Linux Foundation: Let's kill Microsoft's FAT

The Linux Foundation is ready and willing to help companies get Microsoft's FAT out of their products.In his blog posted today about TomTom's settlement with Microsoft that was announced yesterday, foundation executive director Jim Zemlin said the case only proves that Microsoft was taking aim against Linux when it filed its lawsuit against TomTom last month and that it only undermines Microsoft's efforts to keep its technology relevant.

The Linux Foundation is ready and willing to help companies get Microsoft's FAT out of their products.

In his blog posted today about TomTom's settlement with Microsoft that was announced yesterday, foundation executive director Jim Zemlin said the case only proves that Microsoft was taking aim against Linux when it filed its lawsuit against TomTom last month and that it only undermines Microsoft's efforts to keep its technology relevant.

Zemlin fired away on several fronts, attacking Microsoft's purported efforts to be a more open company and its ongoing campaign against Linux.

"In the last several days Microsoft has shown that despite claims of acquiring a newly found respect for open principles and technology, developers should be cautious in believing promises made by this “new” Microsoft. When it counts, it appears that Microsoft still actively seeks to undermine those technologies or standards that are truly open, especially when those technologies pose a significant threat to their business.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced with a formal press release a settlement of a nuisance patent case filed against a smaller company. Despite Microsoft’s protestations to the contrary, the press release makes it clear that the motivation behind this case was the fear, uncertainty and doubt Microsoft hoped the suit would create around the use of Linux. Linux is, not coincidentally, one of Microsoft’s strongest threats in the server, embedded and desktop computing arenas as evidenced in recent remarks make by its CEO Steve Ballmer.

The case proves only that the patent system -- and the modern operating system -- both need reform, Zemlin said.

In his words: "First, the software patent system in the US needs reform. The need for reform stems from why common functionality like this (which is neither innovative nor novel) was granted a patent in the first place.

Second, it proves that, even apart from this larger issue, this case is a non-event. The technology at the heart of this settlement is the FAT filesystem. As acknowledged by Microsoft in the press release, this file system is easily replaced with multiple technology alternatives. The Linux Foundation is here to assist interested parties in the technical coordination of removing the FAT filesystem from products that make use of it today.

There is one other fact clear from this case. Microsoft does not appear to be a leopard capable of changing its spots. Maybe it’s time developers go on a diet from Microsoft and get the FAT out of their products.

Zemlin also contends that the quick settlement demonstrates the power of the open source community and the inability of Microsoft to create a protracted legal drama like ones in the past that threatened adoption of Linux.

There is another silver lining here. We read the outcome of this case as a testament to the power of a concerted and well-coordinated effort by the Linux industry and organizations such as the Open Invention Network, the SFLC and the Linux Foundation. This was not merely a typical David vs. Goliath story. This time David aligned itself with the multiple slingshots of the Linux community. Microsoft relented as soon as TomTom showed they were aligned with that community and ready to fight. The system is working.

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