07.27.14

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

Posted in Apple, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 6:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hardware

Summary: New examples where proprietary software giants are characterised as FOSS-embracing and FOSS-friendly by gullible or dishonest ‘journalists’

Apple has made many headlines recently because of its back doors and Microsoft has made many headlines recently because of its massive round of layoffs (almost 20% of the staff). Both companies are proprietary software companies and they have a lot in common.

Techrights is disturbed to have found continued distortion of the facts. “Microsoft might finally be committing to open source” is a new article (reprinted here) which says: “Microsoft is known for keeping its programming secrets to itself. But under CEO Satya Nadella, the maker of proprietary behemoths like Windows and Microsoft Office is starting to show up in the world of open-source software, whose code is public for anyone to see, borrow from and tinker with.”

No, this is fiction. This is the fairly recent PR strategy that tries to associate the new CEO with FOSS, even though he continues using patents to attack FOSS and is running blatantly dishonest attack ads against FOSS products, especially Google’s. If Microsoft brings proprietary software to Android, for instance, this has nothing to do with FOSS. Quite the contrary in fact; it is about contaminating FOSS with proprietary spyware. The puff piece continues: “Late last year Microsoft finally made itself an account on Github, now the de-facto platform that software writers use for sharing and working on open-source code. “Microsoft has changed as a company and is becoming more open in the way that we collaborate with others,” the account’s description reads.”

Wow! Microsoft “made itself an account on Github”! Imagine the heroic act! I already have two accounts on Github, one for my job and one for my personal projects. The article goes on and makes all sorts of softball claims, pretending to be giving Microsoft the sceptical treatment.

Here is another silly new article, pretending that a proprietary NSA-accessible platform called Azure has “Open Source Partnerships”. It then cites the Microsoft proxy/mole “Microsoft Open Tech” by saying: “Microsoft Open Tech (MS Open Tech), a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, has added two new partnerships under its belt. Announced during the ongoing O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Oregon, they have teamed up with Packer.io and OpenNebula.”

This proxy has done nothing FOSS-like. It just wants to devour FOSS by putting it under a proprietary platform with surveillance. OSCON and O’Reilly have once again shown themselves to be soft on Microsoft. Based on the amount of press coverage this has received [1, 2], one might say that Tim O’Reilly keeps giving Microsoft an effective propaganda platform. Microsoft has paid him for this, ensuring that a proprietary surveillance platform gets coverage in a supposedly FOSS-centric conference.

But let’s not focus only on Microsoft. Misreporting is often seen when it comes to Apple, the most hyped-up company in the world. It’s all about perception and branding. One author’s bias (he is a “Mac”-branded PC user) can be found in this supposedly FOSS-centric site. He says that “Apple is a beloved company in the open source community,” but based on our experiences, this is patently false. There is other promotional language there, including: “Despite being one of the most well run technology companies ever, Apple has a surprisingly complicated relationship with open source. Ironically, Apple is a beloved company in the open source community, but, now more than ever, it needs to hear the call to become more open. I’ve also always noted here on OStatic that many open source enthusiasts favor the Mac over Windows systems. That’s no surprise. Apple’s culture closely aligns with many open source principles, though its culture certainly isn’t totally open.”

What?!

“Apple’s culture closely aligns with many open source principles”?

In what universe?

There are other large companies that try to openwash themselves these days. We recently covered HP’s publicity stunts and here we have another, pretending that defanging one’s software patents is somehow an act of becoming “Open Source” (Tesla uses this type of propaganda).

A man from HP, speaking about OpenStack, says that “just as we indemnified Linux 15 years ago, we are doing exactly the same thing now.” Well, indemnification does not achieve much. Why acquire software patents in the first place? Why has HP been so hostile towards GNU/Linux, including in Munich? Why is HP hiring so many executives from Microsoft? Why is HP lobbying for software patents?

The bottom line is that many companies (if not all) want to be seen as “open”, but most of them are faking it. For the press to play along with their marketing/PR ambitious is worse than irresponsible; it is reckless.

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A Single Comment

  1. Michael said,

    July 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm

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    Apple uses a lot of open source software and even manages a fair amount… WebKit and CUPS being two pretty big examples. There are a lot more, though: https://www.apple.com/opensource/

    Does not mean Apple is – or should be – a fully open source company. They, like all who use open source, use it for the good of themselves and their customers. Why should they not?

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