02.25.08

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Was Thursday’s Non-announcement a Case of Betrayal?

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat at 1:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft’s conduct as a corporation and a manufacturer of computing products, is predicated upon an internal policy of deception, which includes deceiving customers, deceiving competitors, deceiving partners, deceiving its own vendors, and at some level, deceiving its own staff.”

Scott M. Fulton, III

After a few E-mail inquires, we believe there are lesser publicised facts which ought to be brought up here.

For context, watch our first analysis of last Thursday's announcement, which Microsoft claimed was big, most likely in order to create more hype and deception (a smoke-and-mirrors routine). Now, watch the following bit of text from one of the more recent articles about it, which happens to come from Peter Galli (whom we do not trust). It talks about the role of a respectable Open Source figure, Matt Asay.

…asked by Microsoft to serve as a consultant on these interoperability initiatives…

This sounded a tad suspicious — certainly suspicious enough for Groklaw to bring it up. Asay does not trust Microsoft for a second, yet oddly enough he is close to Bill Hilf. It’s very clear that Asay would not do anything that harms standards or helps Microsoft combat open source, so it seems likely that he was deceived. Let’s see what might back this assertion.

“It actually turns out that Jeremy Allison, Jim Zemlin, and a few others were asked to serve as advisors to Microsoft.”It actually turns out that Jeremy Allison, Jim Zemlin, and a few others were asked to serve as advisors to Microsoft. They were not paid to do so, but their reaction was interesting.

Matt Asay was disappointed by Microsoft’s talk on patents and fees. He blogged about it shortly after throwing salt at Novell’s wounds (more about this in the next post) and welcoming Microsoft’s step forward. That was before reading the transcripts. His last post on this matter was similar to our "open to racketeering" post. Jim Zemlin makes a similar observation in his blog, but he says nothing about the way he feels about it.

There is more in BusinessWeek, as it turns out after a bit of digging. Here is the relevant paragraph:

In the open-source software community, Microsoft’s announcement was greeted with measured optimism. “It’s an acknowledgement by Microsoft that the world is moving toward an IT industry that believes in the value of openness,” says Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, a trade group that includes many large technology vendors, such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), and Sun, and which pays the salary of Linus Torvalds, creator of the open-source Linux operating system.

Mind the date of this article. He may have spoken prematurely, just like Asay who knew about this in advance, but didn’t receive all the right details (coincidence or by design?).

So, does Zemlin welcome this announcement or not? It’s not clear, but it seems as though just like Asay, only later he realised what Microsoft really had him involved in — APIs in exchange for software patent fees. The EU and Red Hat were not impressed. The same goes for the FSF.

“Worse than useless” was the FSF’s take on the Microsoft/Novell deal. The same applies to Microsoft supposedly ‘opening up’. It is truly a shame that they are using (and potentially deceiving) people to achieve all of this. If this is the case, does Mr. Zemlin still respect Microsoft [1, 2, 3]?

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3 Comments

  1. SubSonica said,

    February 25, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Gravatar

    All this links perfectly with the attempt at a smear campaign against GPLv3 orchestrated by the big technology media some months ago, due to the fact they were trying to disrupt Free(Libre) Software through software patents. Luckily the FSF foresaw this at the time due to the disingenuous Novell pact and acted accordingly.
    Now the strategy we are seeing here is double. On the one side they keep insisting on taxing any competing development to their established business model through software patents (very much the equivalent ot what the RIAA is doing through copyright). They are offering a Trojan Horse promising mythical INTROoperability (that is, we will let you communicate with our products -for a fee and under terms Microsoft ultimately controls-, whereas real INTERoperability is letting anything freely communicate with anything).
    On the other side they are trying to again seggregate (Divide-and-Conquer): This time is business vs community, thus trying to break the virtuous feedback circuit between the corporate contributors to Free/Libre Software and those more community non-for-profit oriented. They know whot to attack a competing business but have not a clue of what to do with a social movement which is a completely different animal that challenges their business model from the very foundation of the concepts and the way thinking about Software as a public good (commons), not only free for all but owned by everyone and by no one at the same time. To fight against this, they are trying to gain mindshare and to re-define the meaning of “Open” (its utterly meaningful that they always avoid the term “Free -as in Freedom- Software” and that they try to limit the way you think about software and the freedom concept to a mere distinction of commercial vs non-commercial), thus setting the rules of the game so they preserve their business model.

  2. SubSonica said,

    February 25, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Gravatar

    This one comment from channel9 exemplifies very well what Microsoft understands by “interoperability”. It’s INTROoperability all the way. (Replace POSIX with Linux/any OpenStandard of your choice):
    Source: http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=385458#385458

    Commenter Yggdrasil says:

    In “Embracing interoperability”, Microsoft aren’t saying “We will now build our products to your specifications and standards”, but rather “You may now build your products to our specifications and standards”.

    Rather than having POSIX support in Windows, they are basically saying ‘let other OSs have Win32 support’. If this is accepted by other OS vendors, Win32 will be the de-facto standard, and coding cross-platform would mean coding to Win32.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 25, 2008 at 4:31 am

    Gravatar

    (its utterly meaningful that they always avoid the term “Free -as in Freedom- Software” and that they try to limit the way you think about software and the freedom concept to a mere distinction of commercial vs non-commercial)

    I’m not sure if I pointed this out here or elsewhere, but they kept saying “Free” as in “freely available” — as in, if you want to ‘buy’ some protocols, it will be freely available, over the counter, for a fee (emphasised by Steve Ballmer, who probably prepared the “freely available” pitch well in advance, along with Brad Smith).

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