Intel is to give Linux support for its Centrino chipset, the company's general manager of software and solutions, Will Swope, has told journalists at the LinuxWorld conference in New York.

According to Swope, a Linux driver for the heavily advertised Wi-Fi chipset will be released first in a propretiary format and then as open source, once the company has figured out how to hide the workings of its wireless technology.

He did not disclose any release dates to news site CNet, however, so, for the moment, just Microsoft is reaping the benefit of Intel's huge campaign to push Centrino. We understand that a Linux Centrino driver already exists so the company only has to give the word. That Intel is publicly stating its intention to release a driver for Linux, in what is aimed to be a mainstream product, is very telling.

It will certainly give Microsoft another worrying jolt as Linux creeps into the wider public's mind. Microsoft is firing off in all directions to try to hold the fort but with more and more restrictions to Linux being lifted, it is finding itself gradually surrounded.

You may find this hard to believe but Microsoft has made a few enemies in the past. That it has almost complete control over operating systems in the wider market has meant that the other big computer comapnies have very little to lose and much to gain by pushing Linux. And so we see IBM, HP and Intel all clearing the road for Linus Torvalds' lovechild and pretender to the crown.

Earlier this month, Intel joined the ongoing battle in which software company SCO is claiming Linux infringes its intellectual property by providing $10 million in a legal fighting fund. SCO is thought to be acting with the informal support of Microsoft which is seeking to undermine the open-source OS. However, the strategy appears to have backfired, with several large computer companies providing funds and offering Linux users indemnity, no doubt with plans to call the favour back at a later date.