06.23.09

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Bill Gates Mocks Free Software by Substituting “Proprietary” With “Commercial”

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Airplane
According to Gates, non-Free software is “747″ and Linux is “OpenSource Airplane”

Summary: Same old FUD patterns found in Microsoft’s internal discussions

OUR next Comes vs Microsoft ‘smoking gun’, namely Exhibit PX07191 (2002) [PDF], is an E-mail from Bill Veghte, which contains other messages. Jim Allchin writes to fellow Windows managers like Chris Jones, Will Poole, and Brian Valentine about Longhorn (to be Windows Vista) and passes Bill Gates’ words to a few others.

It is no secret that Microsoft loves schmoozing the press, so Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer had a dinner “with about 20 leading editors in Las Vegas.”

Here is a funny one from Bill Gates:

We have to be careful to just say “we are doing the software to allow for this” rather than saying “we are going to make this happen to undermine cable and DSL pricing”

That’s a classic.

There is no mention anywhere of Apple, but GNU/Linux preys on Gates’ mind. We showed this earlier today using another antitrust exhibit. Gates writes:

What is our view of Linux? I point out that Linux like Unix is not a single thing – it is many different systems that are not the same. The point that Linux is diverse is not one we are good at making. People who develop for RedHat Linux need to test for UnitedLinux. When people like SGI or HP enhance Linux you don’t get all those enhancements in one version -in fact just like Unix each company wants to have something that it does better and even though some pieces of source code are there it doesn’t mean that the pieces are integrated and tested together. 1 explain how the commercial model allows for testing and binary upwards compatibility.

What about Linux price? I explain how Linux plus Websphere is more expensive than Windows equivalent and Linux plus Oracle is more expensive than Windows equivalent. I explain how the richness of the platform that we sell for $500 just keeps getting richers – directory, certificates, app server, etc etc. I explain that for most projects the licensed OS is only a few percent of what people spend and getting the right platform can save much more than a few percent on the development, management, richness of the app, hardware flexibility, communications cost etc.. I say that is places where customers are very price sensitive like Education we have had special prices that are 15% of normal and we will keep those prices low enough to get very broad usage in education.

What about platform innovation – doesn’t Linux have more people doing cool stuff?. I gave the analogy of someone saying that the new 747 competitor is being designed by an OpenSource Airplane design group. The interdependencies and need for parallel coordinated innovation requires a commercial model with risk taking. A new 747 can’t be done by a non commercial model. I say that an opensource model could take an old design and have people do cloning and modest improvements on various aspects independently. I give tablet as an example of something that required changes in many aspects on the system -getting Office to do its work and handwriting recognition and new platform capabilities. I say that Linux is not where advances like great games, or tablet or management have come or will come despite the openness. I explain the things like community involvement we have learned from Linux. I go back to the argument above that we are forced in to do big advances or else or installed base will have “share” but there will be no revenue for us. I talk about Stallman’s view that there shouldn’t be jobs doing commercial software and how that would cut off a whole range of innovations that have come from the commercial world.

Notice how he mixes the terms “commercial” and “proprietary”. This is not an accident, he is deliberately confusing them to imply that Free software cannot be used commercially. This is classic FUD and it is valuable to see where it may originate from. We have begun assembling some other examples of GPL FUD that comes out of Gates’ own mouth.

He then goes on to talking about Vista and Xbox Live, but watch this bit about India:

What about Microsoft in india? Lots of discussion about my trip there and how Indian companies like Infosys and Wipro are growing and proving to be effective.

Shortly we will write about Microsoft’s latest cost-cutting plan and neglect of American workforce. It keeps getting more serious and even people in Seattle are nervous.

Another last GNU/Linux gem:

The old chestnut about us not innovating will die. There will still be the edge of “Wow they are big and smart and no one is gaining on them except perhaps the Linux model”.

GNU/Linux is certainly a recurring theme, which confirms that it is Microsoft’s main concern. The full exhibit lies below as plain text.


Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit PX07191, as text


From: Bill Veghte
Sent: Thursday, November 21,2002 7:58 AM
To: Bob Kelly Directs, David Thompson (NT); Jim Hebert, Katy Hunter
Subject: FW: Discussions with the press

Please do not forward but the comments in here are excellent.

I do want to have in the notes of the R8 deck a price comparison table that he notes (Peter can you have Melba
do this).

—–Original Message—–

From: Jim Allchin
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 11:51 AM
To: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Rogers Weed; Bob Kelly; Bill Veghte; S. Somasegar;
Mike Nash; David Thompson (NT); Dan Neault
Subject: FW: Discussions with the press

worth reading.. I think the comments are quite good in a number of ways.

