We don't want you to talk, Mr. Ballmer

We don't want you to talk, Mr. Ballmer

Summary: We are past the point with Microsoft where open source needs to fear the Giant of Redmond. Despite Mr. Ballmer's bluster, the company lacks the legal weaponry to destroy open source, with patents or anything else.

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Steve Ballmer from Between the LinesSteve Ballmer deigns to talk about open source. (Picture from Between the Lines.)

I hate to go all Bond villain on Mr. Ballmer, but the question of whether Microsoft talks to open source, about open source, or even engages open source is just not relevant any more.

We are past the point with Microsoft where open source needs to fear the Giant of Redmond. Despite Mr. Ballmer's bluster, the company lacks the legal weaponry to destroy open source, with patents or anything else.

Open source and Microsoft were never really enemies in the first place. Open source is a business model. Microsoft is a company. It's like pitting a noun against a verb.

Microsoft is free to use the open source business model, or any model derived from it, like SaaS. Open source companies, in turn, are perfectly free to deliver proprietary extensions to open source products, as they regularly do under many licenses.

The conflict between Microsoft and open source involved the monopoly rents Microsoft was gaining due to what is now becoming an obsolete business model. That era is now over and Microsoft knows it.

Whether Microsoft can adapt well to this new era is unknown. Certainly there remain plenty of proprietary opportunities, as Apple has shown. Microsoft has plenty of smart people who are capable of creating great new businesses.

Open source will not determine whether or not Microsoft succeeds at that. Microsoft management will determine that.

So, no, Mr. Ballmer, I don't need you to talk. I don't need you or your company to die, either. Let's just agree to meet in the marketplace.

May the best product, as well as the most powerful business model, prevail. As opposed to the best legal team. If we agree on that, I have nothing but warm feelings for the Giant of Redwood. Except, perhaps, for this.

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft

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79 comments
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  • The ghost of Mr. Ballmer

    will be forced to bear the clippy's that he has forged in this life.Oh, the eternal wailing.
    Mac Hosehead
    • Tomorrow is what is important, not clinging to yesterday's revenue streams

      Dollars, pounds, yen, Christianity, marks, francs, Islam, kroons.

      We're all humans on this big blue spinning thing.

      We either want to survive and build a better future, whether through birth control, wars, love, hatred whatever, or we build some new religion.

      Fcuk what I think. Fcuk what you think. Fcuk what "powers" talk about.

      We're all working together for the better of all.

      Forgive the No_Axes, the Loverock's, the Martin_Australia's, the politicians, the paid bloggers, for they know not what they do.
      fr0thy2
      • Why, Fr0thy? You forgive them

        and they just come and knife you in the back again - [i][b]just[/b][/i] like the Bush Nazis have done here! (For those of you who wonder why I constantly equate MSFT's owners and fans w/NeoCon Christian Conservatives and other bullying fascist vermin....)

        Naw - I prefer turning the other cheek - then kicking them in the 'nads like they deserve. Teach them [i][b]all[/b][/i] that they f*&k w/you, and they seal their fates.

        Selah.
        drprodny
    • No wonder Gates took retirement

      who will prefer to see this jerk meeting after meeting of MS
      Web Smart
  • Well, hey, it IS fun to watch them squirm. But, it probably DOES help them

    short term at least to create FUD around open source. They are still desperately searching for a way to create FUD without creating a public relations nightmare.
    DonnieBoy
  • Totally ridiculous...

    First of all, when SteveB talks, YOU HAD BETTER LISTEN. Secondly, Microsoft WILL crush Open Source. When people talk to me about all of the "great" applications they are creating with Open Source, I gently laugh in their face. I then invite them over to my company where I show them the world's greatest SaaS ever created: SharePoint Server 2007. I open IE 8 Beta 1 and hit SharePoint. After a few minutes of braggadocio, the home page loads and I immediately go in to full demo mode. I open PowerPoints, sync with Groove, hit buttons which generate workflows, etc. Most of the visitors leave in total SHOCK AND AWE, shaking their heads in total amazement. So, yes, the Open Source community should BEG SteveB to talk to them and hope they can survive.
    Mike Cox
    • And your not?????

