What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

Summary: Many of Nokia's open-source partners aren't happy with its new buddy-buddy friendship with Microsoft, but they plan on making the best of it.

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When Nokia announced that it was going to use Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 for its smartphones some people saw this is a great move. Other folks, like yours truly, saw Nokia and Microsoft partnering being as dumb as betting that the Pittsburgh Pirates will win the 2011 World Series. But, what do Nokia's open-source partners think of this move? I asked, and as you might guess, they're not happy.

Jim Zemlin, head of The Linux Foundation tried to make the best of it, "The Linux Foundation is disappointed in Nokia's decision today to choose Microsoft as the primary platform for its mobile phones. Tough times give birth to difficult decisions that we don't always agree with, but open source is--at its core--about choice. We believe that open source software is more than a sum of its parts, and the market is currently bearing that out. The Linux Foundation is here to enable collaboration among its members and the Linux community, and we invite participation in MeeGo [an embedded Linux for smartphones and other devices that was supported by Intel and Nokia] and any of our other many projects and programs."

I might add that Nokia is a gold member of the Linux Foundation. Nokia's been a member of the Foundation since 2007. The Linux Foundation itself had been, and I presume will continue to be a big MeeGo supporter.  Nokia's move to Windows Phone 7 could not have made the Foundation nor its members happy.

In particular, although Nokia has said it will continue to support MeeGo, Intel, Nokia's chief MeeGo partner was not pleased. In a statement Intel said:

While we are disappointed with Nokia's decision, Intel is not blinking on MeeGo. We remain committed and welcome Nokia's continued contribution to MeeGo open source.

Our strategy has always been to provide choice when it comes to operating systems, a strategy that includes Windows, Android, and MeeGo. This is not changing.

MeeGo is not just a phone OS, it supports multiple devices. And we're seeing momentum across multiple segments--automotive systems, netbooks, tablets, set-top boxes and our Intel silicon will be in a phone that ships this year.

Still, you have to believe that Intel feels hosed by Nokia's move.

Another open-source group that's wondering what's going to happen next is Nokia's Qt division. Qt is the cross-platform framework behind both MeeGo and the KDE Linux desktop. Now, though, Qt looks like it's irrelevant to Nokia's future.

Aaron Seigo, a leading KDE developer and one of the chief designers of the KDE 4 desktop, wrote on his blog that "While I have little good to say of the announcement that was made, what remains of interest to me is the level of investment in Qt, the strategic positioning of MeeGo going forward and what KDE's role can and will be as both of those things continue to mature."

Seigo continued, "Open governance around Qt is moving forward briskly and from what I gather there are some interesting and useful announcements to come. R&D investment continues. However, we (KDE) won't know the full shape of how this will impact our landscape in the mid- and long-terms until we speak more with people at Nokia as well as within the Qt team itself. That's going to take weeks, not hours or days."

I asked Seigo for more of his thoughts on the matter and he replied, "The most important thing to keep in mind is that Qt is licensed under the LGPL (Lesser General Public License) and has a broad ecosystem around it. Regardless of what happens at Nokia, it won't be the end of the world."

While Qt's licensing situation is complicated, with no fewer than three possible licenses, the bottom line is that it's relatively easy to legally use Qt in software projects.

Seigo added, "That said, it is far, far too early to say anything conclusive about what it means for Qt and therefore by extension to F/OSS [Free and Open-Source Software] communities like KDE and their projects. We're (KDE) putting together an internal task force to work through these topics with Nokia as well as the broader Qt community and it will need a few weeks to arrive as useful conclusions."

"It's a dynamic situation that we're taking seriously and tracking, but we're also being careful not to jump the gun and either miss opportunities that arise as a result or make poor reactive decisions to challenges as yet not fully understood," he concluded.

That sounds like a fair assessment to me. We're going to need to wait and see.

I will add one more thing, from where I sit, Android is actually the least effected open-source project by Nokia's moves. MeeGo, followed by KDE and other Qt users are the ones with something to be concerned about. Google and its Android friends? I think they could care less.

Topics: Windows, Linux, Nokia, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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77 comments
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  • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

    Symbian was open source, and what did that get Nokia? Left behind by everyone else.

    Whether paid or not, it's time Nokia did something different.
    madfry
    • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

      @madfry Open source really has nothing to do with their troubles. If you don't know what you're doing with something then it doesn't matter if its open source or closed as you'll soon see with their Windows partnership.
      storm14k
      • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

        @storm14k It had everything to do with their troubles. Their troubles have never been with their hardware. They make incredible hardware. But they spent years and 3+ billion dollars on Symbian and Meego, and all it got them were two bad mobile platforms and a shrinking market share.

        As for their partnership with Microsoft, it's hilarious to see Open Source sycophants hope and pray that Microsoft fails.
        JoeHTH
      • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

        @storm14k

        Open source is at the very center of their trouble - since their problem is Software, not Hardware.

