Microsoft Tries to ‘Surrogate’ Free Software with Windows-only, Patent-encumbered, Microsoft-controlled ‘Open Source’
Trying to change the direction of inevitable things
BY LOOKING at the Halloween Documents, which are rather old by now, one can see that Microsoft realised it would not manage to compete against Free software. Not unless it turned to criminal behaviour, which it has. It’s doing it all the time (c.f. OOXML), but some people hide under a rock and prefer not to see it. Instead, they discredit those who do, typically suing derogatory labels [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
We have already discussed Microsoft’s latest strategy, which is to hijack this thing called “Open Source” in an EEE-like fashion. The familiar signs are there and a blanket of .NET/Mono with Microsoft patents is marketed to the masses by what’s sometimes callously referred to as “useful idiots”.
ZDNet has a new article which is a complaint about this hijack of “open source” — whatever that actually means nowadays — by vendors.
Like me, you’ve probably read articles on how free software, or open source, is going to thrive in 2009, and how businesses everywhere are going to survive the recession by migrating to it.
Perhaps you agree with those views; perhaps you don’t. However, what I find most interesting is what people mean by the words ‘open source’ and, to be even more specific, what business model they have in mind.
We often assume others mean the same thing as we do in the words they use, but the truth is more nuanced than that. The real meaning behind the words is worth examining, especially when someone is trying to sell you something.
Dana Blankenhorn, a Windows user who runs ZDNet’s ‘Linux’ blog, points out that the ZDNet article (the one that’s referred to above) directs its complaint almost squarely at Microsoft.
Today, for instance, our sister publication in the UK has a piece by Mark Taylor of SiriusIT, calling Microsoft’s very definition of open source a straw man.
Microsoft representatives generally try to establish a world view sympathetic to their own by talking as if the accepted distinction in the open-source arena is between commercial and non-commercial. That definition is inaccurate and its intent is to damage.
The true distinction is between proprietary and non-proprietary. The false distinction between commercial and non-commercial is designed to imply that only proprietary software is acceptable commercially — that is, companies should keep buying the proprietary stuff and leave the non-proprietary to hobbyists.
This observation about Microsoft is correct [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and it is very harmful indeed. Microsoft is also trying to change back the definition of "open standards" so as to exclude source code as a requirement and include software patents instead, even in Europe where these are not legal.
I know, I know…
Much like Microsoft, Mono and its guards will soon accuse us of all sorts of things, saying we are not reliable, but apparently, even big publications like The Mail and Guardian continue to consider us worthy of referencing.
Pundits in the ICT industry will remember that as country manager for Novell, Masie was involved in the Microsoft/Novell deal of 2006 which was met with widespread controversy and efforts to boycott Novell.
The world is no black and white. But when a company commits crimes time after time, then it can’t whine about being labeled black. It’s time for Novell to wake up and realise that its proximity to Microsoft has it tuning grey and its passing its own dark shades to other GNU/Linux vendors, with whom code is shared. █