      "Microsoft WILL crush Open Source"
      Oh yes, it's done a bangup job so far... wait maybe not, maybe the fact that 70% of the worlds servers are running Apache is an indication of something else!

      Hum... so tell me how would you know if it is the worlds greatest Saas ever created, have you seen all the others?
      I would not be one of the vistitors that left in awe at all.
      "PowerPoints, sync with Groove, hit buttons which generate workflows, etc"
      Uh, wow... I'm really amazed.

      Not everyone thinks the way you do about Micro$oft.
      co-eddy
      • Oh, I sould have known!

        I didn't even bother to look at who wrote that, well you caught me off gard Mr. Cox. I take off my hat to you.
        co-eddy
    • WHAT?? Why would you want that happen?

      First of all let me say that I am not a MS hater nor an Apple hater nor a Linux hater... All three OSs I have used and are fine OSs IMO...

      BUT... Why the hell would you want Open Source crushed? A lot of the apps I use are free ands ome open source... Blast it I don't want to pay for every blasted app I use... People as long as they have the choice will always make, release free software... Either because they want to or it's in some either interest of their's... No one can take that privilege away... To say someone's been working on a great kernel for years and years of his life AND have MS come out and say it's illegal is bull...
      Core2uu
    • Miky catches two

      hook line and sinker ;-)
      gogalthorp
      • That's easy to do these days.

        Well yes, but he's had a lot of help from the real Microsoft worshipers. He almost had me too but I've read too many posts from people who confuse the best software in the world with the only software they've ever used.
        kozmcrae
      • Yeah 8.5 on ther Mikey scale ....

        Not a TERRIBLE good post, maybe a 5.0, but the catch-o-the-day was outstanding ...
        Linux_4u!
        • Its always amazing...

          How Mikey always seems to catch a fish or two, sometimes like here, they are pretty big fish too. But what is truly amazing is that the fish Mikey always seems to catch are never of the Windows enthusiast type who might in fact jump on board with Mikey and foolishly agree with his nonsense. Its always the Apple or Linux enthusiasts who seem to take what he is saying as serious.

          I don't know what that says about the mindset of different kinds of OS enthusiasts generally, but one thing is for sure; there are some people who actually believe there are MS fanatics like Mikey out there who don't just like Windows, they are fanatical to the point of insanity, yet I have never seen anyone come close to Mikey's over the top defence of Microsoft. Actually as things go I have never seen anyone defend any OS to the silliness that Mikey does so its a wonder that these people cant see through it. Its always amazing.
          Cayble
          • I've always thought the exact same thing

            I think Mike's posts, and people's reactions to his posts, speak far more negatively about ABMers than they do NBMers. You can almost see the thought process that goes into starting a reply to Mike:
            [i]Thank goodness I've finally found someone who is so infatuated with MS that I can finally unleash my incredible arguments about why MS sucks. I knew there had to be people out there like that even though Mike is the first person I've read first hand.[/i]

            Mike is the [b]ultimate[/b] ABMer's strawman: if you can't find irrational people to argue with from "the other camp", make one up yourself. :)
            NonZealot
          • Oh, they exists...

            Oh, they do exists. I meet them at work every day. It's only that when they say stupid things like what Mikey does, most people take it for granted and the truth.
            Jxn
    • Mikey! I give you a 7.75...

      No mention of your rep or dinner or a stogie with cognac but you did save points with hooking two trout! Nice job that! ]:)
      Linux User 147560
    • Subtlety. Very well done. 9.0

      Proof positive that you don't always need to use cognac and a rep to catch fish. 'After a few minutes of braggadocio'? 'shaking their heads in total amazement'? That was good. I'll give you a 9.
      heres_johnny
    • You are still alive

      Greeting Mike,

      I thought you had gone to the Microsoft Fan Boys retirement
      home, as I hadn't heard from you for a while.

      Keep up the good (Pro MS)work.
      The Cheques (I am not in USA) will still be arriving.
      elderlybloke
    • 9.9 - Superb 1st Catch

      nt...
      BanjoPaterson
  • Open Source is NOT a business model

    This is the 1st time anybody has even claimed that open source is a business model.

    The point of the article is decent, but it is IGNORANT CLAIMS like that that makes the story mute.
    wackoae