What is Microsoft’s real agenda for the Linux community?

June 26, 2007

What is Microsoft's real agenda for the Linux community? With Mandriva and others rejecting Microsoft’s Linux payoff deal, there is a lot of talk lately about Microsoft’s new Patent Infringement Protection Plan and how it might not be the “you scratch our backs and we won’t stab you in yours” plan that it was initially thought to be.

Microsoft is a company that has product in place in nearly every industry in the world as well as ties and relations in those industries. Leveraging all those ties in all those industries is it not possible that these agreements are setting the stage for something bigger? Considering this, one has to take a step back and think about what the end goal of these kinds of agreements might be.

It’s not likely that they are a simple one-off deal that will remain carved in stone and relevant for the remainder of eternity, but more likely that they are a stepping stone to to a more restrictive rulings and far-reaching strategies that have not yet been unveiled. The precedent has been set time and time again throughout history, and one stands out in particular as having a strong similarity to these proposals today… the Wooden Horse of Troy. What seems to be an accord, turns out to be an assault.

While Microsoft drives its team of lawyers forth to forge new and groundbreaking obfuscation of the law, its public relations departments are busy putting on the latest smoke and mirrors performances for the public eye to be bedazzled by.

We’ve seen this before when Microsoft implemented DRM in Windows Media Player updates, unbeknownst to the end users, resulting in completely legitimate music collections becoming all but unusable on the device for which it was intended. We’ve also seen it with Windows XP needing a re-authorization after hardware upgrades or replacements. All under the guise of copyright protection.

It seems that these new agreements are following the same ideology as many of Microsoft’s actions of the past. Set a difficult to interpret precedent, and build an empire on top of it.

If brought to suit on some trumped up charge of GUI infringement or something similar, many small and innovative companies that use or design open source software will be sucked dry by the legal bills they will incur.

Simply trying to evaluate what it is exactly they may or may not have done wrong could become a crushing blow to some smaller software houses. Or the alternative; they will sign, do as they are told, and get back in line.

Once open source software developers and distributors decide to walk down the path of payoffs and deals with the Microsoft alternate revenue stream machine, it will no doubt become a slippery slope to tread.

Mandriva, I, for one, salute your unfaltering dedication to freedom, and bravery in the face of adversity.

And to Microsoft I offer the following:

“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.” – Thomas Paine, founding father.

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8 Responses to “What is Microsoft’s real agenda for the Linux community?”

  1. Jason Graves:

    So, Microsoft isn’t allowed to defend it self from open source thugs that have no respect for patents?

    I don’t think so.

    Microsoft is simply protecting its interests from theives hiding behind the open source shield, as though the magic words “open source” justify their actions…

  2. Jim:

    “So, Microsoft isn’t allowed to defend it self from open source thugs that have no respect for patents?”

    The patent system is broken. Isn’t it strange that Microsoft is participating and funding patent reform itself? Remember: EOLAS. Lucent-Alcatel.

    The patent system was designed to protect actual creative innovations, not promote monopolies. Microsoft will face a Walker Process lawsuit if they go through with their threats and they will lose— that is, if their patents aren’t struck down by prior art and non-innovation. The European Commission has already found that for hundreds of Microsoft patents, only four have any innovation at all. KSR v Teleflex has raised the bar for patents. The Supreme Court does not look on the USPTO kindly these days.

  3. Ken:

    “Microsoft is simply protecting its interests from theives hiding behind the open source shield, as though the magic words “open source” justify their actions…”

    Perhaps…. maybe we can ask the folks from Stacker, perhaps IBM can enlighten us about the OS2 partnership support, Novell and NDS, IBM TCPIP, and on and on. Microsoft has a long (in computer years) history of “befriending” companies in partnerships then using the relationship to kill the partner. Open Source thieves indeed. I would like to see one innovation that Redmond hasn’t lifted elseware.

  4. Jim:

    PS: If MS was so concerned about patent infringments, you’d think they’d want “open source’ companies to remove the code. Funny then, how MS don’t tell them what code it is (it’s “open” for anyone to look at, after all), therefore it’s not willful infringement as one of MS’s people said.

    SCO anyone? How’s that lawsuit going? ‘scuse me, I mean “SCOX”, since their stock is soon to be delisted.

  5. Andy Haynes:

    The whole point of open source is that you can see the code — There can be no hiding for open source developers, so why would open source developers blatantly breach a patent when it can so easily be spotted? Microsoft use their tried and tested FUD to imply a transgression has been committed.

    What everyone wants is some clarity. Tell the open source developers what transgressions have been committed and either/or the following will occur:

    1. Prior art or the obviousness of the development will rule the patents void

    2. The offending code will be removed and/or worked around.

    Remember the SCO bleating — That also came to nought.

  6. rupe:

    “So, Microsoft isn’t allowed to defend it self from open source thugs that have no respect for patents?”

    So, FOSS isn’t allowed to defend it self from M$ thugs that have no respect for patents?

  7. Bobcat:

    For one I tend to agree that M$ has ulterior motives. M$ is still M$ and it is still trying to kill off LINUX. I suspect that by tying into LINUX via Novell, Linspiel (or whatever they now go by) et al., that Microsoft has a way into the Open Source Process: Passing proprietary M$ patent protected up the food chain in hopes that it will be incorporated into the kernel and other Open Source products, while being able to download the best of breed open source software which — following typical M$ EEE strategy they will tweek just enough so that it will closely resemble the open source product, but won’t run — or if it does run, run poorly — on open source platforms. Of course M$ will change the open source code just enough so that it is not subject to the terms of the GPL, thus it can be slapped under some restrictive M$ license. In short like everything else M$ has produced it will say: NOT INVENTED HERE. By partnering with open source firms, no matter how big or small, M$ has an unlimited inroad to open source code and patents, without having to give anything back to the open source community. These partnerships are more for M$’s protection than anything else. Those who think that this is all about “interoperability” are in for a big surprise: A tiger does not change it’s stripes; a leopard does not change it’s spots; and M$ does not change its modus operandi. Vista is absolute garbage,and M$ knows it. LINUX is the future, and M$ knows that too. How much do you want to bet that the next version of Windows is going to be a low cost clone of several LINUX “partners” OS’s combined into one M$ licensed [ie *NOT* under the GPL] LINUX-like OS that unlike the past versions of Windows, have a core OS and nothing else built on top of it — that’s where the free open source software comes in. And just for fun M$ will want the open source community to maintain and fix the bugs in M$’s software, so they don’t have to spend $$ updating patching etc. The whole idea of these “partnerships” is provide M$ with legal cover, while they develop their low cost, almost free LINUX-like clone in hope that the M$ trade name will cause those who are considering abandoning M$ junkware for LINUX and Open Source, to re-consider. At the same time the ultimate goal is still to run LINUX into the ground so it can no longer compete. It will be the browser wars all over again, only it will be over the OS: almost free -vs-free. M$’s pitch will be: Why trust in LINUX, when we have a LINUX like clone that is a composite best-of-breeds and backed by M$? Further you can’t be sued because of patent violations. On the other hand if you choose to use some other LINUX distro, who knows what patent violations are out there that might get you sued [aside- maybe by us].

  8. midi-man:

    Yes, I remember TCP/IP it got renamed to Microsoft TCP/IP in windows 2000.

    I know MS invented TCP/IP and that UNIX and Vax systems were stealing it while gates was in Diapers. You know Gates was a genus at 6 months old. He and Al Gore invented the internet.

    Common people read! Xerox invented it all MS stole it so did Jobs.

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