Microsoft Meets Open Source: Glasnost 2.0

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| Last week I spent two days on campus in Redmond with about 40 of my industry
| colleagues at the Microsoft Technology Summit, an annual invite-only event
| where Microsoft selects a swath of people from all over the world — key
| technology influencers — to learn about what the company is doing in its
| development labs and to preview advanced technology and new products, as well
| as to provide an environment for face to face dialogue and direct feedback.
| [...]
| With the exception of Rob Enderle and myself – who were the only
| two “Professional” journalists and analysts present at the event as far as I
| could tell — the entire guest list was stacked with Open Source community
| folks, such as William Hurley, BMC Software’s Chief Open Source strategist
| and David Recordon, the the founder of OpenID. It wasn’t all Penguinista
| heavyweights either – there were a bunch of people who ran OSS-heavy IT shops
| at major corporations and even academic types from developing countries in

| Africa who were using Open Source software to put technology in the hands of
| underprivileged kids, like the guy who was deploying Ubuntu and Linux
| Terminal Server thin clients to students in his home country of Namibia.

Source Community?

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| Smith also outlined what he said were Microsoft’s four big principles when it
| comes to intellectual property issues and open source software: First,
| a “well-functioning patent system” is a good thing. Second, there needs to be
| a bridge between different development, distribution and business models.
| Third, patents are best sorted out by “industry leaders [read: Microsoft and
| other big companies], so developers and customers don’t have to deal with
| these issues themselves.” And finally, everybody needs to make some
| compromises.

There are still some naive managers who do Microsoft's legwork and let it
subvert 'open source'.


No Justification Need

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| What's at the forefront of my crabbiness is the almost-complete capture of
| the Open Source Business Conference's news cycle by Brad Smith's presence at
| that conference left me wondering who else was even there this week, other
| than Smith, Matt Asay, and a few pundits and luminaries. In a nicely done
| spin for the media, OSBC suddenly became about how Microsoft braved the
| lion's den, instead of the real progress a lot of companies are making in
| open source development and business. * * *

All That Got Stolen Was Microsoft's Thunder

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| The best response I've seen was from Jonathan Corbet at a panel at the Open
| Source Business Conference in San Francisco last May. Corbet is a Linux
| kernel developer himself and executive editor of the Linux Weekly News. *
| "I feel I've been called a thief," he said levelly during a panel at the
| event, and pointed out that Microsoft was one of the companies that had
| patented "thousands of trivial functions ... There's no way to write a
| nontrivial program that can't be claimed to infringe on someone's patents." *

Brad Smith continues its FUD spreading, wants to tax RedHat

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| Brad Smith continues its FUD spreading, wants to tax RedHat. The only
| solution for Microsoft to tax linux is software patents. Microsoft wants to
| render GPL free software non-free. The message is clear. *
| [...]
| Microsoft needs to be sued more often, because in their current position they
| still believe too much in a patent system where no software developer has
| ever used a patent to write a computer program. *

Microsoft's dilemma: The importance of the downstream

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| To work within the open-source community, which Microsoft will absolutely
| have to do if it wants to remain relevant in the 21st century of the Web,
| Microsoft must stop polluting the downstream with patent encumbrances.
| Period. Full stop. Microsoft is not alone in being threatened by open source.
| Everyone is to a greater or lesser extent, including open-source companies.
| MySQL's biggest competitor is not Oracle. It is fee-free use of MySQL. Ditto
| for other open-source companies. * * *

Feeling the heat at Microsoft

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| A couple of years ago you reiterated that IBM was Microsoft's biggest
| competitor and you said not just on the business side, but overall. If I ask
| you who is Microsoft's biggest competitor now, who would it be? *
| Ballmer: Open...Linux. I don't want to say open source. Linux, certainly have
| to go with that.