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Linux Foundation - We'd Love to Work with Microsoft 147

johnno writes "In an interview with the Australian site pc world Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation's executive director, talks about the desire to interoperate with Microsoft and discusses the desktop outlook for Linux. He answers questions on the kind of legal protection Linux requires, whether anything ever come of the Microsoft protest that there's Linux code that they have patented, as well as Linux penetration on desktops and breaking Microsoft's stranglehold on the market. He also discusses Microsoft's recent move to open up their documentation, and why they'd like to work with the Redmond giant — 'We'd like to have a place where developers can come and work on making Linux more effectively interoperate with Microsoft products. And we'd like to do that in the open-source way that's not tied to any specific marketing agreement, that's not tied to any specific contract, that is an open process that can be participated in by anyone in the community,' Zemlin says."
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Linux Foundation - We'd Love to Work with Microsoft

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  • I realize that Microsoft is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but it just sounds like giving in. Microsoft really hasn't shown any signs of innovation in a long time and my fear is that this would just turn into another chance for Microsoft to take a concept from the collaboration, implement it in their own way and claim it as their own. Remember what they did with TCP/IP early on? Made their own stack that didn't quiet work with anything else but said it wasn't their fault.
  • by 2.7182 ( 819680 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @09:38AM (#22738332)
    Yes, it is good to keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.
  • by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @09:45AM (#22738384) Homepage
    The kind of interoperability they speak of is precisely the kind that Microsoft chooses, by both word and deed, to explicitly sabotage. Whether one looks at the Novell agreements, the "licensing" of api documentation, or the OSP in the OOXML, these are not acts of encouraging such interoperability but rather of blocking it by any means possible, or of trying to meet the "appearance" of interoperability from the perspective of outside regulators when forced to, but while deliberately and explicitly destroying the spirit and any actual realization of it.
  • Make the stand. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @09:47AM (#22738424)
    I disagree. I don't think that the Linux community can count on any given company treating us as anything other than hostile.

    Let me give you an example. Warcraft II vs. Stratagus.

    There was a group of people that wanted to play Warcraft II on Linux, so they made tools to extract the data of the Warcraft II DOS CDs and use it on the hard disk to play Warcraft II. At first, this was called 'Freecraft', later called Stratagus that made significant advacements in Warcraft II including:

    Support for 16 Players rather than just 8
    Support for Human/Orc joint AI.
    Support for TCP/IP
    correcting several gameplay bugs and sound bugs
    No CD Copy protection
    Actual uses for the Runestone and the Dark Portal (Dark Portal worked like a one way Starcraft Nydus Canal
    Superior AI.

    Linux technology must be flat out BETTER than anything a Windowsd technology can produce. Compare Samba 3.0 to Windows NT 4.0

    - Support for LDAP
    No stupid limits on Trust Hirearchies
    Support for Kerberos
    Support for SMB without NMB.

    We can't team up with MS, we must Flatten it, or they will flatten us. Thats just the way it is.
  • by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @09:55AM (#22738520)
    Now on to the other half -- to get Microsoft to agree as well.
  • Of course. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seeker_1us ( 1203072 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:00AM (#22738568)
    Linux wants to interoperate with everything: Atari disk labels, x86 Unix binaries, java, VMS DECNET, the list goes on and on and on!

    So of course they want to interoperate with Microsoft.

    And MS seems to be the only ones being a problem here.

  • by utnapistim ( 931738 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `subrab.nad'> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:12AM (#22738704) Homepage

    Linux Foundation: We'd Love to Work with Microsoft

    Microsoft: Yeah ... that's what we've been trying to prevent!

  • Re:Make the stand. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by slawo ( 1210850 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:13AM (#22738720)
    I partialy agree with your point of view. Everyone should stick to standards established by consortiums and implement the standards, and eventually extend them (like OpenGL, OpenDocument...) Then we can speak of interoperability.

    Supporting the existing non standard formats is good for everyone on the short term, on the long term everyone loose. Only the owner of the format might win as he owns the existing installed base and decides when a version is obsolete and when you have to install the new one, for how much it depends on his control over the market, not on how good the new product is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:16AM (#22738746)

    There's a reason articles like this invariably get tagged with the above. Microsoft has a proven history of sticking a knife in just about any back it can reach. At the moment, MS can't touch Linux, since Linux operates in a way that MS just doesn't understand (ie it isn't a business) and doesn't value the same things as Microsoft ($$$$$). However the second Linux gets close enough to MS, to work with it, take lessons from it, to play by its rules- that's when MS will have the power to bring Linux down.

    Linux doesn't need Windows. Linux is doing just fine as it is, slowly but steadily improving its code, widening its application base, and growing its userbase. Who cares if this isn't the year of the linux desktop? Who cares if that isn't for another ten years? We've waited this long, we'll wait longer.

    Ignore MS, let the do what they want, they are no threat as long as Linux doesn't make the mistake of trying to defeat on their own terms. In short... itsatrap!
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:23AM (#22738822) Homepage Journal
    It's only dishonest if the party making the offer is disingenuous about its terms.

    I'm sure the FSF would be delighted to work with Microsoft -- if Microsoft released all of its source under the GPL. Of course, everyone knows that its unreasonable to believe Microsoft would accept these terms in our lifetime, so it would do no good to announce this.

    This shows to have PR value, an offer has to have something that might interest MS. It must be something in which MS could recognize its own enlightened self-interest. It's possible to imagine this happening fairly soon, if there are significant developments that MS cannot profitably fight or coopt. If we imagine sub-$400 linux laptops taking off big time, it might turn defending that part of MS's monopoly from a cash cow into a cash sink. That kind of thing might signal a smart time for MS to reposition itself.

    It'd be momentous, to be sure. But not impossible to imagine.
  • by websitebroke ( 996163 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:27AM (#22738894)
    I have no real idea if this has any bearing on reality, but...

    I'm wondering at what point MS will honestly start to interoperate. For Internet Explorer, they didn't start to make meaningful changes until they started losing market share to Firefox and Safari. Now, we're hearing about IE8 being honest to goodness standards compliant. (and they actually sound like they mean it - not holding my breath, but I remain hopeful)

    Is the interoperability threshold 80% market share?

    Whatever the number is, I don't expect to see any significant changes until MS starts losing customers. Given their resources, they should have been able to make a better browser in 2002, rather than now in 2008.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:28AM (#22738896)
    Why should I care what OS everyone else is using?

    Daft question - there are several good reasons such as:

    1/ The more people use an OS, the more thoroughly it will be debugged and the more likely it is that someone else will hit a given problem and it will be fixed or at circumventable if you hit the same problem.
    2/ The more people use an OS, the more variety of software will be produced for it.
    3/ The more people use an OS, the more drivers will be produced for various hardware which will give you more choice when buying new hardware.
    4/ As total non Windows OS share increases, the likelyhood of websites being made windows specific (e.g. ActiveX) decreases.
  • Re:Make the stand. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:37AM (#22738988)
    What you mean like
      Desktop Search
      Composite Window Managers
      User Access Control

    All were available in OSX and Linux before Vista ....

  • by c0p0n ( 770852 ) <[copong] [at] []> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:45AM (#22739102)
    I don't see your point. I do see that perhaps some business aren't adopting Linux as a desktop system because making those interact with a pre-existing AD environment is far from flawless and straightforward. Or the other way around, when implementing new services on Linux servers that need to interact with Windows machines.

    Better interoperatibility will benefit Linux hugely. Where there used to be just one choice, Windows, there could be more.
  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:56AM (#22739218) Homepage Journal
    Caving in to patent threats is a little different to interoperating with MS protocols, enabling people to move away from proprietary Office apps, even if they are stuck with the same file format for a while.
  • by debest ( 471937 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:00AM (#22739256)

    The kind of interoperability they speak of is precisely the kind that Microsoft chooses, by both word and deed, to explicitly sabotage.
    Nicely stated. It seems to me that FOSS already has "interoperability" completely figured out: publish and use open standards! It also seems that there is absolutely nothing (except, of course, monopolistic greed) that prevents Microsoft from utilizing the exact same standards.
  • Re:Make the stand. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:14AM (#22739422) Journal
    What you mean like

    Multiple Virtual Desktops ... All were available in Linux, Unix and even Amiga before Wind... excuse me a sec... oh shit, Windows still does not come with virtual desktops? what year is it 1984?
  • by MECC ( 8478 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:57AM (#22739908)
    For anyone to 'work with MS' is just too much like the frog and the scorpion [] except MS typically has little to lose in any given arrangement.

  • by Marillion ( 33728 ) <> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @12:36PM (#22740386)

    For me, the whole point of Free (as in freedom) Software is that Free Software is liberated from artificial constraints that prevent interoperability and restrict users from doing what they want their computers to do. The "True Goal" needs to be one where a users and developers and administrators are free to chose platforms that meet their requirements instead of being locked in to one platform because of vendor lock-in due to formats or protocols or software limitations.

    While it's easy to paint Microsoft as some big giant ogre, that's not very helpful to the achieving the "True Goal." So long as the Linux Foundation doesn't allow Linux and the GNU Stack (or any other Free Software) to incur artificial limitations, any relationship with Microsoft is healthy for both.

  • by Facetious ( 710885 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @01:29PM (#22741080) Journal
    Is that what you got out of his rambling? Anyway, if that was his point, I still disagree. As a Linux user, I have had plenty of interoperability for years now, thank you very much. I am curious, if Linux is so inconsequential, why does Microsoft continue to call Linux its biggest threat?
  • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:14PM (#22741696) Journal
    Maybe Slashdot needs to implement a random first post algorithm to nullify the advantage of having your post at the top of the page. One refresh and it's all up to the random number generator on what order you're in.

    Or, you could just post relevant information to the context of the story (which I guess the OP was) and just let the meta-moderators deal with it.
  • by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:14PM (#22741698)

    I think you're delusional if you think the average computer user feels locked into MS products.
    My experience is the average computer user believes MS products are the only ones available.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain