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What Should Microsoft's Open Source Strategy Be? 1010

JWinterboy asks: "I'm guessing that everyone here has a valid criticism of Microsoft's attacks on, and approach towards the Open Source model. To me, that begs the question of what we think would be an "appropriate" reaction from Microsoft towards the Open Source model. It doesn't have a service arm, so IBM's approach isn't really viable. At the same time, non-service related business models haven't fared very well. What would we like to see Microsoft do? How can it work with the Open Source community, leverage its resources, and still make a buck?"
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What Should  Microsoft's Open Source Strategy Be?

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  • I bet you can't wait til they have their own distribution.
    • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 )
      I can't. Then Linux would actually be useful. I'd be able to do things like install a driver by *gasp* double clicking on the installer for it.

      Fault MS for many things, but it's hard to fault them for creating an OS that's easy to get around for the average user. No command prompts necessary here.

      I wish MS would do like Apple did and build Windows on top of a Linux or BSD based distro.
      • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:4, Informative)

        by AndyS ( 655 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:14PM (#3274154)
        As opposed to now, where I can install a driver by *gasp* clicking on it and selecting "install"

        I'm missing something here..... (apt-get install xserver)

        (Note, Linux is not as crippled as you make out, it's just that people don't make the best possible usage of systems such as apt-get and it's "competitors". These are in fact, much nicer - as the driver vendor would have a script (you'd have to come up with some sort of delivery system, but that wouldn't be too complicated - this could add a single line to a resource such as /etc/apt/sources.list - and then your drivers could be upgraded in much the same way as Windows upgrades Messenger and other apps)

        • by Com2Kid ( 142006 ) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @10:27PM (#3274554) Homepage Journal
          "I'm missing something here..... (apt-get install xserver)"

          How to install drivers on windows (the more or less insecure way, but hell, executables by their very nature. . . .)

          goto manufacturers web site

          goto driver page

          click driver

          select 'run from'




          wish you had broadband (hahah, I do. Yah!)

          Click yes

          Click next

          Click next

          Click "I agree that j00 0wn my s0ul"

          Click done


          Ok so A LOT of clicking is involved, but it is MUCH more intuitive them guessing at WTF you need. :) It is just downloading an EXE and running it from your browsers cache, then letting clicking through the standard boring 'yada yada yada' screens that almost any driver have.

          Windows also has the advantage that the WORST that can possibly go wrong is that you have to hit a key at startup and select use last best config. Handy that. :)

          Umm, what exactly IS the worst that installing an improper driver under Linux can do to ya anyways? I know that under the MS system that it USED to be able to cause hardware damage, but that is pretty much none existent now (as windows is far more likely to shit out then go on running hardware with the wrong driver, or it will shitout when some serious incompatability is found, take your pick. :) ) Windows actualy typicaly tends to just disable that singular device now days more often then it refuses to boot.
          • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:3, Informative)

            by LadyLucky ( 546115 )
            Nah baby.

            True story:

            I have a Sony Cybershot 3Mpixel digicam. It has a USB port to connect to the computer. So, my computer was on, and i plugged it in to windows XP. When i do, as i scramble from the back of my computer, i hear the hard disk whizzing. By the time i get to the top and can see the monitor, there is a dialog which says:

            "What would you like to do with the pictures? Print? E-mail? Open windows explorer?"

            And the best thing is... there are no pictures in the root folder of the drive it made for my camera, they are buried 2 folders deep.

            Quite honestly, that was fantastic. I didnt have to do ANYTHING.

      • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Sentry21 ( 8183 )
        You mean like, for example, someone making a self-extracting shell script installer with the driver contained therein?

        I hate to burst your counter-culture bubble, but the only reasons we don't have download & double-click drivers like Windows does are 1) developers don't bother; 2) the Linux kernel changes almost daily, while Windows stagnates for 3-5 years at a time.

        If you want to use Kernel 2.4.x until 2005, then people can put the effort into writing drivers, installers, and so on. Until then, or until kernel recompilation is easier, we'll have to live with insmod file.o or 'make && make install'

        • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bob McCown ( 8411 )
          And some people wonder why we can't get a decent hunk of the desktop market. OY!
        • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

          by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:37PM (#3274310) Homepage Journal
          "2) the Linux kernel changes almost daily, while Windows stagnates for 3-5 years at a time."

          Stagnates? One of the reasons that Windows makes a good Desktop OS is that it doesn't change that much over time. As a tweaker and a twiddler, it's fun to go in and make every little update that you can. But consider the major desktop audience. They want their computer to be as simple as 'turn on, do stuff, turn off.'.

          For Linux to try to de-throne Windows, it will have to be a lot more like Windows. Unfortunately, I think most of the Linux community barfs at this concept. Driver installs, for example, are a lot easier to do because Windows 'stagnates', or as I prefer to call, sticks to its standard.

          Unfortunately the Win9X line could never be considered a serious OS, just too unstable and inflexible. Because of this, a lot of people like to look at what's wrong with Windows and try to fix those problems. They forget to look at what they did right. Linux would seriously benefit from that if it seriously wants to battle Windows where it is strongest.

          Personally, I think Linux is better off staying off of the average desktop. The people who love it so much today will lose a lot of what they love in the process.

          • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Alien54 ( 180860 )
            For Linux to try to de-throne Windows, it will have to be a lot more like Windows.

            Actually, it will have to be a lot better than windows, or else there have to be other compelling reasons to switch, like the cost of hardware vs the MS Tax.

            Which MS is desperately trying to avoid as a fate.

            • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

              by AcidDan ( 150672 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @11:06PM (#3274727)
              Actually, it will have to be a lot better than windows

              Interestingly, I was at an Entrepreneurial Conference put on by SEA (www.sea.org.au) in 1999, and a gentlemen pointed out that you'll never be successful making a better product, You're successful by making your product different.

              To be quite honest, open source products are not going to be chosen simply because they are "better" - you have to show the consumer what's in it for them, what the product is going to give them over the competition.

              One cannot think of Microsoft products individually, the difference/value that Microsoft provides its customers is a family of integrated/all work-together products. That's where Microsoft's success is: in it's product cohesion.

              Cohesion/Consistency is what the consumer wants and ironically are willing to put up with a few BSODs every week (tho if you've used XP, this is a hell of a lot less...). Most "Joe Average's" I know associate "free" with "cheap/nasty". Until such times as Open-source products can get past this mis-informed attitude, then it will be relegated to the back office and those adventurous souls that actually know better.

              As for Microsoft and Open-source co-existing? I think today that Microsoft would probably be happy as far as the consumer market is concerned... However, in the server arena they are more worried...

              -- Dan "Maybe I should have done marketing instead of Software Engineering" Thomas =)
          • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Sentry21 ( 8183 )
            I don't think that the choice is between updating and stagnating. Look at OS X for example, or even the old OS8/9. Apple releases updates every now and then, fixes this, fixes that, updates code, adds features. Free updates that don't break things, and driver installs there are pretty easy, last I checked.

            I think OS X has the best of both worlds because they started over. They have the flexibility (UNIX), but also the usability (MacOS 6-9).

          • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

            by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @10:57PM (#3274687) Homepage
            Unfortunately, I think most of the Linux community barfs at this concept.

            You'll probably get a lot of flack for this anyway, but I do want to make this point - Of course we "barf" at it, if we wanted Linux to be more like Windows, we'd use Windows, not Linux. The point of Linux is not to displace Windows, but rather to provide a better suited OS for the market segment that MS increasingly does not care about (probably because we are just not too numerous compared to the "home user"), the so called "advanced" user.

            Of course since we prefer Linux we think that others would as well, and constantly babble and whine about "widespread desktop adoption" "market penetration" and other vaguely sexual marketing buzzwords. But in the long run we probably only care about others using it to "prove" that what we like is better than what others like - a very common sentiment. Deep down I (as I've think I've said a few times before) couldn't really care less about who else uses Linux, as long as it continues to do what I like.

            Having said all that, I can't agree with statements like "Linux should stay off the desktop" I would say that statements like "RedHat (or Mandrake, or Debian) should stay off the average desktop" are more appropriate, while still arguable :) It's one thing to say that the current GNU/Linux incarnations are not suitable for the average (to us - retarded) user, but it's another to say that only Windows can succeed there - this, I think, is fundamentally wrong. There will be more and more segmentation in the desktop market, and the most numerous (ie most profitable) will most likely be the "average" "home" user, with little (as it seems to us) functionality and with the "turn on, maybe do stuff, turn off" experience. Now, while we all think that Windows goes too far to accomodate this user, it may just be that it doesn't go far enough. And perhaps will never be able to, because of their reliance on having a single product acomodating everyone (already to a detriment of the more advanced users). I guess what I am trying to say is that it's conceivable that rather soon, MS will not be able to make Windows Home, Windows Business, Windows Developer, Windows Visual Artist, etc. distinct enough to satisfy any of those groups. While GNU/Linux distributions, targeted at one specific group and maintained and developed by companies dedicated to that one group would be a lot more suitable in their niche.

            This of course does not take into account the non technical advantages in the field that MS enjoys, and will certainly fight to their death for, but I am not talking about anything related to real life :) I am just trying to say that nothing in the Linux business model (and certainly not any fundamental lack of technical merits) prevents it from being an effective desktop system, for most kinds of users, and blanket statements such as "it should stay out of this or that" just don't seem to carry much sense.

            • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

              by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @11:36PM (#3274872) Homepage Journal
              I see what you are saying, and I agree with you. I would like to make a point about something you said, though:

              " It's one thing to say that the current GNU/Linux incarnations are not suitable for the average (to us - retarded) user..."

              There's no such thing as a retarded user. It's human nature that everybody is different. Some of us run our desktops at 1024 by 768, some of us run them at 3200 by 1200 (dual). What you're really saying is that people have different tastes, and some of us don't want to have to fight with just getting the computer to come on like it should. A good deal of the Linux community would say "wtF? It's real easy to get a driver going, just do this, this and this." But us newbs don't want to climb that tree until it is interesting to us.

              Linux, in any incarnation, would do seriously well to address the issue of how to get a newb into using it with as few hiccups as possible. Everybody is 'retarded' until they are educated, they are not mentally defective against using Linux. So when somebody says "I tried to use Linux, but I couldn't even get the video driver to behave", instead of saying 'retard', say "I bet I could make a distro of Linux that fixes that problem". That's what GPL is all about, if I'm not mistaken.

              I don't mean to imply that you meant more than you did with that comment, but I you are right that I have taken some flack over the whole 'preferring Win2k over Linux because I can use it' attitude. It's okay to take away the opinion that I am a moron, but do us both a favor and listen to why I made the choice I did.

              P.S. That was a wonderful response, thank you.
      • I can't. Then Linux would actually be useful. I'd be able to do things like install a driver by *gasp* double clicking on the installer for it

        Make something idiot proof and only an idiot will use it. It sounds like windows is just the thing for you.
    • This might work, actually.

      If a Microsoft-branded, Microsoft-supported version of Linux was out there, I imagine a lot of companies skittishly making the move from closed-source to open-source might jump at the chance to have Microsoft hold their hand through the process. The old no-one-ever-got-fired-for-choosing-Microsoft line still resonates.

      Microsoft could use FUD to scare corporate Linux adopters away from Red Hat ("Only Microsoft knows how to make Linux and Windows play nice together", etc.) and steal away enough support contracts to impact Red Hat's bottom line.

      Meanwhile, Microsoft reps would use the old bait-and-switch, offering Microsoft Linux as the "cheap" way to run your business, then "sell up" by pointing out all the newly-developed exclusive bugs -- I mean, features Microsoft would have tagged onto Windows, and asking why the purchasing agent wants the *cheap* solution instead of the *best* solution.

      Microsoft could even add certain pecularities to their file structure and other aspects of their Linux distro to make it difficult or expensive to port Microsoft Linux apps to other flavors of Linux.

      Embrace and extend worked in the past, and it could still work. Microsoft would be a dangerous competitor in the Linux market.

  • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:03PM (#3274068)
    I think MS should release a piece of code everytime a bug is found, and have the opensource community fix the bug.

    We'd have the entire source tree in a few weeks. Ready, set, go.

    • In little itty bitty pieces. Maybe with a halfway decent codebase, you could put it back together... but damn. This would be like being a trauma surgeon trying to reattach a guys severed limbs, and being handed 3 legs and 4 arms. Part of the problem, I'm 100% sure, is that the pieces *just don't fit together*.
  • by delta407 ( 518868 )

    Personally, I don't see how Microsoft -- a closed and proprietary company -- could ever cooperate with Open Source Software. Their shared sorce program is a weak attempt, not at opening up, but increasing market share in one area where they're lacking. Yeah, that's a real open source attitude: present some code to the public to get more money.

    Besides, Microsoft has already made clear that the GPL is a threat to capitalism; hence, their desire to have nothing to do with it.

    • Open Source != GPL
    • "Personally, I don't see how Microsoft -- a closed and proprietary company -- could ever cooperate with Open Source Software. "

      And yet they rake in billions. It's simple really, without open source, other people can't sell your software.

      This is success as in beer, not success as in information. Err...
    • by tshak ( 173364 )
      Personally, I don't see how Microsoft -- a closed and proprietary company -- could ever cooperate with Open Source Software.

      Like Apple?

      Besides, Microsoft has already made clear that the GPL is a threat to capitalism; hence, their desire to have nothing to do with it.

      Well, it is. Now, whethor or not a threat to capitalism is a good or bad thing is left to the reader to determine. The bottom line is, there is still no proven way for coders to make money off of GPL's software. Red Hat makes money, true, but little of that money makes it to the major contributers of Linux. Capitalism is about making money. The GPL is about programming for fun and community innovation. They are logical opposites.
      • by JordanH ( 75307 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @10:28PM (#3274558) Homepage Journal
          • Besides, Microsoft has already made clear that the GPL is a threat to capitalism; hence, their desire to have nothing to do with it.

          Well, it is. Now, whethor or not a threat to capitalism is a good or bad thing is left to the reader to determine.

        I disagree. Capitalist businesses will benefit greatly by not having to pay for restrictive software licenses.

        Although I don't have hard data, I would venture that most people in software are not employed writing and testing closed source products that are sold, but making custom mods for internal use, supporting installed systems, doing system installation and integration and other services. These endevours can all benefit from Open Source.

        Furthermore, the closed source companies seem to be doing OK. Microsoft is making record profits. Oracle, Siebold, SAP all seem to be unaffected, so far, from Open Source.

        Open Source represents competition to the Closed Source companies, but I believe that everyone benefits from competition. For example, the improved reliability of W2K and WXP over earlier offerings is, IMHO, a direct reaction, to some extent, to Linux and FreeBSD. I think that MS has actually benefitted from this renewed focus on stability. You can actually learn your best lessons from your competitors, if you are listening.

        All this speculation about how OSS will kill the software companies is, so far, just speculation.

  • Facing GPL'ed competition that they can't buy and assimilate - and not being able to GPL their own software without loosing their revenue stream - they are stuck.

    If I was in charge of Microsoft - I'd attempt to subvert the legal/patent system in order to kill the GPL.

  • by mikosullivan ( 320993 ) <miko.idocs@com> on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:06PM (#3274092)
    I'd be satisfied if they stopped breaking the anti-trust laws. Beyond that, let the market decide. Open source will win in the market. I think MS knows that and that's why they're increasingly afraid.
  • Oxy Moron (Score:2, Insightful)

    by guamman ( 527778 )
    Microsoft says the opensource model doesn't work because they don't want an opensource model. It might be inconcievable to the rest of us, but there are some people that favor an extreme capitalist system and don't want software, among other things, to be shared for free. If microsoft doesn't like that, good for them. My only critizicism of microsoft is how they berate other ways to thinking, specifically opensource. It's this closed minded approach to others that really makes microsoft the evil giant many people think of.
  • First thing (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by serps ( 517783 )

    First thing they must learn is the correct usage of begging the question [google.com]. Sheesh

  • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:07PM (#3274099) Homepage
    I think Apple has proved Open Source's usefulness for businesses and the general consumer market. Yes, their license is strictly controlled, but look at the innovation that has come out of it. They have the first and only viable "Unix for the Masses(tm)".
    • by kbs ( 70631 )
      Microsoft doesn't have a hardware side to make profits out of. Remember, Apple writes software to sell hardware, whereas Microsoft doesn't have that option.

      Note that when Intel tried to write software to help them sell more MMX functions, MS told them to stop, because it would be construed as competition.
      • by melquiades ( 314628 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @12:22AM (#3275032) Homepage
        It's true that Apple's end goal is selling more hardware. The particular way in which open source has done this, however, it to make their hardware more attractive by raising the quality of the software that it will run.

        So, Microsoft could use open source in manner parallel to Darwin (and Apple's treatment of Apache, SSH, Perl, etc etc) to improve their software. Whether or not they're a hardware vendor, improving their software should make it more attractive to customers, and thus Increase Shareholder Value.

        Actually, I suppose that competing on the cutting edge of quality is a novel strategy for MS. But heck, if they wanted to start doing that more more often....
    • I agree.

      In fact, I bet Apple would love to see a modest investment, say $6 Bln - a fraction of MS' current warchest, estimated at >$30Bln - into Darwin. An investment into an OSS platform might be part of a settlement that would satisfy the 9 states. Maybe not, but it's worth a try.

      A solid OSS OS like Darwin, with support from Apple and MS, available for X86 and PPC would be a considerable competitor to Linux. A lot of corporate types would feel comfortable about using this where they currently feel unsure about Linux. MS could sweeten it a lot by offering their Office Suite on this OS, but insist that they'll never offer it on Linux. This would backup Bill's contention that there's a healthy ecology between OSS and proprietary that the GPL breaks.

      MS could, at some point, come out with their own Darwin-based OS with proprietary kernel enhancements integrated into it. They already have a start with the CLR ported to FreeBSD. This new OS could use a Windows GUI, but be mostly Darwin underneath. The corporations that want to have the benefits of running OSS would snap up such a Darwin based offering from MS. It would represent the best of both worlds. The advantages of community development and the testing and deep pockets of MS behind it.

      This new OS might be more appropriate for Net appliances, web servers, and a number of things where *BSD is showing to be superior. Heck, it might compete head-to-head with Windows, but they wouldn't really have to position it that way at first.

      MS could move all the people in their development groups who might be sympathetic to Open Source over to these projects, energizing the Windows people to compete.

      Now, it seems that the MS culture is one where they don't feel they have to compete on engineering as MS can depend on their power to intimidate and eliminate competitors. This fosters a sick culture of non-competition.

      I think companies that are afraid of internal competition don't recognize that it's better to compete internally than to leave the opportunities up to your external competitors.

      I doubt that MS would ever do any of this, however.

  • No service arm? Wha? (Score:5, Informative)

    by KFury ( 19522 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:08PM (#3274102) Homepage
    Check it out: Microsoft Consulting Services [microsoft.com].

    They built GAP.com [gap.com], among other things. Operations in 30+ countries and all that stuff...
  • I don't think it's possible for M$ to be FS/OSS friendly. Their business strategy is nearly the antithesis of the FS/OSS model. I believe they just might be irreconcilable... they will simply always be at odds, like IBM and Sun, or Coke and Pepsi. There's room for both, but that doesn't mean they'll ever play nicely.

    At best, MS could at least start trying to be standards-friendly, competing purely on quality of implementation, but who here REALLY thinks that they'll actually DO that?
  • play fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:10PM (#3274113) Homepage
    If Microsoft's products are worth the money, then people will buy them without being coerced to by incompatible file formats, protocols, and APIs. Their strategy should be good citizenship in the software community (open AND closed source), by making a good faith effort to make interoperability possible.

    I think a lot of the animosity toward Microsoft comes from the obstacles they put in the way of fair competition. Standards are the means by which software can compete on the basis of merit, and Microsoft takes advantage of the fact that pragmatically, a market leader's de facto standard speaks much louder than any written document.
    • " Standards are the means by which software can compete on the basis of merit, and Microsoft takes advantage of the fact that pragmatically, a market leader's de facto standard speaks much louder than any written document."

      What are they supposed to do? It's hard to innovate when a standard is set in stone.
      • Re:play fair (Score:4, Insightful)

        by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:56PM (#3274422)

        What are they supposed to do? It's hard to innovate when a standard is set in stone.

        Oddly enough, Cisco has become a pretty sizable business while their products manage to adhere to standards (I won't claim that they 'develop' them anymore - Cisco doesn't have an R&D budget).
        • Re:play fair (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sulli ( 195030 )
          Cisco has the best acquisition strategy in the business. Not sure where they are now but during the boom they were acquiring around 25 companies per year. The acquired companies were/are their R&D! Brilliant.
      • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @10:31PM (#3274568)
        > [Microsoft says] " Standards are the means by which software can compete on the basis of merit, and Microsoft takes advantage of the fact that pragmatically, a market leader's de facto standard speaks much louder than any written document."
        > What are they supposed to do? It's hard to innovate when a standard is set in stone.

        "I love the way Microsoft follows standards.
        In much the same manner that fish follow migrating caribou."
        - Paul Tomblin, as seen in USENET, in one of my all-time favorite .sigs.

  • They can't. Open the OS code - exposing all the hidden APIs - would remove the advantage that their office suite and other software has.

    OTOH, it might work anyway, since everyone wants office nowdays. I can't remember the last user to request Word Perfect. If they open up - expose more functionality and make it even easier to program for they might win mind share.

  • First of all, Microsoft does sell support. This is basically RedHat's business model: support to enterprise customers. Pricy and good.

    And fully open APIs (a la Sun) wouldn't hurt them at all.

  • Actually MS does have a large service segment. According to their 2001 annual report 22,500 of the 47,600 employees work in sales, marketing, and support. And if anyone can figure out how to make money on services it would be MS.
  • Let Microsoft hire some strategists to solve this problem. Why should we solve it for them for free?
  • one thing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ryusen ( 245792 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:20PM (#3274203) Homepage
    why not open up the code for the stuff they don't make money on? heh open up IE, Messenger, etc. Don't allow anyone to distibute their own versions, but let people look and submit bug fixes etc. It would not be a huge step, but i'd be a step in gaining people's trust
    • Re:one thing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ender81b ( 520454 ) <billd@[ ]braska.com ['ine' in gap]> on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:37PM (#3274312) Homepage Journal
      why not open up the code for the stuff they don't make money on? heh open up IE, Messenger, etc. Don't allow anyone to distibute their own versions, but let people look and submit bug fixes etc. It would not be a huge step, but i'd be a step in gaining people's trust

      Of course they make money on them - otherwise they wouldn't make the product. IE is designed to garner market share, to force people to use IE gives ms alot of 'pull' when it comes to the web - in particular designing proprietary protocols that only work with MS products like .Net and ActiveX. MS messenger I'm not to sure on other than this - it gets people a .Net passport which means it will be 'easier' to shove products down their throat - they already have a passport just buy! (same with hotmail).

      A more realistic approach would be for microsoft to realase 'old' code - stuff like MS-dos 5.0, or maybe 6.0. Windows 3.1 - products they no longer support. It would be interesting to see what would come of this.
      • heh i guess i rushed when i posted.. i should have put not make money on in quotes... i meant the stuff they claim they gie away for free...
        but you have an intresting point about the non-suppoorted stuff... that would make a whole market for older windows systems though... heh imagine people getting win95 and eventually ramping it up so it was better than winxp (sure it's unlikely, but it's possible)
  • Simple! (Score:3, Funny)

    by BurritoWarrior ( 90481 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:22PM (#3274212)
    1. Tell everyone that Unix/Linux is bad.
    2. Create a web site to explain the way out of the Unix trap.
    3. Host web site on BSD.
    4. Remove foot from mouth.
    5. Go back to drawing board.
  • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:22PM (#3274215) Homepage
    There's a number of approaches:

    a) IBM approach- GPL windows and keep office closed
    b) keep everything closed and make GPL illegal by changing the law
    c) find a way to crack GPL legally (find/make a hole in it that makes it unefforceable somehow; hey OJ got off first time around ;-) )
    d) buy Linus Torvalds/Red Hat off [perhaps they have already ;-)]
    e) create their own Linux distro add closed source interfaces and stuff office and IE on top
    f) abandon the software domain and put their $30+G into other businesses
    g) spread out into other applications; move away from the OS
    h) Buy off Richard Stallman
    i) kill em; kill all of them (order hits on main GPL proponents)
    j) who cares? let's just buy a small Island somewhere instead. Australia?
  • 1. Steal Code bully someone around buy someone out.
    2. ...
    3. Profit
  • by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:25PM (#3274241)
    What MS should do to work well with Open Source:
    a) Document API's thoroughly, and keep the docs up to date
    b) Standards: Microsoft is frequently the first one to implement a standard or to make it mainstream. As an example, XSLT comes to mind. AFAIK, IE was the first browser to support XSLT. As the first big boys there, they usually claim the right to make modifications to a standard or to fill in details in the standard. They could win a lot of goodwill merely by consult other companies and open source developers before as they implement the standard. This will greatly reduce (though probably not eliminate) the feeling of railroading that we all feel when MS' software doesn't follow standards, and we all have to deal with it.
    c) Document and admit mistakes and bugs. One of the most infuriating things about Microsoft software, is that it either doesn't do what it says, as in undocumented behavior and bugs, or cryptic error messages saying things don't work unless the OS is configured right (which is true ipso facto, but somewhat accusatory, and certainly not helpful). I think this happens mostly because they can get away with it, and writing thorough documentation for your programs is not nearly as satisfying or financially rewarding as designing and writing the code itself. They could again improve goodwill if they were responsive to outside developer's questions about these bugs and behaviors, rather than being dismissive.

    I'm sure there are more, but these sure would make it easier for an outsider to like Microsoft.
  • Embrace and extend!
  • It's really all they do anyhow. I suggest that
    they open their source.

  • A good April Fool's Joke.

  • They should lay down and die. In this way, the balance between good and evil might not just be restored, but swung in the direction of "good" for awhile.
  • by Bilbo ( 7015 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:32PM (#3274290) Homepage
    How about...

    They continue to write their closed source, proprietary software, but they adopt open protocols, without trying to co-opt them with hidden API's. They stop adding Feature Bloat, and get serious about security, and the overall quality of their products.

