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Why Microsoft Cozied up to Open Source at OSCON 325

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the guarded-optimism dept.
This year at OSCON it seemed that you couldn't throw a stone without hitting someone from Microsoft (and in fact, I'm sure several people did). They were working very hard to make themselves known, and working desperately to change public opinion of Microsoft's involvement in the open source community. Linux.com's Nathan Willis took a look at what they were preaching, with a hefty dose of skepticism, and tries to postulate what the "angle" is. Of course, the powers that be at Microsoft may have finally seen the writing on the wall and felt the pressure from Google enough to alter their strategy a bit. For now I guess we'll have to wait with guarded optimism (or laughable contempt, depending on how old/jaded you are).
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Why Microsoft Cozied up to Open Source at OSCON

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  • by MisterSquirrel (1023517) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:33PM (#24472295)
    Embrace, Extend....
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by corsec67 (627446)

      Extinguish [flickr.com]

      • by alx5000 (896642) <`alx5000' `at' `alx5000.net'> on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:16PM (#24472889) Homepage
        Take two... Extinguish! [davidparedes.es]
        • by corsec67 (627446)

          Lol, I do like that one much better.

    • by value_added (719364) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:58PM (#24472633)

      Embrace, Extend....

      No doubt that approach remains dominant, but it's too simplistic. The article seems to conclude that Microsoft is after hearts and minds, developers, specifically, but anyone else within earshot would help just the same.

      That would make the latest developments more akin to Walmart's "our valued associates" commercials, oil companies touting "green" initiatives, US car makers promising economic turnarounds with concept cars, or, if you're so inclined, presidential political political strategies that ranged from compassionate conservatism, to "restoring honor", to the latest "I'm Different (honest!)" by McCain.

      • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:17PM (#24472919)

        No doubt that approach remains dominant, but it's too simplistic. The article seems to conclude that Microsoft is after hearts and minds, developers, specifically, but anyone else within earshot would help just the same. That would make the latest developments more akin to Walmart's "our valued associates" commercials, oil companies touting "green" initiatives, US car makers promising economic turnarounds with concept cars, or, if you're so inclined, presidential political political strategies that ranged from compassionate conservatism, to "restoring honor", to the latest "I'm Different (honest!)" by McCain.

        Right. That's step 1, "Embrace". I'm interested to see what "Extend" is in this context. Possibly a new open source license? They've made steps down that road, but not seriously.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by RCanine (847446)

          No doubt that approach remains dominant, but it's too simplistic. The article seems to conclude that Microsoft is after hearts and minds, developers, specifically, but anyone else within earshot would help just the same. That would make the latest developments more akin to Walmart's "our valued associates" commercials, oil companies touting "green" initiatives, US car makers promising economic turnarounds with concept cars, or, if you're so inclined, presidential political political strategies that ranged from compassionate conservatism, to "restoring honor", to the latest "I'm Different (honest!)" by McCain.

          Right. That's step 1, "Embrace". I'm interested to see what "Extend" is in this context. Possibly a new open source license? They've made steps down that road, but not seriously.

          Possibly a new open source license?

          You mean other than these [microsoft.com]?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Yeah, I mean other than those. That crap came under my "made steps down that road, but not seriously" part. They have to be more clever than that if they expect to start co-opting the open source community.
        • by p0tat03 (985078) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:12PM (#24474225)

          Right. That's step 1, "Embrace". I'm interested to see what "Extend" is in this context. Possibly a new open source license? They've made steps down that road, but not seriously.

          As a college student nearing graduation (and thus target to a barrage of recruitment efforts), I don't really think MS is specifically after the classic "3E" method here.

          What MS realizes right now is that their company is staffed by a lot of career types - people who want to clock their hours, get their paychecks, and spend time with their family. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but they've also seen the effect of Google - a company full of people who would be willing to throw in insane hours and effort to get a cool, hip product out the door. Given MS's current obsession with *being like Google*, I suspect they want their share of the hip, dedicated, insanely motivated developer base... aka open source devs.

          My school is very pro-open-source (what college isn't?), and recently MS has been sending more and more "open source evangelist" types to recruitment talks. The whole point is to convince people to join MS, because they're no longer evil, and are now doing cool open source, innovative projects!

          • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday August 04, 2008 @08:19PM (#24474829)

            My school is very pro-open-source (what college isn't?), and recently MS has been sending more and more "open source evangelist" types to recruitment talks. The whole point is to convince people to join MS, because they're no longer evil, and are now doing cool open source, innovative projects!

            Oh, to be sure, they like that. But that's only part of it. This is much bigger than just hiring entry-level devs - this is about combating the toehold open source has in the business market. They see how Google is propping up the Mozilla foundation and Sun OpenOffice to combat MS, and they'd like to turn the tables.

            I could see them doing a lot of things. I could see them funding a few initiatives that compete against rivals where it makes sense. I can also see them trying to wheedle themselves in so they can attempt to splinter the community. And history has shown the best way to do that is with the one thing MS has a lot of: money.

            MS has gotten where it has by being ruthless. I don't see that changing, and to think otherwise might be a little naive. Money and incompatible licensing is the best way to fracture the community. If I were MS, that's what I'd try.

    • by WankersRevenge (452399) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:04PM (#24472699)
      Microsoft cannot extinguish a methodology no matter how much they want to. Sure, they can manipulate the governing systems, they can sue people for "patent infringement" and other garbage, but at the end of the day, open source will continue to proceed unabated.
      • by Thelasko (1196535) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:26PM (#24473049) Journal

        Microsoft cannot extinguish a methodology no matter how much they want to. Sure, they can manipulate the governing systems, they can sue people for "patent infringement" and other garbage, but at the end of the day, open source will continue to proceed unabated.

        Really? It seems like it would be difficult, but taking out Linux would be the same as winning an election. You just have to introduce a new feature that's so spectacular, that over 50% of the user base will sacrifice the fact that it's not open source to have it. They will give it away, for free, as in beer. They will now have divided the user base and continue to do so until Linux has forked so many times it's unusable.

        Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish has a lot in common with another tactic. [wikipedia.org]

        Beware of forks! You have been warned.

        • You just have to introduce a new feature that's so spectacular, that over 50% of the user base will sacrifice the fact that it's not open source to have it.

          they already have that: it's called "It's from Microsoft." Remember, MS has a dominant position in the PC field, and most PC users don't even know there's a choice. What they need is a feature that will make over 50% of all Linux/FreeBSD users willing to ignore that it's not OS and that FOSS developers can't copy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by philipgar (595691)
            I think they have that feature already. There are a lot of FOSS people (at least on slashdot) who are also gamers. The ability to play almost every game in windows (combined with the fact that their video card drivers are generally more mature and offer slightly better performance) means that many FOSS people HAVE to have microsoft windows on their computers. Should microsoft care that they also have linux installed and use that sometimes, maybe even predominately? As long as these users have still purc
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by PitaBred (632671)

              And then the rest of us gamers either purchase games that work on Linux (I buy most id Software games, even if they aren't that great, simply because they support Linux natively. Same with the UT games.), or buy a console. I love my Wii.

      • by Zarf (5735)

        Microsoft cannot extinguish a methodology no matter how much they want to. Sure, they can manipulate the governing systems, they can sue people for "patent infringement" and other garbage, but at the end of the day, open source will continue to proceed unabated.

        ... I agree ...

        How do you fight an idea?

        --Ben Hur (1959)

      • by initialE (758110) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:27PM (#24474341)
        "Microsoft cannot compromise the ISO certification process no matter how much they want to." - Words to remember as well.
    • What everyone seems to miss about embrace, extend, extinguish is the "extend" part. That means Microsoft improves over what was there before. Look at Schema as one example. It's just more useful.

  • by hachete (473378) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:33PM (#24472303) Homepage Journal

    ... nah. No I don't.

  • by creimer (824291) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:34PM (#24472305) Homepage
    Since Steve Ballmer isn't a programmer, there's no geek pride to be stepped on here. Just watch out for the chairs. :P
    • Star Trek quote... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timjones (78467) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:53PM (#24473399) Homepage
      From IMDB:

      [on whether to help the Klingons]
      Captain James T. Kirk: They're animals.
      Captain Spock: Jim, there is an historic opportunity here.
      Captain James T. Kirk: Don't believe them. Don't trust them.
      Captain Spock: They're dying.
      Captain James T. Kirk: Let them die!
      [pauses... Spock cocks his head in surprise.

      Honestly, folks, what makes you think any Klingons, err, microsofties can be trusted in this day and age?

      or maybe this is closer to home:
      Steve Jobs (from Pirates of Silly Valley): "Dead culture in a crumbling castle"...

      They're just saying "nice doggy" until they can find a rock. Maybe this is what the teachers meant when they said: "Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it".

      Or how many times do you insist on touching that hot stove? Really. They need us more than we need them. Ignore them, move along, nothing to see...

  • MS cannot be trusted (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:34PM (#24472311)

    Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.

    --Steve Balmer

    • by zappepcs (820751)

      I bet there are plenty more good quotes to fall back to in the coming months. *IF* MS wanted to be open source friendly, things like OOXML would just vanish, and they would begin to release their own OSS code, but I guess that won't happen. What was that old story about the frog and the scorpion?

