I don't want you to talk, Mr. Gates

I don't want you to talk, Mr. Gates

Summary: Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith says the company wants a sit-down with the open source community. That kind of talk brings out the Blofeld in me.

TOPICS: Open Source

BlofeldMicrosoft general counsel Brad Smith says the company wants a sit-down with the open source community.

That kind of talk brings out the Blofeld in me. (That's Donald Pleasence as the Bond villain from Jamesbond.com.) Maybe it's because the statement seems like an admission of weakness and unease coming from Redmond and a business culture notorious for ruthlessness. 

 Today the open source application space is far more dynamic than what Microsoft has, and the lead lengthens daily. So what do we have to talk about?

It's partly a question of business models. Proprietary companies sell packages for money and see support as a cost. Open source companies give away packages and see support as the cash cow. Microsoft sees open source as meaning we give away Intellectual Property, while open source advocates call software you can't see a rip-off. There is not a lot of common ground.

There's also the political dimension, only hinted-at in the paragraph above. Microsoft and other closed source advocates have painted open source as somehow anti-capitalist. GPL advocates feel that if you're to use a EULA to create obligations, it should be a mutual obligation, not a one-way trip.

More important, what would we talk about? If Microsoft wants to license code under a new license, it is free to do so. Microsoft changes its EULA terms regularly. They don't need permission, they need market acceptance. Open source advocates can't give them that.

On the other hand, maybe I'm being dismissive, power mad, and absurd, a Blofeldist, as James Menard of The New Yorker might say. What do you think a negotiation between open source advocates and Microsoft should focus on? Let me know in TalkBack.

Topic: Open Source

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  • Bloefeld? I don't think so...

    Bloefeld's the better villain, but the line you're paraphrasing is actually Goldfinger's...
    • You may be right

      I didn't fact check that one.

      But I don't think I quoted the whole thing, either.
      • Conversation

        I'm hoping you intentionally didn't quote the whole thing.

        Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
        Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.

        Carl Rapson
        • It does sound much more like

          MS talking to F/OSS than otherwise, doesn't it?

          Steve Ballmer as Goldfinger in that scene works rather well, I think. As the laser works its way up between Tux' flippers ...
          Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Yeah, that's the Ticket (But I apologize anyway)

            And Goldfinger would just be working for Blofeld, wouldn't he? Does that mean I got it right?

            (No, I just didn't give you the complete quote, and the piece I gave you was wrongly attributed. Fortunately it was just a game with a headline and a picture. But I promise more care in the future, even with the jokes.)
  • Tell Microsoft to go pound sand....

    If "talks" are something that Microsoft wants, you can be assured they have something up their sleeve. The open source needs to just keep doing more and more of what they have been doing.

    They are obviously doing it right or Microsoft wouldn't be taking notice. No agreements or cooperation with Microsoft should be accepted or tolerated. As soon Microsoft gets involved in any way, the promise and hope of open source is diminished.
  • Microsoft is ineed, scared.

    Microsoft, as you have said has long been known for it's ruthless business practices. I believe, what you're seeing here is Microsoft attempting to respond to what may amount to solid competition in the software application space. While open source offerings may not be as widely accepted by the public, open source applications such as Open Office, and Evolution are quickly gaining ground (and acceptance) by the public. What's more is that open source applications do not have the restrictive and often unintelligible guidelines one would find in Microsoft's EULA. Much like Windows includes Media Player and IE, many Linux distros now include application suites like Open Office at no additional charge. Microsoft is finding that it is more and more competing against the same things that it used to squash competition. The difference is, that the open source community does it by sharing applications and technology. Microsoft also sees these applications maturing in to products that meet or exceed the current feature sets available for their own equivalent products. And to make matters worse for them...these products are most often completely free to use. So, in closing, Microsoft will be looking to the open source community for acceptance, and to better relations with them however I believe they will find that the years of ruthless sales tactics will get them little if no response from the open source folks.
  • Poor Microsoft knows what the future holds.

    Their worm infested Flawed OS can not compete with a FREEdom based, Unix-like architecture.

    After spreading FUD, illegal tactics, and feeding SCO, Linux is still the rolling snowball that turned into an avalanche.

