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Microsoft Cracking Open the Door To OSS 222

Posted by kdawson
from the competition-and-coexistence dept.
AlexGr sends us to a long piece in Redmond Magazine on Microsoft's changing relationship to open source. The article centers around a profile of Bill Hilf, Microsoft's internal and external evangelist for OSS. It's an even-handed piece that fully reflects the continuing deep skepticism in the community of Microsoft's motives and actions.
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Microsoft Cracking Open the Door To OSS

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  • Oh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:33PM (#18337261)

    It's an even-handed piece...
    Oh really? What dimension did it come from?

    I've certainly never seen anything in this time/space reality that has been even-handed about the relationship of Microsoft & OSS.
  • Accomplishments? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:40PM (#18337347) Homepage
    What has Mr. Bill Hilf actually accomplished? This isn't the first time I've seen his name championed as Microsoft's OSS evangelist, which in and of it self is all well and good. However, I haven't actually heard/read of him doing anything that actually benefits OSS (not necessarily Linux). I'm hoping someone can enlighten me.
    • Re:Accomplishments? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:49PM (#18337471)
      From http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/tnradio /bio/billhilf.mspx [microsoft.com]:

      "Prior to joining Microsoft, Bill led IBM's Linux/Open Source Software technical strategy at a world-wide level for the Emerging and Competitive markets organization, in addition to his direct customer interaction as a senior enterprise architect. Bill has been involved with Open Source Software (OSS) for over twelve years, and is an IEEE Distinguished Visitor on the subject of OSS."

      What have YOU done for OSS? You OSS zealots (particularly twitter) are doing more harm than good.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:20PM (#18337925)

        What have YOU done for OSS? You OSS zealots (particularly twitter) are doing more harm than good.

        What have I done? Well, I can tell you that I have released countless poorly coded, undocumented, utterly crappy programs to sourceforge. So THERE!

        And did I mention the god awful GUI interfaces. Geez. Show some respect!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by kdemetter (965669)
          well , that's the beauty of open source . you may have a good idea but suck at coding /graphical design , and then some one takes a look at your project and improves the code . then someone else improves the graphical design ,etc ..

          With closed source people will just say it sucks and that will be the end of it .

      • Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bonefry (979930)
        That's marketing talk.

        Yeah ... if Bill Hilf worked for IBM, then he must have HUGE contributions to OSS, right ?
        Oh please ... point to at least one major contribution to OSS that he has done.

        You OSS zealots (particularly twitter) are doing more harm than good.

        Ironically, anti-OSS zealots are a lot more widespread and a lot more poisonous.
      • by twitter (104583) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:45PM (#18338253) Homepage Journal

        What have YOU done for OSS? You OSS zealots (particularly twitter) are doing more harm than good.

        Advocating freedom never hurts anyone in a free society, but thanks for thinking of me. I love you guys, and all this new M$ tone that spews forth here.

        What you say about Mr. Hilf may be true, but I'd like to know what he's done since joining M$. The article is a collection of confusing propaganda, more inflammatory than informative, and I hope it does not really reflect Mr. Hilf's beliefs:

        When Bill Hilf came from IBM Corp. to join Microsoft three years ago, the company's stance on open source vacillated wildly. It would swing from outright indifference to overt nastiness. Today, something else is unfolding: Microsoft is striking a surprising balance. It has stopped dismissing open source licensing and community development as dangerous folly or evil foe, and is looking for a way to both compete and co-exist.

        ...

        Before we start singing Kumbaya, let's state clearly it's inconceivable that Microsoft's efforts around open source have yet been widely greeted as sincere, altruistic or even legitimate by a large faction of the open source community.

        Nice flame but not much content. Mr. Hilf's "dirty little secret" comment about most people being forced to run M$ first, without mention of the Federally proved monopoly, is more of the same. Oh wow, this is rich:

        "I ask those folks, 'How often has Microsoft sued over IP?' The answer is two [times]," he says. "We are not a patent troll company. We protect our IP and our licenses, but we do not want to litigate."

        The company responsible for the fiaSCO that's threatening everyone that they own patents on everything is not a troll? OK, that's enough fantasy reading for me today. Mr. Hilf is not the first nice thing that M$ has bought and ruined.

        If these things don't reflect Mr. Hilf's opinion, let it be a lesson for those who consider working for "the enemy". they will use you and hang whatever opinion around your neck they please before they dismiss you.

