Has Google become evil in the eyes of open source?

Summary:So what say y'all? Has Google become a greater threat to open source than Microsoft? Is Microsoft just throwing sand in our faces, seeking to split BSD from GPL? Or will we say, like Mercutio, "a plague on both their houses."

Romeo and Juliet 1996 film
An exchange of e-mails between Bill Hilf of Microsoft and Chris DiBona of Google concerning Microsoft's OSI license application has drawn an interesting reaction in the press.

They're taking Microsoft's side. (Harold Perrineau Jr. played Mercutio in a 1996 film production of Romeo & Juliet. Wha? Read on.)

This is a major turning point, and shows just how far Google has come in less than a decade.

The Register offers a complete indictment:

Google has become the poster child for the software as a service (SaaS) abuse of open source software. The ad broker uses copious amounts of open code but gets around returning changes to "the community" by claiming it does not redistribute the code. Instead, Google simply places the software on servers and ships a service to consumers.

If you're unclear on Ashlee Vance's view of this, here's some more:

But which company is open source's biggest threat in 2007? The one clinging to an operating system and productivity suite monopoly? Or the one that controls your search queries, e-mails, instant messages, photos, documents and soon phone calls without ever discussing an open standard that will let you manipulate all that data or let you move it to a new service provider?

If we're talking about ideals, then I think Google is the bigger threat these days.

Let me state for the record that I am a big Google fan. They have built a proprietary powerhouse on open source.

But others see them as the John Edwards of software, a rich lawyer advocating for the poor, a hypocrite, complete with $400 haircut. (I'm also an Edwards supporter, by the way.)

So what say y'all? Has Google become a greater threat to open source than Microsoft? Is Microsoft just throwing sand in our faces, seeking to split BSD from GPL? Or will we say, like Mercutio, "a plague on both their houses."

[poll id=48]

Topics: Software, Google, Microsoft, Open Source

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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