      This smells like scorpion shit to me.

    • by Shade of Pyrrhus (992978) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:55PM (#24472605)
      So...Balmer's plan is to give his employees cancer?
    • by carlmenezes (204187) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:04PM (#24472703) Homepage

      "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." - Steve Balmer

      eh? no no no...

      "Microsoft is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches."

      yep. sounds about right.

      • Here's another one:

        Steve, your organization is now bloated - 640kB of common sense is no longer enough.

    • MS can be trusted to do whatever they need to do to make a buck.
      So I'm expecting Office .Net binaries that happen to run OK on Mono any time soon.
    • by morcego (260031)

      And if we consider there is a lot more to opensource than Linux and GPL, I can't see why Microsoft can't continue attacking Linux while "embracing" opensource.

      I know this is slashdot, and no one RTFA, but the analysis actually makes sense to me.

      I'm sure a lot of people here were using opensource software before ever hearing about Linux (I know I was). A lot of people using opensource software on Windows these days. Which is interesting by itself.

      Consider this, for most people (non-geeks), Windows is free (t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740)

      *dons flameproof suit*

      I use linux, I like the idea of OSS, and I'm not a big fan of Microsoft, but I do try to give everybody a fair shake. As far as I can tell, this is essentially one word removed from things that other open source advocates say themselves. Swap out "Linux" with "GPL" and you're about a half step away from "the GPL is viral." Right or wrong (and I'm not trying to start a philosophical OSS license debate.)

      Is his quote too simplistic? Yes. Strongly worded to appear to put Microsoft

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:36PM (#24472339) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft's biggest problem isn't Google, it is that everyone is writing for a platform that is vendor neutral. It's extraordinarily difficult to find a business client that wants a client program - they want everything on the web whether it is stupid or not, and that's what has MS really worried. Google has failed in web apps fairly well, besides search, so they aren't the threat. What is the threat is that no one is really writing any sort of new applications for Windows SDK, .NET, etc. Open source people are at least interested in desktop applications development or PC applications development for Linux, and so, this could be part of a larger effort to at least get their stuff on Windows. Ultimately, Microsoft would rather have Windows running Linux applications on it desktop, then to have no desktop at all!

    • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:45PM (#24472451)
      Google has failed in web apps fairly well,
      -

      Google needs to release its web office applications as a server that can be installed in a corporate datacenter. That would allow corporations to maintain full and auditable control over their data, while leaving the high cost of MS Office behind.

      • by ionix5891 (1228718) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:55PM (#24472595)

        that goes against google's core principle of hoarding as much data as possible

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:44PM (#24473297)

          that goes against google's core principle of hoarding as much data as possible

          Google sells a server you can drop in to index your internal corporate network, dropping in a similar apps server doesn't seem any different from a 'data hoarding' perspective.

          • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday August 04, 2008 @06:35PM (#24473893)

            Once I saw the Google search appliance in action, I started to wonder about Google's business. Sure - they're making money with advertising. But I also wonder if all these beta web apps aren't just proving grounds / test beds for enterprise services. What better way to test out your tech than ask the public to throw every conceivable (and even unimagined) kind of data at it and see how it works (as well as watch how they're making their data and your system work for them).

      • by jhfry (829244)

        I already commented on the article or I would have giving you a +1 Insightful.

        The one thing that I am very upset with during all of this movement to web apps is the complete lack of quality network appliances.

        To hell with ordering a server, and OS, and the software... then spending days configuring and testing, resolving any issues with scalability etc!

        I say appliances are the future.

    • Microsoft's biggest problem isn't Google, it is that everyone is writing for a platform that is vendor neutral. It's extraordinarily difficult to find a business client that wants a client program - they want everything on the web whether it is stupid or not, and that's what has MS really worried.

      I have frequently used this fact to argue that Netscape won the browser war after all.

  • enemies close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:37PM (#24472359)
    Just like the saying goes...keep your friends close, and your enemies closer...only in Microsoft's case they have no friends.
    • Re:enemies close (Score:5, Insightful)

      by snoyberg (787126) <snoyberg@users . ... c e f o r ge.net> on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:41PM (#24472409) Homepage

      Hardware vendors? If it weren't for Vista, how many average consumers would want 3GB ram?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BrentH (1154987)
        Considering I just paid 20 for 2GB DDR2 PC5300 brand memory, shipping included, I think pretty much everyone. Vista's memory usage is actually a good thing, because it uses it for precaching much used applications. Empty ram is no ram. I agree with all anti-Vista sentiments (I just can't work with that pos) but memory usage is the only thing I think is good about it. It just doesn't work that well with systems with less memory, and they've failed (surprise) to include some form of graceful fallback.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by philipgar (595691)
        What about all the OSX users?

