M$FT and OSS: the cat and mouse game
Steve Ballmer once decried Linux and open source as a cancer. In a recent interview, he said "We compete with products. We don't compete with movements". The reality is that that open source poses the biggest competitive threat Microsoft has ever encountered. If you've been following Microsoft's attitude toward
Here are some amazing events you may have heard of:
- Last year Microsoft released some of its code under an open-source license (CPL), and posted it on SourceForge. Microsoft had made its source code available under a variety of licensing mechanisms, all under its "shared source" umbrella. Microsoft made available an internally developed product called the Windows Installer XML (WiX) to SourceForge. WiX is a toolset for building Windows installation packages from XML source code. The project seems to be getting on average a couple hundred downloads a day.
- Microsoft spent money earlier this year by sponsoring targeted open-source conferences. They even paid for a platinum sponsor at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) held in
- In April 2005, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, called for bridge building between Microsoft and the open-source community.
- Today Microsoft customers can see and control Linux servers with Microsoft's management software, and they will eventually be able to run Linux and Windows on the same machine. This is a big change from previous policies.
- Microsoft has hired a bunch of engineers who have a high profile in open-source circles. After Shaun Walker who came with his product DotNetNuke , Microsoft hired Gentoo founder Daniel Robbins, who is helping them understand open-source development. Another open source figure joined Microsoft, Jim Hugunin, is working on the IronPython project to support the Python scripting language that Microsoft would like to support in .Net to better compete with the LAMP stack.
- Stuart Cohen, CEO of Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) declared that Microsoft may be shipping their apps on top of Linux sooner than we think.
- In earlier this month (July 2005), Microsoft surprised many of the attendees at its annual worldwide partner show by allowing a third party to present a "hands-on lab" that allowed attendees to play with a range of Linux desktop software. Is Microsoft toning down it anti-Linux crusade? Probably not! Just trying to get some PR and play nice by using some diplomacy with
I could go on and on but this clearly shows a change in Microsoft's attitude. So why are they doing all this? Can the
Some believe Microsoft needs to change its image especially in areas where OSS is taking off big time such as developing countries (see my post on Brazil) and Europe (see my post on Norway or these telling headlines). Microsoft has to play well with
Once again I am a firm believer in rewarding companies and developers for their work on software. I am all for commercial software so I am not expecting or asking Microsoft to open source Windows (or any of their core products) just like I wouldn't expect Oracle to open source their database. It would be insane and suicidal. All these conciliatory statements and gestures with the
Until I see Microsoft implement some of the actions I mentioned above I will continue to think that they are reaching out to the