Open source community wooed by Microsoft

Open source community wooed by Microsoft

Summary: Microsoft was out in force at an open source conference in London this week, but many delegates were unwilling to talk about its motives


Microsoft is redoubling its efforts to persuade business leaders that it is committed to working more closely with the open source community.

Jerry Fishenden, UK technology officer at Microsoft, took to the stage at the Open Source Business Conference in London on Wednesday to promote the technology giant’s strategy of co-operating, as well as competing, with open source companies.

Fishenden told ZDNet UK that the conference was a good opportunity to address the “misconception”, as he put it, that Microsoft was anti-open source.

"The issue is not as black and white as that," Fishenden said. "We’re not saying ‘either use Microsoft or use open source technologies’. We are part of a broad ecosystem. Fifty percent of open source projects are currently using Microsoft products, for example."

The company cited recent partnerships formed with open source vendors such as JBoss and MySQL as evidence that it was possible to both compete and collaborate in this space at the same time.

"Take Sun, for instance," Fishenden said. "It’s obvious we’re still competing with Sun, but we are doing joint work around Web services and interoperability. And we’ve recently released shared source licences for some of our products as well."

Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative covers a range of programmes. Some of these licences allow developers to view, modify and redistribute Microsoft source code, but others are more restrictive. The Reference Licence, for example, only allows code to be viewed.

Some open source advocates, such as Richard Stallman, have claimed in the past that developers should approach Microsoft's Shared Source licences with caution because of these restrictions. Earlier this week, Microsoft launched a site called CodePlex where people can access code made available under a Microsoft shared-source licence.

As the premium sponsor of the Open Source Business Conference, Microsoft’s charm offensive was much in evidence, and dominated many conversations between delegates. Few, though, would agree to speak openly about Microsoft.

Graham Taylor, programme director of independent open source body Open Forum Europe, told ZDNet UK that many delegates were sceptical about Microsoft's involvement with the event.

"I would prefer to see an open source supporter as the platinum sponsor, but it shows a sign of maturity in the open source market that Microsoft is getting involved," said Taylor.

But Taylor also thinks Microsoft has a long way to go to gain the trust of the open source community. "We’re not likely to see the leopard change its spots. For instance, it said it supported the idea of an open document format, but won’t support the ISO standard recently introduced to support this."

Ovum open source analyst Laurent Lachal said the market has forced Microsoft to be more pragmatic in its approach to open source.

"I think it will open source some of its products, in response to the pressure from increased technology convergence," Lachal said. "And it will be increasingly important for it to interact with open source products and move the discussion about ‘open source’ onto ‘open standards’."

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • I don't know how many of the "open source community" were at the OSBC conference, but while many of the speakers were very good, there were a number there who don't really have any position to speak on free software.

    Moving the discussion from open source to open standards is probably exactly what proprietary vendors like Microsoft would like, but is of little interest to those in the community.
  • "Microsoft was anti-open source." Why would anyone think that? Just because they funded SCO, said Linux
    was illegal because it was free. Because they don't want the competition from an OS that works. If you can't trust M$, then who can you trust?
  • All Microsoft's actions since 2001, have been nothing but "smoke and mirrors". They only play the open-source card because they know they have no choice. This is another bit of PR nonsense. And its a recent tactical change. (Don't think I'm stupid MS, I know your sudden change of heart is a renewed initiative to gun after open-source...It stands in your way...It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out). You'd have to be pretty oblivious to the real world, if you can't see that.

    Remember the following examples:
    (1) MS Anti-Linux FUD campaign => "Get the Facts"

    (2) Bill Hilf of MS open-source Lab said just last week: "...Most open-source code is terribly inferior to commercial software code..."

    (3) In 2001, Steve Ballmer said: "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches"

    They only act friendly because they know they're cornered. They know they can't compete. They tried legal nonsense using SCO as a sacrificial lamb. They tried FUD with their "Get the Facts". They even tried to copy ideas and infrastructure. Their Codex website is just a copy of!

    I do NOT wish to use ANY of their infrastructure, APIs, tools, etc on the projects I'm doing. I'm using and all the programming tools are either LGPL, GPL, MIT or BSD licenses. None of this MS tainted nonsense...Shared Source Initiative...What a joke.

    They came up with C# and .Net?
    I'm not gonna touch them. C/C++, Python, Ruby, Lua, and Java are my tools.

    MS is the disease that has plague both the end-user and the IT businesses...Heck, the entire industry.

    Have a think about why the major portion of the web is filled with garbage that guns after Windows and other MS solutions. Have a think about why the typical Windows user is still clueless as ever. Think about how much time, MS has wasted of the legal system with their 100+ anti-trust cases around the world! Have a think about why Microsoft is doing this recent open-source thing!

    You know what you do with a disease? You kill it by zapping it, vacination or cut it off. This is why the majority of the open-source community is ignoring MS. The better you don't work with them, the quicker they will die out.

    MS can offer a ton of "olive branches" for all we care. We ain't gonna accept them. We know in the end, we'll win. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but MS knows its eventually gonna happen. We will slowly grind into fhe market.

    Working or starting your business based on supporting MS solutions is a bad idea. Your back is always to the wall. If MS feels like it, they can crush you with a sudden change in infrastructure and initiatives. With open-source, we don't rely on MS. We are not at their mercy...We are not under their control...And they don't like it.

    Just think about "Windows Genuine Advantage". This is more than just to annoy pirates. Its gonna fustrate more and more users.

    MS's recent attempts are merely trying to "win the hearts and minds"...Well, its not gonna work. You ain't the US Army Special Forces, and you have a VERY untrustworthy history. No one would trust you as far as they can throw a Windows setup CD.
  • Microsoft has only one god, only one value: exploit, exploit, exploit. Other human beings exist for only one reason: to be used.

    Lie down with MS, and don't expect not to wake up in an ... interesting condition.

    And after MS has raped you, then it will "give back" to the world in the form of its college drop-out chairman playing god.

    Those are not open-source values. But if you don't want them, look no further than Microsoft.