Microsoft: Open source 'not reliable or dependable'

Microsoft: Open source 'not reliable or dependable'

Summary: The software giant characterises open source as mainly of interest to local community projects, without the benefits of a commercial model

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A senior Microsoft executive told a BBC World documentary that people should use commercial software if they're looking for stability.

"I don't think [open source] is anti-Microsoft in the sense that it's giving people choices in the technologies that they use," Jonathan Murray, the vice-president and chief technology officer of Microsoft Europe, told BBC World in the first part of the documentary "The Code Breakers", which aired this week.

"Some people want to use community-based software, and they get value out of sharing with other people in the community. Other people want the reliability and the dependability that comes from a commercial software model. And again, at the end of the day you make the choice based on what has the highest value to you," Murray continued.

It isn't clear from Murray's statement which category he believes commercial open source companies, such as Red Hat and MySQL, fit in to.

Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the One Laptop Per Child project, was also interviewed in the documentary, and disagreed with Microsoft's claim that open source is inferior.

"We've chosen free and open software because it's better, and because it means the children can participate in making the software better over time," said Negroponte.

Kenneth Cukier, a technology correspondent for The Economist, weighed in halfway between the two by claiming that open source offers similar functionality to proprietary software.

"One can consider open source software a lot like generic drugs. The analogy fits," said Cukier in the documentary. "Open source software... is essentially the same product — it does the same thing on a computer — but it costs less," Cukier told BBC World.

The documentary also included footage of Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, giving a speech, and interviews with people working on open source projects in developing countries, such as the Schoolnet Namibia project and the Digital Doorway project in South Africa.

Part 2 of "The Code Breakers" is due to be screened next week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Programme times can be found on the BBC World Web site.

Currently the documentary is only available on BBC World, which isn't broadcast in the UK.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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8 comments
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  • It sounds like a simple case of talking down the opponent. "Yes, that's nice - a bit like Grandma down the road baking cakes for the village fayre. You wouldn't want to do catering for your 1000 guest party on Grandma's cakes now would you".

    My first impression was that the statements were hilarious. Windows dependable??? Must be having a laugh! I can't think of one place where I've seen Windows "just work" yet I've seen open source software just work.

    Back on open source and open systems now and suddenly my life is far calmer. There are far fewer surprises like yet another timeout or an OleDb driver that bombs if you try to read the wrong number. Things work as expected, and there's no rush in Eclipse as there is in Visual Studio to finish debugging in 60 seconds before COM times out.
    anonymous
  • I switched to OSS a couple of years ago, and apart from the odd project where a client specifically requires me to work under Windows, I rarely use Windows because I find the OSS equivalents to be more reliable and stable.

    I use OSS not because I am an idealist or I am anti-Microsoft. I don't like some of the things they do, but this isn't an idealogical crusade against MS.

    I use OSS because it is more flexible, feature rich and does what I need it to do. I find going back to the inflexibilities of Windows to be very frustrating when I have to work on it.
    anonymous
  • I agree with the statement that you have to choose according to what provides you value. However I strongly disagree that Open Source is inferior due to the fact that Open Source does not follow a commercial model. Did the fact that windows is a commercial product stop it from being ravaged by the code red & and nimda worms to name a couple. Does the commercial model stop Microsoft releasing service packs which break applications and then need hot fixes for the service packs. Is that reliability and dependability. Don't get me started on Microsoft Office and Internet explorer.

    The Internet is a prime example to show the stupidity of these comments regarding OSS. The Internet has it's roots in community software and collaboration. In fact I would go as far as to say that 80% of the Internet is based on community software. Although the Internet is made up of community based software, it does allow the creation and delivery of commercially based services and products (amazon.com). Microsoft... You need to be solution focused and not product focused. Once you start selling solutions and benefits instead of products, I don't think that statements like these will be made.
    anonymous
  • DNS, SMTP, SNMP, TCP/IP, etc, etc.

    All Open Source and without it their wouldn't be an Internet and around the globe Microsoft networks would stop functioning.

    I dare Microsoft to ban all Open Source related depandencies for all of their own products with their next security patch release and put their money where their mouth is.

    Should they do that then Microsoft will have to file for Chapter 11 within three months.

    At least Microsoft should explain in public to their high paying customers why Microsoft requires it's customers to still depand on 'not reliable or dependable' technologies. Is that perhaps the reason why so often freezes, unscheduled reboots and what not happens? Mind you, more so then when other, alternative, solutions are put in place.

    The real truth is that the Western world can't survive a sudden and complete loss of everything Open Source yet, although difficult, if the same would happen to Microsoft then the impact wouldn't be so high by far. Think about it: loss of communication versus loss of product. With the added fact that Open Source has product replacements in place and working but the other way around there's nothing.

    If you are not aware of that fact then you've been sadly misinformed by whomever you take advise from. In such a case the only question remaining is: why? What's to gain from misleading you?
    anonymous
  • What do they use in the Super Computer enverinorment? Take a guess. M$ FYI, out of the top 100 SuperComputers on the top 500 list, 43 are Linux.. Go figure. No FUD there.
    anonymous
  • More M$ misspeak, and the only ones who will believe this are M$ employees. Perhaps it would be better to say that, "M$ is not reliable or dependable." This has MUCH more truth and fact than,"open source is not reliable or dependable." Facts speak louder than words, but the fact that an M$ employee said this should remove any truth from the statement. They are known, worldwide as the most unstable, unreliable, most insecure OS on the face of planet earth.
    anonymous
  • Well M$ can say what they want. Let the facts speak for them selves. Linux went to mars on the rovers not because it was unreliable but because it was reliable. M$ is great were you can get to the computer to reboot it but in a real situation or should I say Mission critical the only OS of choice is not windows is UNIX Based.

    I think what is missing here is the Open source community should state the facts to the public.

    Windows says where to you want to go today and Linux goes there.
    anonymous
  • Yep would agree with the above comments, of course the reason they didnt put windows on the rovers for the mars missions is they needed to keep the vehicles small and compact, they didnt want to put huge hard drives and huge amounts of RAM onboard just to run the OS :)
    anonymous