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11.18.07

Flashback: Microsoft’s FUD Against Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, SCO at 11:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s no forget and forgive until intimidation ends

There is this new article about open source software in the market and one bit of it brings back memories:

Open source is the biggest shift in the market this decade and market shifts are what the old guard hate. It destabilizes their ability to set high prices at will. Tim O’Reilly recently remarked:

Does Microsoft’s claim that free and open source software infringes on 235 Microsoft patents remind anyone of Joseph McCarthy’s famous claim about communists at the State Department? Whether or not it’s true, citing such a number without providing any detail is such a classic FUD move that, to me at least, it just makes Microsoft look ridiculous. More recently, it’s reminiscent of the bluster of the SCO case against IBM.

As they say you can’t be half pregnant and you can’t be half open source and half proprietary either. Open source companies partnering with Microsoft are siding with a company trying to kill open source – the reason they’re in business. The open source community recognizes this and these firms risk becoming outcasts. In a separate article and blog – “The Open Source Barometer” – I wrote about the impact of partnering with Microsoft and posed the question, “Is partnering with Microsoft good business for an open source company?”

That exactly is the type of question Novell ought to be asking itself. Judging by history and knowing Microsoft’s motives (they want all open source software to be run on Windows, as Steve Ballmer stated last month), Novell is making a huge mistake. It’s all about Microsoft and Windows, not about Microsoft and Novell (nor Windows and Linux).

Novell is not genuine (prompt)

These talks about FUD bring back thoughts about the legality of it. Microsoft is implicitly compared to SCO in the text above. While the FUD is issued in the United States, it is bound to have impact on the whole world and it may also conflict with foreign laws, as the following old piece suggests.

Here is a translation.

“Ballmer’s assertion must be viewed as the typical Microsoft approach to alienate the market by spreading rumors or threats”, said the official representative of the Linux related companies in Germany in a statement made in Berlin on November 27th 2006. “This is obviously part of a PR campaign related to the market launch of Windows Vista….If Microsoft cannot show evidence to support their claims, then they are outside the boundaries of German competition regulations. We call upon Microsoft to either prove their case, or to refrain from making such unfounded statements. Furthermore, we call upon European Politicians to protect open competition in Europe. In particular, small and mid sized companies, which form the majority of European Linux service providers, need to be protected from tedious legal disputes resulting from pretended assertions of Microsoft.”

It remains to be seen if countries outside the United States will take action and actually put an end to Capone-like saber-rattling tactics.

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