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Microsoft Extorts GNU/Linux While Distorting the Meaning of “Open Source”

Extorting and Distorting



Summary: A look at how Microsoft discriminates against anything other than its own stack and also uses aggressive coercion to get its way and change people's language/perception

IN our coverage of the Microsoft patent attack on Android we have not yet given Google's response and the response of the Linux Foundation. Well, here they are:

Google at this time simply said “no comment” on Microsoft’s efforts to profit from their Android spin on Linux. But then Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, explained about this Microsoft action, “This is a classic from the Microsoft FUD playbook. A confidential agreement where few terms are disclosed, vaguely referring to an operating system that is beating Microsoft in the market. Microsoft is once again demonstrating that it will attempt to use patents to muddy the waters about the viability of any competitive platform in order to maintain its Windows franchise. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Linux is clearly leading in the mobile space and developers will see this news for what it is and choose to innovation open platforms as opposed to developing on locked-down operating systems from patent-wielding dinosaurs.”


Microsoft is clearly not interested in co-existence. It wants to dominate both sides using racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and ridiculous laws which it lobbies for.

Microsoft is currently pretending to have embraced “Open Source” but what it never emphasises is that all this “Open Source” is supposed to depend on and rely on Microsoft's proprietary software. When it comes to Linux patches, Microsoft is just advancing Windows and Hyper-V, which are proprietary. Here is the latest spin from Microsoft, which gets parroted by a Microsoft MVP's blog:

In March, Microsoft announced the beta release of the Linux Integration Services for Microsoft Hyper-V, which added support for SMP-based virtual machines, timesync, and integrated shutdown. Today we're announcing the release candidate (RC) version of the integration services.


Integrating Microsoft into Linux? So that it is treated as just an addon to Windows? How telling.

In recent months we have given several examples such as this one where Microsoft dresses up its biology-related projects as "open", "open source", or "open-source" (which should be pronounced "open minus source"). Here is another new example of this deception which is important to spot and report. It's disrupting the meaning of the term “Open Source”, which only works well for Microsoft. Here is another new example:

Assimilate Technology announced today the release of the first official beta of their VersaFix open source FIX engine for the .NET platform.


What an apt name: Assimilate Technology! That's exactly what Microsoft has been trying to do to “Open Source” ever since it realised that the “Shared-Source” label didn't do enough to corrupt existing labels like “Open Source”. Microsoft now has Codeplex to serve as a front.

Last week we wrote about what the Joomla! deal really was about (we also found out about Eucalyptus for Windows) and The 451 Group -- occasionally a Microsoft apologist -- wrote about this too. The headline says "Why rejecting Microsoft’s OSS contributions is counter-productive" (we do not agree with this).

The post says:

And no, Microsoft hasn’t released a major product as open source. Neither had IBM when it started supporting Apache. Holding Microsoft to a different set of expectations is being deliberately difficult – discriminatory in fact.


This may sound like a terrible, terrible comparison, but on it goes to clarify: "But doesn’t Microsoft deserve to be discriminated against? Certainly there are good reasons to mistrust Microsoft, but in this instance Microsoft has signed the Joomla! Contributor Agreement, which means it is contributing directly to the Joomla! project using the project’s chosen license (the GPL) and procedures. It didn’t have to do this. The Microsoft of old would sooner have forked the project – or more likely created a competing product based on .NET."

No. Microsoft is exploiting Joomla! to help sell Windows and other proprietary software like IIS. It's about fighting against GNU/Linux and using money to achieve goals at the expense of people's spirit. The 451 Group later adds some balance by stating: "On the negative side it [Microsoft] also took a step backwards when it signed a patent agreement with HTC covering HTC’s mobile phones running Android.

"To be more specific it wasn’t necessarily the signing of the patent deal that was a negative step (we’ll leave the more general discussion of software patents to another post) but the fact that the company once again chose to highlight the fact that the patent agreement related to open source software without providing any details.

"Just as we saw in the announcement of a previous agreement with Amazon, open source software takes center stage, and yet we have no way of knowing if the focus placed on open source software in the announcement is proportionate to the focus placed on open source software in the agreement.

"This is clearly potentially damaging for open source, but it is also potentially damaging for Microsoft as it tries to encourage more open source developers and users to move to its platforms. And make no mistake, Microsoft is aware that it needs more open source developers to move to its platforms if they are to continue to be seen as platforms for innovation.

"That is why we noted in July last year that “in order to convince those FOSS advocates that it is serious about co-existence, Microsoft needs to find a way to publicly communicate details about those 200+ patents in such a way that is not seen as a threat and would enable open source developers to license, work around, or challenge them.”"

“Microsoft is aware that it needs more open source developers to move to its platforms if they are to continue to be seen as platforms for innovation.”
      --451 Group blog
Microsoft, in short, is killing with kindness and back-stabbing. Jim Allchin, Microsoft's former Platform Group Vice President, put it best when he wrote: "We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger."

To be fair, Microsoft is not the only company which is corrupting the term “Open Source”. We have given many other examples and this week we found several articles about "R", which leads to wrong characterisations of “Open Source”. One reader wrote to us last night to say:

I'm seeing a great many articles assisting Microsoft in its attempt to re-define Open Source as closed source by using name calling.

The Reg went over to Microsoft years ago, but still tries now and again to pose as a tech rag. How is the Open Source Initiative and its new leadership planning to strengthen or raise the profile of the original definitions as set out by FSF and OSI?


The “Open Source” people and the “Free software” proponents (there is a lot of overlap there already) ought to unite and join forces not against one another; they ought to stop their real problem, which is companies that fake “Open Source” with all sorts of buzzwords like “Open Core”, Mixed Source” (that's what Novell calls it), “Open Source with software patents and proprietary stack” (that's Microsoft), and “Open Source somewhere on a server out there” (that's Google for example).

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