Late night baseball games, Microsoft concessions evoke big yawns at open source water cooler

Late night baseball games, Microsoft concessions evoke big yawns at open source water cooler

Summary: Microsoft’s agreement to provide full technical documentation – and lower royalties – on its software protocols is a big yawn to the open source community, developers and consultants say.No surprise.

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Microsoft’s agreement to provide full technical documentation – and lower royalties – on its software protocols is a big yawn to the open source community, developers and consultants say.

No surprise. Since its battle with the European commission began almost a decade ago, web services have rendered such protocol licensing a dinosaur of the past. And besides, the licensing terms are of no use to the GPL community, observers say.

“Samba reversed engineered [Microsoft’s] SMB [protocol]. With this ruling maybe someone can go through and improve Samba a little but that’s at the network file sharing level and we’re not writing code to that level. We need web service APIs, not protocol at the network transport level,” maintains Dave Gynn, director of enterprise tools and frameworks at Optaros, a Boston area open source consultancy. “We always integrate with other systems but don’t do it at protocol level. “

Gynn said it may help to reduce the technical and cost barriers to some commercial firms but “there’s still patents on it.”

It will benefit purveyors of proprietary software but not open source developers, agreed Michael Goulde, analyst of open source strategy at Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass. “Some open source developers believe that Microsoft should make its protocols available for use royalty free. In some cases, there are open source license restrictions that make it not possible for the software to include Microsoft licensed code – because you can’t downstream the license. So, unless Microsoft goes way beyond what it has agreed with the EU to do, only a subset of open source developers will have much interest. They’ll continue reverse engineering Microsoft protocols and doing the best they can. “

John McCreesh, marketing lead at OpenOffice.org, said it has no benefit to the open source office suite. And he said reports that Microsoft's recently enacted MCPP patent license makes any benefit null and void. "So the EU has laboured for three years to produce this particular "ridiculous mouse," McCreesh said.

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft

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  • Only when it's of NO USE ....

    Microsoft knows full well that this "agreement" is of no value to
    anyone EXCEPT Microsoft. This is like the HMO agreeing to the
    medical treatment after it is too late for the patient.
    kd5auq
  • Samba did not reverse engineer smbfs ...

    smbfs is a protocol that Samba uses to communicate with Windows boxes and in already in the Linux kernel. Also smbfs is deprecated and now Samba uses CIFS. I know if this is incorrect Jeremy Allison will most likely chime in and correct me. ;)
    MisterMiester
    • RE:Samba did reverse engineer SMB

      "...the Samba project was created to reverse engineer and provide a free implementation of a compatible SMB client and server for use with non-Microsoft operating systems.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Server_Message_Block
      n0neXn0ne
      • No, he's right

        smbfs is not a reverse-engineered system; it's simply the userspace component of Samba and unique to the UNIX-like operating systems. It's the protocol (SMB) that was reverse-engineered, TECHNICALLY (I say technically because if there's any IBM stuff in there, that's not reverse-engineered; SMB was created by IBM, not Microsoft).
        DarkPhoenixFF4
  • What do we mean by RAND

    Hi Dana,

    I think it is quite important to stress the meaning of RAND (Reasonable And Not Discriminatory) here. As a matter of fact even if you have to ask a single dime for each copy of a software, that it simply can't be free software.

    In this respect perspective any (open) standard and protocol has to be royalty-free, unless you want to keep out open source. Of course this is issue is not stricly related to Microsoft's technologies and patents, but it's much broader (and complex, W3C IPR policies allowing patent holder to pose limitations of use are also a risky bet).

    I understand that Dave Gynn is not interested in protocols at the network transport level, may be his customers use Microsoft's infrastructures or demand just integration at an application level.

    I totally agree with John McCreesh, the EU has laboured for three years to produce a mouse, and no one is really taking advantage of if it. Did interoperability win? <a href="http://robertogaloppini.net/2007/09/18/european-community-vs-microsoft-interoperability-wins/">I am afraid not</a>.
    galoppini