A couple of days ago we explained why it was a grave mistake to have invited Microsoft to OSBC. And yet, this was probably mandatory. Microsoft’s pattern of sponsoring open source conferences in order to attend and influence has been carefully tracked for quite some time. It sometimes seems like not a single open source conference can take place without Microsoft invading it.
“The situation at hand is one where OSBC is sponsored by Microsoft in order for Microsoft to become the centre of attention.”Microsoft has truly gotten itself an ‘OSS radar’. Remember Bill Gates’ emergency trip to Paris, which took place around the same time that the police had announced its migration to GNU/Linux? It’s far from being the exception as we quite so often find, even our ‘OOXML crime watch’. Only days ago, Bill Gates phoned the Mexican president. Guess what for?
Anyway, here we are to concentrate or talk about expos, conferences, events and get-togethers. To give just a few among many recent examples that we covered, consider [1, 2, 3]. For context regarding OSBC 2008 specifically, also consider [1, 2, 3].
The situation at hand is one where OSBC is sponsored by Microsoft in order for Microsoft to become the centre of attention. This didn’t wind up grabbing only our attention, but Sean Michael Kerner saw that too (we mentioned this yesterday) and so did Brian Proffitt, managing editor of Linux Today. Here is a portion of what he wrote about this:
What’s at the forefront of my crabbiness is the almost-complete capture of the Open Source Business Conference’s news cycle by Brad Smith’s presence at that conference left me wondering who else was even there this week, other than Smith, Matt Asay, and a few pundits and luminaries. In a nicely done spin for the media, OSBC suddenly became about how Microsoft braved the lion’s den, instead of the real progress a lot of companies are making in open source development and business.
The essay as a whole is excellent and definitely worth a read. Having had a conversation outside the public eye, it seems reasonable to say that one reader adds:
…it is a capital error to allow emissaries from the movement entrance. Just as bad to accept money.
By the way, given the apparent lengths gone to suppress, I would strongly recommend citing parts of this
Criticism comes from other corners of the press. Surprisingly enough, it’s actually Charles from Information Week, who appeared to be criticising Microsoft for a change. It’s worth a read. He talks about Microsoft’s “open source is stealing from us”-type remarks (we showed them earlier in this week).
All That Got Stolen Was Microsoft’s Thunder
The best response I’ve seen was from Jonathan Corbet at a panel at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco last May. Corbet is a Linux kernel developer himself and executive editor of the Linux Weekly News.
“I feel I’ve been called a thief,” he said levelly during a panel at the event, and pointed out that Microsoft was one of the companies that had patented “thousands of trivial functions … There’s no way to write a nontrivial program that can’t be claimed to infringe on someone’s patents.”
On several occasions (since last month in fact) Matt Asay has attempted to defend his Microsoft invitation. He has even done that in his blog just a short while ago, Frankly, based on what several people have had to say, he probably made a mistake. It takes guts to admit mistakes. Apologies are not necessary, but admission of tactlessness would be commendable. He has already reluctantly admitted (to me, in person) that Microsoft had received good press from it. █