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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 While Microsoft hasn't formally rescinded its declaration that Linux violates its patents, at least one Microsoft executive admits that the company's earlier battle stance was a mistake.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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  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:35PM (#33347562) Journal

    Ten years ago some people really thought that Linux was going to replace Windows on everyone's desktop, open source projects were going to kill Office, etc.

    Which never happened.

    I've been noticing more companies are dropping the Bundled Office for a discounted price and using OpenOffice instead. Don't get me wrong, I agree with windows being unlikely to disappear. But I could see Office becoming a free product included with Windows in order to stay competitive with the Open Source Alternatives.

    And if by some magical cosmic occurence that everyone switches to Ubuntu overnight, I could even see Windows becoming free (as in beer) to stay afloat, while they pull something out of their hat to make enough money to sustain themselves.

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:40PM (#33347648) Homepage Journal

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

    I think that used to be the case, but Microsoft seems to have a more nuanced view now. They recognize that Linux is a strategic threat, but that doesn't mean that any and all open source projects are similarly dangerous to their core interests. They have far more than Linux to contend with these days, and they're finding allies in unlikely places.

    That said, Microsoft has flip-flopped so many times on open source it remains to be seen whether they truly understand that they've lost the ideological war over open source (and more importantly, free software).

  • Re:Riiight. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reapman (740286) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:45PM (#33347714)

    Not troll, just, at least partially, wrong.

    Your vision of Linux is rather laughable, and reminds me of Linux fanboys that think of Windows as a Win95 box. Both OS's have progressed passed that point in history.

    I just spent a week of evenings fixing up two Windows XP comptuers because they were completely unusable. Windows isn't some holy "it just works" operating system.

    Another example, my mom is now running Ubuntu, at least temporarily. When I setup her computer I set it up with Dual Boot capabilities in case something happened to her Windows. Well it started slowing to a crawl, and I couldn't figure out why. I ran out of time to diagnose, so she's setup in Ubuntu and is doing what she did before just fine. I showed her how to get back into Windows if there's something she needs, and watched her do it to make sure how, but so far she hasn't felt the need.

    Another example is XBMC's Live CD, where I was able to get a fully functional Media Center PC by simply putting in a CD, everything just worked. Now install Windows 7 and their Media Center offering. It'll work, and it'll work great, but I'll already be done watching a couple episodes by then in XBMC.

    No, I don't go around installing Linux for my friends and family, Windows has real advantages over Linux (and vice versa). but to dismiss it without a second thought is doing yourself a diservice.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:47PM (#33347746) Homepage

    Despite constantly losing patent lawsuits, microsoft are still pro software patents... As much as MS lose out from patent lawsuits, linux is worse off... While MS can afford to license patents like those on h.264, linux as a whole cannot, and individual distributions would need to sacrifice many of the cost benefits of linux in order to fund the patent licenses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:09PM (#33348012)

    They continue to attempt to squash an open project they can, not just Linux. Take the OfficeOpenXML format vs the OpenDoucment format.

    While they might no longer be funding SCO's lawsuit, they haven't admitted Linux doesn't invade their patents, despite stealing much of DOS from Unix.

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:26PM (#33348232) Homepage

    I thought the Four Stages of Microsoft were:

    1) Ignore
    1a) while quietly fighting in the dark
    2) Embrace
    3) Extend
    4) Extinguish

    We're well into #2 right now. All the efforts to "embrace" have done nothing in the long run but help Microsoft further, while curtailing competition: Mono is still nowhere near viable, and neither is Samba 4. Novell is stumbling. So-called open projects Microsoft has released or contributed have only gone to fuel their closed technologies, contributing nothing substantial to the IT environment as a whole. Their "embrace" has solely been a token gesture.

    Side thought: Wouldn't it be funny if Microsoft released a Linux-based phone?

  • by plover (150551) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:27PM (#33348244) Homepage Journal

    And I see a lot of lateral moves. Some companies are loading up on VMWare hosted on a nice fat Linux box, but use it to replace a dozen physical Windows servers by hosting a dozen virtual Windows clients.

    Even if nothing else changes, a lateral move to Windows Server 2008 today means that in 2013 these same virtual boxes will pay for new licenses to migrate to Windows Server 2013. The spice must flow.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:38PM (#33348376)

    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.

    Server 2008 is for MS only shops, SQL Server is an also-ran to Oracle, Postgres and MySQL, IIS is just a joke. Unless it is an MS product it does not go on IIS. We have far more linux boxes than MS ones, and most of those MS ones are VMs. Letting MS software touch metal is crazy.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:45PM (#33348444) Homepage Journal

    Our boss is happy to see people using Open Office because it saves him a license fee, but if you want Microsoft office instead, it gets approved. It's about a 50-50 split in our office between people who find OO "good enough" vs. people who want the extra bells and whistles of a full MS Office installation.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:47PM (#33348468)

    I have and do. :)

    I remember that the last version of Notes I had to use would crash constantly, and then refuse to start up again until the computer was rebooted.

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:34PM (#33348926)
    Hey Johny-Come-Lately, open source predates MS. It predates your so-called involvement in the industry. We just didn't have a little mascot back in the day.

    Was it a really neat time to see things come together? Absolutely. But modern day open source? Not so much. Modern open source is tied down to dick wagging and political pettiness. Real enthusiasts are left to either slave for shit projects or to get a job making real coin and software who's source code will never see the light of day.
  • by Seven_Six_Two (1045228) on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:42PM (#33349006)

    Most kids are not taking Macs to school.

    I'm a 2nd year student at a large Canadian university (large for Canada, that is) and I'm doing a double major in Comp Sci and Biology. I just completed a first year intro to bio course, with a class of about 60. I estimate that about half of my classmates brought laptops on a daily basis. Out of those, somewhere around 1/3 to 1/2 were mac. 3 of us (that I noticed) use Linux (2xUbuntu,1 unknown) and the rest were assorted netbooks and fullsize windows machines. As for the university itself, nearly 100% of the public machines in the libraries are Solaris, and the upper year CS labs are a mix of Solaris and Linux/Unix boxes. The distributed computing lab and our bit of Sharcnet is a blend of Linux and, um, as far as I know, Linux. I don't know if that's a good enough sample size, but I see adoption continuing at a slow but steady pace. I don't care if Windows dies, because it's dead to me.

  • by yelvington (8169) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:04PM (#33349192) Homepage

    I know I'm supposed to hate Microsoft, and generally I do, but at the moment I'm feeling sort of charitable toward the doddering old fool. Microsoft has become ineffective, marginalized. Yeah, I know it still controls the non-Apple OS marketplace, but it's become a joke in the areas that represent the future: mobile and tablets. Microsoft tries awfully hard to be C. Montgomery Burns, but lately it's looking a lot more like Abe Simpson.

    Over the years Microsoft has benefited quite a bit from open-source software, and by positioning DOS and Windows as an open platforms (anybody could develop for it, without asking permission), it won the first war between open and closed views of the world. If you're under 50 you're probably not old enough to remember how some of the early players in personal computing wanted total platform control to a degree that would make the current Steve Jobs blush.

    Today, the real threat isn't Microsoft -- at least not if you discount the 18 bazillion virus-infected botnet computers that attack the average website every hour. The real threat is the total-control view of computing represented by Steve Jobs and the telecom companies that have persuaded Google to sell its soul. Jobs and Verizon are on opposite sides only in that they disagree about who should be in charge. Either way, it's not you.

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jrumney (197329) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:21PM (#33349702) Homepage

    Never forget. Microsoft has never helped open source.

    They have helped open source in the past, when it suited them. The original port of GNU Emacs to Windows NT was done by interns at Microsoft to show that real Unix software could be easily ported to their new OS.

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:30PM (#33349770)

    I've been in the industry as long as you have and I see it the opposite way. Like it or not, Microsoft did a lot for computing technology. Certainly a lot more than any other company or organisation.

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:43PM (#33349866)

    Who's the Ford today (equaling the Ford of the past)? Who's the Standard Oil today? Certainly no American company.

    And, it is total fiction that we'd have some other company doing the same thing. Microsoft got where it was by abusing it's monopoly power. We all know that. If we didn't have a Microsoft we'd have more markets with more players in each market and competition would be greater providing us with more innovative products propelling computing to a much more sane plateau.

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ciggieposeur (715798) on Monday August 23, 2010 @11:57PM (#33350688)

    If you've been here 30 years then you'll know that the various Eternal Septembers were unavoidable. GUI was going to come to wipe out the more efficient text interfaces; personal computers would have to climb the long slog to mainframe-like architecture one baby step at a time; the network effect was destined to come along and wipe out whole sectors of competition in word processors, spreadsheets, operating systems, and network protocols.

