Does open source need a Micro-cop?

Microsoft's idea is that you can have its system or be exiled to the woods, with its choices and risks. Especially the risk that your vendor of choice will go toes-up, leaving you like Little Red Riding Hood before the big, bad wolf.

Ogre board game logo
There they go again.

Microsoft is playing good cop, bad cop, offering "to promote greater interoperability, opportunity and choice" on the one hand, dismissing efforts to build real standards on the other.

Specifically, it provided documentation allowing developers to link with its MS-XAML, an XML schema for embedding applications, while dismissing Google's OpenSocial initiative, and having its little friend, Facebook, do so as well.

Some of its motivation is contained in the quote a few paragraphs above, which came from a spokesman. Interoperability, opportunity and choice.

Choice in this case means there's a Microsoft way to do things and the highway's way of doing things.

To the obvious statement, "you can't have standards that way," Microsoft says they're the standard, but they're letting non-standard implementations connect. For the sake of the children, I guess.

Microsoft still has the power to impose this regime on the rest of us, and its fight on behalf of OOXML shows it's willing to go to enormous lengths to retain that power.

It will be magnanimous with that power when it is in Microsoft's interest to be so. It will shove the knife in when it's not.

The battle between Microsoft and the industry does remind me often of Steve Jackson's old board game Ogre, not just because Steve was my first newspaper editor at Rice.

Steve's idea was to cut cardboard costs in 1970s' game development, having one side play one piece and the other side play the other pieces.

Microsoft's idea is that you can have its system or be exiled to the woods, with its choices and risks. Especially the risk that your vendor of choice will go toes-up, leaving you like Little Red Riding Hood before the big, bad wolf.

But as open source and open standards enable the rest of the world to coalesce, dramatically cutting those risks, do we need a Micro-cop to protect us at all? Or is open source in the midst of making that as obsolete as cardboard-based strategy games?

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All