Microsoft: Linux is anti-commercial

References to free software and Linux were removed from a UN document after Microsoft claimed that such software aims to 'make it impossible to make any income on software as a commercial product'

Microsoft asked for references to free software to be removed from a document presented at last week's UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) conference, the software giant admitted on Friday.

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is unhappy that the document was changed and claims that even though it was on the panel discussing the document, it was not made aware of Microsoft's changes.

The document, known as the Vienna Conclusions, discusses issues around IT and creativity. The original draft of the document discussed how the free software model is changing the way people do business.

"Increasingly, revenue is generated not by selling content and digital works, as they can be freely distributed at almost no cost, but by offering services on top of them. The success of the free software model is one example," stated the original document, according to the FSFE.

But the final version of the document contains no reference to free software. "Increasingly, revenue is generated by offering services on top of contents," states the final version of the document.

Thomas Lutz, the manager of public affairs at Microsoft Austria, asked for this section to be deleted as "it contains only a one-sided perspective on the ICT industry."

"The rationale for this is, that the aim of free software is not to enable a healthy business on software but rather to make it even impossible to make any income on software as a commercial product," he added.

Lutz' comments were posted on a conference blog, but Georg Greve, the president of FSFE, who was involved in drafting that section of the document, claims that no-one on his panel was aware of the blog until last week.

Greve criticised Lutz' comments as "Microsoft propaganda".

"This is so obviously stupid and nonsensical that it seems pointless to comment on it: Just another monopolist trying to uphold their monopoly by preventing freedom of markets — which is what Free Software really aims at," he said, on his blog.

But on Friday Lutz denied that the panel was unaware of these changes and confirmed that his blog postings are accurate.

"The Vienna Conclusions document was created through a democratic feedback process as requested by the committee and stated on the committee blog. Each and every participant of the conference was invited to publish contributions, share feedback and offer changes which facilitated discussion and an open exchange of positions," he told ZDNet UK. "All of our change requests were approved by the committee."

This is not the only change to the document that Microsoft brought about. In a later section of the same document, Lutz asked that a reference to the open source operating system Linux be removed as "this is only one particular — anti-commercial — specificity of the open source landscape."

Microsoft appears to have been stepping up its fight against Linux recently, with comments about open source 'dorks' and claims that Africa does not need free software.

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