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05.29.08

Matt Asay Misses the Point (on Why Free Software Hurts Microsoft the Most)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OLPC, Windows at 2:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Enterprise open source mentality

Asay’s writings are usually insightful and enjoyable, but sometimes he seems overly receptive when Microsoft takes a shot at GNU/Linux (last week he even revealed that he almost worked for Microsoft, but that’s another story and a reason to stay cautious [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]). He himself is no big fan of the platform, but he does at least try.

At the moment, he pretty much advertises the latest Microsoft attack on GNU/Linux. Maybe he just doesn’t understand this or maybe he forgot what he wrote last year. Some days ago he wrote something nice about Novell, Microsoft’s partner, but again, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

There’s another new bit from him which makes the mind boggle. In response to the fact that Microsoft still admits Free software is its #1 competitor (Ozzie has just joined Ballmer’s assessment of it), Asay writes:

Open source has disruptive potential. Google is disruptive now. Google is making money now in markets that Microsoft covets, while open source is not cutting into a single Microsoft revenue stream. Not one. Red Hat and Novell’s SUSE are almost entirely eating away at the Unix market, while MySQL is creating new markets with web properties.

Since when does GNU/Linux not pressure Microsoft to bring the price of Windows XP down to $18 for miniature laptops (and extend its lifetime considerably), force the company to dump software at no cost where GNU/Linux is gaining traction, or sometimes offer both software and hardware (i.e. lose money) just to discourage adoption of GNU/Linux?

“Microsoft is ‘embracing’ (and subverting) “open source”.”The statement above is very deceiving. Microsoft itself has already warned its investors (in its SEC filing in fact) that margins may decline due to Free software. In fact, Microsoft’s last quarter was disappointing, the company expressed its worries about margins only about a week ago and there are other serious issues that are missed in Asay’s analysis.

Asay then talks about ‘enterprise open source’, which is not free and he allows Microsoft’s mouthpieces, who mock open source (and South Africans), to redefine what we once knew as Free software. He seems to be confusing the two concepts. Microsoft is ‘embracing’ (and subverting) “open source”. Free Software, which Bill Gates disagrees with and tries to redefine as “dumpware”. aka “free samples”), is the real threat to Microsoft. Ozzie just didn’t want to use the term “Free software”.

In summary, despite my conversations with him, Asay continues to forget what Microsoft really is. And that’s just disappointing.

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