Summary: Response to Microsoft’s latest public perception manipulations; a note about Mono portfolio and its proprietary nature under Xamarin’s wing
THE “killing with kindness” trick is a very effective one and it’s one that Microsoft’s PR people have used for a long time in order to paint critics of a convicted monopoly abuser (which engages in bribery, extortion, defamation, etc.) as “intolerant”, essentially characterising the victim as the offending party. We saw some of these tricks being used by pro-Microsoft lobbyists as well, e.g. in order to describe companies that Microsoft is attacking as the “bad” companies.
A new Microsoft video for the Linux Foundation — like a cake for Firefox — is part of this tactic which we have covered here for years. This comes around the same time as other PR efforts which we have been seeing this week [1, 2, 3], culminating perhaps in the suggestion that Microsoft “contributes” to Linux. Well, as the Microsoft booster from IDG points out, the real story is that Microsoft is kept aside after Microsoft violated the GPL and then needed to comply. A lot of people forget the background of Microsoft’s Hyper-V driver, which involves a well bribed Novell, a GPL violation complaint, and then massive PR/spin campaign from Microsoft. We covered this at the time and we covered it very exhaustively. As Larry reminds people:
So don’t get me started on those who would be like Neville Chamberlain trying to achieve “peace in our time” with Microsoft when the results would more than likely be, well, catastrophic as they were in Europe in the late ’30s and ’40s.
A leopard (even a Snow Leopard, but we’re getting off-topic) can’t change its spots, and to hear folks even discuss bringing up the possibility of working with Microsoft arguably is akin to collaborating with the enemy.
Microsoft’s participation in contributions to the Linux kernel, as discussed here yesterday, is based on fixing virtualization code they contributed to the kernel when it appeared that they had taken GPLed code to include in their program. So their original contribution of the code to the Linux kernel a couple of years ago was to comply with the GPL; fixing it, too, was their responsibility as outlined by the license as well. Do they deserve any special consideration for doing what they’re supposed to do?
A lot of this debate started due to bad headlines from the Linux community, later resulting in an open question for a Linux audiocast whose answers got summarised here (more in part 2). To quote one example:
spangwich said, “Microsoft’s ideology is diametrically opposed to that embodied in the Free Software movement. One is about owning, controlling and profiteering from doing so, and the other is about sharing, collaborating and (using the word carefully) ‘democratising’.”
Consider those in the ‘community’ who sidle with Microsoft, the Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza for example. As Microsoft's booster Anderson points out, de Icaza’s projects (hinged on Mono) became proprietary software-selling products, not an open source set of projects. According to de Icaza’s own blog, they now target Macs (with Microsoft API). Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has another rather deceiving headline which implies that MonoDroid and MonoTouch are open-source .NET when these are in fact proprietary products with patent risk.
It is a tad disturbing that sympathisers and collaborators of a company with criminal past (and present) are described as “peaceful”, whereas those who want justice are made to be seen as “radical”. █