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Microsoft Businesses Open Source Technology Linux

Microsoft Claims 'We Love Open Source' 464

Posted by Soulskill
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jbrodkin writes "Everyone in the Linux world remembers Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's famous comment in 2001 that Linux is a 'cancer' that threatened Microsoft's intellectual property. While Microsoft hasn't formally rescinded its declaration that Linux violates its patents, at least one Microsoft executive admits that the company's earlier battle stance was a mistake. Microsoft wants the world to understand, whatever its issues with Linux, it no longer has any gripe toward open source."
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Microsoft Claims 'We Love Open Source'

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  • Meet the 4 stages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:17PM (#33347278) Homepage Journal

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” -- Gandhi

    We've already gone through the first 3 stages over the past 15 years. And just so you're not confused, winning != world domination.

  • My question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schmidt349 (690948) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:19PM (#33347324)

    This is what I want to know: Is Microsoft's new stance a sort of "this is the way the world is going, we'd better at least pretend to get with the program," or is it more like "we need to do a better job with PR of covering up our continuing efforts to break and absorb every platform that isn't ours?"

  • It's a trap! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:20PM (#33347326)

    I see what you did there.

  • Riiight. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vadim_t (324782) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:21PM (#33347346) Homepage

    I don't see how would this favor MS. For IBM, it made sense as IBM is a services company and works in their favor.

    For Microsoft, their business is in selling software, and everybody else is a competitor. In the case of Open Source, a very annoying competitor they can't get rid of easily.

    They can start by ending all the funny business with software patents. That would be a first step, but I doubt very much it'll happen. Much more likely that there's some kind of trap here.

  • Uh huh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:22PM (#33347368) Journal

    Oh look, Microsoft out there putting a hand out to the open source community, except for the largest, most important OSS project; Linux.

    Why does anybody even bother reporting this crapola? Microsoft is not open source's friend, save within the very limited capacity of what it figures it can control. Microsoft has been and remains one of the great enemies of open source.

  • Re:Riiight. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:24PM (#33347406)

    For Microsoft, their business is in selling software, and everybody else is a competitor. In the case of Open Source, a very annoying competitor they can't get rid of easily.

    However, open source hasn't been a serious (as in market share) competitor in the areas where Microsoft traditionally makes most of its money. I mean, sure, they'd make a huge pile of money and love it if everyone with Linux servers dumped them for Windows servers, but that's never going to happen.

    Also note that Microsoft isn't likely to GPL Office or anything like that. They're probably just coming to see its adoption as orthogonal to their core business more often than not.

  • Re:Riiight. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:26PM (#33347430)
    That would require them to get an entirely new business model, and at this point the one they've got still works plenty well. They bring in large amounts of cash every year and their market share is still large enough to represent a formidable opponent to any that might try and compete with them. Sure it won't go on like this forever, but at this point there's very little incentive for them to do anything too radical. The only change I'd think they should be making is dumping Ballmer for a geek or nerd, or at least somebody that gets the technical aspects of their business. Which I'm not personally convinced he gets. Steve Jobs over at Apple for better or for worse over all gets it or at least for the most part is smart enough to let people who do know that stuff get things accomplished.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:27PM (#33347432) Journal

    One should explain that to Microsoft, who still continues to make not-so-veiled patent threats against Linux.

    Microsoft is the enemy of open source, pure and simple.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:32PM (#33347522)

    Your right, but it sure is getting them at the top and bottom. Lots of servers and many phones, tablets and other devices where windows CE once played.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:32PM (#33347526)

    Your problem is that you seem to view each of Microsoft and open source as monolithic united entities with a single mind and vision.

    Sure, I'd fully expect MS to try to slap the shit out of, say, OpenOffice if it's infringing on one of their Office patents. Note that I'm not arguing for whether that would be right or wrong, only that you should expect it.

    But there's open source software that does a million other things that Microsoft isn't directly trying to sell a product for. And why wouldn't they, especially internally, be a fan of and use the hell out of any of that?

