“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”
–Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft
Now that we understand how Microsoft may plan to embrace and extend (in hopes of extinguishing) Free software, it is pretty much established that ignorance about this issue must be addressed. It’s imperative to inform.
There are too many people and high-traffic Web sites [1, 2, 3, 4] that are willing to give Microsoft a second (or twentieth) chance, failing to recognise the serial offender-like behaviour of this company. They try to appease or discredit critics. They are passing these dangerous messages and carry the disinformation further, possibly in hope of lulling another generation of young developers.
Dana Blankenhorn, a Windows user, almost fails to see what is wrong with Microsoft luring in Free software developers. There are many comments on his blog post, which is arguably provocative (he admitted to getting more responses, for which he is paid, when he writes like this about Microsoft). Tim Patterson responds:
We have understood that Mono and moonlight and deals between Novell and MS as well as Xandros constitute a ‘Trojan horse’.
The ‘interoperability’ argument fails here. ‘open source’ is by definition accessible. MS can offer ‘interoperability’ at any time they so choose.
My computing environment is rich and very capable and includes NO Microsoft ‘technology’.
Matt Asay, who is equally deceived by Microsoft’s attempt to imprison Free software inside Windows, wrote some more Microsoft-sympathetic remarks in response to the news that Microsoft is threatening Red Hat again — something that even Groklaw has just alerted about. Here is what he wrote:
Coming from anyone other than Horacio, I might have second-guessed the intentions behind his comments. But Horacio is a straight-shooter and I think there’s a lot of truth to what he says. Microsoft is more active in open source. It’s by no means an open-source company, but it’s blurring the lines just as companies like Zimbra do. Ultimately, this is for the good of the industry.
Lots of other comments seem to have magically vanished from this post of a Microsoft mouthpiece [1, 2]. maybe it was posted in two places, but it’s still bizarre (update: yes, it was posted in two places separately, so critics were sort of ‘isolated’).
“Windows is an enemy to Free software because of its proprietor.”Anyway, why the sympathy? Who is behind the apathy at best and enthusiasm at worst? Do certain people fail to see that Microsoft is attempting to dissolve Free software in a tepid pool of lock-in, DRM, digital ‘manners’, predatory pricing, forced upgrades, data ransom, security menaces and other unwanted consequences?
If Free software developers want to maintain their freedom and have their projects survive (let alone flourish), they must not play with fire — a fire which comes from software patents preaching, remember?
Picture contributed by a reader
Windows is an enemy to Free software because of its proprietor. Developers would have no access to source code that they depend upon. Not only would they be subjected to risk from unnamed software patents Microsoft holds and might actually use shall a particular project become a threat to its crown jewels; But moreover, all developers would have is some belated and incomplete documentation which is vital.
“We will file the answer tomorrow. We feel very good and very confident on the completeness of the documentation.”
–Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft Imaginary Property Officer
That would be a “patent pill” which the Gartner Group warned about, and that’s not all. Remember what Microsoft refers to as a “rat holes.” It is against providing developers with open interfaces. This enables Microsoft to compete better using secret APIs and optimisations only Microsoft can understand (it has access to internals deep inside the system’s source code).
Matt Asay, much like others who occasionally commend Microsoft’s open source faking, may be biased. We explained this before, one context and crux of the argument being OSBC (ironically, Microsoft is partly behind it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). This will be discussed further in future posts.
Some more key issues are explained in the speech above. Those who wholeheartedly trust Microsoft must no longer trust their memory. It might — just might — be deficient, or maybe just too selective. █