We should consider including the pricing comparison he does below in the RD deck.

Also I think I need to work with him on the essence of LH. What he describes is an important aspect, but not how
I would personally spin. Maybe it is ok for now, but it must change over time.

jim

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 1_0::[7 AM
To: Senior Leadership Team
Co: Orlando Ayala; Kevin Johnson; Jean-Philippe Courtois; Eric Rudder; Sanjay Parthasarathy; Paul Flessner

I wrote up the comments below in summarizing a dinner Steve and I had with about 20 leading editors in Las Vegas Monday night.

Please look them over because I am very interested in whether the way I am positioning things is consistent with all of you. Also you will find some ways of discussing competition that I have had to refine over a period of dozens on interviews boring in on those issues.

What is the state of innovation? I gave them a framework where chip, screen, Wifi, storage, camera imagers and optic fiber advances are full speed ahead in a continuous fashion and those things enable software and scenario advances in a bit of a discontinuous fashion because you need software platforms at critical mass and user penetrarion at critical mass before new scenarios have their full impact.

What is MSFT’s view of mesh networks? I got this question a lot more from press than I expected. I made it clear we are doing amazing software work that is a necessary part of this. I need to talk with Craig/Pierre/Tren more about our public message on this. We have to be careful to just say “we are doing the software to allow for this” rather than saying “we are going to make this happen to undermine cable and DSL pricing”

What is Microsoff’s role in the enterprise? I got to talk about scalability progress and the longer track to get full credibility for management and reliability and security but explained how serious we are about it and how the web services platform will surprise people by how it advances these issues.

4/14/2003

Plaintiff’s Exhibit
7191
Comes V. Microsoft

MS-CC-Sun 000000095114
CONFIDENTIAL

What is Microsoll’s biggest competitor? I think it is CRITICAL to point out to people that the biggest competitor is our installed base of software. If we don’t improve Office and users don’t want the new version then people get to use it forever without paying us anything. Competing with the real Office that doesn’t wear out is tougher than competing with an inferior clone. Our innovation has to reach the threshold where people not only want to license the new version but install it and learn it and deal with any issues it creates.

What is Microsoft’s relationship with IBM? I point to our behaviour relative to Webserices standards as a huge example of new responsible leadership. Rather than implementing these protocols and then taking them to a standards group or keeping them proprietary we work with competitors including IBM and define them together and then both implement in parallel. This some of Microsoft’s and IBM’s finest work and it is laying the foundation for the dreams of the Internet like Ecommerce to become a reality. I also explain we have a good relationship with them on hardware where they did a nice 16-way server and we meet with them to discuss having the best Windows platforms. I say the competition between Exchange and Notes and Windows.net and Websphere are
healthy competition for the customer and because of our pure software focus we have generally done a better job listening and advances software products than IBM (at least off the mainframe).

Will people ever move off of the Mainframe? I don’t say anything radical on this but l say many customers are moving a lot of cycles off today including the Danske Bank example I used in the keynote. However getting people to move the “master account record” out of CICS/IMS on the mainframe will take time. However if you think about this decade the use of mainframes will go down a lot.

What is our view of Linux? I point out that Linux like Unix is not a single thing – it is many different systems that are not the same. The point that Linux is diverse is not one we are good at making. People who develop for RedHat Linux need to test for UnitedLinux. When people like SGI or HP enhance Linux you don’t get all those enhancements in one version -in fact just like Unix each company wants to have something that it does better and even though some pieces of source code are there it doesn’t mean that the pieces are integrated and tested together. 1 explain how the commercial model allows for testing and binary upwards compatibility.

What about Linux price? I explain how Linux plus Websphere is more expensive than Windows equivalent and Linux plus Oracle is more expensive than Windows equivalent. I explain how the richness of the platform that we sell for $500 just keeps getting richers – directory, certificates, app server, etc etc. I explain that for most projects the licensed OS is only a few percent of what people spend and getting the right platform can save much more than a few percent on the development, management, richness of the app, hardware flexibility, communications cost etc.. I say that is places where customers are very price sensitive like Education we have had special prices that are 15% of normal and we will keep those prices low enough to get very broad usage in education.

What about platform innovation – doesn’t Linux have more people doing cool stuff?. I gave the analogy of someone saying that the new 747 competitor is being designed by an OpenSource Airplane design group. The interdependencies and need for parallel coordinated innovation requires a commercial model with risk taking. A new 747 can’t be done by a non commercial model. I say that an opensource model could take an old design and have people do cloning and modest improvements on various aspects independently. I give tablet as an example of something that required changes in many aspects on the system -getting Office to do its work and handwriting recognition and new platform capabilities. I say that Linux is not where advances like great games, or tablet or management have come or will come despite the openness. I explain the things like community involvement we have learned from Linux. I go back to the argument above that we are forced in to do big advances or else or installed base will have “share” but there will be no revenue for us. I talk about Stallman’s view that there shouldn’t be jobs doing commercial software and how that would cut off a whole range of innovations that have come from the commercial world.

What about Longhorn? I mostly focus on how the universal store will make it easy to manage and find information across many machines and device types – being both richer and simpler. I ask people about their problems managing files or finding them in our ugly names space. I also about all the search commands – mail, music, photos, fonts, printers that are so hard to remember. I admit we don’t have a baked plan for the work and that even inside Microsoft it is viewed as very ambitious partly because earlier efforts like Cairo proved premature.

What is SPOT? I admit the announcement was a bit of a teaser and that we will stop teasing them at CES. We talked a lot about personalization and how important that is.

4/14/2003

Plaintiff’s Exhibit
7191
Comes V. Microsoft

MS-CC-Sun 000000095115
CONFIDENTIAL

What about Xbox Live? I admilted I hadn’t gotten to use it except in controlled demos yet but showed my excitement for it and encouraged them all to try it.

What about Microsoft in india? Lots of discussion about my trip there and how Indian companies like Infosys and Wipro are growing and proving to be effective.

There were many other topics where I got to show some passion and depth about making software better and enabling new things.

I agree with Mich that their model of how we think and what we care about gets very warped if they don’t see us in person. They think everything is a power play and we are using our smarts to outsmart competition more than using it to do cool things for users. The room could have been slightly better, I think through events like this we can get a lot more balance in our image. I think we can get them to include our excitement about new product things and some admiration that we are doing things no one else is doing. The old chestnut about us not innovating will die. There will still be the edge of “Wow they are big and smart and no one is gaining on them except perhaps the Linux model”. Ironically as we get our act together in phones/PDAs and TV and MSN/Office subscription this will get even more pronounced.

4/14/2003

Plaintiff’s Exhibit
7191
Comes V. Microsoft

MS-CC-Sun 000000095116
CONFIDENTIAL

Credit: wallclimber

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18 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    June 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Gravatar

    This page from gnu.org discusses this confusion, and also talks about the use of the word “Intellectual property”
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html

  2. Sabayon User said,

    June 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Gravatar

    Notice how he mixes the terms “commercial” and “proprietary”. This is not an accident, he is deliberately confusing them to imply that Free software cannot be used commercially.

    No, for a long time what we call “propietary” or “non-free” was in fact called “commercial” by everyone in the industry. It’s actually the emergence of FOSS that has caused that distinction to be made. But you knew this, right?

    This is classic FUD

    Since that’s from an internal email that was never intended to be published anywhere or seen by anyone outside of the recipients, how can it be “FUD”? It only becomes FUD when you publish it and call it that because it’s convenient to you.

    Microsoft’s latest cost-cutting plan and neglect of American workforce.

    Really? Looking forward to that. You’re going to be diligent and write one about IBM and every other company in the US that outsources jobs, correct?

    which confirms that it is Microsoft’s main concern.

    If you were actually analyzing these things instead of looking for the “juicy bits” to editorialize them, you’d also mention that Microsoft in 2002 was only worried about Linux servers, not the desktop. Which is the same as it was in 2000 and today. Although today they have more reasons to be worried about the desktop (ie Ubuntu), their main concern there continues to be Apple. Thus “… no mention anywhere of Apple” is disingenuous at best. Or do you think Gates would mention Websphere when talking about the desktop? Par for the course, as usual. A little bit of facts and a whole lotta drama.

    However, this:

    A new 747 can’t be done by a non commercial model.

    Is of course gunk. The rest of what he’s saying is largely correct, in my opinion. But then you look at these things as a wounded paladin who thinks the Evil Empire is out to get him personally. I try to be a bit more objective.

    rasta Reply:

    1) In 2002 maybe most of the world was confused about terms, but Gates clearly wasn’t
    2) This is NOW FUD – it says “originate from” (if you can read, that is)
    3) You can doubt it, as he probably won’t write about monkeys jerking in the woods too, just because MS people like to do that
    4) it’s debatable how far he may have looked in the future, so this point is only wasting server storage bytes
    5) ok. now SOD OFF!

    Sabayon User Reply:

    Ah, I see my comment attracted the attention of the RoyBoy Shill Brigade and their top-notch “evangelism” technique. rasta, no less. Let me think… oh yes, here we go.

