Considering the aforementioned patent sharing agreement cost Novell a cool $40 million, Ballmer appears to be threatening other Linux vendors with potentially costlier lawsuits unless they pay up via similar deals. And of course, Ballmer's age-old strategy of spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt among Linux users has this time turned into a direct threat.
Still, other Linux vendors may not play Microsoft's game. Red Hat, for one, has stated, "We do not believe there is a need for or basis for the type of relationship defined in the Microsoft/Novell announcement." The company has also called Microsoft's threats an "innovation tax," adding that it has the power to protect its users against potential patent claims.