    In short, the only thing they change is to write quality software that stands on its own merits, rather than on the force of their marketing machine and existing OS monopoly.
  • by kaiidth ( 104315 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:33PM (#3274291)
    The principle difficulty with using Microsoft products is that they seem barely capable of communicating with anything but other Microsoft products. I'd like MS to consider putting all libraries useful for interoperability available in open-source (without the useless licence) form. That way, well, if their software was better than the free version one could use them, and MS and non-MS software could be used together...

    Basically it doesn't seem that Microsoft can totally change to an open-source strategy now. Even if they weren't too embarassed/unrepentantly monopolistic to want to.

    I don't really see that they would open-source the entirety of Office, but it'd be nice if Microsoft were to make owning Office an option rather than a restrictive locked-in technology (yeah, I know. Word viewer available, inconsistent specs available. Not quite the same as working source code).

    In any case, if the arguments about Linux's unsuitability for the desktop are correct, they have nothing to fear - if Linux users were to create Word documents or WMV or whatever with the code they were graciously permitted to use, the average human being would prefer to buy a nice user-friendly copy of Windows and view them on that.

    Of course, if somebody were to create a piece of word processing software that happened to be better than Word and utterly interoperable, they'd lose out, but we all know that'd never happen (yeah, right).
  • Open Source any piece of software that they claim to no longer publicly support. Need support for 95? Found a bug in 98? Sorry, you can either fix the problem yourself or upgrade to XP. Your choice. I wouldn't mind that.
  • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <gundbear@ p a c b e ll.net> on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:36PM (#3274309) Homepage
    They have a whole friggin open source OS (Darwin) which they have grafted their own closed source technology (displayPDF, QuickTime, CoreAudio, etc), and are selling for $130, or bundling with their Macs.

    They also have an open source Darwin Streaming Server, and a complementary closed source QuickTime Streaming Server. They bundle Apache as their HTTP server, as well.

    What can Microsoft do that would be similar?

    How about release the DirectX library as open source? However, use their own in house optimization-compilation technology to ensure that their own DX libs are 10% or 15% faster than anything out there... IE, outinnovate the competition, themselves?

    Or release their older Office programs as open source? Sell newer, more advanced copies, but allow the general public to self support and modify their older versions? Of course, again, the key is to out innovate yourself to convince people to buy the newest version instead of incrementally updating and fixing the older, free source version.

    Or rather, release a Office Core, which allows you to compile a very basic Office devoid of nifty features... though this might backfire, as people don't generally use 80% of the features in Office, do they?
  • First of all, the phrase "begs the question" does NOT mean "raises the question". This is not a post that will only correct grammar, so please bear with me.

    I think MS should stop attacking Open Source in the market and cite it as the competition the MS detractors have been calling for. Until Open Source starts pulling in more than a couple % of the desktop market, I don't think they have to worry about it being REAL competition, but APPARENT competition might actually do MS some good (as far as public image).
  • (sarcasm mode) It has always worked. Release new office, IE etc using a few undocumented (uncommented) API's. Include them in the documentation 5 years later as a documentation correction. That would keep the competition about 5-1/2 years behind. (/sarcasm mode) Basicaly change nothing. Promise open source and provide some of it only with the published API's keeping the ace up the sleeve as usual. (protect the OS but make developement dependent on only published MS middleware API's) Send out updates late and only after MS has developed the latest and greatest middleware bundles in the OS. API's to use MS middleware would be documented and commented to make it the new adopted standard therby keeping the underlying OS a requirement for all developer applications.
  • Quite simple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Libor Vanek ( 248963 )
    1. Publish whole API and use it corectly
    2. Modularize system (kernel, GUI, IE, Messenger, drivers) and allow to use/change each module separately
    3. Use standards (XHTML, SMB, Kerberos...) and dont't change them in any way

  • open and closed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by josepha48 ( 13953 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:45PM (#3274355) Journal
    The BSD style license would not work for them. The wine community would use their stuff as would to many others. The GPL, LGPL and some others like that would also not work as they would require that source changes be returned. They could however license it to developers. Like buy the OS and then you can buy the source. You can look at the source to develop your product and if you find bugs you can send in requests for fixes with code snippets which they could review and choose to include or not to include. The ULA that would work for them would include some statement that would say that you could not use this code in other projects.

    Personally I don't think they could do it. See the movie Revolution OS, which has ESR, RMS, Linus T, and Bruce P. They actually dealt with Billy gates back in teh 70's about this issue. Billy said "Open Source is a bad business model" back then. How can anyone make money off of it. It is a good movie to see if you want a better understanding of where they all were coming from.

  • What Should Microsoft's Open Source Strategy Be? its How Big A Troll Can Slashdot's Anti-Microsoft Stance Be?
  • If MS's business model is acceptable, then they should stick with it. It'd be silly for them to move out of it into Open Source unless it can make more for them then it is making now. If their strategy is leaving people aching for something different, then MS is creating a market for somebody to fill.

    Look at Star Office, for example. That's not a bad product. It was free, not sure what the pricing is like now but I'm willing to be that it's far better than Office is today. On top of that, it is cross platform. What it really needs at this point is marketing.

    Let's talk about XP for a sec. What's wrong with XP? Well, the part that bugs me most about it is the requiring my computer to talk to a server in order to be unlocked. I'm sorry, but I find this distasteful. Lets say I build a new computer for myself, I want my other one to stay running until I'm ready to transition over. With Win2k, this is no big deal. I can install it on the new computer. It'd be installed on two computers for 3-4 days, which would violate the license. I can't imagine MS minding a whole lot, that is until they found out about it, i.e. when XP tells them I did that.

    People grunt and moan every time MS makes a decision like this, but in reality this creates a new opportunity for Linux. I find it seriously unlikely that Linux'd ever attempt this. It should be noted that way! RedHat, for example, should say "you don't need our permission to turn your computer on!"

  • It's clearly possible for Microsoft to package all the sources together
    for all the programs that go into making Windows XP, and sell it.
    It's easy to understand not releasing the copyright,
    and it would cost more to produce the source CDs than XP,
    But you can be sure a lot of software companies would buy a copy,
    even at ten times the price.

    Once you realize why Microsoft doesn't do that,
    you will realize why Microsoft won't ever willingly
    work with the open source community.

  • Microsoft's best response is to allow their code to be user patchable. I have been thinking about this possibility for some time now and I hope Microsoft is too greedy to think about it. Here is a response that, I believe, we in the Open Source Camp will find very hard to meet.

    1. Microsoft includes source code for its most important applications in its CDROM. This could be for the base operating system, drivers, etc. Included with the CDROM is a patch utility that allows any user to create and apply patches to the base source.
    2. Microsoft allows any licensed owner of its product to recompile the source code and modify it for the licensee's exclusive use but not to redistribute it. The source code is still Microsoft property.
    3. Microsoft explicitly allows any licensed owner of its products to freely create, apply, distribute, exchange, sell, rent, etc., his or her patches. Since the patches were written by the user, Microsoft essentially says that the user owns the patches and could do with it whatever he or she pleases. Microsoft owns only the base source.
    4. Microsoft sets up a web site where users can submit their patches. If the patch is good enough, Microsoft will include it in its next version of the product. Any submitter to the patch site explicitly allows Microsoft to include his/her patch in revisions without any compensation whatsoever. However, as a sign of its good faith, Microsoft promises to give the submitter a free copy of the next version of its product that includes the submitters patch.

    If Microsoft does this, it will have the benefits of the open source philosophy and still make money selling the base products.

  • they should just compete in a fair way without trying to sneak in standard changes, without punishing distributors that stock OS and without crying to the govt.

    They should compete the way software companies are meant to compete - by making better software.

    They have enough money they should be able to give os a good run.
  • by jsse ( 254124 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @09:59PM (#3274439) Homepage Journal
    They've already opensourced W2k [com.com] in Russia, why don't they do the same in US?
  • by hirschma ( 187820 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @11:03PM (#3274714)
    How about if Microsoft releases the source to a previous version of Windows? In other words, once they release a new version, the old version is given to the world, minus any code that they don't own.

    Think about it. Microsoft ships a new release, Windows XP. They put the source up on their site for anyone to download, and in theory, use to release their own windows.

    Now, its going to take at least a few weeks/months to get that source code compiled, libraries replaced, etc... so the OEMs have no choice for several months about what they sell.

    So, 6 months later, a smart OEM can now offer the latest Windows, or a somewhat cheaper machine, with an older, non-Microsoft Windows, or a Linux with a really good Windows compatibility layer. Some consumers will go for it, but many, many will elect to get the Real Thing.

    The next release? Again, MS has a long window (no pun) to sell the Real Thing, while an OEM can elect to sell a 2-generation old Windows until they catch up.

    It gives choice. It give MS a revenue stream and instant competition.

  • by ComputerizedYoga ( 466024 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @11:07PM (#3274735) Homepage
    as I sit here reading through comments, one of the biggest things I see is that most people are suggesting things like "MS can't survive in an open source world" "open api's" "open source is the best way to improve code" "build an os around the freebsd kernel" and stuff like that...

    Well, the way I see it, MS can and does survive pretty well in a market with open source, and not because they are a monopoly practicing unfair business practices but because they make an easy to use solution that satisfies most people's expectations.

    As a regular user of all of windows 98se and 2000, debian linux, and freebsd, I have to say that the windows paradigm is damned easy to get around in. I don't see freebsd as ready to be a common-man desktop operating system, nor do I see any of the linux distros I've tried as there yet. Some of them are getting pretty close, but from an install standpoint, and configuration changes, and software installs and support, OSS OS'es demand more understanding than the tired-cliche-joe-sixpack will ever want to put into his OS or his computer. He doesn't care about monopolistic practices, he wants to turn it on and have it "just work" ... not work 15% faster and use memory 20% more efficiently, and definitely not have to remember anything that they'll have to type in to update their system. Most people are point-and-click users, don't care that their kernel has been the same for the last year and like the ease of use to just download a driver and click on it, or better yet not have to download or click on anything but have the OS just recognize the hardware and just work.

    Anyway, to stay on topic, I think windows should lower prices when OSS OS'es and software actually offer a threat to them in the desktop realm, and maybe should admit defeat or strive to improve and put out a decent product in the server market. Maybe MS should just pick their battles a little better, attacking OSS'es soft underbelly (the desktop) and not touching their armored shell (the server market) until they can actually compare with it, if they ever can.

    But what do I know?
  • by eagl ( 86459 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @11:20PM (#3274790) Journal
    I think a great many people would be satisfied if Microsoft would simply keep their interfaces, configurations, and standards open and reasonably constant. It's the hidden stuff that makes my applets and programs break. It's the secret "upgrades" hidden in dll libraries amounting to only a few bytes code change but which also happen to completely break a competitors program, that irritates people.

    Who really CARES about microsoft code? Get the API and hooks out in the open so we can SEE when they're deliberately forcing you to replace that "win95 only" application that still works fine but somehow doesn't run under win98 or XP. That's the "open source" I want.

    No, this isn't flamebait. I keep a collection of system files archived because about once a year microsoft releases an "update" that breaks one program or another. I've seen this since MS deliberately broke netscape with a small dll file and Netscape support was forced to redistribute that dll file as a fix. Get the standards in the open and we'll be happier than we'd be with the actual code.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2002 @11:47PM (#3274913) Journal
    Browsing at +3, and seeing no responses that really answer the question: What should Microsoft do? What would be the "right" thing?

    As others have noted, while Microsoft put pressure on its competitors, now found to be illegal pressure, much of the demise of MS's competitors has been their own dang fault.

    For example, MS did everything they could to get IE as the "default browser" that it is today, but who here has used any recent version of Netscape and been happy with it? 4.x sucks, 6.x is worse, and IE is quite usable. Throw the politics out - which would you prefer?

    Mozilla will hopefully change the story, but it's YEARS too late in an industry that works on Internet time.

    Word Perfect didn't come out with a decent word processor for Windows for YEARS after Win 3.x became popular.

    And so on.

    If Linux takes Microsoft, it will be because Microsoft makes a fatal mistake. We don't know what it will be. It might actually be .NOT. It might be their "database" file system. It might be their "subscription" model for Win XP.

    Whatever it be, it will be when they make a mistake, bet their farm on it, and lose the farm. So far, they've avoided the big mistakes, and the small/medium mistakes have been offset up by strong-arm tactics and backroom deals.

    But, if MS sticks to making products that generally work as expected, and don't charge too much for them, and don't hassle their clients too much, it would be damn near impossible to beat 'em.

    How would MS beat Linux?

    1) Charge reasonable prices for Windows.

    2) Make sure it works reasonably well.

    3) Make their products inter-operate.

    MS has our fury because they have consistently tried to lock the user in. If they were to follow the above three, they'd be no worse off than google, which despite approaching a monopoly on Internet searching, still has our good will. The boys at google have shown time and again a staunch and admirable "stick to basics" approach to their business that inspires trust and confidence.

    MS, on the other hand, lies openly and repeatedly to anybody who will listen about whatever suits their fancy.

