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Microsoft Brand Far from Respected (Says Fortune), Company's Future May Resemble Sun's Trajectory (Says BNET)

Fortune brands



Summary: Microsoft has issues evolving, its brand is falling down the ranks, its attempts to mimic open source mostly fail (despite media blitz), and Red Hat copes with Microsoft's attempt to swallow virtualisation

MICROSOFT'S exacerbating financial performance (see analysis of the latest results in [1, 2, 3, 4]) may explain its increased racketeering (last example from yesterday). With ever-decreasing margins, Microsoft must find an alternative business model. So far, Microsoft has failed to mimic Google's model (Microsoft loses over $2,000,000,000 per year in this area), so it decided to use regulators and lawsuits by proxy to hurt Google. Microsoft did the same thing to GNU/Linux by funding SCO, for example.



Microsoft's control of the mainstream media usually prevents access to simple facts that are not hard to show and to defend. When some single firm from the UK hailed the Microsoft brand last month, nobody dares to question the data, the methods, and the population questioned. In fact, that single source was quoted extensively outside the UK in order to sell the impression that the Microsoft brand has power.

“When some single firm from the UK hailed the Microsoft brand last month, nobody dares to question the data, the methods, and the population questioned.”CNN/Fortune has just released a list of "The Most Admired Companies in the World". Apple and Google top the list and Microsoft is not even in it (it is not among the worst brands, either). In any case, it is clear that Microsoft dropped sharply and this agrees with 3-4 similar surveys from 2008. They have all shown that Microsoft's reputation was declining rapidly.

"Windows breeds fear and ignorance," said this one blogger a couple of days ago. "And I put the blame squarely on Windows," he added after explaining an experience with an indoctrinated individual. A few days ago we also cited a post from Jeremy Allison -- one where he speaks about his days in Sun Microsystems. Here is an example of a company that was once so gigantic and formidable. Where is it today? It is in Oracle, which some notable people whom we cannot name just yet are about to leave (we received private communication about it).

"Sun Fell Prey to Open-Washing," says BNET in the headline that continues: "Who's Next? Microsoft?"

Here is a key part of the argument:

Openwashing is similar to greenwashing, in which a company markets itself as environmentally friendly but is actually faking it. A high tech firm openwashes itself when it makes noises about open software but is really interested in preserving its proprietary offerings and hampering free open systems practices.


So basically, BNET explains that excessive desire for control over developers cost Sun its existence. This agrees with what Jeremy Allison wrote and Bradley Kuhn wrote about that too.

Meanwhile, I'm less optimistic than Jeremy on the future of Oracle. I have paid attention to Oracle's contributions to btrfs in light of recent events. Amusingly, btfs exists in no small part because ZFS was never licensed correctly and never turned into a truly community-oriented project. While the two projects don't have identical goals, they are similar enough that it seems unlikely btrfs would exist if Sun had endeavored to become a real FLOSS contributor and shepherd ZFS into Linux upstream using normal Linux community processes. It's thus strange to think that Oracle controls ZFS, even while it continues to contribute to btrfs, in a normal, upstream way (i.e., collaborating under the terms of GPLv2 with community developers and employees of other companies such as Red Hat, HP, Intel, Novell, and Fujitsu).


The moral of this story is that control over what developers could and could not do is what drove many people away and made Sun history. Microsoft is facing similar problems right now and it tries to 'embrace' (in "EEE" sense) the Free/open source arena in order to recapture developers. It's not quite working.

A reader sent us this pointer to a Microsoft project yesterday. "Pay Microsoft more money to secure insecure Microsoft software" is how our reader described it. He said that "it's released under an 'open-source license', except it only runs on Windows, the monoculture." To quote from the project's page: "U-Prove is an innovative cryptographic technology that enables the issuance and presentation of cryptographically protected claims in a manner that provides multi-party security: issuing organizations, users, and relying parties can protect themselves not just against outsider attacks but also against attacks originating from each other..."

If this is an example of "open source" at Microsoft, then it's more or less a farce. Microsoft's own 'news' site, MSN, has just published some promotion of the "Microsoft-seeded foundation".

A Microsoft-seeded, open-source organizer picked a Headspring Systems project for its first non-Microsoft sponsored effort.


Yes, Microsoft is organising a bit of a press tour [1, 2] to promote the CodePlex Foundation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], where Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza is on the board. Here is the 'Microsoft press' promoting a .NET obfuscator. That's the type of stuff Microsoft calls "open source". It's all about Windows, .NET, Silver Lie, etc. And how typical it is for CIOL to be pimping (with links) Microsoft's smears of Free software, under the confusing headline "Open source slowly gaining momentum in India". Are they trying to pretend that Silver Lie is "open source" or just lump Microsoft in? Here is part of it:

Developers in India are not much aware about open source technologies and there aren't much good development tools and support for them, says Joydip Kanjilal, ASP.NET professional at Microsoft, in conversation with CIOL.


In another new article, CIOL promotes a form of EDGI that goes under the *Spark banner [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. CIOL is rewriting many press releases, as we pointed out before, but its shallow promotion of Microsoft requires some criticism too.

Another branch of the 'Microsoft press', namely the Microsoft Subnet at IDG, is doing some PR for Microsoft by saying that there is "much fanfare" over Red Hat support in Hyper-V (whose fanfare? Microsoft's?).

With much fanfare, Microsoft first submitted said drivers to the Linux kernel way back in July (its first, and so far only, contribution to Linux, for obvious reason). Those drivers were already tested to work with Red Hat and, of course, SUSE. And in October, Red Hat and Microsoft announced that they were joining each other's virtualization partnership programs, and validated that their products worked on each other's virtual machines. So what took Microsoft so long to release these Red Hat drivers to the public?


People have other virtualisation options, they don't need Microsoft's proprietary one. Let's not forget the GPL violation that's associated with Microsoft's offering [1, 2, 3].

Regarding the virtualisation arrangement Microsoft has with Red Hat, it is a subject that we summarised a year ago. Red Hat is now backing virtualisation research (yes, Free software conducts research too, contrary to myths).

Red Hat is funding a new research centre at Newcastle University that is looking into areas such as grid and cloud computing, virtualisation and middleware.


Among Red Hat's competitors in this area there's Microsoft, its ally Novell, and VMware, which is run by former Microsoft executives [1, 2, 3, 4]. Here is a new article on the subject:

Red Hat sees the virtualisation market developing into a three-way fight between itself, Microsoft and VMWare as the technology is increasingly taken up in the business space, Red Hat's senior director of virtualisation, Navin Thadani, said today.

However, he said, the advantage would lie with the two operating system companies, adding that although Novell and Citrix had teamed up to contest the same space, they stood more of a chance in the desktop virtualisation arena.


A year ago we explained how Microsoft distorted the Linux and virtualisation markets. With former Microsoft employees running VMware, a Microsoft ally running Xen (Citrix), and another Microsoft ally seemingly trying to conquer KVM (that would be Novell), the pressure is on Red Hat, which arguably bought KVM's parent company because of Microsoft's disruptive moves.

"Microsoft is unique among proprietary software companies: they are the only ones who have actively tried to kill Open Source and Free Software. It's not often someone wants to be your friend after trying to kill you for ten years, but such change is cause for suspicion."

--Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC)



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