EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

12.08.10

Microsoft Creates Confusion Around Freedom and Price

Posted in Asia, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 2:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Freedom and price are not interchangeable

Kite

Summary: Microsoft fights Free software adoption in Russia using gratis proprietary software which criminalises the user and to make matters worse, Microsoft also pays companies to abandon Microsoft’s competition

Microsoft assisted the Russian authorities when they started suppressing dissent and when people found out about it, Microsoft Russia NGO spin started to flood the press. It was all PR [1, 2, 3] and a classic case of damage control. CNET’s Microsoft spin blog adds to it with a report which paints Microsoft positively after the bad thing it did and it also neglects to say that gratis is not libre (dumping is not freedom, it’s a suppressor of freedom, which is why Microsoft tolerates and sometimes encourages counterfeiting). From CNET:

A Russian court has dropped piracy charges against environmental group Baikal Wave due to drastic changes made to Microsoft’s licensing program for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) back in October, according to The New York Times.

These NGOs that include the environmental group should learn their lesson and move to GNU/Linux, which puts them in control of their own destiny. Microsoft wants people to view this only as a matter of price, as usual. Carlo Daffara has responded to the latest PR piece with Microsoft's Rajagopalan. “No, Microsoft, you still don’t get it,” the headline says and Carlo explains why:

The question is: is MS interested in an OSS business model? The answer: we already give out things for free. Well, we can probably thank Richard Stallman for his insistence in the use of the word “free”, but the answer miss the mark substantially. OSS is not about having something for free, and it never was (at least, from the point of view of the researcher). OSS is about collaborative development; as evidenced in a recent post by Henrik Ingo, “The state of MySQL forks: co-operating without co-operating”, being open source allowed the creation of an ecosystem of companies that cooperate (while being more or less competitors) and not only this fact increases the viability of a product even as its main developer (in this case, Oracle) changes its plans, but allows for the integration of features that are coming from outside the company – as Henrik wrote, “HandlerSocket is in my opinion the greatest MySQL innovation since the addition of InnoDB – both developed outside of MySQL”.

Microsoft still uses the idea of “free” as a purely economic competition, while I see OSS as a way to allow for far faster development and improvement of a product. And, at least, I have some academic results that point out that, actually, a live and active project do improve faster than comparable proprietary projects. That’s the difference: not price, that may be lower or not, as RedHat demonstrates; it is competition on value and speed of change.

“There’s free software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with,” said Bill Gates in April 2008. He insists on making “free software” just cheap software.

Here is another highlight of an old trick being used again by Microsoft. “Microsoft Offers Cash to Drop Salesforce, Seibel & Deploy Dynamics CRM Online” says the headline of this article:

Microsoft’s (news, site) made an interesting offer this week that promises organizations currently using Salesforce.com CRM or Oracle’s Seibel (CRM) US$ 200 per license to make the jump to Dynamics CRM Online. The question is, is $200 enough?

This is not the first time (even recently) that Microsoft does this and we gave some examples before. It tries to use its pockets to promote lock-in at the expense of smaller rivals (these companies are smaller as a whole).

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

4 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    December 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Gravatar

    I left Carlo this comment.

    Thanks for noticing this, but why do you blame RMS for Microsoft’s dishonesty and poor reporting by Linux for you? Microsoft understands the issues of software freedom and open source development. As Bill Gates said, “There’s free software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.” Microsoft’s spokesperson ducked the question to promote their second rate and restrictive development tools. The Linux for you reporter should have followed up to get a better answer instead of publishing an advertisement for Microsoft.

    If you want to help people understand software freedom, you can point to the GNU definition when you mention it. The moral and practical implications are not obvious but the four software freedoms are easy to grasp and the GNU page is concise. If you do this, everyone will eventually understand what RMS did twenty five years ago when he created the philosophical, social and technical foundations of gnu/linux and all the other fruits of the free software movement.

  2. Adrian Malacoda said,

    December 10, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Gravatar

    Carlo Daffara doesn’t “get it” either. It has nothing to do with development (collaborative or otherwise), openness, or source code. It is about the four freedoms as outlined by GNU. It has been about those freedoms for over 27 years.

    He seems like one of those Asay-type “open source business” guys, so of course he’d pinpoint the problem straight on wording like “free.” The problem is that “open source” logically means something different than what OSI wanted it to; it gives the impression of “you can look at the code” (RMS said that in his essay about the phrase, and I’ve had to put up with people who try to label proprietary as open source using that definition). Microsoft’s been having their way with that phrase too, by the way.

    The wording does matter. Unfortunately, in this case, Daffara does have sort of a point – we traditionally consider that “things” are free-of-charge and that people are free-as-in-freedom, so it’s difficult for “Joe Average” to wrap his head around the idea that software (which is a “thing”) can possess “freedom.” Which, of course, isn’t really true. The software itself doesn’t have freedom, the software grants the user that freedom. So “free software” is sort of a misnomer (although, given that we haven’t come up with an alternative in 27 years, it’s probably the best we’ll be able to do in the English language. “Open source” doesn’t count). Benjamin Mako Hill explains this in http://www.fsf.org/appeal/2009/mako/.

    I put the blame squarely on whoever decided to introduce the word “liberty” into the English language without taking “libre”/”liber” along with it.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    You’ve put that very well. People may notice that I say “software freedom” as much as I say “Free software” (or say both interchangeably) to emphaise that the software grants freedom. People cannot view “freedom” as a matter of cost.

    Fortunately (in a tongue-in-cheek way), Apple and Microsoft help explain freedom to a lot people by showing to them what happens when freedom is taken away (DRM and kill switches for example). It’s just that freedom is one of those things you can only define or demonstrate in its absence. Freedom is the lack of something (barriers), so explaining ‘it’ — being an absence — is like trying to provide proof to a theist that something does not exist.

    twitter Reply:

    The short and sweet of it is that it’s not the software that’s free, it’s you. The term “free software” does as good a job as possible to deliver the ethical implications of software freedom to new users.

    The only point that the “open source” movement has is that people are often afraid to talk about freedom and “politics”. Businesses that are hierarchical and overbearing especially are not convinced by talk of freedom. For these kinds of people, the associated benefits of freedom are more appropriate to talk about. Peer review, efficiency, competition and all that are more convincing and useful to them. RMS described the problem with that:

    The rhetoric of open source has … extended our community—but only at the superficial, practical level. The philosophy of open source, with its purely practical values, impedes understanding of the deeper ideas of free software; it brings many people into our community, but does not teach them to defend it. … Sooner or later these users will be invited to switch back to proprietary software for some practical advantage. … [they will refuse only if they] value freedom in and of itself rather than the technical and practical convenience of specific free software.

    He also says that the answer is to say “free software” more rather than less.

    The term “free software” is prone to misinterpretation: an unintended meaning, “software you can get for zero price,” fits the term just as well as the intended meaning, “software which gives the user certain freedoms.” We address this problem by publishing the definition of free software, and by saying “Think of ‘free speech,’ not ‘free beer.’”

    There is also a practical arguments against non free bait, such as Adobe Trash, on a free system – that any amount of non free software fundamentally compromises your privacy, security and freedom. By it’s nature, it immediately restricts the user in the task it is designed to perform. It also opens the user up to keylogging and other problems the same way malware does. A computer with even a single piece of non free software is basically rooted.

    The term “free software” was deliberately chosen to echo cold war rhetoric about the “free world” and the “non-free world”. This was a point everyone at the time could identify with and understand. Non free software is centrally planned and controlled and puts restrictions on users that are in the best interest of the owner alone. Richard Stallman also compared software owners to Soviet officials who put a guard at every copy machine.

What Else is New


  1. Ruling Against 'Abstract' Software Patents is Already Derailing Patent Attacks on Linux and Free Software

    Patent litigation against Android/Linux impeded by the introduction of arguments that cite the Supreme Court



  2. Links 30/7/2014: Chris Beard as CEO of Mozilla

    Links for the day



  3. New Optimism in the Age of Doubt Over Software Patents

    As the tide turns against software patents, even in their country of origin, their opponents come out of the woodwork to celebrate



  4. Links 28/7/2014: New Linux RC, Plasma 5 Live in Kubuntu

    Links for the day



  5. Links 27/7/2014: KDE 4.14 Beta 3, KDE 4.14 Beta 3 Released

    Links for the day



  6. Apple and Microsoft Are Proprietary Software Companies and the Media Should Stop Openwashing Them

    New examples where proprietary software giants are characterised as FOSS-embracing and FOSS-friendly by gullible or dishonest 'journalists'



  7. Bloomberg's Microsoft Propaganda

    Bloomberg delivers 'damage control' and PR ahead of the layoffs announcement; Microsoft uses Nokia to hide it and Bloomberg helps Microsoft by radically modifying headlines



  8. Frequency of Browser Back Doors in Microsoft Windows is Doubling

    The vulnerabilities which Microsoft tells the NSA about (before these are patched) are significantly growing in terms of their numbers



  9. FUD Entities Entering the FOSS World

    Symantec enters the AllSeen Alliance and Sonatype is once again trying to claim great insecurity in FOSS due to software licensing



  10. Groklaw Back in the Wake of ODF in the UK?





  11. Links 26/7/2014: New Wine, Chromebooks Strong Sales

    Links for the day



  12. Links 25/7/2014: GOG With GNU/Linux, Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS

    Links for the day



  13. Links 24/7/2014: Oracle Linux 7; Fedora Delays

    Links for the day



  14. Valerie Strauss Explains Why Gates Foundation's Lobbying for 'Common Core' (Privatisation) is a Swindle That Makes Microsoft Richer

    Continued criticism of the Gates Foundation's lobbying and masquerading, with more journalists brave enough to highlight the corruption



  15. USPTO Officially Sets New Guidelines to Limit Scope of Software Patents in the United States

    Even patent lawyers finally acknowledge that the incentive to file software patent applications has been reduced, as the scope of patents on software has been noticeably narrowed and they are harder to acquire, let alone enforce in a courtroom



  16. UK Government Adopts OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Already Attacks the Government Over It, Showing Absolutely No Commitment to Open Standards

    Only "Microsoft as the standard" is the 'standard' Microsoft is willing to accept, as its response to the Cabinet Office's judgment reveals



  17. Microsoft Layoffs of 2014

    Another quick look at Microsoft's horrible state of affairs and why it has virtually nothing to do with Nokia



  18. Links 22/7/2014: Linux 3.16 RC 6, New UberStudent

    Links for the day



  19. Links 20/7/2014: Jolla in India, Mega Censored in Italy

    Links for the day



  20. Longtime Mono Booster Joins Microsoft-linked Xamarin

    Jo Shields almost joins Microsoft, settling instead for its proxy, Xamarin



  21. Linux Foundation Welcomes Patent Aggressor Red Bend Software

    The Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance welcomes as a member a company that uses software patents to sue Free/Open Source software



  22. Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

    Matthew ('Matt') Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)



  23. Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

    The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples



  24. Links 19/7/2014: CRUX 3.1 is Out, CyanogenMod Competes With Google Now

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft's Massive Layoffs Go Far Beyond Nokia; Nokia's Android Phones Axed by Microsoft's Elop

    Microsoft's rapid demise and permanent exit from Nokia's last remaining Linux platform (after Microsoft had killed two more)



  26. Patents on Software Already Being Invalidated in Courts Owing to SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Patents

    The Federal Circuit Appeals Court has just "invalidated a software patent for being overly abstract," says a patents expert



  27. OpenSUSE 'Community' is Crumbling, AttachMSFT Killed SUSE's Potential (Except as Microsoft Tax)

    Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell



  28. Links 18/7/2014: Slackware Turns 21, Spotify Switches to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  29. Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat

    Links for the day



  30. Microsoft's Latest Round of Massive/Bulk/Large-scale Layoffs

    Microsoft boosters are preparing 'damage control' pieces ahead of massive layoffs at Microsoft


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts