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03.19.08

Microsoft Invades Eclipse and Java

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Java, Microsoft at 11:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eclipse conference shows a lot of Microsoft

Over the past couple of weeks we mentioned Eclipse on several occasions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. IBM, Sun Microsystems and also Microsoft are among the big vendors who find themselves clinging onto developers by staying close to the project. Shortly, IBM will be loosening is grip somewhat.

The warnings we gave in the past are actually related to keynote speakers at this latest event, two of which can be perceived as foes of GNU/Linux. That’s 2 out of 3. Here comes an early starter:

Microsoft, Eclipse finally playing nice. What’s it mean for developers?”

Milinkovich also declined to provide details of any forthcoming announcement, noting that Eclipse will leave it up to Microsoft to disclose any agreement. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment on its Eclipse plans.

While Microsoft is unlikely to open-source any core parts of its Visual Studio IDE, analysts said that the vendor could opt to offer its Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS) to the community. Analysts also suggested that Microsoft may decide to work with Eclipse on its next-generation modeling language, which is slated to be part of Visual Studio 2010, which is code-named Oslo.

The announcement has since then been made:

Microsoft to Support Two Eclipse Projects

But how about the following newer headline?

Microsoft cozies to Eclipse, no tongues though

Or this one?

Microsoft to work with Eclipse on Java

Microsoft will begin collaborating with the Eclipse Foundation to improve native Windows application development on Java.

After all the abuses against Java, can Microsoft be trusted at all? What Microsoft brings with it (see [crer 2861 OSI example from yesterday]) is often venom against its rivals. It redefines and ‘extends’ things to suit its own business objectives. How long before FOSS licenses and ideals get diluted? What about software patents? Simon Phipps is having his cyber-powwow with the OSI nowadays and more recently he brought up some of these issues.

What would be in these two new definitions? Both would need to define what promotes software freedom and how it can be protected. Both would need to be pragmatically principled.

  • An Open Source Patent Definition would do for patents what the OS(C)D does for copyrights. I’ve posted a lot on this subject before, notably in Protecting Developers from Patents and Ten Reasons The World Needs Patent Covenants, so I’d go mining there for my contributions to the discussion. But it may also be that in addition there needs to be a call for patent law reform, maybe as I outlined in Seven Patent Reforms While We Wait For Nirvana.
  • When it comes to an Open Source Trademark Definition, we would need to similarly define the signs that a developer or user needs to know whether software freedom is being promoted in a trademark policy. I’ve not written about this yet, but I do believe we need to collectively understand the bounds trademark law places on people who have responsibility for trademarks (read: all developers and open source communities as well as all vendors). We then need to construct a path that promotes software freedom without placing impossible demands on trademark owners to behave in ways that are contrary to their responsibilities.

This is not easy stuff. But I do believe that certain recent events between the open and proprietary software worlds mean that it’s time for software freedom fighters to get together and work on these things. I’m ready to work on it. What do you say, Michael?

As we saw before, Sun’s views on software patents are worrisome in their owns right. Microsoft is probably a much greater danger however. A reader wrote to share his thoughts on this subject:


[I have] just read this insightful comment on Slashdot, on the news of Perens running for the OSI board. It replies another commenter suggesting that Microsoft should be dealt with diplomacy rather than straightforward rejection to let them enter (infiltrate) the FLOSS community. Thought it might be interesting for you and even useful in the future.

Source:

So in other words, as long as open source(which includes, and requires, a cleaner “process” than Microsoft) wants to fight Microsoft on OSS’s own turf(clean process) they lose(not corporate), on Microsoft’s own turf(shady legitimacy), they lose, on neutral ground(which I haven’t seen yet, as everyone seems to have some form of bias(or can seem to, if you’re arguing against them), they also lose.

The opposition from OSS to Microsoft usually stems from people who wanted to be Microsoft friends, and who saw how Microsoft treats its friends/partners. (Long list, from Stacker to kerberos implementations gone wrong, etc…) If you are in OSS, you can see that Microsoft has a history of cheating, you can (with some justification) expect them to try to cheat you, but the business guys expect you to ignore this, or else, YOU are against the corporate ethos? Diplomacy is all well and fine, but it’s usually best employed between parties whose good faith is equal.

Let’s just agree corporate America isn’t ready for open source, I for one am ready for the next debate. Microsoft will not clean up its act without a BIG stick on the nose. So far, it’s only got a rolled up newspaper, and only when it got caught red-handed. They have not shown “good faith”, they have done damage control. They’ve never formally renounced “embrace/extend/extinguish” as a modus operandi. This is the people we have to be diplomatic with… Can we just agree we don’t want to play, and go home? There’s been a very long, bloody history of bad faith(mostly on their part, but yes there have been zealots on the other camp too, however, there’s only been casualties on one side), too big to ignore unless something changes(they could formally drop OOXML, and embrace ODF(not in a year, not after the next shareholders meeting, but now!) something LOUD, something that shows they believe in openness(not necessarily open source) that they are willing to face the anger of their shareholders over it. (I’ve kept fantasizing they’d opensource office instead, but that won’t happen that’s just a fantasy).

[...]

I already signed the [Bruce's] petition. Let’s hope he can make it to the board of the OSI , which is in a process of being infiltrated by Microsoft agents.

http://www.endsoftwarepatents.org


It’s very clear — and been clear for quite some time — that Microsoft’s plan is to be a part of everything and set the rules. That’s what the Trust was all about before antitrust laws were introduced.

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