11.12.08

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Microsoft Calls It Open Source, But It’s Not

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 5:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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.

Dead king (chess)

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3 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    November 12, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s not just the money MS makes on each copy. It’s the control over strategy over what NovellLinux includes and how it is used as a tool.

    Microsoft would gain to drive Red Hat into the ground even if they took a loss on each sale. That’s actually a very common way for predatory monopolists to function.

    Microsoft would gain if their MicroVellLinux was dominant and had “interoperable” hooks into Microsoft’s dominant ecosystem.

    The GPL that Novell releases can become useless over a very short period of time with Microsoft updates to their protocols, etc. Of course, MicroVellLinux would always be able to use NDA restricted closed source binaries to perform the communication with WinWare. MicroVellLinux would thus have greater interop with WinWare compared to all other Linux (but be below WinWare to WinWare interop).

    Hook em.

    HookemVell.

  2. Jose_X said,

    November 12, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Gravatar

    I accidentally mixed part of the prior reply with what I would have replied to the bill gates picture comment here http://boycottnovell.com/2008/11/12/novell-scolds-brotherhood/ . The theme is similar: it’s more than free labor (or money made on licenses) that Microsoft gains.

    As for codeplex problems, this is what you get when you go with Microsoft, a constant effort to confuse and hide license terms and what applies to what. bait and switch. Expect this from ooxml and from all their software and even license terms: what you think you initially bought is not what gets shoved in over time. For example, people remember, “it was like the GPL,” but, eventually, through one sleigh of hand or other, you end up contributing under different terms.

    Here’s one example that is old: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&hs=ael&q=curry+microsoft+nt+certification&btnG=Search

    Once on the treadmill, you start to get something very different from what you bought into.

    Novell is second source/ interoperable .. ha! That’s beyond funny. Silverlight is multiplatform .. ha! MSOffice uses open OOXML …. [Funny thing is that perhaps MSO does use ooxml but likely not as one would expect since ooxml allows you to ignore the (broken) spec and instead substitute in proprietary extensions that are documented nowhere outside Redmond.]

  3. Jose_X said,

    November 12, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Gravatar

    >> Here’s one example that is old

    ex: http://74.125.45.104/search?q=cache:BcnGlMKOJlYJ:www.iwethey.org/ed_curry/nick-column2.html+curry+microsoft+nt+certification&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4

    If a particular client (a major client) has very specific requirements, you should be straightforward. Sure, most customers don’t care, but honesty is important.

    There is also this side point:
    >> As part of the contractual agreements, Microsoft agreed to help market the LSEL diagnostics, and Curry claims Microsoft verbally promised that LSEL would sell millions of copies. However, Microsoft decided not to promote the diagnostics, and Curry went bankrupt.

    It’s not what they say or promise or show you elsewhere. It’s the precise EULA you sign, and we know most people don’t read and attempt to analyze a full EULA before accepting.

    Something else to point out is that Microsoft sought third party help (Curry) to help make their case. If you provide source code, that is not important because the client can verify for themselves. Microsoft provides limited and distinct source code (that can change at any time) to many different groups. It’s like each person in the room knowing only part of an elephant and then having to try and get together and convince themselves that this thing in the room is actually the elephant. Any particular one can only ever verify a few “trees in the forest”. Microsoft takes advantage of all the misremembered details and assumptions make by third parties defending Microsoft (eg, those wowed in some area while visiting Redmond and then writing about it). I am also reminded of the game “telephone” [ http://www.partygamecentral.com/pgcstandard/gameprintstd.asp?gn=TELEPHONE ]. Bottom line: full source code to the actual product you are using is important so as not to be taken for a ride or allow the vendor to control your system or network as they find a need.

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