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09.28.09

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Microsoft?

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 6:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ballmer with Ximian hat

Summary: Another quick analysis of how Microsoft ‘bear-hugs’ the “Open Source” community to advance technical and political goals

THERE IS quite clearly an attack on Free software. Some people really want the movement and its philosophy out of the way so that corporations can “do their thing” and leave that whole “freedom thing” behind. Assimilation is a rather scary strategy because not only is it Microsoft’s favourite technique for embracing and extending (or dividing and devouring) but it also makes peers seem like foes, and vice versa.

GNU/Linux is Novell is Microsoft

The vision some people have of GNU/Linux does not have much freedom in mind. Over the weekend, Miguel de Icaza shared nostalgic Microsoft photos and declared that he deletes comments (here in Boycott Novell we never deleted any comments).

If you feel the need to be rude, offensive, lie or you are intentionaly trying to start a fight, I encourage to do that in your blog.

Fellow Novell employee (he came from Ximian) sings praises of Mono, which is almost like gratis promotion of .NET and C#. He addresses the truth about Mono helping Microsoft and never quite catching up:

Unsurprisingly someone attacked Miguel and Mono for “always chasing tail lights” which is a common logical fallacy that the anti-Mono folks love to argue…

A seemingly-reasonable point is then being made: “We’re not interested in childish popularity contests, we’re interested in making great cross-platform development tools and making the Linux Desktop more inviting to a wider audience of both users and developers.”

It can be done with Java, which is equal on more platforms and is also Free software. Quite importantly, it does not suffer from Microsoft's patent cage, it inhibits it.

Open Corers

The most recent attacks on Free software and on Richard Stallman are an issue we addressed in the afternoon, but so did Glyn Moody, who argued that “Without Free Software, Open Source Would Lose its Meaning.” It’s about blurring, which he warned about 2 years ago when Microsoft was entering the OSI (partly owing to Matt Asay’s insistence, being part of the board at the time).

Moreover, if the term “open source” becomes devalued, coders and users will become disillusioned, and start to desert it. The former will find the sharing increasingly asymmetric, as their contributions are taken with little given in return (something that may well happen even to open source companies using the GNU GPL if they demand that contributors cede their copyright, as most currently do). Users will similarly discover that some of these new-style “blurred” open source applications fail to deliver the promised benefits of control, customisation and cost-savings.

But, of course, the point is not “to go mainstream”: as Stallman said, it’s about having “freedom as a principle.” Spreading free software is about spreading *free* software, not free *software*: software is simply the means, not the end.

Mr. Greve (of FSFE fame) argues that it “Seems @mjasay [Matt Asay] should read this again.” The cited article from Greve says:

Another approach by which companies such as SAP and Microsoft seek to steer the brand is by escalating, aggravating and encouraging conflict between false enemies, and by seeking to harmonize the wider community with false friends.

This brings us to the last point.

Microsoft and SAP as Part of “Open Source”

Here is the latest episode of this never-ending saga which we wrote about in:

  1. European Open Source Software Workgroup a Total Scam: Hijacked and Subverted by Microsoft et al
  2. Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck
  3. Does the European Commission Harbour a Destruction of Free/Open Source Software Workgroup?
  4. The Illusion of Transparency at the European Parliament/Commission (on Microsoft)
  5. 2 Months and No Disclosure from the European Parliament
  6. After 3 Months, Europe Lets Microsoft-Influenced EU Panel be Seen
  7. Formal Complaint Against European Commission for Harbouring Microsoft Lobbyists
  8. ‘European’ Software Strategy Published, Written by Lobbyists and Multinationals
  9. Microsoft Uses Inside Influence to Grab Control, Redefine “Open Source”

Below is the latest correspondence (up to this morning). My words are marked in red to distinguish from those of the person at the Commission. They shelter moles.

OpenPGP: *Parts of the message have NOT been signed or encrypted*

Dear Mr Schestowitz,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 21/09/2009 registered on 21/09/2009. I hereby acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely,

[Anonymised]

[...]

