Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why the “New Microsoft” is the “Bully Microsoft”

"We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger… If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger."

--Jim Allchin, Platform Group Vice President, Microsoft



Microsoft, much like a wife beater returning from jail or paying bail, wishes us to believe in what it repeatedly calls the "new Microsoft", a reformed company. A combination of factors, however, which include a vicious assault on ISO, make the "new" in this "new Microsoft" gimmick seem like a joke at best. Like a robber baron, the company goes to great lengths in order to hide the reality about its bad behaviour. But very few appear to be buying it, as opposed to those are are paid to pretend. We will discuss that at the end.

Total Loss of Credibility



Microsoft's past crimes were mentioned on a couple of occasions over the weekend, context being the sharp decline of the Microsoft brand. Here is another new touch on that subject.

So while microsoft continues to fight an outmoded fight with outmoded business tactics it will be washed out by the new wave of computing that is fast approaching the consumer shore. I would advise you to get your Linux water wings now and start learning to swim before you suddenly find that either your pool has run dry or you are in deeper water than you think.

[...]

As you can see in 2004 it was ranked 11th. Last year it dropped down to a low of 59th. That is a very big drop over four years and especially significant when other computer related companies have stayed relatively flat. It is also significant that Linux started really making an appearance to the mainstream public as a viable alternative and stable OS around four years ago.


The item above is focused on GNU/Linux, or more broadly on Free software. The following couple of new articles say something about Microsoft's credibility as far as collaborations with Linux and open source software go. Have a quick look:

1. Microsoft Isn't Credible About Open Source

Microsoft's promise of more interoperability is just that, interoperability and a promise, not support for creating or benefiting open source software. And Microsoft's Open Specification Promise doesn't facilitate open source software licensing, just a promise to Microsoft chosen released specs, interfaces and APIs in the clear for others to integrate with.


2. Is Microsoft really any more trustworthy?

I don't buy it. I'm certain there are some engineers at Microsoft who would have no problem working together with open-source developers. But I also believe that, so long as Steve Ballmer heads the company, Microsoft will never be a real partner for open source. Or, for that matter, that Microsoft would prove a trustworthy partner to any company not under its thumb.

Perlow compares Microsoft's relationship to open source with the Soviet Union's Glasnost period when it was opening up to the West for the first time. It's a good analogy, but I don't think it's an accurate one. Come the day when, say, Mark Shuttleworth cribs from Reagan and demands, "Mr. Ballmer, tear down these patent walls" and Microsoft does so, then I'll believe that the Evil Empire has changed its ways. Until then, I'm going to trust Microsoft about as far as I can throw Ballmer.


The Bully Within



Microsoft works with competitors only provided that they accept Microsoft's pre-imposed rules, however discriminatory they may be. It often needs to be asked who speaks for Novell and whose behalf Novell speak on. It is clear, as we have seen before with other companies (e.g. here), that the agenda of one company depends on another and it all boils down to the people who run the company. They too can be affiliated with other companies, or a former/future employer.

Novell marionette
Depiction of Microsoft 'collaborating' with Novell



Over at Microsoft's press, Novell's Miguel de Icaza is again cited to give the impression that Microsoft is all nice and cosy with Linux. It's Novell which is responsible for such deception.

Miguel de Icaza can tell you. The Novell vice president, former Gnu Project founder and lead of both the Mono and Moonlight projects says he has seen an incredibly passionate response to Microsoft's various efforts. De Icaza's association with the Microsoft-Novell pact late last year was an immediate lightning rod.


Thank you, Miguel. We may now 'believe' that Microsoft is an angel, despite remarks like these.

While we're on the subject of Microsoft's attitude towards competitors, check out this post from Dana Blankenhorn.

When Jason Perlow reported on last week’s Microsoft Technology Summit, he sought to compliment the company by giving CEO Steve Ballmer a Gorbachev-like birthmark (right).

But Gorbachev was a Communist. He wasn’t elected. He was the product of a dictatorial society which was rotting from the inside, and his final achievement was to preside over its dissolution.


Microsoft and communism are actually not so different at all. Some opine that they are conjoined twins meeting again just decades after the demise of the Reds. But that's a subject for another day.

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