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The Microsoft secret and open source

If you want a lot of traffic, and a ton of talkbacks, just mention the magic word. Microsoft.

Snow White and the witch, from Disney Wikia
There is a secret to this business of open source blogging.

If you want a lot of traffic, and a ton of talkbacks, just mention the magic word.

Microsoft.

This is demonstrated by the 19th most popular blog post here in 2008, my October piece on Microsoft's dance with open source businesses.

The picture tells the story. It's from Disney's Snow White, and shows the witch pushing the poisoned apple on our heroine.

This was enough to stimulate 131 talkbacks. The ZDNet readership inclines toward users of Microsoft products. But we also have some loud open source advocates. Fireworks are guaranteed.

Not just here. Today, for instance, our sister publication in the UK has a piece by Mark Taylor of SiriusIT, calling Microsoft's very definition of open source a straw man.

Microsoft representatives generally try to establish a world view sympathetic to their own by talking as if the accepted distinction in the open-source arena is between commercial and non-commercial. That definition is inaccurate and its intent is to damage.

The true distinction is between proprietary and non-proprietary. The false distinction between commercial and non-commercial is designed to imply that only proprietary software is acceptable commercially — that is, companies should keep buying the proprietary stuff and leave the non-proprietary to hobbyists.

This is very much what I was getting at in October. And it's probably why the word Microsoft will be magic on this blog for some time to come.