Microsoft versus the world

May 14th, 2007

If you haven't heard, Microsoft is reportedly alleging that they deserve royalties from linux and open source projects.

In my humble opinion, its positions like this that will turn more people against Microsoft, especially since they've been claiming that Microsoft is better than linux and open source alternatives. Obviously, some businesses disagree. Based on that premise, I have to question Microsoft's credibility.

Although I haven't checked lately, I belive SCO is still trying to sue the pants off of IBM. This new stance taken by Microsoft, and their investment into SCO, amounts to a more aggressive competitive strategy towards its distributed competitors, namely the numerous open source providers. It will be increasingly difficult and to pursue the enforcement of their intellectual property rights as business becomes more distributed as well. I would dare compare this emerging situation the RIAA is in trying to track down the thousands (or more) of copyright infringers. Not only is it an expensive and laborious endeavor, it is a terrible public relations campaign, where the music industry is portraying itself as an evil, money grubbing monster.

Google on the other hand is having a good time portraying itself as a good company with its "Don't be evil" motto, hosting open source projects, and even sponsoring open source developers with its Google Summer of Code grants. What many people may not know is that Google consistently benefits from open source projects, but is not required to contribute back to the open source community because of the way open source licenses are structured. Since they don't distribute binaries of the open source code, they don't have to publish or distribute their or derivative works. Not that I'm complaining, I do the same thing. Its just interesting to me to see how the two companies are approaching the entire open source movement.

Open source is a movement, and I believe the Microsoft and SCO are crazy if they think they can stop it. Trying to stop people from publishing and leveraging open source is an exercise in futility, even if it is wrong to infringe upon other's intellectual property patents. The fact of the matter is that technology is evolving towards a service oriented value proposition. And kudos to the patent office for supporting business process and model patents, as I bet they will become increasingly important in this rapidly changing and competitive landscape.

Computerworld published a good article on the subject, where they quote Joe Lindsay echoing similar sentiments as my own:

Joe Lindsay, chief information officer of Los Angeles-area mortgage company Secured Funding, says that Microsoft's attempt to cause fear, confusion and doubt may scare some users away from open-source software and Linux in the short term, but ultimately will not stop the momentum the open-source business model has.

Related: Informed Licensing


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