“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
Summary: Why Microsoft chose to maintain a bully’s attitude (unlike IBM or SUN, for example)
MICROSOFT has always been an aggressor. Suffice to say, there is plenty of hard evidence to back this conviction (e.g. recent ECIS document) and those whom Microsoft pressured range from OEMs (partners) to competitors, and even customers who were forced to pay for software they did not want. None of this has changed recently. There is more pretending for sure, but then again, from planning in the Halloween Documents, Microsoft has already moved on to suing Linux directly (no use or need for intermediates like SCO anymore).
Microsoft later wonders why folks publicly denounce it for describing them as “zealots” and some such. A more classic case of hypocrisy hardly exists, but any big company thrives in the supposition that only the small guys can be “zealots” and big, wealthy guys are always right and reasonable. This applies to politics too.
Anyway, someone has just published a list of “Microsoft’s Worst Mistakes” and there is a portion there which is dedicated to Microsoft’s attitude towards GNU/Linux.
Microsoft’s agreement with vendors to sell only the Windows OS has been significantly challenged with free software operating systems such as Linux. Linux is the most prominent free operating system and is both cost-effective and versatile. Though Windows continues to dominate the desktop and pc market, in February of 2008, Linux powered 85% of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. One of the key strengths of Linux according to free software proponents is that it respects a user’s essential freedoms; the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes. Microsoft could do well with its own version of Linux.
Microsoft is terrified of the GNU GPL (the antithesis of Letter to Hobbyists), so that last bit is not likely to materialise. Microsoft’s core business model is the selling of licences to run binaries; unlike SUN and IBM, Microsoft does not really sell hardware, so the idea of giving software away is far fetched and almost alien. As argued in the following video, Microsoft is used to crushing threat, so to expect anything but bullying would be almost unthinkable.
There is another new report in the Asian press which shows that Microsoft is trying to divide Linux and FOSS (or OSS and the GPL, or standards and “interoperability”) in order to promote its own software licences, to promote Windows, and to promote patent-encumbered bridges that act as a taxing mechanism applying only to Microsoft’s competition.
De la Cruz noted that a few projects from the Interoperability Lab have been put into commercial use and that many more could be developed out of the facility.
“Windows users can be summed up in three categories: those who know nothing about computers, those who care nothing about computers, and those who exploit the first two groups.”