08.04.07

The Anatomy of Invade-to-Subvert Strategies

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Scalix, Servers, Turbolinux, Windows, Xandros at 11:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Crocodiles don’t really cry when they eat their prey

Let us look back and recall what Microsoft achieved by invading ‘Novell territories’.

  • From an purely ODF agenda, Novell turned its attention to the creation of OOXML translators. Of course, a complete translation will never be possible. Novell simply gave up on standards and obeyed the deal with Microsoft, which required support for OOXML.
  • Virtualisation on top of Windows received a higher priority. This is a battle over the future of datacentres.
  • Novell became the weaker and more apologetic party due to the patent liability it had opened itself to. It accepted blame and guilt. It also fuelled anti-Linux FUD, which proved to be effective. Essentially, Novell shot itself in the foot and also blew up the friendly community that surrounded it. All of this — for money.
  • Novell evolved to become financially dependent on Microsoft. Therefore, it must now obey and please its fiercest rival. This is disturbingly absurd.

Novell, Xandros, and Linpsire (even TurboLinux to an extent) were Microsoft vector of attack on:

  • GNU/Linux
  • Free software (also as in “free of charge”)
  • OpenDocument format
  • Greater choice (i.e. openness) in the datacentre
  • A variety of open formats and open protocols
  • The EU ruling

By invading Novell’s mindset and affecting the board’s decisions, Microsoft was able to turn rivals into its greatest supporters. Sadly, it does not end here.

Microsoft plans to take this strategy much further. Having defeated Novell’s ability to work independently and limited its ability to flourish, Microsoft wishes to pull the same tactics again. It will be using the invade-to-subvert strategy against the Open Source world. The plans are nothing but malice, which is covered by chocolate crust. It deceives an innocent, misinformed, and naive observer who wishes to believe that Microsoft has changed its ways. The Inquirer says, “Microsoft’s overtures towards open source show just how scared it is”. But there is more to it. Microsoft is on the offense, not the defense.

Indeed, the [Microsoft] licence does not appear to require that the source code of derivative works be made available to users who receive binary copies of software products. So it appears that this conflicts with a major requirement for OSI approval, that is, the criterion that, if a derivative software work is distributed, the source code must be provided or made available….Open Source is built on trust, the positive trust of software developers that co-developers share common goals in each project and are not working at cross-purposes or trying to sabotage the community.

Just as Microsoft used Novell and XenSource to optimise virtualisation for Windows, the company uses its place in the Open Source world to have projects lean ‘the Windows way’. There is already evidence to suggest this. Zend and Xen are fine examples, but there are new examples too. Have a look at this post from the lead developer of Drupal.

Last week at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON), Microsoft and SpikeSource announced their intention to work together to certify a number of Open Source projects on the Microsoft Windows platform. According to the press release, Drupal is the first application that has been tested and certified for Microsoft Windows …

Here is the other eye opener.

In another trip down the rabbit hole to where things are odd indeed, SpikeSource, Kim Polese’s open source stack operation, is going to certify all of its SpikeIgnited open source applications on Windows.

Some time ago we said that Microsoft’s Open Source invasion will have plans for intellectual property policing, which turns Free software into non-Free (nor free) Open Source software. Microsoft Watch had the words of an expert to back this argument.

Finally, consider Scalix. We previously asked — in the context of patents — whether Scalix is ‘tainted’ by association with a mouthpiece. It certainly seems as though Microsoft is getting its claws on more and more Linux and/or FOSS projects.

With Xandros’s infrastructure and Scalix’s application stack, plus a common commitment to open source, their marriage seemed to be preordained. As with any marriage, however, relatives can interfere with bliss. In this union, the relative is Microsoft.

These intersections are not healthy ones. They give Microsoft control over its rivals, including projects that compete against Microsoft. Remember those videos on antitrust?

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3 Comments

  1. Sam Hiser said,

    August 5, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Gravatar

    Invasion of the Bodysnatcher.

    It’s ambition is total.

  2. Sam Hiser said,

    August 5, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Gravatar

    Roy-

    Consider this. If these “projects” and companies — often run by ex-Microsofties or Sunnies — were ever open source (doubtful in itself) then they are no longer. They’ve given up one underrated criteria for authentic open source status: autonomy.

    I would say it’s about a zero give-up, apart from the fact that the investors and customers were fooled.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 5, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Gravatar

    In some cases, volunteers programmers were fooled as well. A good example is Xen (or soI was told).

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