The Politics of Openwashing: How Microsoft Pretends That Windows Has ‘Open Source’, Generates Self-Congratulatory Coverage
Summary: Deceiving manoeuvres from Microsoft, which is trying to put an “open” label on its common carrier, despite the fact that it is as proprietary as anything can be
MICROSOFT MUST be very desperate to appear as “open” as GNU/Linux/Android even though Windows is definitely not. Several journalists got bamboozled by Microsoft’s latest PR charade, which involved exposing source code of legacy stuff that’s of no use and nobody uses. Microsoft’s thugs are once again interjecting themselves into museums (public space), just as Bill Gates did over the past decade or so (the Gates Foundation was paying establishments like these to glorify Gates and warp computer history, omitting all the crimes).
The OSI’s president stresses that “Microsoft has NOT “open sourced” MS-DOS or Word v1. Both are under a restrictive & non-open-source license,” with reference to this licence.
As David Gerard (Wikipedia) put it to me last night, “even hacker news doesn’t think it’s safe to look at these downloads” (nothing from Microsoft is safe these days).
Dr. Donnie Berkholz, a Gentoo developer who now works as an analyst, responded to the OSI’s president by saying that Microsoft rejecting Open Source licences “is frankly just weird. Who’s going to benefit off code that old anyway. Why wouldn’t MS actually open-source it?”
I responded by saying that making it FOSS would weaken some patents and other such stuff that Microsoft may need to attack rivals with. “Because suing your customers is great business,” Berkholz replied and the OSI’s president added: “Not just rivals; also those they wish to, uh, monetise.” He alluded to patent extortion. “Or to force into Windows, e.g. Barnes and Noble,” was my followup. We already saw how Microsoft used patents to sue Barnes and Noble and when challenged in court Microsoft then bribed Barnes and Noble to embrace Windows instead of Android. That’s the modus operandi of Microsoft nowadays. Microsoft abuses patents and copyrights for blackmail purposes.
To see some poor coverage of the latest non-event (or even worse , with pro-Microsoft/XP propaganda  and misuse of the word “free”), just consider what Engadget wrote. Making useless old code seem ‘open’ is good for nothing except openwashing, but some news sites pretend it’s great news for “geeks”. They are basically printing/transmitting Microsoft talking points/PR, citing Microsoft press releases which are calling crimes that led to monopoly “open” (look, but don’t touch) and trying to pass off the PR as goodwill. Here is Will Hill’s response to the nonsense from Engadget:
It is bad and could be very bad in various ways. It is historical revisionism and copyright propaganda. It may also be a trap for free software developers.
We can be sure that the source code is washed of sabotage for competitors. That would be revisionism. The Engadget article itself is either revisionism or ignorant – Gates simply purchased/licensed/stole QDoS, the Quick and Dirty Operating System to make MS DO.
From a copyright perspective, Microsoft is pretending binary code finally enriches the public domain but that’s a farce. We can’t verify that this is the source code they worked with, nor should we trust companies to finally come clean decades later. This is very important because copyright protection is only granted in the US if it advances the state of the art and public domain. None of that happens here. This will be used as propaganda the same way the Gates Foundation is – a germ of truth will be blown out of proportion to conceal an ugly reality.
Finally, Microsoft never really gives anything away -this code is poison and should be avoided by free software developers and competitors alike. Let’s look at their “agreement”. Oh yeah, you don’t even have freedom zero because there are limits on personal use. Personal use if only for “non commercial purposes,” it appears that even consulting based on results of tests are prohibited. You may not share your copy or your modified copies. It’s like they looked at the four freedoms and negated each, and that’s just the first of eight restrictions. One of the nastier restrictions limits damage to $5 for anything, including things Microsoft should have known about – like anti-competitive sabotage.
FU Microsoft, I’ll stick with DosBox and other free software. You can keep your fake old crap and I still don’t think you have legitimate grounds for copyright monopoly.
In summary, Microsoft did nothing commendable. It’s just a PR charade which contributes nothing to computing. It distorts public museums and warps history. Again. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Microsoft actually bought the rights for QDOS (stands for “quick and dirty operating system) from Seattle Computer Products in 1981 for a paltry $25,000. What happened next is computer history.