      • by eeek77 (1041634)
        "What have YOU done for OSS? You OSS zealots (particularly twitter) are doing more harm than good." I'll have you know that I have PERSONALLY downloaded over five, ahem, FIVE different Linux distributions and tested them on my old laptop at home. SO THERE. Ha.
      • Sure, prior to joining Microsoft Bill did some things for OSS.

        But what since then? That's the real question. History is littered with great minds that went to Mcirosoft and then - poof! There was no output after. Half of why Microsoft acquires these kinds of people is simply to keep them away from other companies - you noted yourself that he was the leader of IBM's global software effort. Pretty good deal to take out that kind of leader from a large competitor for just the cost of one persons salary, an
    • Re:Accomplishments? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by consumer (9588) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:44PM (#18338247)
      I can vouch for Bill's work on open source. We worked together at a web startup before he went to IBM. We mostly worked on a LAMP platform based around mod_perl, and he put a lot of effort into making sure that our patches to the open source code we used (and there were quite a few) were contributed back. We presented a paper together at an OSS conference about the work we did there. He's the real deal.
  • Job prospect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by otacon (445694) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:40PM (#18337353)
    How does one become the Open Source Software evangelist at a practically 100% proprietary company?...That's like being a Christian Evangelist at a Mosque.
    • MS has "borrowed" heavily from the OSS world. Mostly from BSD, but they are not above patenting a number of ideas that have prior art in GPL and BSD.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by prockcore (543967)
        MS has obeyed the GPL for quite a long time now. The Unix for Windows services thingy contains GPLed code, and MS has always had the source available.
    • by nobodyman (90587)

      I'm not sure if your comment was meant as a jab at Bill Hilf, or if your just literally meant that it seems incongruous to find Bill Hilf and Bill Gates in the same roof. I'll assume the latter - I agree it seems odd.

      The cynical side of me thinks that this is purely a political gesture, and that Microsoft is giving him a "window seat" with little influence inside of microsoft.

      However, Microsoft attempted the same thing with Robert Scoble [scobleizer.com]. Most people wrote him off as a shill, but he (IMHO) brought about
    • by twitter (104583) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:50PM (#18338303) Homepage Journal

      How does one become the Open Source Software evangelist at a practically 100% proprietary company?

      Sell out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Locutus (9039)
      Hilf's background gives him a view of the business market related to OSS and how businesses approach it, touch and feel it etc. His job at Microsoft is not to help Microsoft become an OSS company or a supporter of OSS. His job is to inform them of how OSS is competing with them, how companies are 'feeling' about it, how well it is working in the field. All this information is most likely going to the MS Marketing Army, the MS Business Associate/Partnership Army, and to the MS Product Development Army and th
    • How does one become the Open Source Software evangelist at a practically 100% proprietary company?...That's like being a Christian Evangelist at a Mosque.

      No. Being a Christian Evangelist at a Mosque would be like being an HP evangelist at Dell.

      An OSS evangelist at Microsoft is more like a Christian Evangelist at an Anarchist convention.

      - RG>
      • That's actually pretty good, because depending on how strongly he preaches OSS he may face a certain amount of ridicule or even open hostility. On the other hand, he might just be able to turn a few heads and - while unlikely to inspire a complete conversion - he might pass along some ideas and concept that MS can learn from the OSS world, and possibly vise-versa.
  • Motives? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:41PM (#18337359)
    They have one motive - to make money for their shareholders. Perhaps you mean `strategy`? They might ponce about with OSS if they can make money from it (not directly, but by selling apps/services which support OSS), but they make their money in the main from the desktop (which they show no signs of losing control over, despite/because of the number of Linux distros out there) and supplying Office (and exchange server, if you want to consider them as separate) to businesses. There's still no serious rival to them there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      I don't use outlook and exchange much, but are they really that complicated that open source can't provide an alternative that works just as well? We have Linux which is a better OS. We have PostgreSQL which is a good DB. So why can't we provide a mail/groupware server and client application. It doesn't seem all that hard compared to all the other stuff that open source produces, why is this field so hard?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by joto (134244)

        It's not that hard, it's just that

        • It's not as fun
        • You will not become famous. (you've heard of Bill Gates, Dennis Ritchie and Larry Wall, but who created Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange?)
        • It's a huge effort. (it needs to be feature complete before people will even consider to take it halfway seriously)
        • It doesn't scratch an itch I have (I want fifteen new compilers to play with much more than I want a boring groupware app, it's other users who want that, perhaps not even running linux)
        • Re:Motives? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:36PM (#18338121) Homepage
          I can see where you're coming from. A lot of what open source produces seems to be stuff that the developers need to use themselves. Operating systems, databases, web servers, compilers, source control, desktop environments. If you look at the projects that seem to have the biggest problems, word processors, spreadsheets, email, groupware, calendars, etc., it seems like open source programmers just ignore stuff that isn't fun to program, while ignoring that there is an actual need for this type of software.
          • by joto (134244)

            Exactly. The only successful huge non-developer-oriented free software projects I know of that exists, is openoffice and firefox, and both are sponsored so heavily by corporations that it's more like charity than anything resembling a hobby project or a full-blown bazaar development model.

            There has been cases of a collective of users buying full rights to finished software from the company that owns it (e.g. blender), but so far, nobody has worked out how to do this for software not yet written. The poten

      • by dave562 (969951)
        It doesn't seem all that hard compared to all the other stuff that open source produces, why is this field so hard?

        The open source world has a lot of catching up to do to produce an Exchange killer. The latest version offers more or less seemless integration with a Windows Mobile smartphone. It offers web access to email that if you use with IE is almost as full featured as Outlook. It has full email, calendaring, contacts, tasks, blah blah blah blah. Of course given enough time the OSS world could rec

      • If you wish to produce an OSS Exchange Server equivalent to offer the public an alternative, it faces several major obstacles:
        * Its gotta be feature complete, offering everything Exchange does
        * Its gotta be Exchange Compatible because like it or not, most businesses that rely on Exchange are thoroughly tied into it, and it will have to work as well as Exchange with other Exchange servers etc.
        * You have to convince the CEOs that its worth switching. Within my (admittedly limited) experience of Exchange in a
    • I'd really be curious to see Microsoft dive in the OSS and try to come up with a business plan.

      My take on it is that MS realizes that OSS is here to stay and that its gaining due in part but not totally to their crappy vista.

      So they said "if people are gonna move to OSS, we'll follow them" - as they say "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em"

      but that's highly hypothetical and way too optimistic, with MS, there's always a snake somewhere trying to bite you in the arse.

      That said, lets assume they do jump in the boa
      • by dave562 (969951)
        My take on the article isn't that they are trying to make money with OSS. They are making sure that OSS remains interoperable with Windows.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:43PM (#18337397) Homepage Journal
    "I ask those folks, 'How often has Microsoft sued over IP?' The answer is two [times]," he says. "We are not a patent troll company. We protect our IP and our licenses, but we do not want to litigate." - I assume this does not include the fiaSCO from Utah, I guess it is not direct enough to count it into these two times.

    In any case, one thing I know I don't want to deal with in this life is MS stuff.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by OmegaBlac (752432)
      This cycle seems to repeat itself every couple of weeks for the past year or so. One week some magazine or website claims that Microsoft is embracing or willing to work with FOSS, then the next week Balmer is launching threats about Linux violating their "IP". Microsoft's past actions tell me that they will not change until they are on the verge of defeat (going out of business).
    • by PineHall (206441)
      It does not help that Balmer has a few times implied that Linux is in violation of Microsoft's IP. That does not make me want to trust them. (If we are, work with us to make linux "clean".)
    • by mpapet (761907)
      It easily glides over the Cease and Desist letter factory they are running in Redmond.

      Few, if anything ever makes it into the courts. If it does, it's because someone has DEEP pockets or is a fool for thinking they can out-lawyer Microsoft or even more foolishly believe the law is on their side.

      I just hope that that mis-information doesn't get attributed as fact by the lazy media.
      • by Goaway (82658)
        If they have a Cease and Desist letter factory, perhaps you could list a couple of projects that have received C&D letters from Microsoft? How about ten?
        • by mpapet (761907)
          As a former employee of a Microsoft C&D'd target I promise you it's happening. Microsoft isn't alone that's for sure. I was at another company that was C&D'd by HP. The whole point of the exercise is to exhaust their smaller competitors.

          Two semi-public pissing matches were Mike Rowe Soft and Lindows.

