Putting principles before one’s wallet
In previous posts about Apache, we corroborated with several independent sources that the Apache/Microsoft arrangement is likely to end up an anti-GNU/Linux arrangement [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Apache’s coordinators (lead) will deny this, as they already have, but it’s not something which Apache is to blame for; it’s something Microsoft will probably achieve through maneuvering, in due time. Besides, people love to justify personal choices, so admission of regret is unlikely to ever come.
IE is derived from Mosaic, the original Web browser, open source with a license similar to Apache’s. So, this isn’t a new strategy. The plan, then, could be to have Microsoft servers vie for dominance with their own – Microsoft specialized – versions of Apache applications. Or it could be that Microsoft sees itself replacing Linux in the market as a hosting platform for open source….
So, this $100,000 contribution and the partial patent grant aren’t about interoperability. It’s for publicity, and to convince government regulators, not the most technical people in the world, that Microsoft has joined open source and is now a well-behaved company, no anti-trust issues at all. The bad part for open source is that Microsoft is increasingly in a position to speak to European legislators as an insider in the open source community while requesting increases in software patenting that would block open source.
Fortunately, to increase awareness, Slashdot has just put this up in its front page. Pamela Jones added: “Since Steve Ballmer has said that is what Microsoft wants, for “all Open Source innovation [to] happen on top of Windows”, subject to paying for patent licenses, I’d say that’s a safe guess as to at least one motivation [for the Apache sponsorship].”
Principles of open source developers must sooner or later defeat Microsoft’s attempt to have them ‘sell out’. It’s easy to pay for one’s soul. I personally promised to publish a review of KDE 4.1, but given that the publication (same as above) opened a flood of Microsoft advertisements a few weeks aso, I decided to halt it all. I am not willing to publish material that will just serve as substance for Microsoft to ‘decorate’ using ~1/3-page ads that attack or rival Free software. FOSS-targeted publishers too are selling out.
The Open-Source Convention in Tel Aviv has already been ruined (and reigned) by Microsoft:
Yes, you read that right: Microsoft was a major sponsor of the conference, and its logo appeared prominently on the conference program, as well as on the T-shirts that were distributed to each attendee. There was even a very well-attended session at which a Microsoft manager (Amir Shevat) tried to convince the crowd that the war is over, and that it’s worth trying to find ways in which Microsoft and the open-source community can work together.
But remember what they tell: Microsoft’s heart is in open source. █
“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”
–Jim Allchin, Microsoft