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08.23.07

Microsoft Deals That Kill

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, OSI, Patents, Xandros at 9:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into the death spiral. I could do it friday afternoon but not saturday.[More]

                                 – Silverberg, Microsoft

There are those who have principles and those that are greedy. With leadership in a company comes responsibility, but some people just never learn. They take the money and commit corporate suicide. Linspire may be one such story about corporate suicide. It seems to be the first Linux partner to have gradually fallen down to its knees just months after its deal with Microsoft.

Kevin Carmony left the helm, Microsoft cut the ‘umbilical cord’, Linspire is caught in a licensing riddle, and Eric Raymond has not uttered a single word. In the following new article, “Linspire: Doomed to failure”, some reasons for Linspire’s demise are outlined.

Linspire has an even bigger problem. The free software community has recently decided that Linspire was on their blacklist. Why? Most (if not all) of it is a backlash from the recent Linspire-Microsoft deal. Basically, Linspire agreed to help with Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org compatibility, Pidgin and Windows Live Messenger compatibility, and Windows Media and TrueType font support in Linspire. Microsoft also promised not to sue Linspire users. But what is given in exchange? Freespire isn’t covered, major upgrades are invalidated (so you have to buy again to maintain protection against patents), and if you use free software, business software, software running on servers, or “clone” software, you could still be sued. After three years, this protection runs out. Plus, Microsoft can stop offering protection whenever they want. And to keep it, you can’t share the software, resell it, modify it, or use it for an unauthorized use. As you can guess, this didn’t go over well with the GNU/Linux community. Not only was a Linux company doing a deal with Microsoft, they were admitting that Linux was infringing on Microsoft’s patents.

We also have Novell and Xandros. They might face similar legal issues in the future. More worryingly, the OSI seems to be approaching something which is paralleled to such deals. We said this several times before [1, 2, 3, 4]. Groklaw has chimed in to send its warning signals as well.

If the OSI accepts Windows-only, Sharepoint-only “Open Source”, that’ll be the end of OSI as we know it. “Open Source” would become meaningless when it is innately incompatible and relies on proprietary stacks. There are many more issues to be concerned about and we covered many of them in the past.

In a very active new discussion, OSI’s options are being explained. The OSI can escape all of this, but the only barrier are those that have lunch with Microsoft. It is yet another case of ‘partners’ and influence playing a role.

See? It doesn’t say OSI can’t discriminate. It can if it wants to, as far as the OSD is concerned. So Microsoft’s representatives and defenders need to stop twisting the definition’s words.

Don’t let OSI become irrelevant just like Linspire. It would be sad to see it falling victim to this trap.

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