  • Re:Riiight. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:34PM (#33347542) Homepage Journal

    As long as it runs on Windows they don't care.
    Google Docs is seen are more of a threat than OpenOffice ever was.
    PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby... They run on Windows so they are all good with that.
    Firefox? Better than Chrome and it runs on Windows. Plus they don't sell IE and Microsoft knows that it has lost the "standards" war when it comes to browsers.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:37PM (#33347598)

    I've been noticing more companies are dropping the Bundled Office for a discounted price and using OpenOffice instead.

    It's very probable that my experience does not represent the whole, but I have literally never seen OpenOffice in use in any of the many businesses I have worked for. Even when I've worked with IBM employees they were still using Outlook instead of Lotus, much less OO.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:42PM (#33347668)

    Who listens to what Microsoft says? Judge by actions and not rhetoric and even the most idiotic person should realize Microsoft is ant-GPL and Opensource except for instances where it benefits them directly.

  • Re:Riiight. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:43PM (#33347686) Journal

    Last millennium called, it wants it's critique of OSS back. It also wants its snowclones [wikipedia.org] back, but it said I could use them this one last time because it's for a good cause.

  • by HermMunster (972336) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:44PM (#33347702)

    Microsoft sustains itself on billions of dollars every quarter. I doubt a free Windows and Office would lead to other services and products that could sustain them.

    It is inevitable that Windows and Office will fall by the way-side. That's one of the major complaints about Microsoft. When those products go what else do they have? A patent war?

  • by suso (153703) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:48PM (#33347768) Homepage Journal

    Never forget. Microsoft has never helped open source.

    Um, maybe you didn't think of it this way, but Microsoft is the reason why the open source community is so strongly driven. Open Source users don't have the reputation of hating Microsoft for nothing. So in a large way, Microsoft helped Open Source in a huge way. Its all part of the balance.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:51PM (#33347792)

    It is inevitable that Windows and Office will fall by the way-side.

    Based on what, exactly?


    That's one of the major complaints about Microsoft. When those products go what else do they have? A patent war?

    When people stop using databases, what does Oracle really have?

    When people stop searching for things on the internet, what does Google have?

    At this point there's still no credible threat to Windows on the desktop or Office on the horizon, and anyone who says otherwise is either trying to sell you something or has adopted Open Source as a religion rather than a merely very good idea.

  • by rantomaniac (1876228) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:51PM (#33347806)

    They love the open source software that is created around their products of course, just look at codeplex. It's full of Office, Sharepoint, WPF and XNA stuff.
    And well, maybe it's fine, you can't prevent people from writing open source apps for their platforms. But it feels weird, this whole open source ecosystem springing up, that is completely incompatible with the Linux/BSD centered one. They're probably aiming for their community to displace ours as the number one thing people think when they hear "open source".

  • by plover (150551) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:52PM (#33347820) Homepage Journal

    But there's open source software that does a million other things that Microsoft isn't directly trying to sell a product for. And why wouldn't they, especially internally, be a fan of and use the hell out of any of that?

    Because they make their living off of providing proprietary software, and to be more precise, they are living off of incremental improvements to existing proprietary software. And the open source model is gradually showing people that they don't have to pay $$$ for good quality software.

    What I think has happened is Microsoft sees the pace of the open source threat is making it less of a risk than they once thought. People still buy machines pre-loaded with Windows, and they pick up a copy of Office Home & Student edition for their kids to use in school. The price is low enough that most of them can afford it. And business licensing still rakes in truckloads of cash.

    Speaking of business, most are still loading up on Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL Server, IIS, Active Directory, etc., and the pace of change is not heading to Linux at an appreciable rate.

    On the other pan of the scale, it costs Microsoft a lot in terms of money and goodwill to do battle with people who just want to give away free software to poor kids in Africa. P.R.-wise that's an unwinnable battle. It's best to smile and nod, and pat the little ESR-wannabees on the head and say "that's a good boy, go out and play with your GNU friends, the grown-ups want to sell Mommy and Daddy some real software."

    If Ballmer is now B.F.F. with Open Source, you can bet that they've done the math and this works out better for them on the bottom line.

  • How about OOXML? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VGR (467274) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:00PM (#33347902)

    How nice of them. They apologized for calling Linux a cancer.

