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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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  • by PC and Sony Fanboy ( 1248258 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @09:44AM (#22738368) Journal
    When foundations, companies, etc. 'agree' to work with one of their main competitors, it almost seems as if it is just for publicity.

    Although they may want to work with their competitor, they might not want to do it on anything EXCEPT their terms, and I get the feeling that this is the same situation - They say "we'd love to work with you", but when the other party doesn't agree to their terms, it is the other party that looks like they're refusing to co-operate.
  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:09AM (#22738668) Journal
    In my house at least. I'd say that whatever year KDE came out was the true "year of the Linux desktop". Why should I care what OS everyone else is using?
  • Good Luck With That (Score:3, Interesting)

    by amplt1337 ( 707922 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:15AM (#22738744) Journal
    Yawn. Very little about MS-Linux collaboration here (except that Linux is willing but MS is weak); bad article summaries are no surprise.

    But since that's what the summary says, that's what everybody will be talking about, so:

    I'd love to see MS bury the hatchet as much as anybody. But where's the Windows Genuine Advantage in that?

    MS is obviously not going to give away filesystem specs or the other interoperability roadblocks that collectively create the best argument to businesses for continuing to pay the Windows tax. So the most collaboration we might see is in getting MS Office to run on Linux. In other words, if Redmond bit at all, it'd be at the chance to stomp on OpenOffice to prevent future competition in its core business desktop market.


    Anyway, besides that, the article was surprisingly content-free. Yes, there are interesting synergies between extending battery life on mobile devices vs. saving energy in the data center. We get that, no need to repeat.

    The interviewee promotes this thesis: these synergies are possible primarily through the collaborative Linux environment, which is Linux's great strength. However, I would argue that those synergies are equally possible in closed-source shops, but it's just that management has to learn to listen to them differently -- and that that is only a matter of time. For instance, I used to work in a company that made document-management databases for law firms. I think there's a huge market for (appropriately crippled and cheapened) versions of this product in the private desktop market, for promoting "paperless offices" in non-law businesses, and for aiding academic research: three huge markets that would be very happy to get rid of their physical files and add markup and search if you have enterprise-reliability document management database software. Nobody listened, though; in an Open Source environment, I could've just forked and /done it/, and then proved my suggestions with their success. Closed shops can't take those kinds of risks, so they're missing out on opportunities; however, once the management does learn to do more lateral thinking like this, the lessons of F/OSS and Linux' collaborative model will probably become integrated into more mainstream business thinking.
  • by jonaskoelker ( 922170 ) < minus city> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:43AM (#22739076)
    A couple of critical observations:

    So you're starting to see OEMs pre-ship Linux for the first time [...] why are they doing that? [...] Is it because Linux is more functional than it's ever been? [...] yes, it is more functional. But that functionality combined with the economics [...]. [lots of ...] And so when companies like Dell or Asus or Lenovo or all these companies look at those profit margins, they say, "Why wouldn't I just create my own operating system and ship it with the device?
    Interesting. He argues for linux based primarily on price, and from the seller's viewpoint. Sure, some of the savings is (presumably) passed on to the consumer, but I miss a good argument for why the consumer should use it. He could have said "it does the same job for a lower price", which is a very convincing argument in my book (and to some extent also valid). It's not a very sexy argument, though, but I won't be demanding everything.

    InfoWorld: But Windows is still on 98, 99 per cent of PC desktops anyway, so do you think that number or that percentage will decrease?
    Zemlin: Yes. Yes, I think it will actually.
    As an extention of my previous comment, I wished InfoWorld would have asked him why he thinks that. I can say "I think I will get -1 Flamebait"; so what? It only becomes interesting when I have something to substantiate it with.

    If you're a Motorola or an LG, would you rather, per device basis when you're selling tens of millions of devices, license Windows Mobile or the Symbian platform from Nokia, or would you rather have Linux, which is collaboratively designed, which supports every major architecture?
    He's saying "Would you rather have a, or b, or c? Note that c has properties p and q." For a meaningful comparison, he could list some properties of a and b as well. Sure, we may know some of them, but he could have emphasised what he thinks is relevant. Also, when you've picked an architecture, support for any other architecture is not of much interest.

    InfoWorld: So are Microsoft's days as the dominant provider of desktop and server and maybe even handheld operating systems numbered?
    Zemlin: Monopolies don't last forever, so I mean, I think they've got a long way to go. It's just natural over time that people aren't going to allow a single company to dominate the market.
    People, as in individual consumers, always allow concentration of power; they don't care, they just want easy. Look at Microsoft; look at Google. People use their services because it's easy for them to do so. I'm conjecturing that it takes the power of the state to break up or prevent the formation of monopolies. Someone enlighten me: what happened with AT&T, Standard Oil and the Railroads? What's happening with Microsoft?

    InfoWorld: Wouldn't the emergence of Linux kind of say that maybe Microsoft never really was a monopoly, that there was always room for somebody else to compete in there and that's what Linux is now doing?
    Zemlin: It obviously was a desktop monopoly for a period of time.
    Again, there's a claim but no argument. I don't want to argue against him, I just want a better argument.

    Yes, the days of high-margin, vendor lock-in monopoly practices in the software business, yes, those are gone, and they're permanently gone.
    This is five minutes after he stated that Microsoft makes 30% profit; that doesn't like either dead or dying to me (sadly).

    InfoWorld: Can Solaris compete with Linux?
    Zemlin: [If Solaris was FLOSS eight years ago maybe, blah blah ...]
    Sure, that sounds plausible. What interests me is why Solaris (probably) won't be able to compete with Linux today. I'm guessing it's the network effects: with many users, it makes sense to develop for, and with much development, it makes sense to use.

    (None of this is to say that I disagree with Zemlin's assertions, just that I think he could have made a better argument).
  • Re:Of course. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @10:44AM (#22739094)
    yup, thats what the open in open file formats and open protocols and open source is for, too bad microsoft does not want to do it that way, microsoft rather have absolute power & control and you know what they say about absolute power :)
  • by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:36AM (#22739664)
    Microsoft's lock on their own file formats and protocols is what keeps everyone captive to Microsoft applications, not the other way around. They've demonstrated time and time again that inviting interoperation with their proprietary formats leads to the destruction of competing software products. Everything Microsoft ever destroyed began with "partnering". That lead to modifying their partners' file formats/languages/tools to be MS specific until the original technology became irrelevant. I have few doubts that this their Linux roadmap.
  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @11:43AM (#22739758)
    Sightings? Pshhhhh. Try photos! []
  • by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @04:38PM (#22743476) Homepage Journal

    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.

    This is too sadly true... anyone who has worked in tech support or repair in a consumer based, Windows based environment can attest to that. The number of times an average Windows user has told me

    "I clicked on the Internet and..." (umm, IE is NOT the Internet)

    "I need to buy a new Windows for my ______" (umm, do you mean a computer with Windows on it?)

    "So that MAC is Windows?" (no, hardware is not an OS...)

    "My Windows isn't turning on - it keeps telling me 'Drive Failure'" (no, your hardware/mobo/BIOS is telling you that - your computer hasnt even started loading Windows)

    "So, OpenOffice is Word?" (Ugh... no - but it is compatible for what you would need it for - and FREE.) - customer proceeds to buy a copy of Office because "that can't be true... it's not (Microsoft/Office/etc)"

    "Well, someone installed Firefox for me, but I needed to get on the Internet, so I clicked the Internet button (IE again)." (IE is NOT the Internet)

    Heck, many users even seem to think that Office is part of Windows (and thus many would wonder why that part of Windows stopped working in 60 days - when the trial expired - we actually had customers come into CompUSA who threatened to sue us and HP/Compaq/etc because that "part of" Windows broke, and we wouldn't fix it and told them they had to pay to get it "fixed" - no matter how many times we explained it to them or showed them the "60 Day Trial" icon). Heck, the number of people who think you cannot create a Word (compatible) document - much less any document - without Office - is astounding.

    MS has been very good at equating function=some MS product - and too many users aren't tech saavy enough to understand that is not the case.

    Why the parent has not yet been modded up, I dont know (well, the day is still early). This (perception) issue is definitely key to the "interoperability" issue with Linux and Windows - because even if Linux fully interoperated with Windows, the perception that a MS product is a certain task/function must still be overcome.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham