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07.25.10

Microsoft’s Worst Open Source ‘Infiltration’ Ever

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Interoperability, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 1:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“You want to infiltrate those. Again, there’s two categories. There’s those that are controlled by vendors; like MSJ; we control that. And there’s those that are independent. [...] So that’s how you use journals that we control. The ones that third parties control, like the WinTech Journal, you want to infiltrate.”

Microsoft's chief evangelist

Summary: A close look at Microsoft-initiated ‘infiltration’ into a Linux users group (CLUG) and analysis of ZDNet and IDG reports where Microsoft’s “open source” party line is routinely promoted

ONCE IN a while Microsoft insists on making it seem like it’s an “Open Source” (or open source-friendly) company and it tries to push/impose itself upon those who obviously dislike Microsoft, for justifiable reasons. One of Microsoft’s arrogant people from South Africa seems to have gotten marching orders to come to “Linux people” and these people made the mistake of letting him come (probably not inviting him). This is the type of thing Microsoft calls “infiltrate”. It is trying to put people off or making them look bad (intolerant). They target particular events such as Mac and GNU/Linux conferences, shoving/injecting themselves in and inviting themselves to become part of events where they are obviously unwanted. Sam Ramji did this in some US LUGs that turned him away and the following guy is speaking to a Linux group in South Africa for about an hour and a half. We’ll refer to him as “the speaker” rather than name him, which would make it too personal.

We decided to watch this and rebut his nonsense machine. There is so much nonsense there, so we pick just a few points and remark on them. This clip is from last year and it’s titled “Microsoft: Interoperability and Open Source”. Here it is as Ogg:


As one can see almost immediately (but more so towards the later parts), here we have a pretentious speaker from Microsoft, who insists he knows better than everyone else in the room, yet avoids hard questions, or simply lies. First he talks about “interoperability”, mixing this old notion with “intellectual property” and trying to suck up to “open source” developers, luring them to “write into Microsoft applications”. What we put in quotes by the way are actual quotes from the talk. We have no complete transcript.

Soon after the beginning he names Linux patent extortion as “collaborations” (euphemism) and uses the term “open engagement” — a PR term routinely used for either AstroTurfing or “evangelising”. It soon turns out that they are also trying to recruit. The speaker starts talking about a vacancy and invites them to Microsoft online forums. Later on he starts lying about standards and pretending that Microsoft adheres to rather than fights standards (like ODF). Don’t worry, he’ll be challenged over these claims later on (in the questions session), but he’ll keep trying to escape tough questions from the audience by saying things like, “I wasn’t involved in the decision.”

“The speaker starts talking about a vacancy and invites them to Microsoft online forums.”The speaker describes the whole OOXML scam (and fight against ODF) as a good thing which he wants credit for. What a nerve. Rather than apologise he wants credit. He also doesn’t say that Microsoft won’t support ODF properly [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] — an issue that will only come later from the audience. He hardly ever addresses the questions, just dodges them and tries using poor humour to do so.

“I really can’t answer the question,” he says on quite a few occasions, especially when the questions help expose the unethical/criminal nature of his employer. He gets asked about Microsoft’s deviation from standards, for example, or even about “vendor deals” (like Novell’s). The speaker goes something like, “I don’t know what…”

These exclusive patent deals and secrecy helped show that the guy is talking nonsense, but he doesn’t seem to care. When asked about it he gives no answer.

Microsoft clearly makes an attempt to control Free software, under Windows. The speaker does not deny it. The issue of Mono soon comes up and he starts defending the project by talking about “good understanding” and how “the community drives this project” although “we don’t have any interest,” he argues. Well, they co-develop it now. Soon after that part, the issue of Moonlight is raised and the speaker says: “we made specification available” and it’s “up to the community” to implement it. He doesn’t seem to mention Microsoft’s active role (with Novell) to push Moonlight. He praises Miguel (de Icaza, who is now a Microsoft MVP) and when asked critically about it by the audience (which dislikes Mono and Moonlight) he just says things like “I couldn’t answer that question” and something along the lines of “we just make specifications available”; “if anything, Microsoft is actually supporting development of these,” he says. Well, duh. It helps Microsoft and harms GNU/Linux. He just can’t answer questions about the limitations imposed by Microsoft, especially in terms of licensing. Very unsatisfactory.

“The speaker just escapes the hard subjects and uses diversion tactics.”Then he proceeds to pretending Microsoft helped Samba. That’s not the case; They were forced to by the EU Commission, but he carries on pretending that they help (after about a decade in court). Then he gets asked about the corruption caused by Microsoft at ISO (although not in these words). South Africa formally complained about this and it wasn’t alone. The speaker just escapes the hard subjects and uses diversion tactics. For instance, first he seems to be trying to ask the name of the person asking the question (as if that matters) and then switching to other subjects. Once again he lies (probably knowingly) and says “we didn’t oppose ODF”. This is probably a lie, but it’s hard to prove intent. It obviously does not correspond with facts. About OOXML, he says it’s “documented” and he doesn’t say that Microsoft itself never implemented it. He pretends it’s a standard (because of the corruption that put it inside ISO) and when someone raises the point about Microsoft not complying with ODF to encourage interoperability the speaker just lies and tries to contradict the fact with a ‘study’ (probably one that’s sponsored by Microsoft, but he doesn’t actually say which study). All those systematic lies are necessary given the position he is in. He needs to defend the indefensible because he chose to work for a corrupt company.

The speaker then moves on to discussing “Open Source” (the second talk or the second part of his presentation). It’s not about Free software and the term is never brought up. “Let me tell you how I look at Open Source,” he says. Yes, Microsoft wants to define what it is, taking over its own competition’s definition. The speaker’s vanity is really showing here. He tries to pretend it’s a choice of Microsoft to just take someone else’s term, only to disagree and change it. Then he exposes his feelings of superiority over his audience (he must be thinking, “oh! Those Linux zealots!”); he distances himself from them, as though they don’t belong in “Open Source” and Microsoft is the centre of this universe. “We don’t need to agree on this by the way,” he says quite angrily. When told about the formal open source guidelines he just prefers to avoid the subject. He is clearly rushing out of this discussion because he loses this debate. Then, “in interests of time,” he argues, they move on and skip this debate. The speaker is still being asked why they (Microsoft) had to go their own way with licences and repositories. The speaker can’t provide a reasonable answer; the truth is hard to admit.

“The speaker is still being asked why they (Microsoft) had to go their own way with licences and repositories. The speaker can’t provide a reasonable answer; the truth is hard to admit.”Then the speaker discusses repositories like SourceForge. He tries to say that many of the applications there are cross-platform or are for Windows. This is a very familiar talking point, trying to portray “open source” as Windows. We saw that coming also from former Microsoft employees who entered SourceForge as staff (after SourceForge bought Ohloh). This is nasty talking point/spin to watch out for. The notions that include “mixed source” are soon introduced and the speaker is trying to pretend they — the developers — “gain value” from Microsoft’s stack, as though they should all be thankful to Microsoft.

Shamelessly enough, in this Linux-type meeting the speaker starts trying to sell some more Microsoft proprietary software to the developers there. He gets very uncomfortable at this stage, clearly agitated and nervous because the crowd tells him that he promotes proprietary software (while trying to paint it as “open”). He then encourages them to visit Port 25 and other Microsoft sites. “Go read Port 25,” he says, where they “engage with” the public (yes, again with this term; he uses the “engage” word quite a lot and it’s a PR term). Then CodePlex gets promoted and he admits it’s Microsoft’s, not an independent entity like Microsoft now tries very hard to characterise it. He then pretends that they have great relationships with F/OSS companies; he names MySQL and JBoss and brags about OSI-approved licences of Microsoft (never mind if Microsoft shoved them down OSI’s throat under controversial circumstances and backlash). He gets asked by the audience: “why do you need them?”

“I can’t answer” is his reply. Yes, of course.

Then he uses PHP/Zend for self-praise. Typical. This contributes to/promotes their own stack. One person asks: “Why would someone pay money for this WISP platform?”

He struggles to answer. Then he moves on to another subject and mentions KnowledgeTree because of its South African roots. Microsoft worked with them just to put it on Windows.

Silverlight, which is proprietary, is strangely enough being brought up by the speaker. Huh? How come? It’s not clear what it has to do with open source. Then he starts promoting Azure, which has nothing to do with Free software or Open Source.

A few days ago Microsoft was also promoting its proprietary software (Hyper-V) in OSCON, an Open Source convention. From ZDNet:

Microsoft, for its part, announced at OSCON 2010 a new set of Linux Device Drivers to enhance the performance of Linux when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.

Going back to the talk in question, it gets worse towards the end when the speaker is mentally exhausted. He seems to have run out of things to cover at this stage and instead he uses the defunct Open Solutions Alliance (not open source) to promote Microsoft. He wraps up and he obviously fears more questions. “I’ll open myself to some more damage right now,” he says (he refers to questions). Towards the end he invites them to Microsoft.com (yes, in a Linux group) and in response to questions about Visual Studio (like “why do you have to pay for it?” They don’t give away the tools to develop for the platform) he says: “Again, I can’t answer that question.”