        This is spoken from someone working on a macbook, so don't mark me down as an anti-apple zealot. OSX eats up memory. 2GB is the minimum I'd want on a leopard machine. If you plan on using parallels at all, 3GB is likely not enough. Of course, I tend to always have tons of tabs open in safari, I run mail, a terminal, xchat, adium, textedit, itunes,and other stuff at the same time.

        At the end of the day, RAM is dirt cheap. I can buy a 2GB stick for about $40. If my OS eats
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Any developer who happens to run a couple of VMs on his box for debugging/testing?
    • by sm62704 (957197) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:49PM (#24472525) Journal

      Wow, you're right! [slashdot.org] But they have a few freaks [slashdot.org]. And five fans.

    • by Kingrames (858416)

      Are you claiming, sir, that Microsoft is a Harlot?

    • by sqldr (838964)
      only in Microsoft's case they have no friends.

      Apart from Baal, Dr Evil, Satan, Cthulu, Shub-Niggurath, Dr Evil, Darth Vader, Celine Dion, Pinhead, the ebola virus, Cowboy Neil, er..
  • What part don't you understand?
    • by Ant P. (974313)

      I don't understand why only MS can do it.

      Let's fuck up all their de-facto standards with GPL-only extensions and see how they like it.

      • Because they are a monopoly? As long as GPL software doesn't dominate desktop market you cannot fight Microsoft with their own EEE tactics.
  • Microsoft's measure has been taken more than once, and when weighed found wanting. Their kingdom shal not remain intact.

  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:43PM (#24472425)

    The argument that Willis makes about MS wanting to lure F/OSS developers back is quite accurate. I just wonder how much MS's past behaviors will hurt them in this endeavor. Many people, especially those closely aligned with projects like Apache, Open Office, etc. are well aware of MS's historic practice of "embrase, extend, extinguish" so they're likely to be very cautious about any olive branches that they offer. I wonder if this well documented behavior of MS's is likely to doom such tactics to failure in the long run. As the next generation of programmers gets their feet wet they'll likely read & hear about all the trouble MS has caused, and see growing number of F/OSS projects. My guess is that many of them will likely deduce for themselves that sticking with F/OSS as much as possible is the preferred track to go and that they shouldn't trust MS themselves like those before them. Perhaps some folks within MS have also realized this and that's why they're starting to "cozy up" to F/OSS. They likely realize they've got a LONG way to go to start winning the real hard-core F/OSS folks back to supporting Windows.

  • yeah right... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:44PM (#24472437) Journal

    working desperately to change public opinion of Microsoft's involvement in the open source community

    After years of calling it "open sores" and saying open source is a "cancer", I'd say they have their work cut out for them.

    Do they really wonder why open source people don't trust them?

    • Re:yeah right... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dedazo (737510) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:56PM (#24472615) Journal

      After years of calling it "open sores" and saying open source is a "cancer"

      I hate to barge in on the fun here, but after years of calling them "Micro$haft" and "Windoze" and lame outdated jokes about Bob and Clippy, not to mention the massive FUD campaign against Vista, do you really wonder why they'd trust you at all?

      You're not going to get rid of Microsoft, much as twitter & co. would want you to believe. So I'd recommend you eye them suspiciously and try to figure out if they're being open and straightforward about what they're doing. A sort of "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" deal.

      My personal perception - admittedly a limited view of a slice of the company as viewed from the outside - is that the rank and file are more and more aware of the need to play fair in order to compete effectively. They know that they have some really good software, but they have to justify the costs that go with it. Interoperability is one way to do that, as long as it's in everybody's interest and not just theirs.

      I think Microsoft is changing, but it's not going to happen overnight. You can either give it a chance, or continue down the same path. They still own 90% of the desktop, their server market share is growing and either way they're still shoveling money every quarter. They're still the 300lb gorilla, and charging them head on while screaming is not going to work very well.

      • Re:yeah right... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:17PM (#24472921)

        I hate to barge in on the fun here, but after years of calling them "Micro$haft" and "Windoze" and lame outdated jokes about Bob and Clippy, not to mention the massive FUD campaign against Vista, do you really wonder why they'd trust you at all?

        I think the key difference you've failed to recognize is that the people who have done the things you point to aren't trying to get in good with Microsoft, while Microsoft, which has likened Open Source to cancer, is trying to get on the good side of the open source community.

        They're still the 300lb gorilla, and charging them head on while screaming is not going to work very well.

        A 300lb gorilla is either abnormally small, juvenile, or perhaps a large female. The common term for an a juggernaut that dwarfs all competitors in an area of business is "800lb gorilla".

        • by dedazo (737510)

          I think the key difference you've failed to recognize is that the people who have done the things you point to aren't trying to get in good with Microsoft

          Perhaps you'd like to read my post again. Attention to the part where I suggest trying to meet them halfway would be appreciated.

          A 300lb gorilla is either abnormally small, juvenile, or perhaps a large female.

          It's also faster and more nimble than the 800lb one. And it's still 300lb.

      • > They still own 90% of the desktop

        They also owned over 90% of the web browsers in 2003. Now it is less than 80%. http://www.thecounter.com/stats/2008/August/browser.php [thecounter.com]

        > their server market share is growing

        By what study?

        > charging them head on while screaming is not going to work very well

        I think we are doing just fine. It is the Microsoft who is losing here. Why do you think they first ignored us, then tried their FUD campaign and now they want to be our friends? To me it seems that we are doing

      • I hate to barge in on the fun here, but after years of calling them "Micro$haft" and "Windoze" and lame outdated jokes about Bob and Clippy, not to mention the massive FUD campaign against Vista, do you really wonder why they'd trust you at all?

        Please show us direct and credible quotes from Linus Torvalds, or ANY CEO of ANY Linux-centric corporation who has made ANY such statements. Meanwhile, we have the CEO of the Microsoft Corporation making blatantly false/misleading statements, often doing so in a childish manner.

        This is why your argument fails before it even gets out of the gate.

        /P

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by alexborges (313924)

        Ah... and by the way: charging them head on IS WORKING very well. Thank you very much.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ConceptJunkie (24823)

        The difference is that I don't owe Microsoft anything. They are trying to win back _my_ favor and _my_ custom. I don't care what they think of me. They should care, however, about what I think of them, because I'm one of their customers that they have lost.

        Microsoft has everything to win and I have nothing to lose in this relationship. I'm very happy using open software and frankly I can't imagine a scenario where Microsoft could win back my trust, even one involving a public firing and condemnation of

      • Re:yeah right... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @09:09AM (#24478669) Journal

        I hate to barge in on the fun here, but after years of calling them "Micro$haft" and "Windoze" and lame outdated jokes about Bob and Clippy, not to mention the massive FUD campaign against Vista, do you really wonder why they'd trust you at all?

        We don't give a rat's ass if Microsoft trusts us. They're trying to infiltrate open source, not the other way around. Your argument is pointless and completely irrational.

        So I'd recommend you eye them suspiciously and try to figure out if they're being open and straightforward about what they're doing

        WE DON'T TRUST THEM. Is that so hard to understand? We don't believe they're being open and straightforward, why should we? They've never been open and straightforward with anyone ever.

        Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me over and over for twenty years, shame on me. If Microsoft wants our trust they're going to have to earn it.

  • While these MS employees might generally want to work with open source, I would guess most people in open source distrust the company. These employees might actually be working on things like interoperability in earnest; we are highly suspicious of how the executives are planning to use those projects for more nefarious deeds. It wasn't that long ago (Nov 2006) that Ballmer rattled his sword about Linux IP infringments without specifically naming them. All MS wanted to do is plant FUD. In today's IP wor
  • Cashing the GNU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lucas.Langa (922843) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:49PM (#24472523) Homepage

    What about this crazy idea:

    1. take an interesting open-source project Foobar
    2. if there's a need of new feature, write them
    3. hell, even release the changes as open source as well
    4. package it as Microsoft Foobar
    5. sell the product like mad in ways no other company is capable of (think OEMs, institutions, government, lawyers, etc.)
    6. PROFIT

    Yeah, there even doesn't have to be a "???" step.

    • by steelfood (895457) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:23PM (#24472989)

      I'm sorry, but Foobar [foobar2000.org] is not open source.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Toffins (1069136)
      3.hell, even release the changes as open source as well

      Since your subject line was "Cashing the GNU", if they didn't release the changes as open source, they'd be breaking the terms of the GNU project's General Public License, which requires source code for changes to be released whenever the modified original code is redistributed.

  • by jhfry (829244) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:00PM (#24472651)

    The one thing that MS has going for it is a complete lack of understanding of "open source" by upper management of many companies. I know that at previous jobs I couldn't even use those two words together without fear of a slap on the hand.

    I realize that things are shifting and many companies are already investigating "open source" solutions, however they still weigh the pros and cons of both and still usually go for the business model that they understand the most.