        When you promote something as a solution, make sure it really provide one.
        madfry
      • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

        @storm14k <br>First of all Open source is not limited to GPL and derivatives, BSD and variants or Apache etc. Microsoft is one of the biggest backer of Open Source recently, though they have their own licensing system. As long as these licensing systems exist I don't see any difference between Open Source and Close Shop. A true open source is donating code without licenses and restrictions. As long as the restrictions exist I don't see any difference between these. Like wise there is no difference between Patents and Licenses. If I donate something I own, I should donate it without any restrictions, I should not put rules and regulations around how the receiver use whatever I left. If there are rules and regulations around donation, then it is not donation or free. Learn before ranting about saying Open Source is superior to Closed Shop. Licenses are great before Patents etc.
        Ram U
      • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

        @storm14k truth be said... Nokia makes great hardware... they are a phone company. There mobile os's just didn't cut it. They signed a deal to make phones and couple those phones with a software companies OS. Makes good sense to me. I must say that the Windows Phone OS is pretty sharp!!! I am a big fan of the Windows Phose OS and the iOS. In my opinion, these are the two best mobile OS's. I write off Google becasue Google is a horrible company... kinda like MS was several years ago. Don't forget who Google's real customers are... not you and I.
        apetti
      • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

        I will add one more thing, from where I sit, Android is actually the least effected open-source project by Nokia???s moves. MeeGo, followed by KDE and other Qt users are the ones with something to be concerned about. Google and its Android friends? I think they could care less.
        <a href="http://appgravity.com/search/-/-/free/1-10">free android apps</a>
        ashna93
    • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

      @madfry
      QT, KDE and Meego will continue.
      choyongpil
    • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

      @madfry Feb 2010 was when it was made Open Source. It was an after thought so stop bashing Open Source for Symbian losing out. It was after the fact.
      mtelesha
    • Guys, Android is open source, and they have been very successful. Bad

      software can be either open or closed. Google also runs all of it's servers on open source.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

        @DonnieBoy
        Ok original Android is open source, I can't get OEM and Maker customizations as open source. Period. Now most of the devices of Android are closed source to some extent.
        Ram U
    • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

      @madfry Symbian was made opensource years after it was irrelevant. Which was in feb 2010.
      bfkelsey
    • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

      @madfry It wasn't open-sourcing Symbian that was the problem. The main problem, as my buddy Mike Elgan puts it

      http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9209198/Mike_Elgan_Why_Nokia_is_toast

      is that Nokia long ago lost its strategic way. This Microsoft move, as he explains, won't help them any.

      Steven
      sjvn
  • Mr. Vaughan-Nichols, if you are so sure that

    [i]Google and its Android friends? I think they could care less[/i] then why did Google feel the need to contact Nokia with the offer of large amounts of money and developement engineers if they "could care less"

    I believe Google and its friends care a great deal more then you would care to admit.
    :|
    Tim Cook
    • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

      @Mister Spock Actually I doubt they are worried. Its not like WP7 was not available on nice hatdware already. People didn't want it. So if people didn't want Symbian how is WP7 going to help?

      Folks need to realize that Apple sold because it had a first mover advantage when everybody else was too stupid to move on the consumer market. Android sells now because of tie in with the most popular web services and being ultra customizable. Neither Nokia nor MS are bringing any of that to the table.
      storm14k
      • Really? Thats why despite much better competition now its selling 2x what

        iphone did and 10x what android did when they first came out? Is that why their appstore is growing orders of magnitude faster than androids did? and the tie in bs? WP has much better tie in with facebook than android. check out the hotmail and sharepoint numbers if you want to know what the popular web services are. and droids, yeah verizons moving them to bing... WP has the best services support of any phone platform out there, including an update service. < 1% of android users have ever gotten an update for their phone. I guess when the facts dont back you up you just start making crap up...
        Johnny Vegas
      • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

        Johnny Vegas,
        WP is not exciting enough, I have seen the same commercial over and over again of an ugly monster and a phone. Sorry a WP will not save me from my phone. I have had several Nokia phones and nothing but problems, switched to Samsung and have not had a single problem. No not a carrier problem. Two years is a long time to wait.
        choyongpil
      • RE: What Nokia's Windows move means for Open Source

        @storm14k Your posts get dumber and dumber. First things first. WP7 is not even 4 months old. Do I have to remind you how long it took Android, which is a horrid mess IMO, to actually sell? It took Motorola and the Droid to get it to sell. WP7 is not even four months old, and none of the WP7 hardware is what you could call truly great phones that people can't wait to buy. So you're wrong on it having great phones. You're also extremely premature about WP7's death.

        So keep hoping and praying.
        JoeHTH
      • Then explain Google's offer of money and talent.

        @storm14k <br>Do you not intervene in a situation that effects you personally, yet pay little attention to those that do not?<br><br>As you can see, Google must see this as something that will effect them personally, otherwise they would not have made their offers.

        You are not looking at the situation or events from a logical perspective.
        :|
        Tim Cook
      • Dose of Reality ...

        @JoeHTM <br><br>Let the numbers speak for themselves:<br><br><a href="http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19736_7-20031147-251.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19736_7-20031147-251.html</a><br><br>"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored" - Aldous Huxley
        MisterMiester