    I don't know what it will be, but MS will make that fatal mistake - and after making it, they will either go the way of DEC (which was once a titan) or learn from their mistakes like IBM. (who now has our love and grace)

    So, my advice? Back off Bill! Take it easy a bit, and work WITH the industry forces, (Internet and related, like Linux) inter-operate, and for once, show some ethics!
    • by Malcontent ( 40834 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:51AM (#3275332)
      "Mozilla will hopefully change the story, but it's YEARS too late in an industry that works on Internet time. "

      No it's not too late at all.

      Right now I prefer mozilla to IE on my windows box. It loads faster, it renders faster, it has more features then IE and it crashes less. No I am not kidding it's true. I honestly don't know how people get along without tabs and gestures they simply don't know what they are missing. Not only that but Moz does not cram advertising down my throat whenever I make a typo in the URL bar, it does not have crypic and misleading "options" like "enable profile assistant" and "show friendly HTTP messages". In other words it does not lie to me and try and fool me into giving up my privacy.

      All we have to do is to make this knowledge widespread. Tell everybody you know that mozilla is better, faster and safer then IE because it's the truth. IE and Mozilla are designed for different things. Mozilla is designed to deliver the best web browsing experience possible IE is designed to deliver advertising to people who use windows, to increase hit counts at MSN, to get people to sign up for hotmail, to get people to sign up for passport. Different products for different purposes.

      If you want to browse the web use mozilla if you want to receive adversing and help Bill Gates make more money use IE.
    • If I were Microsoft (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @02:43AM (#3275473)
      Things Microsoft Aren't Doing
      • I would document every existing key in the default Windows registry in a publically avaliable format, included with the OS.
      • I'd allow all changes to a Windows server to be reversable and changable in time
      • I would perform every step in MS lockdown guides as aprt of the default Windows install
      • I would make every Windows service run in a filesystem and process jail by their default install.
      • I wouldn't have any ports listening on a Windows server install by default (without a firewall).
      • I'd make part of the `Designed to Work With Blackcomb' badge program include a provision that to install or update a piece of software, a reboot must not be required.
      • Again, for the `Designed to Work With Blackcomb' badge program, I'd specifiy that software installation must not require interactive operation, allowing Windows admins to install thousands of packages simultaneously.
      • In the subsequent release of Windows, I'd provide that software providing service to end users must not need to restart or to accept changes.
      • I'd include SMS for free in Windows.
      • I would improve Windows scripting, and make command line interfaces available to the most popular Windows libraries, and libraries available for most popular Widows programs, so you could, for example, write a simple backup script and SMS the systems administrator if the backup fails
      • I'd include *all* necessary security updates on Windows update. I would sign up admins to recieve security notices as part of the post install wizard for Windows.
      • I would integrate the Event viewer and Windows messaging in some fashion to make sure administrative emails are being read.
      • I'd give Unix administrators the tools they need to work with and feel comfortable with my OS
      • I'd make a very scalable version of Exchange / Sharepoint that used a real database as a backend, that was trustworthy enough to be put directly on the net.
      • I'd allow servers running this protocol to connect with each other directly over the internet, bypassing SMTP, with many benefits to administrators for doing so. Thus I would push admins to remove SMTP based mailers from their MS based networks.
      • I'd include a virus scanning engine in Windows and Exchange that worked reliably
      • I'd pay external consultants to audit Windows code. Not excluding a large chunk of the OS like a certain BSD flavor, but the entire thing.
      • I'd make sure everyone on the planet knew at least five things you could do with Windows that you couldn't with Linux.
      • I'd create a new certification for Windows consultants with an emphasis on security and lab based, instructor graded tests.
      • I'd find out real world things that piss off Linux administrators about Linux (not things that Windows administrators are unsure about Linux). Then I'd make sure that Windows solved that problem.
      • I'd make sure people knew that we were making these changes in response to their demands, and because we're a competitive company, rather than a simple and bright but technically substanceless software company.

    • As others have noted, while Microsoft put pressure on its competitors, now found to be illegal pressure, much of the demise of MS's competitors has been their own dang fault.

      For example, MS did everything they could to get IE as the "default browser" that it is today, but who here has used any recent version of Netscape and been happy with it? 4.x sucks, 6.x is worse, and IE is quite usable. Throw the politics out - which would you prefer?


      I've heard this argument so many times, and I can't really understand while people continue to believe it.

      Yes, Netscape has been inferior to IE for many years now, but to say that IE gained dominant market share because of that is to ignore history and to reverse cause and effect. Netscape didn't lose because it is inferior; Netscape is inferior because M$ forced it out of competition -- illegally, as the poster admits --, drying up its revenues ("cutting off Netscape's air supply", in M$'s own words), making it nearly impossible to invest in improvements of its product.

      Recall that the first versions of IE (versions 1 & 2) were abonimably bad, universally regarded as far worse than Netscape. Version 3 was good enough to work with, but still the clear consensus was that Netscape's version 3 was far better. And yet it was around this time that M$ entered into all the exclusive deals and illegal shenanigans that impeded or closed off Netscape's means of distribution. IE's market share increased rapidly not because of its quality, but simply due to its easy availability. At the time, Netscape was trying to make money from its browser, and needed the revenue to finance further development, but as market share fell, they started to lose money and lay off employees.

      It wasn't until version 4 of the two browsers that IE was widely regarded as fairly equal in quality with Netscape (not better, but just about the same). But by this time, IE was bundled with every copy of Windows, impossible to remove, and OEM's and ISP's were contractually forbidden to give Netscape equal availability. Netscape never had a chance to recover.

      This where many Slashdotters answer with an argument that assumes that all the world's a geek. So IE was the default setting, they say. So the icon was on the desktop, and you might have to go download Netscape, they say. Then couldn't people use Netscape after all, if it was so good and that's what they wanted? Surely you can change your default settings! Surely you can, and a geek does it all the time, but it is an empirically well-established fact that most users don't. That's not to assert that they're dumb or lazy; for whatever reason, most users never change their defaults, even if there are superior alternatives, and to believe otherwise is to display vast ignorance of the facts about software consumers. And so whoever has the power to control the defaults has significant power to determine which products get used. M$ knows it, and that's why they did everything they could, illegal if necessary, to use that power.

      What I miss in many M$ apologists is the recognition of lost opportunity -- how much better software could be in today's world if there were a real opportunity for competition. Yes, a lot of the alternatives really and truly suck, but don't just think about the way the world is; think about how the world could be if the creators of innovative, quality software had a genuine chance to compete.

    • 4.x sucks, 6.x is worse, and IE is quite usable. Throw the politics out - which would you prefer?