          Please don't defend the 'truthiness' of a statement you appear to have no first-hand experience with.

          • by Goaway (82658)
            Please don't defend the 'truthiness' of a statement you appear to have no first-hand experience with.

            Which one is that? "We are not a patent troll company. We protect our IP and our licenses, but we do not want to litigate" or "...the Cease and Desist letter factory they are running in Redmond"?

            Also, your examples there are both trademark conflicts and not patent lawsuits, which is what I was under the impression that the whole thread was about.
            • Good thing I've got my example right here! > http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/11 / [slashdot.org] 1443211 [slashdot.org]

              What you fail to acknowledge is the truthiness of their claims. Simply because they don't pursue headling-grabbing patent litigation (yet) doesn't mean there isn't a document spewing litigation machine who's main purpose is to protect microsoft and generate revenue.

              The outcome is the same, less innovation and more expensive equipment.

              Thanks for playing!
  • It's an even-handed piece that fully reflects the continuing deep skepticism in the community of Microsoft's motives and actions.

    Does it reflect our continuing deep skepticism more than the tag of "itsatrap" which is soon to adorn this /. article?
    • Come on, just for a change.

      Or at least RTFA before deciding whether to tag: itsatrap...
      • Hey, I didn't do it, I was just predicting. And trying to be funny, though not very successfully I guess.
        • by SEMW (967629)
          I wasn't replying to you specifically; I was just trying to keep all the "itsatrap" tag talk in one thread -- Apologies if I was misleading. Happy very belated real pi day!
  • There was a lot of progress made in the world when we had Soviet Russia to rally against during the cold war. Get rid of Microsoft and much of software and the open-source movement will stagnate. Not necessarily because of any direct improvements, contributions or achievements by Microsoft, but because they are the central evil empire around which all opposing viewpoints, practices and communities can clearly see as the colossal against which they're flinging the rocks of their own progress and movements.
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      Ahh, So microsoft inovates by being evil and therfore making other want to outperform the evil company.

      And you are right to a degree. Even if my attempt at humor and spelling fails miserably.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Trelane (16124)

      because they are the central evil empire around which all opposing viewpoints, practices and communities can clearly see as the colossal against which they're flinging the rocks of their own progress and movements.
      No, then the KDE vs GNOME flamewar will go to a whole new level. Linux is all about competition.
  • Microsoft has been wielding the stick. Maybe this time, the carrot is the best bet.

    This, from TFA, in reference to Microsoft's previous dealings with OSS organizations. The easiest way to visualize this is to remember that Simpsons episode where Billy says "Buy 'im out boys" and his hired goons trash Homer's office. In other words, they act like they own the entire market space, and can afford to treat small startups and competing projects with such disdain.

    I'm not averse to being offered the carrot and stick. True, it's a hard sell, but at least there's a carrot. Microsoft is a big busi

    • by shudde (915065)

      Perhaps we'll see Microsoft do the same with their Community Licensing, preferably for the .NET Framework SDK and DirectX to fuel development of Mono Project and Cedega, respectively. That way .NET would be a multi-platform development environment in practice instead of in theory, and Linux could expect better support for gaming.

      Doubtful, the day Linux or Mac gaming is viable will be the end of Windows as the dominant desktop. Personally I'm not looking forward to trying to decipher a support post on a

  • The difference (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dedazo (737510)
    I'm pretty sure what the comments on this story will be like. But I think that Microsoft recognize the problem they have with FLOSS and are trying (or pretending at least) to co-exist. The FLOSS party line seems to be the eventual "destruction" of Microsoft. When the chips are down people will look at this and say "well, at least Microsoft did X and Y, but the vociferous mass of FLOSS evangelists spend their time howling for blood in creative spelling"

    I see that every day around here and elsewhere. The di

    • Re:The difference (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:06PM (#18337727)

      But I think that Microsoft recognize the problem they have with FLOSS and are trying (or pretending at least) to co-exist. The FLOSS party line seems to be the eventual "destruction" of Microsoft.

      This is 100% not true. The party line of FLOSS fans is the promotion of free and open source software and advancement of the computer industry in general. If MS actually started developing and contributing open source software without any hidden lock in technologies, FLOSS advocates would embrace them. Personally, I don't dislike MS because they develop closed software. Lots of companies do that, like Apple and Sun and Adobe and I don't have any problem with them and I don't think most FLOSS fans do either. The problem I have with MS is they abuse their market position to hinder the adoption of FLOSS and in the process stifle innovation and slow down progress in the software industry in general. All the commercial companies out there are trying to make money, but MS is the one huge influential company that is lying and breaking the law and refusing to play by the rules everyone else does. They are criminals profiting by hurting the computer industry. That is why they are not trusted or liked by computer people in general.

      People (you know, out there, not "here") by and large don't have a negative view of Microsoft, and ultimately that's what matters.

      A lot of people do have a negative view of MS, not because they understand anything about their business practices, but because their computer does not work and is a stupid piece of crap that keeps slowing down and messing up. I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to inform people that it doesn't need to be that way and there are better options and if the laws were just upheld the whole industry would get better. Ranting incoherently about MS obviously will not give you any credibility, but your strawman argument about what FLOSS people are saying is just that. You're the only one that wrote leetspeak crap about sucking, so stop trying to pass it off as "the community."

      • by dedazo (737510)

        The party line of FLOSS fans is the promotion of free and open source software and advancement of the computer industry in general.

        According to Richard Stallman, because I write "closed-source propietary" software, I am immoral and should find another line of work. How does that tie in to the usual "oh, but we're all nice" party line? I will not generalize to the point of claiming every single person associated with open source has the same views, just that there are enough of them to be a problem.

        They a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          According to Richard Stallman, because I write "closed-source propietary" software, I am immoral and should find another line of work.

          Morals are personal beliefs. He's free to express his, but why would you care?

          How does that tie in to the usual "oh, but we're all nice" party line? I will not generalize to the point of claiming every single person associated with open source has the same views, just that there are enough of them to be a problem.

          I've spent my entire life working at companies that create open source software. I've contributed to numerous projects. Almost all those companies also produced closed source software. There are probably close to a hundred Linux and OSS contributors in my office. All of them are paid and some work on other OSS projects as hobbies. I've not heard any of them objecting to keeping some of our software closed source when it benef

          • by dedazo (737510)

            I never said not to use their software or that people shouldn't.

            I'm sorry, I'm not going to have this discussion with you. I have no doubt you're the nicest person in the whole world, but my original "flamebait" was not directed at you. It was directed at the kind of people who fit the mold of my description and that unfortunately seem to be a rather large majority. I really don't have the patience for that. Nothing personal. You seem like an articulate, intelligent person and I wish more people in the FL

        • "More often than not the FLOSS claim that Microsoft "hinders" them is centered around disappointment over unrealistic expectations of fame and fortune..."

          Show me an example.

          Did Netscape (The leader in browser software at the time) have unrealistic expectations when Microsoft crushed them by illegally leveraging its OS monopoly?

          There are numerous other examples where companies were in dominant positions until Microsoft crushed them. Not by offering a better product but by illegally using their monop
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dedazo (737510)

            Did Netscape (The leader in browser software at the time) have unrealistic expectations when Microsoft crushed them by illegally leveraging its OS monopoly?

            Ah, NS is a really, really bad example. You should have picked another one. Shall we?

            Once upon a time, NS was king of the hill. People couldn't download Navigator 2 enough, and NS was flying high. NSN2 was an excellent browser, bar none. Then came NSN3. Kinda iffy. A lot of people would stay away from it. But Netscape was awash in IPO capital and the

    • "People (you know, out there, not "here") by and large don't have a negative view of Microsoft..."

      They would if they actually knew Microsoft and its anticompetitive ways.

      And BTW there are just as many Microsoft zealots as Linux and your inference that Linux zealots are stupid and can't spell is... Well... really dumb.
  • As long as ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CSHARP123 (904951) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:49PM (#18337475)
    Hilf's work around interoperability may be best exhibited within the Open Source Software lab at Microsoft that tests its products in every conceivable environment. The lab is currently running 30 to 40 different Linux distributions. Hilf also heads up Shared Source Licensing, which represents Microsoft's approximation (that's a generous assessment) of a GPL-type license model by providing IT administrators and developers access to source code to test and review. This helps organizations make internal application fixes, do security evaluations and ensure interoperability with their own environments.


    Interoperability -- Why don't they support Open formats then. Why don't they come up with proper documents so open source vendors can interop. They will be friendly as long as it do not hit there cash cow products i.e Windows OS and MS Office.
    MS's Mantra is you can open source any product as long as it runs on windows and we are not yet developing that product.

    • MS's Mantra is you can open source any product as long as it runs on windows and we are not yet developing that product.

      Sounds like Henry Ford. "You can have it in any color so long as it's black."

      • Didn't Stephen Jobs say that too?

        You can use any hardware as long as it's ours.
        You can use any software as long as it's ours.
        You can buy songs from us and play them on any MP3 player you want as long as it's ours.

    • by sumdumass (711423)
      I'm not so sure any attempt at interacting with opensource by microsoft is sincere. I'm convinced the entire deal with balmer making comment about Novell SuSe linux and their IP was planned from the verry day novell asked they could work together in helping their customers.

      Microsoft Knew that all it's "it cost more to go with linux" TCO studies would mean sifting to Vista was about the same tradoff for linux now. They knew the extra hardware requirments would cause people to not want to upgrade and they kne
  • FTA, emphasis mine:

    "Some people think that we're doing these deals to appear more 'friendly' and that's not it at all," says Hilf, with refreshing candor, as anyone who has spent time getting information out of Microsoft will tell you. "It's all about growing our business. And the dirty little secret here is that most customers of open source run it on Windows first."

    I do not think it means what you think it means:

    Candor [princeton.edu]: the quality of being honest and straightforward in attitude and speech.

    Honest? Ma

  • by wellingj (1030460) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:55PM (#18337567)
    Ohh yea.....

    "You made one mistake, you trusted us."

    This is just Microsoft's fud piggy bank. They put some pennies in now and they will take some more latter.
    • by SEMW (967629)
      I hadn't heard that quote before, so I've just tried to track it down: it's apparently something that Robert X Cringely claimed (without evidence) that 3Com's founder claimed (without evidence) an unnamed Microsoft employee once said to him. I'll stay sceptical for now, thank you, especially considering Cringely's famed love for the sensationalistic -- and that quote is nothing if not sensationalistic.
  • Anyone remember when IBM was the Microsoft of it's day? Ultimately Microsoft will learn the lesson that it needs to transition from a company that create standards to one that contributes to them.
    • by soft_guy (534437) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:13PM (#18337811)
      Microsoft has been the company that poisons standards. For example, they sat on the OpenGL standards body for years while actively engaged in a disinformation campaign against OpenGL. To this day Windows doesn't support it very well out of the box - they support it just well enough to try to convince people that it sucks which is worse than if they just dropped all support.

      Microsoft has been lying for many many years. They will have to start acting with honor and telling the truth for at least a while before people start trusting them.

      It is like Apple in 1996. Back then people thought that Apple was incompetent to execute anything or bring interesting and relevant products to market. Then Jobs came back and things changed, but it took years before people starting trusting them again.

      Microsoft would have to do the same thing - and hiring one guy isn't much of a start.
  • Microsoft smashing in the door to OSS, in the middle of the night, mask on, weapons in hands.
  • by MS-06FZ (832329) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:00PM (#18337633) Homepage Journal
    in the community of Microsoft's motives and actions?

    They have a community?
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:00PM (#18337635) Homepage
    Yes, it's in recognition of Microsoft's increasing acceptance of Open Source that we moved the Halloween Documents off our website onto Eric Raymond's website. We only have a link from http://opensource.org/halloween/ [opensource.org] to Eric's site. Perhaps if Microsoft makes some more concrete step towards being a member of the Open Source community (e.g. by sumitting their licenses for OSI approval, hint, hint), we might remove even the link.
  • by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:07PM (#18337733) Journal
    Is this a sign of a coming linux apocalypse? Interesting question. If linux ever becomes the primary desktop system, we'll see products hitting the market like "Microsoft Office for Linux" or "Visual Studio Linux Edition" or "Linux.NET" or "DirectX for Linux"... I'm pretty sure the future is more gray than people might expect. There's no way in hell there'll be the magical open source free software unicorn land that GNU and FSF might anticipate- but a hybrid market? Quite possible.

    I'm not a fan of Linux or its many cacophonous ideas of a desktop system, but I won't care by that point because I'll be driving a flying car.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:09PM (#18337751) Homepage Journal
    Redmond, sensibly, will do what is best for Redmond, however they conceive of that. Whether they take a strategic view and work with OSS in the context of what is good for both Redmond and OSS is good for Redmond, or not, is up for discussion later on. In either case, right now, right here OSS is a tactical approach for Redmond. Tomorrow might be a different tactic - who knows. But one should always remember that for better or worse, whether they are actually good at it or not, Redmond should and will do what is best for their own interests and agendas.

    What plausible benefit is there to working with OSS? Well what benefit was there to working with Novell or IBM or anyone else? It's to co-opt them and share technology to the point where it can help a little and hurt a little less. Working with OSS can keep the OSS communities from straying too far and there may be some actual technical upside to code sharing. But beyond that if you're looking for some goodwill, community action or just plain old being nice, i'm afraid you are badly mistaken.
  • A trapdoor [wikipedia.org] is the only door Microsoft will ever open to any (I say *any*) competitor, ever.
  • by JustNiz (692889)
    Its clear from the article that Microsoft's approach to opensource is a double-standard of 'encouraging' other companies with windows-based products to put their source code on Microsoft's website.

    Its also clear Microsoft aren't ever going to put their own products source code there.

    The more they try to become different, the more they stay the same.
  • by PingXao (153057) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @04:34PM (#18338091)
    They're not supportive of OSS in the realm of device drivers for Windows, that's for sure. Vista 64-bit version does not permit unsigned device drivers to be loaded. Period. That is going to shut out a lot of OSS projects aimed at controlling all the nifty hardware you can hook up to your machine. Microsoft's official reason for this is they want to make it harder for malware to infect a machine. The real reason probably has something to do with DRM.
  • by Locutus (9039) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:03PM (#18338531)
    come on, the MS Linux/OSS lab is nothing more than a place for Microsoft to keep an eye on what the OSS projects are doing and how they'll work within a Microsoft based environment. All this is to help them target their marketing and tweak their products so that they win and OSS loses. And I doubt if there is a single instance where befriending Microsoft will help OSS. We are talking about the "One Microsoft Way", "Linux is communism", etc Microsoft, are we not?

    THERE'S 20 YEARS OF HISTORY HERE FOLKS. They are doing this to protect the MS Windows monopoly and their profits from this, noting more. So there is NOTHING in it to help you, the customer or you the developer. The game is about market protection and has been since the late 80's. IMO

    LoB
  • Microsoft has been wielding the stick. Maybe this time, the carrot is the best bet.

    One has to wonder if that's a super-giant mutant carrot that you're going to be beaten over the head with.

    --Rob

  • I am the most anti-Microsoft person around, going back to getting burned when they abandoned OS/2.

    However, I think this is great news. I wouldn't object to Microsoft becoming the #1 software producer for Linux - by making Office etc. work in Mono and licensing their C# Win32 libraries for a reasonable price. I would probably start using Outlook right away because our corporate overlords insist on Exchange.

    Commodity software like operating systems are a losing proposition in the long term. If Microsoft ca
    • I am the most anti-Microsoft person around, going back to getting burned when they abandoned OS/2.

      However, I think this is great news. I wouldn't object to Microsoft becoming the #1 software producer for Linux - by making Office etc. work in Mono and licensing their C# Win32 libraries for a reasonable price. I would probably start using Outlook right away because our corporate overlords insist on Exchange.

      Dude, just so you know, you're not the most anti-Microsoft person around.

  • by Rewd (18053) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @09:35PM (#18341893) Homepage Journal
    Moodle [moodle.org] is a large GPL PHP project [ohloh.net] that has benefited from Microsoft funding. Last year Microsoft paid Moodle core developers to add MS SQL Server support in Moodle to let it work better in institutions used to Microsoft platforms.

          http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=57989 [moodle.org]

    The developers actually used the chance to revamp their whole database abstraction layer, effectively adding support for a number of other commercial databases as well (Oracle, Interbase etc). ;-)

    Microsoft also developed Sharepoint web parts for Moodle, and an extension for Word that allows teachers to publish straight into Moodle.

          http://www.codeplex.com/Moodle2003WP [codeplex.com]

    Yes, it's true there was a business case for Microsoft, because some very high profile institutions can now switch to using MS SQL, but I think overall it was a win-win for all concerned.

As far as we know, our computer has never had an undetected error. -- Weisert

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