Microsoft and Open Source: Kissing cousins

In early 1994, the World Wide Web opened the gates of Internet travel for the average person -- the same year that the Netscape Navigator browser was released. By mid-1994, millions of PC users were riding the "information highway.

In early 1994, the World Wide Web opened the gates of Internet travel for the average person -- the same year that the Netscape Navigator browser was released. By mid-1994, millions of PC users were riding the "information highway."

On December 7, 1995, Microsoft announced its plans for the quantum leap to Internet time.

"The thing that really motivates us is paranoia and competition,'' says [Paul A.] Maritz [Microsoft group vice-president for platforms]. The day after Microsoft's Dec. 7 splash, Netscape CEO James L. Barksdale was asked about the threat Microsoft posed. His joking response: "God is on our side.'' That was like putting a match to dry kindling. "It's the kind of stuff that gets people up in a locker room,'' says [Brad] Silverberg, who now heads Microsoft's Internet division. "I want to thank Netscape. All this trash talk helped get us motivated.''

Today, Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominates the Web browser market.

Tux and Bill Gates
In November 2006, a Microsoft embarked on a similar quantum leap when it partnered with Novell to enable Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 to run on Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. 

In June 2007, Microsoft and Xandros entered into a Windows and Linux cross-platform agreement. In July, Xandros acquired Scalix (a former "Exchange Killer."). Last week, Microsoft and Xandros announced that they will develop an implementation of Exchange ActiveSync for the Xandros Scalix server.

Through 2007/2008, more rapid-fire agreements will extend Microsoft's reach into the open source world. Microsoft recognizes the threat that open source poses to the propriety, gated Microsoft community. 

As Daniel Eran points out in Yellow Road to Cairo:

Microsoft's move is savvy marketing. The more it can confuse customers about what Linux is by attaching Windows products to it, the less name recognition Linux will have on its own. And the less people will understand what free software and open source really mean.

I ran across a 2003 parody of a Microsoft verison of Linux

Tux Gates
Microsoft Linux provides all the power of the Linux Operating System with the ease of use you've come to expect from Microsoft Products. 

MS Linux is released under the provisions of the Gates Private License, which means you can freely use this Software on a single machine without warranty after having paid the purchase price and annual renewal fees.

Four years later, fiction is the stuff from which fact is brewing.