Dear Mr. Schestowitz,

Thank you for your email of 20th March, registered on 23rd March, applying for a copy of documents in accordance with Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

In this message you requested access to the following documents:

“I hereby request electronic access to all documents related to the Towards the European Software Strategy process in the posession of the EU-Commission, in particular access to the following documents:
* the list of participants in the industry expert group
* the list of WGs, WGs sleaders and observing Commission officials
* draft contributions of all industry Working groups on a the European Software Strategy
* draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission
* the participant list of the related meeting on January 20th in Brussels
* all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation under the applicable provisions of regulation 1049/2001 which grant me a right of access to all documents mentioned above.”

We were, and still are, unable to identify the documents referred to in the 6th item “all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation”, as notified to you in our emails dated 15th April 2009, 8th May 2009, 27th May 2009 and 5th June 2009.

We sent you the documents corresponding to the first five items in your request in our email of 5th June 2009. I would draw your attention to the fact that they can, in no way, be reproduced or disseminated for commercial purposes unless we have first been consulted.

The documents that were sent were:
* the list of participants in the industry expert group: “list of participants in the industry expert group.pdf”
* the list of WGs, WGs sleaders and observing Commission officials: “Working Groups.pdf”
* the participant list of the related meeting on January 20th in Brussels: “Participants list 20th of January.pdf”
* draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission: “Moderator for the European Software Strategy Working Group SMEs Reduction of Fragmentation – D104400.tif” Please note that the email is a model for all the emails sent to the moderators

Please note that the following documents have been drawn up by independent experts and do not necessarily represent the European Commission’s views and can in no way be reproduced or disseminated for commercial purposes unless we have first been consulted.
* draft contributions of all industry Working groups on a the European Software Strategy:
“WG1_Future_Internet.pdf”
“WG2_Technology and Business Trends in the Software Industry.pdf”
“WG 3 – IPR, Standards, and Interoperability.zip”
“WG4_Public Procurement – Financing Software Innovation.pdf”
“WG5_SMEs-Reduction of Fragmentation.pdf”
“WG6_Skills.pdf”
“WG7_OSS.pdf”

* draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission: “Software_Strategy_Issues_Paper.pdf”

In our email dated 5th June 2009 we sent you the documents that we had identified from your original email dated 20th March 2009. In your reply, dated 7th June 2009, you subsequently informed us that “I shall ask again for more documents”. To date, no request has been received by our services.

Yours sincerely,

[Anonymised]

Thank you for the reply. When I wrote “I shall ask again for more documents” I meant to say “I hereby ask again for the documents”. In particular, I wish to see the contributions of Mr. Zuck (he confirmed to me that he was in the panel) and SAP. ACT and SAP have a well documented track record of systematically stomping on Open Source software. Mr. Zuck has been a lobbyist for Microsoft for about a decade, so his role in this paper only help in substantiating allegations that the eventual outcome is manipulated by hostile edits. I adamantly believe that the process — not just the output — should be transparent.

This scandal has gone on for several months (almost half a year) and I have still not received what I requested. Even the active involvement of the ombudsman did not help much, except for the fact that the Commission was pressured/forced to carry on with correspondence comprising mostly excuses. In the mean time, Microsoft, SAP and their lobbyists get their way in Europe.

“The closing years of life are like a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped”

Arthur Schopenhauer quotes (German Philosopher, 1788-1860)

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A Single Comment

  1. twitter said,

    September 28, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Gravatar

    There’s nothing wrong with deleting rude comments. It is probably better to hold on to them to keep a record of abuse, but it’s perfectly within the rights of a person running a blog to decide what they will publish. PJ does this and is better off for it. We can be sure that the people at WE spend about as much time trolling Miguel as they do anyone else they wish to manipulate. M$ palls might be nice to his face but you know they think he’s a tool.

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