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Can Open Source Trust Microsoft? May 7, 2005

Posted by rjdohnert in Software reviews.

One word can only describe this commentary written by Steven Vaughn-Nichols, that one word is FUD. Once again eWeeks top clueless fanatic opens his mouth when it should have remained closed. Can Open Source trust Microsoft? Interesting question and depends where you are coming from.

“So, I do think that Microsoft is seriously trying to reach out to the open-source community … and strangle it.”

My favorite line throughout the whole essay.

“Consider, if you will, the fate of the partnership of IBM and Microsoft that was to create a next-generation operating system called OS/2 or Stac Electronics, which had to sue Microsoft into paying for its disk compression software.”

The IBM and Microsoft partnerships ended badly but not all of it was Microsoft’s fault. IBM is an extremely hard company to work with, they don’t mind taking, but they refuse to give back. And when the fruits of the partnership threaten IBM’s sales, they lock up or get the hell out of dodge. Look at Project Monterey and Apple Copeland, both threatened sales of IBM AIX and made it where IBM would have to share profits (One important fact about IBM, it really dislikes having to share profits) then what happened? IBM effectively screwed its partners. For IBM’s big customers they still push AIX, they never properly promote nor push Linux. AIX is still the leader on IBM Power; when Linux effectively threatens that, expect some bad mojo. There is a phrase when trying to “partner” with IBM in the business world it goes like this: “Kept in the dark and fed shit, just like a mushroom” Is Microsoft innocent of any wrong doing, absolutely not but let’s give credit where credit is due here.

“The list goes on and on. Heck, there’s even a word for being screwed over by Microsoft in a business deal: It’s “Microsofted.””

There’s also a word for being screwed over by IBM in a business deal: It’s “IBMed”. Is he trying to start a new catch phrase here? If so it’s stupid as in its been used before. Honestly though, the people who get screwed by Microsoft in the business world, I have never heard “Microsofted”, what I have always heard when MS supposedly screwed somebody it’s always been “That goddamned Bill Gates”.

“What it all comes down to is that Microsoft intends to dominate every market that it contacts. To do that, it first embraces, then changes and incorporates every technology it can.”

Isn’t that everyone’s dream, to dominate? Even Linus Torvalds in his book says “I never wanted world domination. Of course it’s going to happen, but it’s not what I wanted”

“If it can do that with open source it will.”

It can’t so why bother discussing it.

“Yes, it would be great if you could trust Microsoft. It would be wonderful if Microsoft would even do as little as open up Microsoft Word’s and Windows Media’s formats. Or, heck, just make its protocol licensing GPL-compatible. ”

So this is where the meat comes down too, tell you what Steve, when IBM opens up its proprietary software and other stuff, then and then can you go to MS and ask them for that favor. When you can get IBM to put it in writing that it will never sue open Source software projects for using IBM patented technologies then I will say you are on a winning team, so far they have just paid lip service to that, nothing else. Heck even ask Apple to open up AAC and see how far you get. Microsoft already licenses its media formats to companies that create cross platform solutions, look at InterVideo. LinDVD uses Windows media technology even according to their pages:

“Microsoft has designated InterVideo as a provider of their Windows Media Technology for Linux based CE devices, further leveraging InterVideo’s cross-platform strengths.”

Microsoft licenses its technologies, it doesn’t give them away. It may offer those technologies royalty free in some cases, like metro, but I don’t expect Microsoft or any company to suddenly start sharing just because. It’s about time Open Source companies learn a very important fact when dealing with commercial software companies. OSS developers have to learn to work with the big boys, not the other way around.

As for Mr. Nichols, I have one word to describe him “Zealot”.


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