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07.20.11

Microsoft Development Surveys and Microsoft Mono

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Mono at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Press repeats Microsoft’s claims like an old squeaky record

Put the records on

Summary: Microsoft is still trying to tame “Open Source” developers and in the process it produces dubious ‘studies’ that get parroted uncritically

SURVEYS are a funny thing. They rely on taking a subset of the population and then extrapolating, assuming this sample — no matter its size — is representative of the whole (census). In almost every case there is a bias in selection, either because only particular people choose to participate or particular people are being approached. Several years ago we showed how IDC chose to survey customers close to Microsoft in order to produce a Linux-hostile survey. IDC is in the business of selling ‘studies’ to clients.

As part of our mission to promote free thinking and scepticism in relation to IT (for example not taking the patent system for granted) we can only urge people to check who pays for studies and who performs these. Those are not done out of curiosity or as a public service. These are typically designed with the outcome/finding specified upfront.

“This is problematic as it allows Microsoft to speak ‘on behalf’ of its competition.”So anyway, yesterday we wrote about Microsoft controlling opposition and we mentioned how it sponsors "think tanks" on Open Source. This is problematic as it allows Microsoft to speak ‘on behalf’ of its competition.

Well, according to some posts such as [1,2], Microsoft now provides statistics on Open Source trends and some coverage of this does not even mention that Microsoft sponsored this in order to promote itself. Sometimes we see companies close to Microsoft (Black Duck for example) doing similar things by becoming self-appointed authorities in FOSS.

Microsoft is telling The public how open source works and what developers like, just as it tries to tell politicians what small businesses want (through lobbyists such as ACT).

“CodePlex is *not* about open source,” stated a reader a short while ago, “‘extend’ == implementing a subset with proprietary additions” (yet this is what the latest Microsoft PR is trying to fill the press with — CodePlex promotion.

A few hours ago DaemonFC showed us this article about the fall of Microsoft Silverlight. He explained that “now they rebadge it as a Windows application building environment and give up on spreading it as a competitor to Flash” (Miguel de Icaza played along with them). All this PR is getting tiresome, but some sites are echoing it.

In any event, there is one sort of rebuttal to Microsoft’s biased survey and it says that the “results found that GitHub was the preferred platform for Linux and Mac developers. It ranked #1 with 66.3% developers preferring it on Linux platform and a whooping 86.7% on Mac. Codeplex was at the bottom of the chart with 1.2 – 1.4%.”

Needless to say, this is not how Microsoft interpreted the numbers collected from a small group of unspecified distribution. The whole thing was supposed to be CodePlex advertising, just like the latest announcement about Mono — one that still receives coverage. The real story is that Xamarin got rid of copyright problems but not of patent problems. Wayne Borean writes about “the position that Miguel was in. Because of the change of ownership of the company, he was no longer working for the company that held the copyright to his work. This is why he had to go to such lengths, to regain control to his own creation. Was that right?”

Some Mono copyrights are still Microsoft’s (and licensed under Microsoft’s MS-PL). Maybe one day Microsoft will buy Xamarin and then own the copyrights for the entire project.

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8 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    July 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Gravatar

    Isn’t that an old dot-bomb business model: Make a lot of smoke and noise until M$ buys the shop, then cash out.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That seems to be Xamarin’s plan. Some employees left or wouldn’t join, which says a lot.

    Wayne Borean Reply:

    You can see why I’m advocating for a non-transferable Copyright model. Quite frankly I think that Miguel, as the artist that created Mono, got badly treated. I may not like or use Mono, but I do stand for artists rights, and yes, a programmer is an artist.

    Wayne

    TemporalBeing Reply:

    While I agree that Copyright and Patents should not be transferable, I (as a programmer) vehemently disagree that programmers are artists – they are engineers, like or not.

    Good software it not art, and never will be; poor programmers may use “artistic methods” to get something that is “good enough”; but a good programmer will use sound engineering methods to get there faster.

    Wayne Borean Reply:

    @TemporalBeing

    Engineers are artists. Of a different sort, true. But artists all the same.

    Wayne

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Engineers do exact sciences, artists do not.

    twitter Reply:

    Source code, like an architect’s plans or even a mechanical part design, is a human expression. Ideally, the author will be constrained by the laws of physical reality and best practices but it is rare for two results to be identical. Code obfuscation contests often have amazingly artistic examples.

    Wayne Borean Reply:

    When you are working with extremely limited things, like say calculating:

    2+2

    the difference in the calculation is exceptionally limited. In something more complex, then you will see the artistic ability flower. Take Mono for example. There is more than one way it could have been implemented. Since Miguel implemented it, and he thinks a certain way, it was implemented that way. If it had have been implemented by someone else, it would have been implemented in a different way.

    Wayne

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