Microsoft and Open Source

The last days were full of news from Microsoft accepting Open Source and trying to get compatible with it. These interviews, reports and articles culminated in todays headline: Microsoft opened up the Web portal “Port 25” to force the communication between Microsoft’s customers who use Open Source and Microsoft itself. So far so good, sounds nice, doesn’t it?

No, it doesn’t. The fact that the name Port 25 refers to the E-Mail smtp port 25 which reminds technically educated people of open smtp server relays which are responsible for a big part of the daily spam makes it even worse: we will see a new era of Spam, or to place it better, FUD, comming from Microsoft about Open Source every day from this specific lab.
You don’t think so? Well, have a look at the interviews Bill Hilf (the chief of this new lab – I even had a e-mail conversation once with him, somewhere hidden in this blog here) have given in the past weeks and months – and if you have read them, read them again, and keep an eye on his arguments. They are very well set, and until know the best FUD I’ve ever seen from MS.

  • For example he often tries to point out where Microsoft puts effort in interoperability between Windows and Open Source software. But that’s just rubbish – keep in mind that there are SMB-enhancements which are closed and cannot be implemented by Samba for example. Microsoft does everything it could to prevent Samba to implement a full SMB support. We needed the EU and some very intelligent people there to get the real needed documentation from Microsoft. Remember that MS faced the threat of paying two Million Euros every day because they tried to avoid to hand out the documentation of these protocolls.
    If MS would like to make Windows work better with Open Source software, well, just do not make close enhancements, document them as everyone else does.
  • Another example is the MTP standard which is again an ehancement of something already existing. Microsoft here denies explicitly (!) the inclusion of this protocoll into any Open Source software. It is in the licences and referes explicitly to Open Source. Where is the often cited attempt to make Open Source software more comaptible with MS products when it is forbidden in their very own licences?
  • Another typical-Bill-Hilf-example is gaim: he often referres to the fact that he once submitted a patch to the gaim team to make proper use of the http features of msn.
    But interestingly he forgets to tell that it is forbidden now to connect with any non-official software to the msn network. They are forcing out alternative Open Source clients, and especially alternative operating systems. Well done, Microsoft.

There are a lot more examples which all show the same picture: it is not that Windows and Open Source solutions are incompatible by accident, but on purpose – on purpose of Microsoft.

But even if we put all these thoughts away, and have a closer look at the lab iself – just in case there are good people and bad people at MS, and the good people are at the lab so let’s work with them.
Ok, for that we have to put away Bill Hilf for a second, so let’s focus on the lab itself. And there we see, it has been founded by Martin Taylor who was formerly in charge of formulating Microsoft’s strategy to combat the rise of Linux. Hm, doesn’t that sound interesting? How big is the chance that you use an employee for a new strategy when this employee has to turn around for 180°?
It looks to much like this lab was more set up to have a detailed look at Linux to find new ways of damaging it.

To summarize: I do not believe that this lab is there to really work towards a better interoperability. It is there definitely to make improve Microsoft’s public relations – now they can say in interviews they are running a big lab with several employees to make Windows working better together with Linux.
But whenever they say these words they will not forget to point out that this work has to be done because someone in the Open Source camp did not do his job properly.

Face it, MS never tried to compete with another company – they always locked away, bundled products and didn’t allow any kind of competition once they had a foot in the door.

And if they are starting to face battles they try to win them now through competition but through FUD – as I said, just read interviews with Bill Hilf or other MS chiefs about Open Source…