How could Novell, the OSI, the ISO, and the EC be so naive or blind?
In respond to this excellent new analysis it is worth pointing out that Microsoft already has hijacked “open source”. It’s just unfortunate that many developers and CIOs are unable to see this. Here are some fragments of interest (the article as a whole is a highly-recommended reading).
What really worries me is what looks like an emerging pattern in Microsoft’s behaviour. The EU agreement is perhaps the first fruit of this, but I predict it will not be the last. What is happening is that Microsoft is effectively being allowed to define the meaning of “open source” as it wishes, not as everyone else understands the term. For example, in the pledge quoted above, an open source project is “not commercially distributed by its participants” – and this is a distinction also made by Kroes and her FAQ.
In this context, the recent approval of two Microsoft licences as officially “open source” is only going to make things worse. Although I felt this was the right decision – to have ad hoc rules just because it’s Microsoft would damage the open source process – I also believe it’s going to prove a problem. After all, it means that Microsoft can rightfully point to its OSI-approved licences as proof that open source and Microsoft no longer stand in opposition to each other. This alone is likely to perplex people who thought they understood what open source meant.
What we are seeing here are a series of major assaults on different but related fields – open source, open file formats and open standards. All are directed to one goal: the hijacking of the very concept of openness. If we are to stop this inner corrosion, we must point out whenever we see wilful misuse and lazy misunderstandings of the term, and we must strive to make the real state of affairs quite clear. If we don’t, then core concepts like “open source” will be massaged, kneaded and pummelled into uselessness.
Rough reality, but it’s all very true. If you want to see a blunt response (parts with strong language are intentionally omitted), then look here.
Without explicitly saying that Microsoft does hold software patents applicable in the E.U., by allowing (the raison d’être of) and accepting the one-off payment of EUR 10,000 “to be paid by companies that dispute the validity or relevance of Microsoft’s patents”, the European Commission implicitly endorses Microsoft’s claims of having the “interoperability information” covered by software patents!
This is very troubling indeed. We have covered issues associated with these patents in Europe endlessly for the past fortnight [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Everything that we cover here, from document formats (ISO) to open source (OSI) and Linux (Novell et al), is very interconnected and the issues intersect with one another. They are inseparable. Antitrust litigation and procurement is where they make a lot of impact. Attempts to ‘hijack’ open source companies and Linux companies would be hard to stop, but the GPLv3 helps here. Do read the new analysis if you haven’t because it is very eye opening.
Remind yourself that Microsoft is now in the business of extinguishing Free software and Linux. Do not be misled. By further diluting the meaning of “open source”, Microsoft can kill Free software, as well as the true value of open source software. It is not bound to happen because it is happening already, but some people just cannot see it.