      I'd prefer the secure, standards compliant one which renders the most sites. I'm not that bothered about performance, one browser opening half a second quicker than the other makes no odds when mandatory antivirus locks the whole machine up every now and then. (Not that this makes a difference, Mozilla opens and renders faster than IE these days anyway.) I'd like tabbed browsing, and I'd like the thing to stay up for, say, ten days without crashing. Looks like Mozilla's a clear winner then.

      Are those reasons political?

  • Isn't this moot? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @12:14AM (#3275005) Homepage Journal
    Don't we already know what their open source strategy is?

    Embrace and extend. What else? Or were you wondering what their strategy should be if they did NOT want to dominate the whole freaking world? That's kind of academic.

    In fact, the strategy they have is a damned good one. It'll be even better if nobody clues to it in time, which is why I particularly delight in outing it here. This is my interpretation, and they may possibly phrase it differently- or not. Maybe in the NEXT antitrust fiasco this will come to light.


    • Come up with a license and call it an open source license
    • Release a bunch of source under this license
    • Have the license be VIRAL, in that it propagates a specific legal point that can't be removed, like the GPL propagates the ability to sublicense.
    • Instead of virally spreading ability to sublicense, have the viral-propagated clause be an admission that the developer remembers copyrighted information from the 'shared source', and an acknowledgement that the developer does not have rights to use the copyrighted information.
    • Further include a term that defuses the use of patent protection in self-defense.
    • Attempt to get this viral license adopted, and the code seen, by as many open source developers as possible.
    • Sue every open source project that's a threat, on the grounds that they are using 'shared source' in defiance of the terms of the licensing agreement, and are therefore in copyright/patent infringement.
    • Using the terms of the shared source license, establish that people who've agreed to it legally acknowledge that they are remembering concepts from shared source and are furthermore aware that they're not allowed to make use of them outside of shared source.
    • Using this acknowledgement, require the developers (of any major open source project) to prove their innocence of copyright/patent infringement from a presumption of guilt already established with the admission in the previous step.
    • Win, or draw, or just bankrupt the other side using these interesting complications, trying wherever possible to completely prohibit commercial or noncommercial use of the disputed open source code, on the grounds that it is pure thievery.
    • Now- after an initial waiting period during which you get the shared source seen and used by as many developers as possible, take all that and think big: sue EVERY open source project at once along these lines. Throw money at the problem and try to get pretty much all of the open source ground absolutely scorched so there's no chance of anyone freely cooperating to develop any such threat again..
    • Keep pumping Shared Source into the schools all the while, to guard against future outbreaks.

    This. Is. What. They. Are. Doing.

    Note that it plays to their strengths, including the strengths they've learned in the antitrust trial, of barratrous lawsuits and dragging things out endlessly, and note the brilliance of embracing and extending, not the openness of collaboration, but the concept of a viral license. This is brilliant conceptual work on their part, it really is.

    But it does not have to succeed- because they really need people who are KNOWN to have agreed to their license. They can't really go around suing everyone who writes open source and dragging them into court and saying, "You DID agree to the Shared Source license, didn't you? Everybody does! You had to have!". That won't fly- people who can legitimately say they've never agreed to that license are in a position of strength.

    However, people who have in fact agreed to their viral Shared Source license, EVER, are fucked. And can never be allowed to participate in open source or free software development- because of the legal exposure.

    Given this state of affairs, why would Microsoft ever need to find another open source strategy? This is unquestionably the best one for their goals. Yes, it's evil. And your point is?

  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @12:23AM (#3275033) Homepage

    Any conessions Microsoft would make towards the Open Source community would be an enourmous mistake. It would only succeed in showing their customer base "The Microsoft Way" is not the best way, which is what they are paying to hear.

    In 2002, the IT industry is going to have to take sides in a war. Traditional versus Innovative, Closed versus Open, Agressive Development versus Passive Development, Cathedral versus Bazaar. No matter what you call it, you're going to have to firmly identify yourself on one side or the other.

    The Microsoft Way says that there should be one company to spearhead development, and lead everyone else down a primrose path. Not only should you follow your shepherd Microsoft, but you should shell out gobs of money for the mere opportunity to follow this shepherd, as it tends to be comfortable inside the herd, and youre surrounded by other sheep you can point fingers at in the event of a catastrophe.

    The "Other" Way, or, more clearly, OUR way, goes something like this: I am personally accountable for my actions. If I assume responsibility for something outside my sphere of competence, I do so at my own risk. Professionally, I will chose what works best for my company, regardless of platform affinity. My preferences often do not extend to encompass others. I know Mildren over in Accounting doesnt know what "grep" is. If something goes catastrophically wrong, its a lesson that would have been learned anyway. I dont care where the herd is going. I am the Sheperd, not the sheep.

    Take your pick.
  • Simple Really (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caspper69 ( 548511 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @01:06AM (#3275177)
    The simple fact is that MS will never have to even acknowledge the open-source movement if they don't want to. Why? Because they're focused on the war (total technological presence), not the battle (Linux vs. Windows). That is why MS wins. Because people get hung up on minor issues (Netscape vs. IE, Java vs. C#) when they're really just pieces of a much larger and more elaborate puzzle. MS wants to bring you the digital universe. From CD players to refrigerators to microwaves. They want a slice of every pie. And they'll probably get it. Simply because they're pushing these areas. Behind the scenes, a lot of their work goes toward the future and future uses of the PC. Windows will become less and less of an important characteristic. In fact, the underlying operating system will become less and less important in the future of computing. Much in the same way that BIOS's are now (fairly) standardized. Eventually the OS will reach it's theoretical design "perfection" and will be relegated to hardware or flash ROM. The money is in providing a truly digital lifestyle to the average consumer at a reasonable price. That is MS's war, and they have a long way to go. But don't get so caught up in the current battle, for it will soon be distant history. For reference, just go back to the early 90's and read some of the articles on Windows & OS/2. See what the opinion of the future of *NIX was back then. All it takes is one breakthrough or one consumer craze to change the entire way the industry works. Don't think for a second MS isn't eyeing the *real* prize.
  • Consider the following things:

    1. Windows and MS's major OSs are pretty unique, but at the same time are'nt nearly as advanced at the core as other major OSs, meaning a) nobody would want to steal it, and b) if somebody did, it would probably be easy to catch anyone if they did.

    2. All the software outside of the base OS really does'nt provide MS with income. Media player, IE, directx, et. al. are ad-ons MS uses to get market share in those realms. If open, the worst that could happen is somebody makes it better and MS steals the ideas.

    3. With thousands of programmers pouring over source code, security issues could be identified much quicker, allowing MS to (eventually) shed one of it's major banes

    4. Somebody might actually figure out a way to make windows stable. MS buys the rights to include this in their Windows.. wow, they have improvements at a very marginal cost.

    5. MS actually does something that makes geeks happy.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama