04.10.10

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Microsoft’s Battle to Consume — Not Obliterate — Open Source

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Summary: Latest examples — as illustrated by news items — of Microsoft’s strategy with Open Source/Free software

THE latest batch of daily links contains some references to posts which bemoan “open core”. Microsoft sometimes refers to it as “hybrid” and advocates it as the way forward; Microsoft simply envisions a future where Free software is made connected to proprietary services like SQL Server, .NET, and Windows. Pseudo-source software is a serious problem that’s being dealt with (but not thoroughly addressed) in this new post which states in the headline: “‘Open source’ doesn’t mean what it used to”

Customers using or considering a product that falls into the open-core licensing category, take note: The enterprise commercial product you purchase probably won’t offer the same freedoms as the open source community edition that the developers likely used and became advocates for.

Over in Europe, we already find that Microsoft is lobbying to ‘dilute’ open standards and Open Source so as to make Microsoft qualify as an open standard and Open Source. We gave elaborate explanations of this point before. It is a conscious strategy from Microsoft, whose executive are spitting at the very roots of the “Open Source” movement (back when it was more commonly known as “Free Software”). Richard Stallman once said to a student outside Stanford’s Bill Gates Building: “Hey, is it the tradition here to give Bill the finger when you go through these doors?”

“Hey, is it the tradition here to give Bill the finger when you go through these doors?”
      –Richard Stallman
As readers are probably aware, Microsoft’s executives work behind the scenes to enable all sorts of dangerous schemes, including — potentially — the fingerprinting of people (after lobbying from Bill Gates in India).

Anyway, getting back to the original point, the “coup” Microsoft had going against the European Commission (David Hammerstein called it a “coup”, based on inside sources) has clearly paid off because Europe’s digital policy, as defined by the EIF at least, is still subverted although it did not get worse than the previous iteration. Glyn Moody reports on the differences between the two latest revisions/versions (which were leaked).

That’s clearly an improvement on the previous version. For example, the whole ridiculous notion of an “openness continuum” has gone. And weak phrases like “Interoperability involves the sharing of information and knowledge between organisations, hence implies a certain degree of openness. There are varying degrees of openness.” have become the stronger “Interoperability involves the sharing of information and knowledge between interacting organisations, hence implies openness.”

On the down side, this remains worryingly vague and woolly. What exactly is this “openness”? It sets a far lower bar than the original EIF document, which was highly specific…

[...]

To summarise, the latest draft is certainly better than the previous one, which was a travesty in many respects. As such, it is to be welcomed. But we should be making absolute advances with interoperability at this stage, not relative ones. The current draft is certainly one step forward from the previous one, but that was two steps back from the original, so the net effect remains negative. Frankly, that’s not acceptable, and is evidence that the European Commission is backtracking in this important area. That doesn’t augur well for the imminent Digital Agenda.

More information and background about EIFv2 can be found in:

  1. European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Corrupted by Microsoft et al, Its Lobbyists
  2. Orwellian EIF, Fake Open Source, and Security Implications
  3. No Sense of Shame Left at Microsoft
  4. Lobbying Leads to Protest — the FFII and the FSFE Rise in Opposition to Subverted EIF
  5. IBM and Open Forum Europe Address European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Fiasco
  6. EIF Scrutinised, ODF Evolves, and Microsoft’s OOXML “Lies” Lead to Backlash from Danish Standards Committee
  7. Complaints About Perverted EIF Continue to Pile Up
  8. More Complaints About EIFv2 Abuse and Free Software FUD from General Electric (GE)
  9. Patents Roundup: Copyrighted SQL Queries, Microsoft Alliance with Company That Attacks F/OSS with Software Patents, Peer-to-Patent in Australia
  10. Microsoft Under Fire: Open Source Software Thematic Group Complains About EIFv2 Subversion, NHS Software Supplier Under Criminal Investigation
  11. British MEP Responds to Microsoft Lobby Against EIFv2; Microsoft’s Visible Technologies Infiltrates/Derails Forums Too
  12. Patents Roundup: Escalations in Europe, SAP Pretense, CCIA Goes Wrong, and IETF Opens Up
  13. Patents Roundup: Several Defeats for Bad Types of Patents, Apple Risks Embargo, and Microsoft Lobbies Europe Intensely
  14. Europeans Asked to Stop Microsoft’s Subversion of EIFv2 (European Interoperability Framework Version 2)
  15. Former Member of European Parliament Describes Microsoft “Coup in Process” in the European Commission

Basically, what Microsoft is trying to do here is fit the law to its own requirements rather than adjust its behaviour to fit the law. Microsoft wants Europe to be heavily dependent on Windows and in order to ‘consume’ Free software too, Microsoft has created CoApp [1, 2, 3], which receives some press coverage, still.

CoApp is about more than just a single software app, it is really about creating a entire Windows based ecosystem for package management.

Another interesting new find is the funding of the Grameen Foundation, which is run by Microsoft people [1, 2, 3] and uses “Open Source” propositions to promote Microsoft.

In short, Microsoft is trying to wrap itself up with everything “Open Source” in order to deceive the public, which would no longer be able to tell apart the Microsoft option and the Microsoft-free option. A reader has just sent us a couple [1, 2] of new examples of “Microsoft advertising on Linux site”. Here are the images he sent us.

Linux Planet ad

Linux top banner

Linux Planet and Microsoft

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A Single Comment

  1. your_friend said,

    April 10, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft echos the propaganda of another tyranny that failed 20 years ago. Before the Soviet Union finally collapsed it proclaimed reorganization and openness. Both of these campaigns are misdirection from power relationships. Failing organizations often spins through reorganizations to reassure a public or investors and victims of a tyranny realize a power structure is the problem. Of course, the openness of both the former Soviet Union and Microsoft were a sham. Microsoft has always positioned itself as a champion of “choice” and “interoperability” and pretended knowledge of Microsoft APIs and other toys were sufficient for user freedom. This is a lie which leaves Microsoft in control.

    The focus in software must always be software freedom. The implications of software freedom are difficult for Microsoft propaganda victims to grasp but the FSF’s simple principles of software freedom are easy and clear. A user either has freedom to do things with their computer of they don’t. An even simpler rule is file copy and share. When someone else decides what files you can copy or share with your computer, someone else owns your computer.

    This kind of clear thinking flows from a basic knowledge of computer operations that legislators lack. While legislative ignorance is an issue in the Digital Economy Bill, a larger one is the power structure that managed to stuff the process and strip people of fundamental rights that should have been protected by basic laws. The power of broadcast and newsprint lingers just long enough for controlling interests to make these desperate power grabs. The folly will be realized by all sooner or later.

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