    Now that Microsoft is trying to be Open Source friendly, their name is appearing in all kinds of articles with those dreaded words "open source" and therefore all those managers who disreguarded that entire sector of the software industry are now that much more willing to let their IT departments experiment with "open source" solutions. And us IT people who have been waiting to jump the MS ship for years actually have an audience for that great MS replacement solution we have had in our heads.

    I predict that this pandering to the Open Source community might signal the downfall for MS. Unless they embrace it completely and bleed "open source", they will never be as good as their "truely open" competitors.

    It would be like Coke advertising that it now tastes more like (insert cheap cola maker here)... all of those people who have been drinking Coke because they thought it was better because they knew the name will now try the alternative. If the alternative is truely better, who's gonna drink Coke anymore?

  • by twasserman (878174) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:11PM (#24472819)
    I've recently heard that Microsoft is looking for a Senior Director in the Product Marketing area around their web application development strategy and tools. One of the requirements for this position is a solid understanding of the LAMP stack and development approaches for web applications built on open source software. Presumably the successful candidate will have the task of marketing Microsoft's .Net story against the open source LAMP stack. Microsoft's participation at OSCON and similar events gives them both the opportunity to become part of the open source community, and a better understanding of how they can compete against it.
  • I've been writing software of some sort for about 10 years; naturally I've been involved in computers even longer than that... and I'm curious - what exactly is there to be optimistic about as far as Microsoft's attitude toward OSS? How would Microsoft opening the source to any of its stuff really change anything?

    I keep seeing people get all excited about this. Just because something goes open source doesn't mean it's going to be free. Even if Microsoft opens everything tomorrow they will still be a huge m
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alexborges (313924)

      Depends on what you mean by "Open Source". If everything microsoft does goes Free Software (a real FOSS license that protects the six freedoms), its free, forever.

      Yes, they will still make a buck: GOOD! If we only managed to convince them of that.....

      Sigh

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aztracker1 (702135)
      I think that like any large corporation there are some divides in principles from one department/division to another... Take ASP.Net MVC, and the DLR teams for example... these teams have been very F/OSS friendly for several years now... I think it just depends. Many large companies will have teams that use one platform/environment over another.. I don't think it necessarily speaks for anything in particular to see MS employees take an interest in OpenSource. It's just a big company, and like any big c
  • Here's the deal. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheDarkener (198348) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:18PM (#24472937)

    Here are the plain, simple facts regarding this sudden "change of heart":

    1) Microsoft has, up until this point, violently opposed the open-source model, community and underlying morals & ethics that sustain our "ecosystem" as they put it. They have used Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt, slander (and lots of PR/marketing money) to make open-source look inferior to their products. Remember, open-source is a "cancer".

    2) Microsoft, since the beginning, has outright sabotaged other software companies' software, pushed (against their own customers no less) software onto their customers that only benefits them (WGA, Terminal server licensing server) and causes unjust amounts of headache for the people who purchase said software.

    3) Speaking of Terminal Server, just a quick personal note from my recent experience: Microsoft intentionally limited Windows 2000 Server color depth to 256 colors for connecting devices (NT4 did NOT have this limitation). Windows 2003 Server touted features include 'Increased color depth in connecting devices'. This seems an awful lot to me as a conscious effort to cripple one version of their product, to be able to sell more of their next.

    4) Microsoft is headed by a guy who got so butt hurt at an honest competitor that he threw a chair and started cursing.

    ---

    The open source community must stand tall against Microsoft. Don't let the easily forgotten past dilute in your current glass of water - Microsoft has absolutely no intention of making an about face. They exist because they want to make MONEY. LOTS of money. And that's not bad, we all need money to survive - but Microsoft doesn't play by the rules. Never has, never will. I say we give them 10 years to prove their intentions (since it took them at least that long to put them in the position with the community in the first place) with the community. After that, maybe we'll feel more comfortable with letting the wolf into the sheep's domain.

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday August 04, 2008 @06:54PM (#24474077) Homepage

      The idea that there is this one, monolithic Microsoft that's single-mindedly driven to crush all competition (beginning with open source) is actually pretty much a myth. Within Microsoft there are a lot of different departments, teams, and initiatives. And believe it or not, nobody at the top is in charge of issuing brown shirts and armbands.

      A couple of years ago I attended a presentation by some Microsoft folks at LinuxWorld Expo. It was actually by the Windows Embedded team, who wanted to talk about Windows CE, Windows Mobile, and Windows XP Embedded. I guess the perception at the time was that there were a lot of interesting new devices coming to market, and that many of them were considering Linux for their OS. The Microsoft team wanted to get in the word about the Windows option.

