07.22.10

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Microsoft Loves ‘Open’ Core

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 4:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft didn’t want a lot of other companies writing code that could compete. It wanted to keep the barriers to entry very high. The idea, in fact, was to keep raising the bar, putting in more layers of software and APIs, which developers would then have to support. Microsoft wanted to make it so gnarly that anybody who couldn’t devote a team of one hundred programmers to every Windows application would be out of the game. [...] Now it was time to annihilate a new competitor, and Gates wanted Eller for the job.”

Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul

Summary: Microsoft employees may be trying to annihilate software freedom as a phenomenon while they enter new hosts after a long Microsoft career

THE TERM “Open Core” was attributed to former Microsoft employees some weeks ago. This idea of mixing proprietary software with some Open Source and then calling the combined thing “Open Source” is an appealing plan to companies like Microsoft. Monty from Microsoft’s CodePlex Foundation is finally taking sides in the “Open Core” debate/controversy and guess which side he takes?

Monty Widenius, one of the founders of MySQL, has an interesting post where he makes an attempt to define what it means to be an “open source company“. I’m happy to say that the OpenNMS Group meets that definition, but I’m not 100% sure it is complete as the requirement that an open source company is one that “produces software” does leave out a number of companies that promote and deploy open source solutions without actually writing code. But I think it is a start.

It is important to reward companies whose products are truly Free software. OpenNMS is one of them and it has a solid business going. It’s not impossible to become an entirely free/libre company which is also profitable. Those who take shortcuts may be more likely to become profitable fast, but they are cheating. Then you have companies that make money by selling proprietary software that exploits free/libre software. The Black Duck folks are an example of this and Black Duck has roots in Microsoft. This week we have Phil Odence from Black Duck selling fear of unfamiliar code and doing so poorly. “Open source has created software overload,” claims his headline, but as someone says in the first comment:

There’s nothing wrong with this article, but I thought the headline is not appropriate to the article content. I don’t see the software overload here.

Well, that just happens to be IDG’s ‘open source’ blog, which is not exactly pro-open source. We wrote about this subject several times before. The bloggers there are hardly open source experts or proponents and one of the main editors (if not the sole editor, Julie) came from IDG’s Microsoft Subnet. Alan Shimel, whose selection by IDG we criticised back in April, comes from the CISO group and Ryan as told us last night, “you click on their link and their home page says they’re a Microsoft affiliate. They need to hide their shills better… “open source fiction” brought to you by Friends of Microsoft.”

“They need to hide their shills better… “open source fiction” brought to you by Friends of Microsoft.”
      –Ryan Farmer
There are several companies out there that push for making proprietary software and finding ways of calling it “open”. One such company is Likewise, which also has roots in Microsoft (the managers are former Microsoft employees) and relationships with Microsoft, including software patents [1, 2, 3, 4]. It was not exactly shocking to find that OStatic uses Likewise staff at the moment in order to make a case for Open Core (in the form of a “Guest Post”).

Microsoft is not just Microsoft. Former employees of the company have entered new arenas, including Microsoft’s competitors which they are trying to change from the inside. Apple too has unleashed staff that poisons the Free software world. There are other examples of companies we did not name here — companies like Centrify [1, 2, 3].

Centrify

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