The major difference is that Microsoft is probably technically right.
Whatever. The SCO Group made the big mistake of actually suing IBM, but then couldn't come up with reasonable evidence that Linux was copied from their stuff. So far Microsoft, for the most part, hasn't deigned to come up with specific patents of theirs that they think Linux infringes. Creating the impression that they could is much more worthwhile to them.
You don't think that if Microsoft had a patent that could actually stop Linux in its tracks they wouldn't use it? All we have seen so far are actions based on the FAT long-filename patent, filed against small companies like TomTom or companies for which Linux is a tool, not a product – basically trying to spread FUD among corporate Linux users about how they could get in trouble, too. It is quite likely that Microsoft's patent arsenal simply doesn't contain anything heavy enough to tackle the likes of Red Hat or IBM, so Linux should be safe.
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