Who left this mess on the carpet?
The Coy Microsoft
It remains rather astounding that many in the open source world still have some trust in Microsoft, despite repeated betrayals and a rapid flow of evidence which must serve as a warning. To sum it all up, Microsoft wishes to charge Free software developers per copy and also ensure that they are tied to the Microsoft stack, in which case end users must pay Microsoft anyway. That’s the gist of the plan. It imposes a higher price on Microsoft’s most threatening competition.
Vis-a-vis cost issues, if you thought OOXML was all open and free, think again. Groklaw has just found another gotcha in the OSP:
Eek. I understand that to be saying that there are gaps in OSP coverage. You’ll get documents you can’t legally open unless you are using Microsoft’s software, because the extensions found in Office but not in OOXML proper, so to speak, are not covered. Let me explain what I think they are saying this means.
We knew we’d get documents we couldn’t open effectively from a technical standpoint, without at least losing something in the translation. But if extensions to the OOXML format, as exemplified in Microsoft Office 2007, are not covered by the OSP, and evidently they are not, when you get a document with, say, spreadsheet macros, or DRM, what legally protects you if open the document? All Microsoft has to do, then, is extend the format, as it already has, and you then can only interoperate with them if you use Microsoft software too. So. OSP gaps. Nice work if you can get it.
As usual, it’s all very implicit, hidden, vague and partly so because of the need to gain ISO’s approval. OOXML is a software patent trap. Wait until it gets uglier, probably after the ambush phase.
The Angry Microsoft
Remember May 2007? Here is a new reminder. [via Digital Majority]
Microsoft Mum on Alleged Patents Violated
So basically, it comes down to what Microsoft is willing to publicly admit their reasoning of the alleged patent violations is ‘because we said so!’ They will not provide any other evidence (actual patents) because ‘(it) is not something that any other company in our industry does today’.
Yes, it figures. This was seen before. Emperor Microsoft is naked, but it wants you to wear blinders. While we’re at it, Microsoft is in far greater trouble than most people realise. That’s why it got so aggressive. It’s a sign of desperation and inability to coexist under the current market rules where Free software beats Microsoft on TCO terms under most or all circumstances.
The Demanding Microsoft
“We live on both sides of the patent fence every day. We have more patent lawsuits than any company in our industry,” he [Microsoft's Brad Smith] said. “And yet we still believe in the benefits and value of a well-functioning patent system.”
Here is a newer article which is more blunt and direct: Royalties are the admission price Microsoft tells freetards [sent in by a reader]
Let’s be perfectly clear. Everything is up for negotiation and nothing is off the table when it comes to Microsoft’s dealings with open source. Except for one thing: patents.
Microsoft’s legal chief Brad Smith this week made it abundantly clear that while Microsoft is increasingly prepared to deal with open source companies and projects, the company won’t surrender ownership of patents in Windows – contrary to the wishes of many.
This bad article, which also uses the derogatory word “freetards”, actually comes from Asay’s friend on the face of it. Watch this new blog item.
I [Matt] had lunch with Gavin Clarke (The Register) and Dave Rosenberg (MuleSource) today at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC). We ate in the hotel restaurant, rather than getting free food at the conference, because I needed a break. I was willing to pay for solitude. I needed to go “offline” for a bit.
The Miserable Microsoft
A reader wrote to us this afternoon, regarding the articles above. He says:
“This is the only strategy they have against Linux: Software Patents.”This is the only strategy they have against Linux: Software Patents. Bet they will use the same strategy against ODF and any competing product. Microsoft Brad Smith insists on attacking Free Software (=GNU/Linux and community-driven projects) while monetizing on Open Source (as far as it runs on Windows) by trying to tax Open Source ‘entities’ with royalties for the use of Microsoft software patents.
Who let this guy in the conference? Microsoft should be automatically and explicitly banned from every FLOSS related event. The licences they managed to insert in the OSI should now be revoked as “open source”. If it is patent-encumbered it’s not open.
Re: Inviting Brad
Microsoft received a lot of positive coverage from their visit to OSBC.
I warned about this a month ago, but you told me it was a good idea.
I am pretty disappointed to find out it was you who invited them/him. It was a bad idea from the get-go, IMHO.
To be fair, he was quick to respond (almost promptly) and his views should hopefully add the necessary balance.
I’ve seen coverage, but I’m not sure much of it has been “positive.” And I see nothing wrong with Microsoft making the attempt, real or otherwise, to bridge out. When it’s not real, we slap it down. You’re a smart guy. doubt you’re going to be easily swayed. The takeaway that I’ve seen again and again in the press has been, “Microsoft really needs to figure out how to make its patents play nicely with open source.”
Isn’t that your position, too? And if they can’t (which, indeed, they can’t), then they need to scrap them and join up.
The point seems valid, but it doesn’t truly make up for the damage done. Business people will open up their morning paper and read about Microsoft asking open source companies to pay for software patents.
The Real Microsoft
A reader sent us some more interesting information about OSBC just a couple of hours ago when all these conversations took place. Here it is:
Matt Asay found this piece of report about OSBC. The important thing is that -under anonymity- Microsoft employees openly discuss their hatred sentiment towards Open Source/Free Software: In their mindset “free” has nothing to do with “freedom”, for them it just means “no-money”, so despite the politeness and deception game being played by Brad Smith and other top-executive strategist -Bill Hilf, etc- (Ballmer has some slips of the tongue, though… it reminds me about a song by “Mano Negra” titled “the monkey speaks his mind”, ouch!) their true colors are these:”Kill GNU/Linux and Free Libre Open Source”.
[OSBC] Open Source is Stealing, Copying Proprietary Software!
Story posted on: March 25, 2008
After Microsoft’s top lawyer, Brad Smith, keynote I hang out with some Microsofties to get a sense of their thoughts on open source, software patents, etc… To my surprise they were very much vocal about their anti-open source feelings. In exchange, they did ask for their names not to appear, just in case “upper management” would want to reprimand them for speaking out what Microsoft really thinks “inside”.
“Open source is stealing. What open source does is copying proprietary software and giving it away for free. Open source is not about innovation or innovating, it’s about copying. It infringes on everybody’s patents. Not just Microsoft’s. But we’re just the most vocal about it. We just can not see this happening and not do anything to protect our business [...] What open source and communism have in common,
is that there are both failed systems”.
I just don’t see the chasm between Microsoft and the open source community disappear anytime soon, not even in the middle of this century like Smith alluded to. On one side, you have Microsoft who think people should pay for software. On the other, well… software is free. In the end, it’s all about money and business model.
And I think Microsoft makes so much money selling Windows, Office and its server software that it’s too late for them to change their business model at least for these “legacy” activities. So I predict the fight will go on as long as Microsoft’s legacy businesses are successful and that they did not find other sources of revenues to compensate the loss for “freeing” the legacy activities
Everyone, including the OSI, must be aware of the remarks that come from Microsoft. They don’t wish well to the Free software world. If they are seen as forthcoming, the question to ask is, what are they looking to gain? They operate on behalf of shareholders, to whom Linux and Free software are probably the most considerable threat, by Microsoft’s own admission. █