Bonum Certa Men Certa

What's in Microsoft's Halloween Documents on Novell, ISO, OSI, GNU GPLv3, EC, and OSS?

By this stage, you have probably stumbled upon the Halloween Documents, which reveal Microsoft's predatory tactics against Linux and Free software. It's not a 'smoking gun'. It's more like a 'smoking shotgun' with 4 barrels.

Here is what the OSI thinks about it:

We, too, have recently been forcibly reminded (by the Halloween Documents) that we have been targeted for destruction and dirty tricks by the Microsoft monopoly.


It is clear that Microsoft has some new documents lying about in Redmond, but unlike the Halloween Documents, nobody out there has got open access to them. Microsoft has a plan for the destruction of Linux (as we know it). There are many roles and factors here, which include, as the title indicates: Novell, ISO, OSI, GNU GPLv3, the European Commission, and various other companies, including Linux companies. If we don't not respond, then Microsoft's cookbooks will have a nicely-basked turkey by Easter. Matt Asay, referring to the Halloween Documents, takes an overview on Microsoft's bizarre and complex strategy.

  • Microsoft is trying to look like it's all about interoperability through futile projects like Mono, Moonlight, and patent agreements with Novell and also-ran Linux vendors. But these deals are really nothing more than a way to tax open-source innovation to ensure open source is hobbled by Microsoft's fees.


And so on. Microsoft is much more open about its intentions vis-a-vis open source. That doesn't mean it's any more supportive of open source. It just means that it's getting easier to glean from public documents how the company feels about open source.

We don't need Halloween Documents to read the tea leaves on Microsoft and open source. We just need to pay attention to what the company is doing. In the open. On an increasing basis.


Edward Burnette has some insights as well and he's focused on the OSI in his writeup which is titled "Halloween XII: What’s really behind those Microsoft licenses?"

Given the OSI’s stated desire to reduce the number of open source licenses, not increase them, I asked the OSI board why they had approved it. “We won’t approve licenses that are too similar to existing licenses”, board member Russ Nelson responded in an email. However he praised the licenses for being simply written, for addressing trademarks and patents, and for not naming a specific jurisdiction.

Is that enough to differentiate them? Not according to Greg Stein of the Apache Foundation, who is opposed to the creation and use of new licenses when existing, popular licenses already do the job. “License proliferation,” he writes, “slows development and discourages usage by making it more difficult to combine and remix code.”


The OSI refused to realise what Microsoft has been cooking when it accepted 2 more licences. We reckon that the OSI will come to regret this.

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