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The Microsoft Elephant in the Open Source Room

Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Patents, Ubuntu, Windows at 3:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Clowning around

Summary: Assorted new reports about how Microsoft abuses “open source” to gain control of it, change its direction and goals, or even to misuse the label to promote proprietary software that harms standards and promotes patenting of software

The following new post caught our attention because it attempts to portray Microsoft as one that’s engaging with the Free/open source software community; it plays right into the hands of Microsoft’s PR campaign, which strives for a fusion whereby Microsoft controls both sides of the competition and then derails the side which is less favourable to Microsoft. Microsoft has done that over and over again for many years and victims include giants like IBM and Apple.

Here is just part of this post which we disagree with:

However, it looks like Microsoft is slowly accepting that Linux and open source in general is both here to stay and a force to be reckoned with. Since 2006, Microsoft has been focusing its efforts toward interoperability rather than confrontation, for example via its collaboration with Novell.

No, it was a software patents deal; it’s an attack on GNU/Linux. Microsoft’s PR line used to be that Microsoft was ‘embracing’ Linux; yes, it was, like a python embraces a gazelle.

Microsoft hasn’t actually changed its tune, it’s still actively attacking Free software [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and trying to abolish GNU/Linux while promoting Windows and other proprietary software as though they are complementary to Free software, which they are not (history teaches). It’s PR nonsense and Microsoft is good at PR.

Just as another new example, two weeks ago we wrote about Microsoft's fake “choice” campaign, reminding ourselves that Microsoft is still lying about the meaning of choice. Dana Blankenhorn has just written about it too.

Microsoft offers a Sophie’s Choice


Open source is completely orthogonal to the choice discussion, Kazun writes, pointing to Microsoft’s Open Government Data Initiative as proof.

But here’s my problem with that, and here is why open source is not orthogonal at all, but part of the same dimension.

You get one choice. You buy Microsoft and you’re locked into Microsoft. You can’t go back.

In Microsoft’s world its formats and open source are the two children, and you get to make one choice. Then you have to move on.

Microsoft is only stripping choice from products that it buys, such as Photosynth and FAST, which abandoned their GNU/Linux roots after Microsoft had bought them.

To top it all off, the programming scam around Silver Lie is back. Microsoft is yet again trying to associate Silverlight with “open source” [1, 2] (Novell helps Microsoft in that regard), even though it’s a patent menace, a lock-in on several levels, and attack on web standards.

“Ubuntu too is suffering from this problem because Canonical hires from Microsoft and Novell.”Last week we wrote about SourceForge/Geeknet falling into the hands of former Microsoft employees who are using SourceForge to promote Windows. Microsoft booster Marius Oiaga makes use of that new case of entryism while others mostly choose to ignore or forget (SYS-CON warning) that Microsoft is taking over from the inside, by changing employees and thus changing the agenda, too. This is a defeat, not a victory.

It’s not just a problem that SourceForge is having by the way. Ubuntu too is suffering from this problem because Canonical hires from Microsoft and Novell. One reader showed us last night that Canonical’s David Siegel wrote: “If I could only follow one person on all of twitter, without hesitation it would be @migueldeicaza”

“I hope this isn’t a trend with canonical employees,” said our reader.

Miguel de Icaza is not just a Novell employee; he is a Microsoft MVP whose focus is promotion of Microsoft everything. We now learn that Novell will go to OSBC, which Microsoft sponsors and uses to promote itself (and redefine “open source”). Here is another new gem from a SUSE developer:

Commercial open source

…sponsored by Microsoft, tommorow at 18h. I decided to take a look, so there will be some fun ;-). [And I guess I can always run away when it gets too bad.]

Microsoft loves injecting the word "commercial" and then demand acceptance of software patents. That’s just malicious, but not as malicious as SYS-CON [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], which smears opponents of Microsoft. Speaking of SYS-CON, Novell will also speak at an event that it sponsors, even though it’s SYS-CON (Novell is paying SYS-CON, which in turn smears Groklaw). How tactless. If Free software (or “open source”) does not expel champions of proprietary software that obviously want to impose software patents and Windows upon others, then it will simply allow itself to be manipulated to death.

To Microsoft, source code just means something to lift and to exploit. If this is true, then Microsoft may have just ‘pulled a Plurk’ [1, 2, 3, 4] again.

So what has Microsoft done this time? Are we in for a repeat of the Plurk incident? Well nearly, you see Microsoft is alleged to have been lifting code again. This time though at least the lifting of code wasn’t alleged unauthorised or unlawful.

Since its early days, Microsoft has used source code of others in order to build its products, without giving anything back.

“The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems.”

Bill Gates

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  1. uberVU - social comments said,

    March 15, 2010 at 5:19 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Identica by schestowitz: The #Microsoft Elephant in the #OpenSource Room http://boycottnovell.com/2010/03/14/foss-label-abused/ #foss #entryism #novell #mono…

  2. apexwm said,

    March 15, 2010 at 8:26 am


    Nice article and to the point. It’s obvious that Microsoft has an advantage of being able to steal ideas and code from open source projects, and give nothing back. That’s been going on for years. They lock up their code behind sealed doors. However, times are changing, and since Microsoft continues to keep their software proprietary, they are having hard times keeping up, especially with all of the security holes in Windows 7 and Internet Explorer.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Their rendering engine for HTML has become expensive to maintain. They find cheaper labour (offshoring and visas), but that tends to compromise quality.

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