Friday, July 27, 2007

Hell Hath Frozen O'er!!

Embrace, Extend and Exterminate (the 3E's). These three words have formed the core of Microsoft's strategy for entering markets where they have little presence or where there are many competing forces, for decades. And according to this CNet article, it has finally come to Open Source.

According to the article, Microsoft has just submitted license for Open Source Institute (OSI) for approval. Once approved, those license could be potentially used by Microsoft (or indeed anyone else) to release officially certified Open Source Software (OSS). I doubt that Microsoft, the king of Hill Proprietary, has finally caved to the pressures of OSS.

They must realise, like everyone else, that OSS is the rising star and is here to stay. Everyone is starting to get in on the game, including all other major software giants such as IBM, Oracle, Sun, Google and what nots. Therefore, I believe that Microsoft doesn't want to be left out of the next major software bandwagon. It got left behind on the Internet bandwagon and it took them quite a bit of effort to claw their way into a position of power. So, I believe that this is a way for Microsoft to tell everyone that, "Hey, we digg Open Source! We are doing it too!".

Microsoft has even gone as far as putting up a whole website dedicated to Open Source at Microsoft. The website is a marketing tool that is targeted at customers who wish to use OSS and Microsoft's proprietary stuff. It claims that Microsoft wishes to participate, partner, grow and learn with OSS and Microsoft. They now claim to be pro-choice and encourage partners to use OSS alongside Microsoft products. They're even going to help and educate people with integration. I guess that this is a case of, "If you cannot beat them, join them!".

However, this does not signal a change in the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) campaign, launched by Microsoft against OSS. On their website, they state that there has not been any change in their Intellectual Property stance. They have been waving their arms in the air and claiming that all major OSS software infringe on their patents. They have threatened to sue people who use OSS. But they have never named a single infringing patent nor have they identified anyone to sue. Instead, they had tried to subvert the GPL by exploiting a loophole in the license, by signing patent protection agreements (like the mafia that they are). But this loophole has since been plugged. The GPLv3 might have pushed Microsoft into taking this line of action after discovering that they would not be able to exploit OSS without giving something in return.

Therefore, Microsoft had finally decided to embrace the community of OSS. They will then extend OSS by engaging targeted OSS project and extending the arm of cooperation. They cited a recent collaboration with the Mozilla project as an example of how Microsoft can help improve OSS. I'm fairly certain that we would be able to see more examples of their engagements. So, the only step left is exterminate. I do hope that the projects are smart enough to only accept changes that do not subvert the cause of OSS. We have to be careful of Microsoft trying to sneak in proprietary changes through the back door such as patent infringing changes.

Finally, if Microsoft truly wants to bridge the gap between the community and itself, it needs to do more than this. We see this action as nothing much beyond a PR stunt to show that they're trying to engage the community. However, you cannot expect the community to embrace someone who waves a gun at them (whether the gun is actually loaded or not is another matter) all the time. Just remember Embrace, Extend and Exterminate.


koln_auhc said...

hmm, how's ubuntu on your comp?

Shawn Tan said...

I've been fairly impressed with Kubuntu so far.

Last week, I managed to transfer files to-from my friend's phone via bluetooth, without having to install/configure anything. Later today, I might get to sync with an iPod, hopefully without having to install/configure anything. It even manages to handle the networking without me having to configure anything. It also detects all the wireless networks in the area.

The only gripes that I have aren't related to Kubuntu.

ATI proprietary graphic drivers are a joke. The open source ones have only recently started development and will hopefully work well in the near future. Broadcom proprietary wireless drivers are non-existant. For the moment, I have to use the Windows drivers if I want wireless. The open source ones are still under heavy development and do not work yet with my newer chipset.

All in all, I had to do very little tweaking to get it to work with my new computer.

koln_auhc said...

I only tried the live cd so far on a fast comp.

My old comp is too old for the latest version of ubuntu (ram and kernel problems) so probably waiitng for my new comp to arrive.

Shawn Tan said...

Well, good luck running Ubuntu under your new machine. When in doubt, the Net is a good source for information.