06.13.08

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If Microsoft’s Marketing Ploy Continues, “Open Source” is Passé

Posted in Asia, Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OSI at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Open Source” is no longer synonymous with Free software. Far from it.

This item explores some of the latest evidence which suggests Microsoft is hijacking and subverting “Open Source” as it was once known to people. This development was seen in advance… a very long time ago as a matter of fact.

Backstabbing of Developers, Possibly Bald-faced Lies

The Sandcastle open source hoax was mentioned here before, so its description probably needn’t be repeated. It is, however, important to emphasise a few things:

  1. Rather than tilting Sandcastle into an ‘open source’ route when it got caught with its pants down, Microsoft withdrew it. That’s the equivalent of promising you diamond, but giving you sandy and shady glass instead; once busted, they grab the glass away rather than fulfill the promise. That’s very, very low. It’s a shame that A- and B-class bloggers were too shy to vent; they were almost as apologetic as Microsoft.
  2. Herein we ought to find some more early warning signs. We find dishonesty. Microsoft itself is faking open source and probably then pretending that it was just a ‘terrible mistake’ (as opposed to a marketing ploy gone awry).
  3. The third thing, which was probably easy to miss, is that developers clearly got betrayed by Microsoft’s selfish deeds (and yes, it's a pattern, almost a cliché by now). Here. Have a look below.

The fix to Microsoft’s open source faux pas creates another problem: Developers were relying on Sandcastle to produce code documentation. Numerous responses to Ramji’s blog post indicate real frustration over having the documentation tool summarily yanked out from under their projects.

Adding insult to injury, the OSI seems to have said nothing about this. Microsoft got away with faking. How irresponsible.

Microsoft’s ‘Open Source’: Windows-only “Collaborative Development”

Watch what Glyn Moody has just had to say. We covered these issues recently.

This trope of openness being “just another business model” is a favourite of Microsoft’s, alongside “we need more than one standard for a given area, to promote choice” – when what are needed are *implementations* of a single standard. These rhetorical siblings are rather desperate, if amusingly Jesuitical, attempts to use words to gloss over the reality.

Going a little further (perhaps too far), remember what Microsoft wishes to strip off the definition it’s unable to embrace.

Microsoft is going to become an OSS company, not a FOSS company. (See what the “F” stands for here.) We are already seeing the early signs of this. They have created a couple of open source licenses and have submitted them for approval successfully with the Open Source Initiative. Microsoft has pledged to become a more open company. Although the said pledge has been received with a lot of skepticism, I think they really mean it. They have to. Microsoft is now hard at work trying to convince the world that they really have changed. Is all this going to be enough? I don’t think so.

Blasts from the Past Year

New readers may not have seen the following old stories that speak volume. We wish to repeat them in sequence.

Steve Ballmer: ‘I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows’

Steve Ballmer apparently likes open source. Well, so long as it drives Windows revenue. And doesn’t replace any. Ever. In fact, as he said at an event in Microsoft last week in London that he hopes to see all open-source innovation going to Windows, rather than Linux (more below).

Ballmer: Microsoft Will Buy Open-Source Companies

“We will do some buying of companies that are built around open-source products,” Ballmer said during an onstage interview at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

Steve Ballmer on Open Source, Online and Other

Any plans to bring development tools to other platforms? No.

OSI approves Microsoft licenses

For now though it’s all eyes on Microsoft to see what the company will do next, and in many ways this will be more interesting than whether or not the OSI approved the licenses. For reasons that were never fully explained, Microsoft wanted open source licenses.

Now that it’s got them, will it use them to release significant code to the community?

BECTA Revisited

Earlier on we wrote about what we can only suspect is rotten; it might end up as another BECTA scam. Here you can find some valuable background information from ITPro, which is UK-based.

Becta, open source and education: Too little, too late?

[...]

Slow adoption of open source and free software in UK schools can be attributed to the same kind of inertia that afflicts SMEs in the UK. It arises from a fear of the unknown, misapprehensions of the capabilities of the software, over-reliance on trusted suppliers, and general lack of awareness of the alternatives – but the major obstacle has been a lack of coordination, direction or understanding from the relevant authorities, exacerbated by a series of agreements with Microsoft at government level that have effectively tied the education system into Microsoft-only solutions.

Recall yet again which firm BECTA finally chose and who got designated for “Open Source”. BECTA chose a Windows/Microsoft shop for so-called ‘open source’, whose site won’t work without Flash. What a farce in the making. Later on they might use such a farce to throw ‘blame’ and pull a Newham [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

BECTA seems to have deceived on “Open Source”. Many in the UK will be deeply disappointed by the choice of a proprietary software workshop (consultancy). How can it be trusted in handling what should be open source software at schools? More absurd than this it hardly ever gets and flack for it is only to be expected in days to come.

Time to paddle back to "Free Software"? Gradually maybe? Need there be an index?

The Great OOXML Scam

“Remember: it’s all just for marketing purposes.”For OOXML marketing needs, Microsoft India is still hijacking (or borrowing) “open source” and pretending to have embraced it (its own definition of it). Remember: it’s all just for marketing purposes. This article seems like another Microsoft brainwash piece, but you may wish to familiarise yourself with the mental manipulation contained in it.

Moving a little further, it’s clear that secret formats remain secret formats. Formed selfishly, put together privately (out of people’s sight) and made dependent on a single platform and non-Free application, here is where we stand. There is still no OOXML. Nobody know what it is, yet Microsoft boasts about a mythical rubber stamp it acquired from ISO.

The standard as it stands is naked. It lacks a text. Where is it? The secret 30 April document is a phantom. We don’t know yet if ISO can provide a consolidated version of the BRM results. We only know that member states adopted the non-existing text as a standard. Now the nations that filed complaints will be blamed for lack of delivery.

This one is good for a laugh as well. The level of deception has no bounds.

“You know what Microsoft’s problem really is? They’ve lost the ability to feel ashamed.”

PJ, Groklaw

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2 Comments

  1. Victor Soliz said,

    June 13, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft’s definition of open source varies from “windows-only development model” to “windows-only non-commercial software”. Anyway MS’ OOXML .net SDK has been released, I guess Miguel is thrilled.

  2. Michael said,

    June 15, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Gravatar

    But ‘Open Source’ was conceived as an empty/meaningless marketing term. One designed specifically with commercial interest in mind and also specifically to distance itself from those hairy free software fellows.

    i.e. it was designed to co-opt free software for commercial interests.

    A little too clever i think. MS aren’t ‘being evil’ here, ‘open source’ IS AND ALWAYS WAS MEANINGLESS.

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