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10.25.07

Microsoft Separates Camps, Divides Open Source and Free Software Community, Breaks Linux Compatibility

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OSI, Turbolinux at 11:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Divide-and-conquer strategy used in the Free open source world and the Linux world

The differences between the OSI invasion and the Linux invasions as we refer to them are subtle but not so great. With Microsoft’s acceptance by the OSI I find my RSS feeds ‘polluted’ by projects that claims to have gone ‘Open Source’, but these projects are tied to a proprietary Microsoft stack, which makes them almost worthless to anyone but Microsoft. There are other motives to Microsoft’s new membership in the OSI.

Microsoft’s motives
So why is Microsoft, whose CEO Steve Balmer once referred to the open source operating system Linux as a “cancer,” now seeking approval of its two licenses as open source? I think the answer is two fold.

First, Microsoft needs to do everything it can to counter the perception (and reality) that it has monopoly power. For example, it is having to jump through very small hoops in Europe in order to comply with a 2004 anti-competition EU court ruling. Just this month it has agreed to make workgroup server interoperability information available to open-source developers. Like it or not, Microsoft has to open up and if it is going to open up it might as well do so on its own terms.

Second, open standards are increasingly valued by buyers in their technology decisions. [...]

Those two points also apply to the effect of the Linux deals. Sadly, rather than value standards, binary bridges are built and they hurt compatibility rather than improve it. If you look at the Linux deals (most recently the deal with Turbolinux), you’ll find that talks about so-called ‘interoperability’ are actually about making Linux incompatible and divided.

What seems clear is that these various patent covenant deals will result in fragmenting the capabilities of the participating Linux distributions such that they will wind up offering some features and functions that are diverse and possibly incompatible. And that sounds an awful lot like a cunning Volish plan to divide and conquer.

Why are Linux companies foolish enough to allow this? Money.

But to echo Groklaw, “Why, why, why OSI?”

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