing as part of the partnership’s bigger focus on China.