08.02.08

The Curse of Money (or “Why Microsoft is Everywhere”)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Patents, Servers, Windows at 4:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Putting principles before one’s wallet

In previous posts about Apache, we corroborated with several independent sources that the Apache/Microsoft arrangement is likely to end up an anti-GNU/Linux arrangement [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Apache’s coordinators (lead) will deny this, as they already have, but it’s not something which Apache is to blame for; it’s something Microsoft will probably achieve through maneuvering, in due time. Besides, people love to justify personal choices, so admission of regret is unlikely to ever come.

After various posts and open discussions, Bruce Perens has unleashed an article that you can find here. (warning: many Microsoft advertisements)

IE is derived from Mosaic, the original Web browser, open source with a license similar to Apache’s. So, this isn’t a new strategy. The plan, then, could be to have Microsoft servers vie for dominance with their own – Microsoft specialized – versions of Apache applications. Or it could be that Microsoft sees itself replacing Linux in the market as a hosting platform for open source….

So, this $100,000 contribution and the partial patent grant aren’t about interoperability. It’s for publicity, and to convince government regulators, not the most technical people in the world, that Microsoft has joined open source and is now a well-behaved company, no anti-trust issues at all. The bad part for open source is that Microsoft is increasingly in a position to speak to European legislators as an insider in the open source community while requesting increases in software patenting that would block open source.

Fortunately, to increase awareness, Slashdot has just put this up in its front page. Pamela Jones added: “Since Steve Ballmer has said that is what Microsoft wants, for “all Open Source innovation [to] happen on top of Windows”, subject to paying for patent licenses, I’d say that’s a safe guess as to at least one motivation [for the Apache sponsorship].”

Principles of open source developers must sooner or later defeat Microsoft’s attempt to have them ‘sell out’. It’s easy to pay for one’s soul. I personally promised to publish a review of KDE 4.1, but given that the publication (same as above) opened a flood of Microsoft advertisements a few weeks aso, I decided to halt it all. I am not willing to publish material that will just serve as substance for Microsoft to ‘decorate’ using ~1/3-page ads that attack or rival Free software. FOSS-targeted publishers too are selling out.

The Open-Source Convention in Tel Aviv has already been ruined (and reigned) by Microsoft:

Yes, you read that right: Microsoft was a major sponsor of the conference, and its logo appeared prominently on the conference program, as well as on the T-shirts that were distributed to each attendee. There was even a very well-attended session at which a Microsoft manager (Amir Shevat) tried to convince the crowd that the war is over, and that it’s worth trying to find ways in which Microsoft and the open-source community can work together.

But remember what they tell: Microsoft’s heart is in open source.

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft

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4 Comments

  1. Agent Smith said,

    August 2, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Gravatar

    Well, as i see this matter today, M$ is only giving a rope(and not HOPE) to the foss community and making every arrangement to make sure foss community will hang themselves. Good and merciful Jesus… Watch over us… And The FOSS community as well… We now need you as never before…

  2. DOUGman said,

    August 2, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Hmmmmmm… again instead of Innovating, MS again to decides to buy their way, to gain what they want…. CONTROL.

    I think in this instance, the saying “The frog dropped into boiling water has sense to leap out, but the frog dropped into cold water can be cooked to death before he realizes he is in serious trouble” may apply.

    FOSS developers should always just MS to go take a hike and get lost..PERIOD. I am sure they are more then capable of developing on top of a Windows platform as they have done in the past. I hate to see Apache be taken down.

    D.

  3. Agent Smith said,

    August 2, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, M$ is that kind of woman who can’t keep healthy relationships (Marilyn Monroe’s name comes to my head) and the fact is: whether they(M$) betray their partners, or worse, they break them down. Let’s see how long this honeymoon between Apache and M$ will last. And, mainly, how Apache will emerge from this “marriage” …

  4. John Wilson said,

    August 3, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s a bit sad when we turn on each other over things like this. M$ doesn’t need to buy in as long as this keeps up all they need to do it point it out to prospective customers.

    That said. The secret has long been out about Microsoft’s MO so if Apache took the coin without taking all of that into account then they’re fools. I submit that they aren’t fools.

    It’s funny that I see various levels of angst in the FOSS world over this, and $100,000 doesn’t buy much of anything these days remember, while at the same time the more “mainstream” and usually Windows friendly blogs mutter darkly about the end of IIS.

    Perens is correct in saying that this is a PR play to convince people like the EU that they can and do play nice. The EU’s competition folks aren’t likely to be impressed, they’ve seen too much of this before so it’s kinda wasted money that way.

    As for developing all open source on Windows does anyone seriously think a rational developer will build on Vista?!

    Then again, and most importantly we in the FOSS communities say we believe in freedom, the freedom to share and to give back. In fact the GPL mandates it. In many ways so does the GPL compatible Apache license.

    If the Four Freedoms mean anything at all they also mean that MS is welcome to play on our terms not theirs, as it IBM, Oracle and so on who already do.

    These sorts of moves seem to be more desperation on the part of M$ than much else.

    Of course it would have been a lot cheaper for MS to buy tickets to the Penguin confab in Tel-Aviv than to pay to help sponsor the event so they could get abused that way. (Which the report, Roy cites, goes on to say is exactly what happened.)

    There isn’t a tech organization this side of Neptune that trusts Microsoft anymore whether their proprietary closed source companies or FOSS projects.

    When you shake hands with M$ you always could your fingers after to make sure you still have all 10 of them.

    Of course, you do the same thing when you shake hands with a politician as well.

    ttfn

    John

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