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06.18.08

Microsoft Ruins “Open Source” from the Inside

Posted in Deception, Formats, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Injuring your freedom, the open-source way

Several days ago we showed, backed by Microsoft’s own words, what Microsoft 'open source' is all about. But wait! There’s more to this.

CodePlex is about proprietary ‘open source’ software (yes, it’s a new beast), which is tied to a proprietary stack. It’s not “enterprise open source”, mind you, but it’s akin to “proprietary ‘open source’”. It’s funny to see how much things get bent over time because Microsoft apologists permit this to happen. Watch this blog post from Fort 25.

Go Hybrid

[...]

The most interesting part of my research is that it is situated right in the middle of open source hybridization. A hybrid open source software development model combines a business model, either open source or proprietary, and open, two-way community input. The basis of my argument for the research is as follows: open source software development has been so successful that proprietary companies have been paying attention to incorporating open source strategies into their business model and very successful open source projects have had business models created around them.

Based on newer blog posts, others in the Fort appear to be engaged in making some Free software projects work better under Windows. Watch the comment from Rui Miguel Silva Seabra:

I witnessed first hand the respect Microsoft DOESN’T have for any standard at all at my dealings with the Portugues TC that has shamefully approved OOXML.

An overly sugar coated story doesn’t make up for the factual shennanigans Microsoft has spelled over every single open standard.

Microsoft has been fighting ODF for years, just as HTML before, SVG, PNG etc…

Microsoft never cared about standards, which it replaced with new memes and buzzwords. It fought or ignored standards bodies in oder to gain exclusive control. If you don’t believe this contention, here it is from Microsoft’s own mouth again:

“We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call ‘to me’ to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone’s benefit. We are large enough that this can work.”

–Microsoft Corporation, internal memo (source [compressed PDF])

Articles and/or blogs posts like this one (“Has Microsoft Seen the Open Source Light?”) are still a tad clueless. They trust Microsoft a little too much.

However, the software giant has a bad name when it comes to dealing with the rest of the computing world. The company has long been accused of monopolizing the industry, it claimed last year that open source violates 200 of Microsoft’s patents, and has said on several occasions that open source software is a bigger threat to the company than Google.

The above was written in reference in the open source “census”, which became rather worthless once Microsoft had stepped in.

Technocrat’s good crowd did a little more digging in exploration of this subject. Look what was found and posted under “Microsoft Joins Open Source Usage Spying Program.”

From OpenLogic’s (the parent company of the OSC) team website:

Steven L. Grandchamp, CEO . . .

Steven also held various senior management positions with Microsoft including the application development segment of Microsoft Consulting Services. Steven spent the early part of his career in progressively responsible IT roles in the banking industry.

Readers are smart enough to draw their own conclusions, so not much remains to be added. It may be the same with companies like Black Duck, various open source Web directories (run by former Softies) and even SourceForge (project of the month goes to former Microsoft employees amid reappointment at the very top and a major Microsoft sponsorship). They’re everywhere. Doors (or “Gates”) are perhaps being opened to Microsoft by its former employees. Remember Nokia? Maybe Icahn?

Jay Lyman remains unsuspecting when it comes to the worst-case scenario, but he hits the nail right on the head with that latter observation.

However, I don’t think Microsoft has embarked on a SCO-style hunt for open source users it can cajole, threaten or sue for unnamed patent infringements. No, I think Microsoft has genuine interest in finding out how many open source software users are candidates for open source on Windows.

Remember what Steve Ballmer said just a few months ago. Pay special attention his oopsie — the apparent hesitation. It’s very revealing.

“[If I ask you who is Microsoft's biggest competitor now, who would it be?] Open…Linux. I don’t want to say open source. Linux, certainly have to go with that.”

Steve Ballmer (Microsoft’s CEO), February 28th, 2008

This takes us back to the start. Microsoft realises that open source is definitely not going away (in fact, Ozzie recently named it the main threat to Microsoft), so it’s trying to deform it. The new plan is to keeping platform lock-in, which the Commission recently warned about.

Some hybrid stacks make this lock-in invisible/less visible because the administrators are trapped only lower down the stack (or up the stack on the opposite case, e.g. Oracle), sometimes obliviously. Remember what Neelie Kroes stressed last week.

Kroes said, “As purchasers, we need to be smart when we buy technology. We need to be aware of the long-term costs of lock-in: you are often locked-in to subsequent generations of that technology.

[...]

“ODF, with its status as the only internationally recognised open standard document format with a wide range of supporting applications, is a critical tool for governments to help end the era of lock-in.”

Lastly, there’s also charging for intellectual monopolies and software patents (milking/taxing the GNU), not just for licenses to rent an operating system, thus becoming a tenant of one’s own system. Here is what the EC said about the RAND scam, which Microsoft seems determined to ‘inject’ into open source by seizing control of it.

Software houses must declare patents in standard-setting process: Commission

Software companies involved in setting technical standards should be forced to declare their intellectual property in the area and fix maximum fees for the standard’s use of it before the standard is set, according to the European Commission.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told a Brussels forum that companies involved in negotiations to set standards should declare their interests and set maximum royalty rates so that others involved in the process can make informed decisions about which technologies to use.

There is actually a big problem here because Kroes is once again [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] implicitly acknowledging a certain class of intellectual monopolies in a continent where these are not legal. There’s some more news to come on this topic.

To summarise, Microsoft’s strategy goes like this: invade open source, redefine open source, make open source work better on Windows, force open source to ‘license’ for software patents.

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4 Comments

  1. Bob Robertson said,

    June 18, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Gravatar

    Typo, in the 2nd paragraph, it’s “Port 25″ not “Fort 25″. Nor Fort Worth, or Fort Courage. And certainly NOT Fort OpenSource.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 18, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Hi Bob,

    It’s actually a deliberate typo. See this. Port 25 is a Linux opposition department in disguise. Its purpose is to study Linux and approach Linux developers in order to port applications to Windows and leave Free platforms abandoned. See Groklaw’s coverage on the same topic. It’s no conspiracy; it’s true. In fact, Ballmer’s remarks on this topic have been too telling.

  3. Michael said,

    June 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Gravatar

    Will it really matter? Free software with proper free software licenses should only benefit from more resources. And they’ll catch/isolate any specific windows features used.

    Diluting the oceanically diluted term ‘open source’ might help confuse a few people – but most of the people they’re confusing are windiots anyway so it is hardly a loss to the ‘free software’ world. ‘open source’ has already done the ‘damage’ anyway – by trying to win a shallow popularity contest rather than focusing on strong principals.

    Free software has always had an uneasy relationship with proprietary platforms – originally because it had no completely free system to run on. There have been many efforts to make lost of it work on all sorts of platforms, from solaris (which is very linux-like anyway), to macos ot macosx to windows to amigaos.

    When working on Evolution I was a bit upset by the effort to port it to win32 – I did nothing to help and intentionally used posixy linuxy things everywhere in my code to make the effort more difficult. But it is free software, so if people want to spend the money on it then they are exercising the rights we intentionally gave them.

  4. Bojan Sudarević said,

    June 19, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Gravatar

    Hi Roy,

    If a piece of software is licensed under any of the approved licenses, I don’t see a problem. If it isn’t, well then it simply isn’t open source (nor it is “proprietary ‘open source‘”), and that’s a problem only if it’s advertised as being open source.

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