“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
THE Sandcastle story [1, 2], which we last mentioned here, was one bump (among several) along the road to Microsoft’s ‘embrace’ of open source [1, 2]. The company already disseminates some anti-GNU/Linux software licences, so it should be clear what the intent is [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s not just Microsoft’s discrimination against Free/open source platforms that’s the issue; its conformance to open source as a whole is taken to task. In fact, the company’s mixing of open source and closed source under the same ‘open’ roof has got it under scrutiny and The Register indicates that the company is rethinking CodePlex.
This got Microsoft in trouble in October when it emerged the company was posting code to CodePlex using licenses not compatible with the terms of the Open-Source Initiative (OSI). Microsoft describes CodePlex as its “open-source project hosting web site” and points users to a Wikipedia page on OSI licenses.
It’s important to keep such sites separate from SourceForge. CodePlex is first and foremost about Microsoft’s shareholders; it’s not about freedom and never will be.
In other related news, Matt Asay opines that Microsoft’s self-centric software licences are going to cost it dearly.
Microsoft’s licensing cripples its relevance to the Amazon cloud
Perhaps Microsoft doesn’t care. Perhaps its cloud offerings will be of Microsoft, for Microsoft. But this isn’t how Microsoft became the dominant desktop vendor that it is today. Microsoft dominates because it opened its technology enough to become the center of a vibrant ecosystem.
By cutting itself off from others’ cloud-based offerings, Microsoft has chosen to go it alone. This could be a winning strategy, but my money is on the companies that can drive widely dispersed value from the cloud. With its proprietary licensing, Microsoft will not be among this group.
Microsoft has indeed “chosen to go it alone,” but it’s sad that some developers join Microsoft’s effort in fulfillment of free labour. Microsoft has realised the importance of naive developers who would build, enrich and improve its proprietary platform without appropriate returns or compensation. In leaked memos, Microsoft is shown comparing such developers to “one-night stands” and calling them “pawns” (reference here).
Developers who choose to go down this route deserve to be equipped with knowledge about Microsoft’s objectives and means for achieving them. To Microsoft, open source developers are free labour, just like any developer for that matter (not necessarily open source). Don’t be a pawn. █