    Essentially everything not made by Microsoft was better in a technical sense, but for every user willing to spend ten minutes to learn how their software worked there were a hundred users who just wanted to click on the first thing they saw and then complain to the help desk when they had no clue what was going on.

    Microsoft raked in the cash, but it was the users in the end who were to blame.

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:3, Interesting)

    by realmolo (574068) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:31AM (#33350866)

    There would also be almost NO interoperability.

    Say what you will about Microsoft, and Windows, but it's a STANDARD. Before "PC compatibles" dominated, the world of microcomputers was chaotic as hell. Every manufacturer used their own proprietary hardware and OS. Yes, that meant that advancements could be made more quickly. IN THEORY. The reality was, all the various manufacturers tried to lock you into their HARDWARE, and the price never dropped, because their were no clones. And OS improvements? Why would they bother? They were making money on the hardware.

    Basically, we owe it to Microsoft for showing the world that it was the SOFTWARE that mattered; specifically, the OS. Before MS started licensing DOS to everyone, the computer industry was driven by expensive, incompatible hardware. It was an exciting time, but it was also frustrating as hell.

    And, for that matter, would any other company be better than MS? Apple is all about lock-in. So was IBM, back in the day. Sun was/is no better.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:36AM (#33351280) Homepage

    Windows CE single-handedly wiped out first generation of PDA and mini-laptops, leaving only Palm (then still without celphone functionality) alive. People were buying devices to run "Word", "Excel" and "Internet Explorer" instead of more capable devices based on Symbian or even Linux (Windows CE-based iPAQ was originally developed as Linux-based Itsy), then got disappointed by complete mismatch of those devices' capabilities with their expectations. All those devices ended up as massive failures, iPAQ stuck longer than others but was hardly a success considering the amount of engineering that went in it.

    Later Microsoft had some success pushing Windows CE on smartphones by marketing those devices to cellular carriers who didn't care about users' experience as long it was possible to advertise "Windows" and easily gain customers locked into multi-year contracts before seeing the device.

    iPhone pretty much wiped this market -- or what left of it after Blackberry eaten a huge chunk. So now Microsoft's new generation of Windows Mobile, marketed in the same way but facing competition and disillusioned users, is hopefully doomed.

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:25AM (#33354038) Homepage Journal

    There would also be almost NO interoperability.

    Nonsense; that was IBM's doing, not Microsoft's. Had IBM gone with their first choice of OS, you'ld all now be running CP/M instead of DOS.

    It was IBM's BIOS' cloning that standardized PCs. It wouldn't have mattered what OS IBM used. In those days, the mantra was "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM."

  • Re:Meet the 4 stages (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:50AM (#33354354)

    This is wrong on so many levels. In fact, it is almost insanely wrong. Standards would have emerged. In the DOS world there were emerging interface standards. There were menus, there were consistent menu choices, programs were being written with common functionality (such as save, print, etc.). Programmers were learning when and when not to write directly to hardware. There were other companies writing GUIs. Other companies were developing things such as fonts, page layout, etc. Microsoft wasn't inventing them, they were copying them. True type font didn't come into this world without a fight.

    Standard ways of doing things were dictated by other industries, such as paper size, keyboard layouts, hardware designs. It was inevitable that we would have ended up with a consistency similar to what we have today, even without Microsoft and likely without any abusive monopoly.

    Standards bodies existed before Microsoft. It was inevitable that they were to be created by the software industry.

    Damn, I keep reading your post and I can't help but think about how misleading that is. Just look at computer hardware. There's no "Microsoft" of hardware yet we get parts that are interchangable. The ISO was created as a body to approve standards.

    You weren't paying attention back then or you weren't involved. Microsoft actually hindered standards by obfuscating them to the point that the industry would be force to adopt theirs. There were file system standards for word processing that had issues because of Microsoft's interference. There was the W3 which was responsible for standardizing HTML back then which Microsoft tried to manipulate. Even within recent years they have tried to contravene the standard's process to favor themselves.

    Microsoft was a monopoly that abused it's power to gain the position it is in. While building that position (and monopoly) they broke the law, and that injured everyone. The only problem is that the punishment for their crimes wasn't harsh enough to open the software market back up. The damage had been done.

    The world would have been better off without the abusive monopoly created by Microsoft. Monopolies are not better than the competition that is fostered without them.

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