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Microsoft's Chief Exec For Latin America Says 'Open' Means 'Incompetent' 340

Posted by timothy
from the deseo-suscribirme-a-su-boletan-de-noticias dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The President of Microsoft Latin America, in criticizing the Brazilian government for its support of open source software, claimed that declaring something open is how you 'mask incompetence.' That seems especially funny coming from Microsoft, who has used 'closed' to mask incompetence for years. I thought 'open' meant that people could find and fix (or ignore) incompetence, whereas closed meant you were stuck with the incompetence."
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Microsoft's Chief Exec For Latin America Says 'Open' Means 'Incompetent'

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:14PM (#33604596) Journal
    Even microsoft will distance themselves from this thesis. They've come too far "embracing" open. My guess, this guy gets cut loose, and if microsoft can make a PR coup of it at the same time, they will.
    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:19PM (#33604636) Journal

      I don't know if it'll lose him his job but yeah, this isn't even within the realms of MS's PR strategy, this is just some exec talking like an idiot.

      • by click2005 (921437) * on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:26PM (#33604734)

        Open does mean incompetent. Microsoft are trying to hide that by keeping it closed.
        I'd rather trust the people saying 'its not perfect so help us make it better'
        than the ones saying 'we make perfect software' and being proved wrong time after time.

        • by homey of my owney (975234) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:40PM (#33604874)
          I am NOT by any means defending this guy, but I think he was probably referring to the somewhat obtuse way that open source projects are documented which can give the appearance of incompetence, which has been a long time complaint of mine.

          Everybody hates documentation if you're a coder, but having an attitude of RTFC helps no one if you are looking to compare an OS project to a paid alternative.

          I'm not suggesting that this is for all projects, but it is far to common and must change to really enter the mainstream.
          • by exomondo (1725132)

            Everybody hates documentation if you're a coder, but having an attitude of RTFC helps no one if you are looking to compare an OS project to a paid alternative.

            That's absolutely right, of course it's not the case with all OSS projects but the 'you can find and fix problems' argument is useless if you have to sift through a mountain of undocumented, obfuscated, hacked code just to figure out where the problem is.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by marcosdumay (620877)

            He was probably not refering to anything in particular, just making some FUD.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by clarkkent09 (1104833)
          If you look through all the open source projects, say on sourceforge (all 250,000 of them), a few are great, many are average and by far the largest part are abandoned, half-finished and/or complete garbage. It doesn't mean that open source means incompetent but it doesn't automatically mean competent either, you have to look at the specific project. Probably on the whole commercial products are better if only because people have money invested in them and they are less likely to get bored with them half wa
          • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:54PM (#33604994)

            Probably on the whole commercial products are better if only because people have money invested in them and they are less likely to get bored with them half way through.

            I suspect most people developing commercial products get bored with them by the time they're half-way through, but they have to be shipped in order to keep beer and pizza on the table.

            • by IICV (652597) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @11:21PM (#33607094)

              Also, there's no conveniently damning repository of abandoned closed source projects - after all, it's not like there's some major website dedicated to hosting them (and how would that even work? "Give us your code but we promise we won't look at it?").

              You just plain can't use Sourceforge or freshmeat as an indicator of how often open source projects are abandoned vs closed - using just that data, we have exactly zero information on how often closed source projects are abandoned. I bet you anything that closed source projects get abandoned more often, if only because they're more likely to be started by some PHB than by a dev with fire in his belly.

          • by lewiscr (3314) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:58PM (#33605042) Homepage

            Probably on the whole commercial products are better if only because people have money invested in them and they are less likely to get bored with them half way through.

            No, not really. We can't browse a large archive of commercial projects that never shipped, so we can't really compare. I am willing to bet that there are more abandoned open source projects, but I don't think it's as skewed as you suggest.

          • With all the closed source code we see every day we can judge their competency in documenting their code.

            Open source won't advance without others being able to read and modify the code. They must be doing something right if the good packages keep getting better.

          • Suckwear (Score:5, Insightful)

            by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @06:39PM (#33605356) Homepage Journal
            by far the largest part are abandoned, half-finished and/or complete garbage.

            This seems like a good sign to me. If the project isn't interesting or important enough to warrant being finished, abandon it. You can't really do this if you are writing a commercial product. Usually it just ends up sucking, and clogging up the retail channel with cruddy software. Better to die a deserved early death, then waste people's time and money.
            • Re:Suckwear (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @07:23PM (#33605782)

              But I can't count how many times I have yanked the code for an "abandoned" project to see how they did something, or rolled an entire module into something else. Just because the shiny distributable package is no longer useful doesn't mean the project "alive and kicking" somewhere, in some other form.

              THAT is one of the key differences for me, open source can be abandoned but it probably won't ever die, closed can easily slip into the night.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by westlake (615356)

              If the project isn't interesting or important enough to warrant being finished, abandon it.

              Someone has to clean house.

              SourceForge is the Island of the Damned.

              You can waste an ungodly amount of time there trying to find something alive among the corpses.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by epine (68316)

              Better to die a deserved early death, then waste people's time and money.

              I swear I've worked for that company more than once. In economic theory, failure is considered a virtue. Lack of failure is considered the hallmark of central planning.

              It makes no sense to count moribund projects at SF. Many of those projects were started as larks or trial balloons or elliptical treadmills to develop a lusty cranial sixpack.

              The serious failures tend to go hand in hand with significant success: Perl, GCC, and PHP hav

          • If you look through all the open source projects, say on sourceforge (all 250,000 of them), a few are great, many are average and by far the largest part are abandoned, half-finished and/or complete garbage. It doesn't mean that open source means incompetent but it doesn't automatically mean competent either, you have to look at the specific project. Probably on the whole commercial products are better if only because people have money invested in them and they are less likely to get bored with them half wa

          • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @07:04PM (#33605628)

            "Probably on the whole commercial products are better if only because people have money invested in them and they are less likely to get bored with them half way through."

            You mean like how Outlook 2003 had half-assed, crippled IMAP support that languished for 4 years until Outlook 2007 came out? Which still left out a few important details that were kinda addressed in Outlook 2010? And you got to pay $$$ for each incremental improvement?

            I almost like Outlook 2010 but it took them 7 freakin' years to get IMAP right enough not to suck. Actually, it took MORE than 7 years. I'm pretty sure it was part of LookOut 97.

            The whole idea that money must be involved to create a quality product really grinds my gears. Back when OpenOffice hit 2.0, one of our mucky-mucks took up the challenge to do all of his office tasks with OO. Several months later, he declared that he hadn't touched an Office product once, the learning curve wasn't bad, and he was able to do everything he needed with OO and several things that Office couldn't do. So we're sticking with M$ Office because it must be better because we pay for it. Sigh. Before I could even open my mouth, he came right out and said that there was no rational basis for the decision. Free software just doesn't feel right.

            That attitude is starting to change but it's sooooo sssssllllloooooowwwww in an industry that moves so fast.

          • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:36PM (#33606602) Homepage Journal

            by far the largest part are abandoned, half-finished and/or complete garbage.

            I have a project on Sourceforge [sourceforge.net] that I haven't updated since March, and the last update before that was in November. It's not abandoned. To the contrary, I use it in an hourly cron job on a production server. The thing is, it works. Unless a user writes to me with a patch or request, I doubt I'll ever have a reason to update it. It does exactly what it's supposed to do, I haven't experienced a bug in several years, and it compiles without warning on every 32- and 64- bit Linux, FreeBSD, and OS X system I have to test it on.

            A lot of projects probably have been abandoned, but it's kind of hard to tell. A lack of updates to a project doesn't have to mean to no one cares. It might also mean that it's, well, finished.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Sheik Yerbouti (96423)

              Yeah this is a totally new concept for people that are used to being on what ever companies upgrade treadmill. I mean in many cases the commercial products been mature for years the only reason THEY come up with updates is they need your money for them to have.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by IICV (652597)

              After looking at your (very well written!) documentation, all I can say is that I'm so very sorry you actally has to write that program. Its mere existence hints at a goldmine of WTFery.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Just Some Guy (3352)

                Heh! Thanks. The "happily ever after" part is that my company's actively working to replace the aging FoxPro project with a PostgreSQL-native version, so the plan is for my work to be obsolete in the near(-ish) future.

                The nice part is the feedback I've gotten from users who want to use it for the same reason I do: to migrate their data out of an old proprietary app into a modern database. Almost every version I've released has been due to someone who wrote to me because they had some new variant of Xbase ta

            • by DrYak (748999) on Friday September 17, 2010 @06:59AM (#33609170) Homepage

              if the software is as stable as you mention (and I trust you, if you've been flawlessly using it inproduction),
              maybe you should consider bumping the version up to 1.00 and post last update explaining what you said above.

    • Hasn't he heard? OSS is long-term credible, so FUD can't be used to combat it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tgatliff (311583)

      My guess is that it shows the level of frustration Microsoft is having with OSS.

      OSS is never on the edge of innovation. In fact, it is almost universally behind the times. However, it forces the industry to innovate to survive, which is great for technology as a whole.

    • by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:53PM (#33604988)

      This *IS* Microsoft with a thesis. It's also a sales guy that's losing ground, just as has happened in many countries of the world. He's losing his grip. There's little way for Microsoft to make a PR coup out of this, which makes me wonder why you'd even bring this up.

      IMHO, Microsoft's embrace of 'open' is similar to the other embraces that they've made, called The Black Widow Effect. It goes back to things like SQL Server, OS/2-LAN Manager, and other 'partnered' programs that turned into outrageous divorces with big name organizations.

      Microsoft serves Microsoft. Make no mistake about this. If it's not invented here, then it needs to be embraced and squeezed to death.

      • If it's not invented here, then it needs to be embraced and squeezed to death.

        Let me fix it for you:

        If it's not invented here, then it needs to be bought out so we can claim we invented it. Or embraced and squeezed to death.

    • The man's tasked with selling to Latin America. Don't you think all of Latin America knows how to take this guy? I'm sure now he seems more incompetent than Open Source to them, and probably more or less impotent.

  • http://www.microsoft.com/opensource/ [microsoft.com]

    Wow. I guess Microsoft is open after all.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by froggymana (1896008)
      Perhaps they figured that if you go on both sides of an argument you are bound to win atleast 50% of the argument. Or, perhaps it just truly shows their incompetence.
    • by drpimp (900837)
      You can't spell incompetent without open, but you can spell open without incompetent. Not sure how that translates into one meaning the other.
      Is it merely coincidence or are they simply altering their current status of "Embracing s/Openness/Incompetence/"?
    • Damn, that site is lame. They released 20,000 lines of code because if they didn't they'd have been sued.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:18PM (#33604632)

    The way you mask something is to put it out in the open?

    /cue Inigo Montoya...

    • They've instituted an In Soviet Russia Day or something over there?
      I mean this is some Orwellian "War is peace, freedom is slavery" shit right there.

    • "Why are you open sourcing your code? Are you incompetent or something?"

      "Oh no, it's just very comfortable. I think we'll all be open sourcing code in the future."

  • Is this why latin is a dead language? Can't even translate right!
    • "When you can not compete, you are declaring open. This masks incompetence." (translated)

      What the hell kind of "My hovercraft is full of eels" translation is that? Anybody have what he really said?

      • by nigelo (30096)

        He said:

        "Quando você não pode competir, você se declara aberto. Isso mascara a incompetência".

        from:

        http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/tec/798606-microsoft-critica-posicao-do-governo-brasileiro-sobre-o-software-livre.shtml [uol.com.br]

        linked from:

        http://lazarus.freepascal.org/index.php?topic=10523.0 [freepascal.org]

        which was linked from TFA.

    • by selven (1556643)

      Lingua latina mortua est? Ego hoc nescivi, tibi gratias ago! Nunc debeo eam oblivisci.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:19PM (#33604654)

    Open means Incompetent?

    That can't be right. I thought it meant not quite finished and don't expect documentation.

    Put the flame throwers down... it's a joke.

  • It didn't take very long after their recent proclamation [networkworld.com]

  • so, theoretically, the dimbulb exec is partially correct. and MS will fix the problem by shifting this incompetent exec to someplace where he can't do any damage. like maybe mobile, or Vista phone support.

  • That the pot calling the kettle black if ever I've heard it!
  • by immakiku (777365) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:24PM (#33604712)
    I thought the summary is supposed to just be a preview of the article. Why not separate news from opinion? A bit of light joking is fine here and there, since after all Slashdot is not a formal news site, but about half the summary was just MS bashing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)

      ...but about half the summary was just MS bashing.

      1) You say that like it's a bad thing.
      2) Well yeah, what's your point?
      3) You must be new here.

      • by immakiku (777365)
        1. Yes summaries containing the opinions of some AC is bad. 2. My point is readers should have the brains to decide for themselves that the MS statement is disingenuous. 3. Compare your user ID with mine.
  • by srh2o (442608) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:25PM (#33604718)
  • It's Portuguese for "troll".
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brit74 (831798) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:27PM (#33604746)
    Yeah, I know I won't be beloved by slashdot commenters for this. It's true that "open" doesn't necessarily mean incompetent (e.g. Firefox is still better than IE), but there's plenty of cases where open-source is the strategy used when a company doesn't have the money to property develop a product. I sometimes use open-source software not because it's better, but because it's cheaper. I'm under no illusion that it's often not as good as paid, closed software that does the same thing.
    • Getting confused here. Is it causation or correlation? Does incompetent imply open?

      Stephan

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Yes quality vary, but opening its code is clearly not how you "mask incompetence". Quite the contrary.
      But I'm alright with MS making nonsensical claims to keep users. OSS is gaining users every day and if microsoft is willing to act as a fools magnet, it will mean that we will only get the most competent users, that usually helps development.
  • Declaring FOSS "unAmerican" is how Monoposoft used to mask its own incompetence.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Infonaut (96956)

      Where "unAmerican" is shorthand for "unLatinAmerican". ;-)

      If you ever want to get into an argument with someone from South America, use the word "America" when you mean "the United States".

    • by Dracos (107777)

      They've since moved on to other ways of masking their incompetence, which are mostly the old ways wrapped in a new super-secure API.

      Anyway, there are a few ways to read this statement:

      • MS doesn't understand the Brazilian market
      • MS is bitter about missing out on monopolizing Brazil
      • MS is trying to goad somebody down there
      • This guy is an idiot who shot his mouth off

      I dare MS to show their competence by releasing all their source code.

  • by DontLickJesus (1141027) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:30PM (#33604784) Homepage Journal
    Not all open source software is written by businesses. Not all open source software is written for profit. As most governments realize they need to tighten their belts, it's important to remember that the the basic idea of public service is a) to support your community and b) to efficiently manage public resources, perhaps this government realizes it is not their job to support companies.
    • Open source can be reviewed for problems, both from technical issues and human (corrupt) issues.
    • When free open source software used by governments, they are accepting as real the public service so many developers have provided
    • When open source software fails to deliver features that users truly need, companies who do stand out and shine for their innovation
    • Open source software is a form of public intellectual property that not only provides a service, but a sort of baseline for what is truly worth paying for.

    The basic truth is when companies are forced to provide superior products instead of costly attempts, citizens win. Neither the government nor it's people are here to compete with you, that's a business game.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:47PM (#33604932)

    Open doesn't necessarily mean incompetent and closed doesn't necessarily mean competant. But "open" can sometimes be a last refuge for the incompetent. As if no one who has ever banged into a serious, irrefutable FLOSS usability problem has been told "quit whining, learn how to code and fix it yourself. It's open!"

    You remember all those PDA's that the Taiwanese/Japanese couldn't sell because they sucked so much and their last ditch strategy was to bill them as open source PDA's and create FLOSS projects around them (e.g. Zaurus)? Open sourcing of Symbian after it got its ass handed to it by iOS? That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about.

    • by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @06:50PM (#33605492)
      I read it like this. If you are building something. And run into problems and can't make it work properly or can't ship something good for w/e reason. Perhaps you are having lots of bugs you can't work out. That is incompetent.

      But releasing the shitty software as OSS could potentially solve those problems for you. Bug hunting is easier for sure. You don't have to deal with minor patches really. And if the software is valuable the group can figure it out for you
  • Lost in Translation (Score:2, Informative)

    by Keith111 (1862190)
    Considering this is translated and considering it is an exec talking, I think it is far more likely to mean: If your company cannot provide an end to end solution, you declare it open source to make yourselves look not so lazy.
  • Guess he didn't hear the current party line.... and I think nossos amigos portuguêses would appreciate the appropriate choice of language for the department.

  • Excellent news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aBaldrich (1692238) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @06:00PM (#33605050)
    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
    This was exactly what latin american free software needed. FSF - LA [fsfla.org] successfully "converted" many Brazilian trade unions to Free Software. Uruguay adopted Linux for OLPC, Argentina was going to adopt Linux but then Ballmer paid a visit to the president and now they use dual-boot. Ubuntu is already more popular than Mac, and Microsoft is the paradigm of "colonialist foreign corporation" that all the leftists despise. (See this article [venezuela.net.ve] (spanish) from Venezuela: "Free Software vs. Privative Software: freedom vs. slavery")
    I recall the last time Stallman visited Argentina, he spent more time with politicians than with programmers. I really hope this is our chance. OLPC is like Gramsci: if the kids learn linux there's no way to bring them to Windows once they grow up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)

      I recall the last time Stallman visited Argentina, he spent more time with politicians than with programmers.

      Wow. We've had some bad diplomats in the past but... wow. The cake has been taken.

  • EULA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @06:09PM (#33605122)

    If closed-source is so competent, why does every EULA I ever read disclaim any warranty?

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @06:21PM (#33605212) Journal

    I don't know Spanish, so I had to go with the translation [freepascal.org] (which, by the way, is 2 links away from TFS - why not link to it directly?). Here's what the guy actually said:

    The executive, however, said that the two models - open source and closed - will continue to coexist.

    ...

    Rincon also needled competition betting on open standards and free of charge, such as Google. "When you do not can compete, you are declaring open. This masks incompetence."

    The executive added: "When convenient, the companies say they are open. They use it for your own benefit."

    It's fairly clear from this that he is not saying that "open means incompetent" here, but rather than some "incompetent" companies that shall remain un-named *cough* are playing the "openness" card to mask their deficiencies in other departments. Which is quite a different thing.

    There are other things in that (translated) speech that could be picked apart in typical /. fashion, which might even make a decent article. But, it seems, the chase for flamebaiting headlines stimulates editors' imagination yet again...

  • It looks as though some mindless MS hating monkey submitted another summary with the actual article being 2 links away from the "source". The sentence finished with:

    The executive added: "When convenient, the companies say they are open. They use it for your own benefit. "

    I think that's a pretty fair statement. The article headline appears to be badly translated; it looks as though he is saying that the company is incompetent when they are declaring themselves open in an effort to explain why they are not completing in the market (i.e. 'our product may not be better than yours, but its open'). In the interest of

  • If the Brazilian government was not using FOSS then the chances are it would be using unlicensed copies of Windows and Office, rather than paying MS for proper licenses - so Microsoft would not benefit anyway.

    People who use cracks to run licensed software free of charge are probably the worst offenders when it comes to the spread of viruses, in turn Microsoft (possibly) gets a worse security and malware reputation than it deserves.

    So Microsoft actually reaps some *BENEFITS* from FOSS because at least those

  • Anyone remember? (Score:4, Informative)

    by javelinco (652113) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @06:54PM (#33605522) Journal
    Anyone remember the following slashdot article?

    http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/09/01/0019238/Why-Microsoft-Is-Being-Nicer-To-Open-Source [slashdot.org]

    Why do we take this stuff seriously? It's not a strategy or plan until it's coherent and on purpose. That's why I disliked the above story in the first place. It would behoove a great many of us (including myself, in many circumstances) to remember to look twice before jumping in with our opinion on this kind of thing.

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