    "First they ignore us, then they laugh us, then they fight us, then we win" -- Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Sniff, sniff, something smells in here...

    oh yeah, it's Microsoft Desperation. The new pungent cologne out of Redmond. Enjoy. >:-P
  • Looks like

    Microsoft is finally realizing they are in deep kim chi and it's only getting deeper. With IBM, Novell and Walmart amonst others pushing and helping with Linux and several open source projects, how can Microsoft not notice?

    As for sitting down and talking with Bill G. and cohorts, it would be a one way conversation. They say nothing we lay the rules and lock them in. Otherwise, bugger off drop out!
    Linux User 147560
  • My two bits

    "What do you think a negotiation between open source
    advocates and Microsoft should focus on?"

    a) Documenting windows interfaces so open source can
    more easily integrate our solutions with MS proprietary

    I, like many, believe the EC is the only one that'll bring this
    to the table.

    b) Stop rubbishing OSS at every opportunity, then pull out
    these "negotiation" PR gems.
    Richard Flude
  • They want leverage.

    And they're looking for ways to gain it. I don't think any talks would be productive. MS certainly wouldn't give away interoperability capabilities - that goes against their entire business model (which is based on striving to develop and then maintain a total monopoly on all computer software development from the OS to business apps to games.) What else is there to talk about? Is MS planning to go OS? And monkeys might fly out of my butt too.

    Any agreements by the OS community with MS are tantamount to agreements with the devil. Forget Goldfinger.
  • Or maybe they could just *join* the community

    I blogged my take on this the other day at: http://stephesblog.blogs.com/my_weblog/2005/05/or_maybe_micros.html
  • Sit-down Could be Meaningful

    You don't need to share a philosophy to make mutually useful agreements. In some areas, Microsoft finds interoperability to be useful for them. Why not cooperate in exchange for their own cooperation in a few needed areas: MS Word format, Wine, Mono, etc. Give a little, if they give a little.

  • A "partnership"? We know how they ...

    end. We've seen it so many times. A small, new
    startup with a hot software concept catches
    Microsoft's eye. Microsoft wines and dines the
    inexperienced owner, who is blinded by visions
    of fame and fortune as a "Partner" to Bill & Co.
    Bill sends over his techies to examine the code
    and "make sure it is what it appears to be".
    They leave. A few months later the deflowered
    owner sees his product on the shelves under a
    Microsoft logo. He sues, but soon runs out of
    money as Microsoft's lawyers run him ragged
    around the court docket. With a track record
    like that Open Source leaders would be fools to
    trust ANYTHING Microsoft offered.

    What could Open Source "give" Microsoft that
    Microsoft can't already download for free from a
    zillion servers? A BSD style license on the
    Linux kernel? Fat chance. A one year "time
    out" or "King's X" so LongHorn can catch up?
    Expect a BSD license on the Linux kernel before
    that will ever happen.

    What could Microsoft give to Open Source? Stop
    using Ad rebates, the way you did now illegal
    OEM license agreements, to keep PC OEMs from
    selling PCs with Linux installed on the FRONT
    PAGE of their website, and WITHOUT the Microsoft
    tax included.
  • When pigs fly.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft history of relations with other software entities over the last twenty years reads like a war story, complete with trojan horses, double agents, aggressive lawyering, and the rest. I hope we're beyond allowing stated intentions without changes in behavior sway us. I'll start believing them when they release the file formats and the APIs, open source, without the endless Microsoft doubletalk.
  • After all that M$ threw at 'free' software....

    and the GPL, I think there is nothing to talk about. If they are gonna go down they chose to make the hole in the bottom of their boat trying to blow others outta the river. M$ deserves what is coming to them. And no quarter should be given to them ! They destroyed so many companies and consequentially people. So why come crawling now ? I'd only give them the boot.
  • They already said what they want!

    Linux released with a BSD license.
  • I just proves that MS doesn't really understand

    Go ahead and talk to the advocates of Open Source. You might as well be talking politics with your neighbor (unless you live next to your mayor or congressman).

    Open Source is not a company that you can arrange to talk with their representatives. Are they looking for decisions? Agreements? What?

    They are either doing this as a media play, or they just don't understand. If they are trying to do a media play, they still don't understand.

    Are the people that might be fooled by a media play important to influence?