    Still waiting for an apology for the OOXML atrocity. In fact, it's going to take a lot more than a few contributions and nice words to make me put OOXML and its enormously dirty dealings in the past.

  • by HermMunster (972336) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:06PM (#33347958)

    The assumption is that Open Source would never have been created, that there'd be no advancement, that the world needed a Microsoft to foster a competitive environment.

    I followed the industry from the very beginnings of Microsoft and have been part of that industry for nearly 3 decades. What I can say is that had it not been for Microsoft the industry would be much bigger, more competition would have been fostered, greater improvements in the computer and interface would have been made, there'd be more markets and more competitors in each market, which easily would have dwarfed what Microsoft "might" have done in the off-hand way you describe. I give them no credit.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:16PM (#33348116)

    People still buy machines pre-loaded with Windows

    In their defense, it's extremely difficult to buy many machines, especially laptops, without Windows. This is one thing that would be really nice to change.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:18PM (#33348144)
    If you'd ever used Notes, you'd understand why they used Outlook. I think the guys that wrote Notes use Outlook.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:51PM (#33348510) Journal
    Who is to say that open source wouldn't exist without microsoft?

    The claim was that open source is more strongly driven, not that it wouldn't exist.
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:16PM (#33348760) Homepage Journal

    MS Loves Open Source, which knows its place.

    MS Hates that uppity Free Software.

  • Re:Uh huh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:50PM (#33349074) Journal

    I call BS on that. Linux didn't require Microsoft to get widely used, what it required was a lot of IT-savvy folks looking for a cheap *nix alternative that they could get their hands on the source code.

  • by SickLittleMonkey (135315) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:23PM (#33349336)
    ... has really been to "embrace" it. (As usual!)

    Think about it like this:
    - Ms-PL (and 4 or so other licenses)
    - CodePlex
    - Free versions of Visual Studio

    Now developers can write open source for Windows & .NET with MS versions of everything the traditional open source world used to provide.
    Instead of developing with Java or gcc for other VMs or Linux!
  • by domatic (1128127) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:25PM (#33349346)

    Even fat desktops have to interact with some sort of network datastore to be productive with many things. Except for editing local documents that switch going down is going make near bricks of them anyway.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:38AM (#33350910)

    Uh... you do know that Standard Oil was broken up by the government. The reason they don't exist has nothing to do with superior alternatives or market forces. Standard Oil is actually an excellent argument against your thesis because left to its own devices it would almost certainly still be ridiculously dominant.

    You say that no one wants to pay for incremental changes to Office or Windows, and yet people spend billions upon billions of dollars doing exactly that every year.

    In short, you're arguing that the market will be rational or behave the way you think it should, rather than looking at how the market actually has and continues to behave.

    Probably Office will be gone someday... but that day is not coming soon. Just like the day that we stop using so much oil is not coming soon. You don't even have to like Office or Microsoft to understand that -- you just need to deal with the world as it actually is.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:02AM (#33351078) Homepage

    There would also be almost NO interoperability.

    Oh wow!

    Microsoft is the only company that can't release its standards BECAUSE THEY WERE NEVER DOCUMENTED IN THE FIRST PLACE.
    At worst days of Unix fragmentation, there was more interoperability between all Unices and Unix-like systems (yes, including HP-UX) than there was between Microsoft and Borland toolchains on Windows. For the above mentioned reason. And that was before Microsoft started to actively fight Unix.

  • beware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yyxx (1812612) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:08AM (#33352138)

    Microsoft "loves" open source in the same way that Oracle, Sun, and Apple "love" open source: as something to exploit, score PR points with, and sue people into oblivion over. Oh, and as a source of ideas for new bogus patents, too.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:17AM (#33353400)

    The first thing they did was audit our source code to identify all the modules derived from open source. Before the sale could go through we had to rewrite those modules from scratch.

    Ummm, that just proves exactly what the post you were replying to was claiming. Microsoft rewrote those modules, because it doesn't want to reciprocate or release modified code to the community. They want to incorporate others' work without having to abide by open source licenses.

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