    Always glad to keep you kids off every other blog, community, news and social bookmarking site on the internet, if only for a few minutes. We had one of you over on gentoo-devel a few weeks ago. Luckily that was over quickly.

    rasta Reply:

    I’m a freelancer.

    David "Lefty" Schlesinger Reply:

    If this response was intended to establish your credibility, I’d have to say you failed miserably, “rasta”. Maybe a little less ganja and a little more thought would be more appropriate.

    rasta Reply:

    >If … ….

    Wrong. Again.

    David "Lefty" Schlesinger Reply:

    It’s unclear to me whether you’re referring to my reply or your abortive attempts to use HTML. In either case, if you had a quarter the concern about ensuring that your comments contained some sense as you do about wasting server space, then you might actually be contributing something here. As it is, you only make Roy and gang look sillier (and that’s sayin’ something!)

    David "Lefty" Schlesinger Reply:

    Heh. There’s a surprise…

    Moo Reply:

    <

    No, for a long time what we call “propietary” or “non-free” was in fact called “commercial” by everyone in the industry. It’s actually the emergence of FOSS that has caused that distinction to be made. But you knew this, right?

    While it is true that the people in the industry equate free with being gratis, the free software movement has long been emphasising the “free speech, not free beer” mantra. It is fine to conduct commerce with free software as long as the commercial activity doesn’t harm society. Proprietary software in any form harms society, and it should not exist.

    I guess my point is that we in the free software movement have been distinguishing the difference between freedom and gratis since the 1980′s when RMS started the free software movement.

  3. David "Lefty" Schlesinger said,

    June 26, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Gravatar

    Proprietary software in any form harms society, and it should not exist.

    Hm. Do you believe artists and creators should be allowed any control over their own works?

    rasta Reply:

    Public interest should always be top priority. It’s in constitution. Have a look:
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/misinterpreting-copyright.html

    David "Lefty" Schlesinger Reply:

    Sorry, Smokey, it’s not “in constitution”. If you think it is, show me where in the Constitution I’ll find it. (And if you believe you see it in there, you need to put down that spliff, son…)

    rasta Reply:

    It says on that page I linked to:
    “Article I, Section 8″.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “America means civil liberties”

    David "Lefty" Schlesinger Reply:

    Sorry, Smokey, it’s not “in Constitution”. It may be in RMS’ interpretation of the Constitution, but that ain’t the same thing.

    I’m not going to dissect the mix of fact (copyright terms are indeed too long), fancy (copyright is, in fact, held by creators rather than publishers with increasing frequency) and outright propaganda you refer to in a comment here–that would take an entire blog entry–but allow me to point out that weakening copyright weakens copyleft as well. Without copyright protection, copyleft has no way to enforce its terms.

    RMS, in particular, fails to mention that in Fox Film v. Doyle, the Court also said that the “owner of the copyright, if he pleases, may refrain from vending or licensing and content himself with simply exercising the right to exclude others from using his property.” That, of course, doesn’t suit his agenda quite so well. However inconvenient, it’s a right of the copyright holder, and you don’t get to unilaterally do away with it because it inconveniences you.

    rasta Reply:

    1) Isn’t copyleft reaction to copyright (law) as it exists today? If there weren’t any copyright, they would not be any copyleft either.
    2) if he excludes others from using his property, he can’t make any money at all, can he? (but you admitted that)

    If that wasn’t meant by constitution, then wouldn’t it be worded like “for companies and individuals to make money and hopefuly make some progress, they can…”, instead of “to promote progress…”?

    We can argue over this (and insult each other) whole day long, but the sad fact is that current law is pretty much a “workaround” around constitution, for lobbies and parties to “protect” and distance themselves from ordinary people. Consitution unites, but law divides. It’s not only in US constitution, it’s pretty much in every “democratic” country. In every constitution, people and society are always most important, but law makes sure that these things can be “avoided”.

  4. saulgoode said,

    June 26, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Gravatar

    Sorry, Smokey, it’s not “in Constitution”. It may be in RMS’ interpretation of the Constitution, but that ain’t the same thing.

    Not just RMS’ interpretation, but that of the Supreme Court of the United States as well.

    RMS, in particular, fails to mention that in Fox Film v. Doyle, the Court also said that the “owner of the copyright, if he pleases, may refrain from vending or licensing and content himself with simply exercising the right to exclude others from using his property.” That, of course, doesn’t suit his agenda quite so well. However inconvenient, it’s a right of the copyright holder, and you don’t get to unilaterally do away with it because it inconveniences you.

    I’m not sure whence this comment stems but mandating publication is not part of RMS’ “agenda” — the (L)GPL explicitly permits creating derivations without any requirement for publication (even though it would be within the exclusive rights of the original author to prohibit such).

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