basically tech

63 Microsoft - friendly towards Open Source?

Wednesday 14th March, 2007

The title is rhetorical of course; not a chance. It does seem that Microsoft have suckered many people in the industry into believing that they are being friendly towards the Open Source movement.

Microsoft is crafting a multifaceted plan to approach open source from a number of different levels: Linux as an operating system competitor; interoperability with Linux in mixed environments; partnering with open source ISVs; development of Shared Source Licensing; contributions to and support for community development sites.

Ooh, "interoperability with Linux in mixed environments". Jeremy Allison has something to say about Microsoft's attitude to interoperability, from his experiences at the San Francisco 2005 Linuxworld conference:

Microsoft even joined in the fun by turning up as "Darth Vader" and a couple of "Star Wars" stormtroopers... It all gathered a lot of positive press for Microsoft of course, which is why they did it. "Look what good sports they are" everyone said, and of course they were, showing how much things have changed with Microsoft at a Linux show, talking about interoperability

Wow, maybe they are changing ... oh, hold on, there's more:

The week before the LinuxWorld San Francisco conference that Microsoft attended with such a flourish was the much quieter CIFS (Common Internet File System) conference, also in the Bay Area in Santa Clara. You remember CIFS don't you ? It's the file system that all Microsoft clients use to communicate with the Microsoft servers. The conference was started by Microsoft and was attended by all the server vendors who have to make their software actually interoperate with Microsoft clients. It's one of the largest events in the calendar for the Samba Team as we all get together with peer engineers from all CIFS vendor companies to make sure our software actually interoperates and works well together. Except for one major server vendor of course. The biggest one in fact. They didn't even bother to turn up, or send any engineers to work on interoperability. Can you guess who that was ? Maybe they were too busy getting ready for their presentations on "Interoperability" at LinuxWorld to actually do any work on interoperability.

So, what's it all about, all this courting of Open Source? Let back to our first article again, right near the top:

"It does seem to me that Microsoft is trying," says Michael Cherry, lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash. "Bill Hilf seems to be trying to figure out how to get the advantages of the open source development methodology. And there's no question that one of the lessons of Vista development is that companies have to evolve their process of engineering. Microsoft needs to look at their processes and borrow best practices from anywhere they can get them."

(Emphasis added.)

So this is what it's all about. Saving money. It seems that the communist cancer is somewhat more efficient than some folks gave it credit for.

Trust Microsoft? Not me.