      Nothing strange there. That's just basic Microsoft competitive (or call it anti-Linux if you want) tactics. What was interesting, though, was that the talk was not held at the LinuxWorld convention center. I was tipped off about it by a girl who was wandering the show floor, handing out flyers. The actual talk was taking place at a pizza parlor across the street. So I went over, told them who I was, had a slice of pizza, and listed to how their new build tools for XP Embedded worked. Everybody was quite nice and cordial, and nobody even bothered to slam Linux.

      My point is that, all in all, this was a pretty low-rent, low-impact move on Microsoft's part. If it was part of some evil Gates/Ballmer master plan then it was pretty ham-fisted. Rather, my guess is that the embedded team just felt strongly enough about marketing their product to the LinuxWorld audience that they got together some marketing budget from their own department, bought a few plane tickets for their guys, hired a local babe to distribute the flyers, and did what developers do almost every Friday -- bought pizza.

      The iron fist of Ballmer crushing down? The face of evil? Hardly. The Microsoft reps were completely non-confrontational, and I, for one, was happy to hear what they had to say. I suppose I could have sat there and plugged my ear with one finger while singing "la la la la la" between bites of pizza, but then I'd kind of look like the closed-minded one, don't you think?

      So if a few guys from the open source department at Microsoft come and give a talk at an open source conference, I hardly see where it's cause for all this alarm. If anything, it should be encouraging. Does it mean Microsoft has "turned over a new leaf," and is going to completely change its business practices to suit what the /. crowd thinks? Obviously not. But I am at least willing to assume that the guy is being honest about what he says. Or do you really believe that he didn't spend any time crafting the speech -- maybe he just sketched it out on a napkin the night before, while drinking absinthe from a harp seal skull with Steve Ballmer?

      • by TheDarkener (198348) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:32PM (#24474397)

        The idea that there is this one, monolithic Microsoft that's single-mindedly driven to crush all competition (beginning with open source)...

        BEGINNING with?

        Look - Nobody said anything about M$ being some huge evil monolithic consciousness. I was plainly talking about their (very) public track-record regarding their stance against open-source software. You're trying to show M$ has small-time departments with insightful, honest programmers - I agree 100%. There is no doubt in my mind that Microsoft employs some of the brightest, most motivated and insightful programmers out there.

        That doesn't mean that the ones at the top are those kinds of people.

  • lolcrosoft (Score:5, Funny)

    by sohp (22984) <snewton @ i o . com> on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:23PM (#24472985) Homepage

    Im in ur OSCONs, stealin ur develpurs! DEVELPURS! DEVELPURS!

  • The biggest hurdle between Microsoft and open source is the GPL. Because of how the license is written its very hard for Microsoft to embrace and extend any project written in GPL, especially GPLv3. Even if Microsoft somehow should manage to get the lead developers of some high profile projects away enough people exists that would just fork and ignore them completely.

    I expect Microsoft to put much effort into trying to get more projects to use for example the BSD or Apache license instead of the GPL. Some people might but i suspect most peope are smart enough to realize all they are after is another chance at doing a Kerberos on other peoples hard work.

  • by GeneralEmergency (240687) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:37PM (#24473205) Journal

    ...then where the HELL is the "Mia Culpa, Let's be friends." interview with Stevie "King of the Flying Chair" Ballmer here on /.?

    Wake me when this happens.

    [Snoring Begins]

  • Google open source ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by djelovic (322078) <dejan AT jelovic DOT com> on Monday August 04, 2008 @06:20PM (#24473745) Homepage

    > Of course, the powers that be at Microsoft may have finally
    > seen the writing on the wall and felt the pressure from Google
    > enough to alter their strategy a bit.

    So Google has open sourced its search engine? Cause all I've seen them open source is some fluff plus some contributions to projects that they use in order to provide their services (where the ratio between them receiving and giving is about zillion to one). No open sourcing of their golden eggs.

    So please Slashdotters, stop being such bitches for Google and Apple. Try to understand that for-profit companies have only two relationships with the GPL license: If they provide services or sell hardware, they love it. They can piggy back on the stuff others have built and make a buck. If they sell software, then they hate GPL because selling GPL'ed software is damn hard. (Not impossible, but hard.)

    Microsoft is playing nice with open source for three reasons:

    1. Microsoft is working very hard to improve its image. Look at the number of lawsuits they have settled in the last few years vs. the 90's and you'll see a company that's trying very hard not to get any bad press.

    2. Regulators have squeezed Microsoft's balls to publish their protocols and file formats and play nice with others.

    3. Corporations that they sell a lot of licenses to demand they interop well with other operating systems and applications that they use.

    Dejan

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      So Google has open sourced its search engine? Cause all I've seen them open source is some fluff plus some contributions to projects that they use in order to provide their services (where the ratio between them receiving and giving is about zillion to one). No open sourcing of their golden eggs.

      Open source is not about being anti-competitive-business. If I had to simplify it down to that level it'd be closer to anti-customer/end_user-abuse. It's perfectly reasonable for a company to be very pro-open source without giving away everything. In many cases, like Adobe's flash player, it seems obvious that if it were open sourced a better implementation would come about (either from a fork or just community assistance). This doesn't exactly correlate to Google's search engine.

      If Google can make a

  • I think the GP is pretty much on the mark. If MS loses the mind-share of the next generation of developers, their software stack will become the outlier, the exception to the rule. This, MS literally cannot afford.

    IE is a good case in point. Anyone doing web development follows the pattern of developing first for the standards-compliant browsers then tweaking (and tweaking) for IE. This strategy works even though the "compliant" browsers really aren't that compliant. They're just a whole lot closer to each other than they are to IE, and that's enough. (Maybe IE8 will fix all that. Maybe not. We'll see.)

    Nevertheless, one thing to remember is that MS has an exceptional track record of delivering wonderful developer tools. Visual Studio is very impressive. Blend is terrific, and integrates very nicely with Silverlight. The design of .NET is nothing short of inspired. The architecture of the Simplicity OS is very innovative. If MS can get lift-off on their cloud computing tools, I'm sure they will create quite a stir.

    In a word, MS really does have the chops to compete.

    But if they lose the mind-share of the next generation, if they are perceived as the outlier technology, they're toast. This means their tools are going to have to play nice with data protocols, file formats, and other industry standards. It's reached the level of a business necessity.

    MS must interoperate, or die.

    Happily, I very much doubt MS will die. I look forward to some true engineering competition from MS. I think they'll push hard on the F/OSS community, and everyone will be better for it.

    Game on, MS!

  • by djmurdoch (306849) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:43PM (#24474513)

    If MS wanted to support open source projects, they could devote some resources to help them. In particular:

      - MinGW could use help porting to Win64
      - Anyone using gcc compilers on Windows would benefit if Microsoft's debuggers supported debugging one of the gcc debug info formats, or if they helped gcc to produce their format.

    I suggested these ideas to a Microsoft rep at the Flourish conference in April, but was brushed off.

  • by Hasai (131313) on Monday August 04, 2008 @07:55PM (#24474621)

    "....or laughable contempt, depending on how old/jaded you are...."

    Yup; very old, very jaded. I was bossing mainframes when little Billy Gates was still sleeping on computer room floors, and I have yet to see anyone who didn't eventually get stabbed in the back by little Billy and his pack of thugs.

    Just wait for it. They've always gotten away with it, so there's no reason for that pack of rats to change their ways now.

  • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Monday August 04, 2008 @11:31PM (#24476025)

    are those who work at slashdot.

    Where would slashdot be without Microsoft to bash? They might have to do some actual journalism.

  • by Jekler (626699) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @10:37AM (#24479775)

    "I'm a scorpion; it's my nature."

    Microsoft doesn't share, ever. They exchange, acquire, barter, steal, strategically release, but under no circumstances do they share. Nothing goes out of the company without a bean counter being able to draw a direct map of how the outflow will lead to a corresponding influx. If you have something of value to Microsoft, they will examine scenarios in which they get what you have in exchange for something they have. If you have nothing of value to Microsoft, you get nothing. It's not sharing if there's always an angle, that's bargaining.

    Sharing is a human behavior. Microsoft is not human. It's a corporate entity whose mentality is closer to a reptile or shark. It is to our great detriment that we anthropomorphize them. Sometimes they exhibit behaviors which seem to mimic the emotions we are accustomed to: fear, sadness, joy, remorse... but when it comes down to it, they feel nothing, it's just another feeding strategy. Reptiles don't smile, their mouths are just curved sometimes.

    We must always remember, corporations are more vicious than a shark. Unlike a mindless predator, they actually know we anthropomorphize them and they use that too as a weapon against us. The problem we have when dealing with corporations is that, as people, we have a tendency to believe other people have the same altruistic intentions we have. And the worst part is, the corporate agents you meet at these gatherings DO have altruistic intentions. They're not in on the plan, they're just corporate agents who are fulfilling their duty and their only duty is to earn your trust. It's the corporate agents you don't meet who are assigned to violate your trust, and they have no problem doing it because they've never even met you, they didn't shake your hand, they didn't have a beer with you. But the corporation operates as a single entity. The hands which embrace you don't know they're holding you in place for the mouth to bite, so the hands may even genuinely like you.

    The corporation is counting on the fact that you think the agents walking around OSCON are normal people just like everyone else. Don't be fooled.

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