Well, that’s pretty useless.

Then he promotes BizSpark, which is anti-Free software dumping. It’s not development tools, it’s more of an anti-competitive tactic for Silverlight saturation and blocking of F/OSS — a tactic which we covered in:

How miserable. The locking in of students (to Microsoft) is then portrayed as something positive. This speaker has been extremely weak at answering questions and his own presentation too has many holes in it, occasional lies/embellishments, and basically it does nothing to change one’s mind about Microsoft’s back-stabbing attitude towards software freedom.

“Microsoft has a strange open source turn,” said the headline of this article a few days ago.

Open source site Xen.org’s community manager Stephen Spector wrote in a Network World op-ed that it “just makes me want to go right out and start working on this project… I am also still searching the site to find out who owns the source code written and what license the software will be placed under, a basic concept in open source projects.”

Spector clearly thinks Microsoft might not really support its own open source project, and he might be right. The Vole clearly hates open source and has been trying to co-opt and subvert it.

The article cites this one from IDG:

There is a Getting Started section on the website that directs users interested to sign up for the Wiki as well as the mailing lists which is pretty standard for most projects. However, the website itself is a Wiki which does not show all the comments and information on the site unless the user registers. I consider this to be a significant issue as a majority of people in the open source community are not in favor of registering for general websites. Hiding information without registration is not what I would consider a friendly open community.

There are a lot of responses in Linux Today. They don’t trust Microsoft for a second.

Speaking of deception and exploitation, watch this site called “IT Expert Voice” which “is a partnership between Dell and Federated Media.”

For those who don’t know, Federated Media works for Microsoft and this site contains falsehoods about the GPL, as pointed out in Free Software Daily. “Misleading information,” says the comment, which quotes from the article: “If you modify the software and redistribute it in binary form, you have to also release the source code for your changes. This prevents the software from being incorporated into a commercial product”

The commenter says, “You mean like Red Hat Enterprise Linux? Selling free software is allowed, it’s explicitly stated in the GNU GPL section 4.”

The Web has become filled with GPL misinformation, possibly inspired or directly connected to misdirection from Microsoft (whose official Web site also tells lies about the GPL, in Word documents). Microsoft apologists are still abound in IDG; just watch the reactions to Dustin Puryear and Eric Gries. These people who now write for IDG have some history of Microsoft apologism and yet they are presented as “open source” people, supposedly writing about or in favour of “open source”.

Dana Blankenhorn from ZDNet now claims to admire Richard Stallman, but we are sceptical given some of Blankenhorn’s recent writings on the subject.

Some ZDNet writers are sick of Richard Stallman, but I’m still an admirer, because he continues to stand for FLOSS purity.

Well, ZDNet writers comprise a lot of people who are hostile towards Free software. Some of them are Microsoft employees and we covered this before. ZDNet is essentially “stacked” to have a particular bias, through selection of writers.

Here is what Blankenhorn says about ‘open’ core, which Microsoft loves. Blankenhorn gives that a lot of attention this month.

If everything in your “secret source” isn’t rock solid and golden, you can also create trouble for yourself, as Eucalyptus recently found out.

Eucalyptus is not open source. We warned about this last year. Perhaps it’s time for “open source” sites/blogs to just stop covering “open core” and treat it for what it is; it is proprietary software marketed as “open source”. Microsoft would love to pass that as “open source” to help the illusion that Microsoft too qualifies as “open”, to echo Monty’s sentiments which he expressed very recently (he serves Microsoft’s CodePlex Foundation).

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4 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    July 25, 2010 at 4:44 am

    Gravatar

    Very well done. This illustrates why it is a complete waste of time to have any dealing with Microsofters whatsoever. There’s nothing their presence can add to any situation.

    That does lead to a very serious problem of what to do with the Microsofters once IT moves on. Not any more than an embezzler can be allowed to work in accounting or a fence work in inventory, a Microsofter (present or former) can’t work in IT or with IT.

    The infiltration is a serious problem, too, and Apple is getting hit hard on two sides. One side from within the company. On the other side, from within the usergroups. They appear to be trying undo the progress made with open source and open standards in Apple’s community and take it over.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    But another problem is ‘infiltrators’ from Apple, like that aggressive megalomaniac from ACCESS.

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    July 25, 2010 at 4:52 am

    Gravatar

    About Eucalyptus, where does it fail in being FOSS?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s ‘open’ core.

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