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Why Microsoft Is Being Nicer To Open Source 231

Posted by timothy
from the in-some-markets-at-least dept.
itwbennett writes "Is open source's growth in emerging markets what is driving Microsoft to say 'we love open source' with an attempt at a straight face? 'The emerging markets (like the BRIC nations) are a huge potential market for Microsoft,' says Brian Proffitt. 'And I believe Redmond is wisely not taking the FUD route on open source software in those markets. Why? Because open source already has some strong roots in the BRIC nations (heck, in Brazil, open source is the whole darn tree), and any attack on open source would be seen as a foreign company attacking local software projects. If Microsoft attacked open source publicly in this environment, a lot of potential customers and developers in those countries could react in a protectionist manner and start giving Microsoft the stink-eye.'"
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Why Microsoft Is Being Nicer To Open Source

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  • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Potor (658520) <.farker1. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @08:42PM (#33431564) Journal
    Basic reading comprehension skills are in order: "what is driving Microsoft to say 'we love open source' with an attempt at a straight face?"
  • Mod Parent Up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Monkey-Man2000 (603495) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @08:51PM (#33431618)
    Your article is far more interesting and substantial that the little blurb in the /. post.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @08:55PM (#33431654)

    Let's see: who profits in a big way from 'Open Source"? GOOGLE. What does Apple use as its underlying programming? Open Source. Who is killing open usage of Java? Oracle. And by default, Oracle is trying to crimp "Open Source" And who would not license JAVA to MSFT, so that MSFT had to create their own language(s)? That's right-SUN. (Although, MSFT probably would have done that to some extent anyway. So get off MSFT as the exclusive enemy of "Open Source"

  • by sodul (833177) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @08:56PM (#33431664) Homepage

    You mean SQLite [sqlite.org] ?

  • by maugle (1369813) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @09:13PM (#33431754)
    Except, unlike IBM, they can't get too cozy with open source without risking their OS and Office cash cows. Though I haven't seen any numbers, I would guess that the income from support is absolutely dwarfed by the income from sales of Windows alone.

    As Microsoft has said in the past, open source does have a tendency to spread ... infectiously. If Microsoft suggests using an open-source program instead of a commercial one, any smart client will notice and begin wondering what else they can get without having to pay licensing costs.
  • Geeks Know Better (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IonOtter (629215) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @09:47PM (#33431896) Homepage

    Emperor: Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station! *click* Fire at will, commander!
    Crewfish: Sir, we have star destroyers!
    Admiral Ackbar: It's a trap!

    Zoe: So. Trap?
    Mal: Trap.
    Wash: Wait...how do you...
    Mal: You were listenin' I take it?
    Everyone: ....
    Mal: Did'ja hear us fight?
    Zoe: No?
    Mal: Trap.

  • by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @10:23PM (#33432056)

    The slide in your editorial demonstrates Microsoft's vision of OSS during initial announcement a couple years ago. They were all for OSS as long as it fit their definition of it. They were working quite hard to get enterprise businesses to embrace their vision of OSS. If they had business following their vision then the vision of true open source would be blurred and out of sight.

    What was identified by the OSS community regarding their definition of OSS those couple years ago was exactly what you have identified here. They showed that Microsoft's definition of OSS was only OSS if it was done for Windows. Of course, that's not what true OSS is nor how it was defined some 17 years ago.

    Their definition of OSS was released not too long after several Microsoft employees spoke out about how Microsoft was going to kill Linux. One of them went so far as to predict that that year was the start of the death of Linux.

    Their definition is nothing less than embrace, EXTEND, extinguish. By getting business to embrace their view they can reduce the reach of OSS into business because they believe Microsoft's version is the only true OSS. That in effect will cease adoption of OSS by business and hence the death of Linux.

    I must admit that Linux adoption seems to have slowed and the amount of press has considerably declined. Certainly some areas have continued to expand.

  • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @10:38PM (#33432140)

    The article didn't say or even imply that Microsoft hasn't slammed open source, the whole point was that they're not doing it any more.

    Yeah, that's usually called "pandering".

    Like the summary explains, they're doing this out of a concern that anything else might alienate potential customers in various markets. That is not a change of heart. It's the same old self-serving Microsoft we've always known. They'd say that Jeffrey Dahmer was a really great guy if they thought it would boost sales. Microsoft hasn't changed. What will and won't alienate potential customers is the only thing that has changed here.

    I'll put it very bluntly: anyone who believes otherwise is a naive fool who doesn't understand the first thing about this company or its history.

  • Standing joke (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dhammabum (190105) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @10:45PM (#33432162)

    Along with beowolf clusters and Russia doing stuff in reverse, we now have the equally tiresome joke that Microsoft is being nicer to open source. Why do these articles keep getting posted?

  • by jd2112 (1535857) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @10:59PM (#33432220)

    Fast forward about a decade now. Ubuntu Linux (and it's sub-flavors) is gaining popularity, Android is devistating Microsoft's offering in the handheld OS market, FOSS software is gaining deeply established traction in many developing countries and making inroads in countries that were previously deeply in Microsoft's pockets, and the FUD campaign that GPL==Communism has failed miserably.

    They were just ahead of their time. Today the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world call anything they don't like communist/socialist and people just accept it without question.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:10PM (#33432264) Journal

    Corporations are not people. They hate when you antropomorphize them.

    In all seriousness, it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing stance. Microsoft is a business; it exists to earn money. When and where supporting FOSS one way or another is beneficial to the bottom line, directly (more sales) or indirectly (good PR -> more sales), of course it will be supported! This doesn't mean that it'll be supported all the way - and while we're at it, go ask Google for the source code for PageRank...

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:20PM (#33432292) Journal

    If Microsoft suggests using an open-source program instead of a commercial one, any smart client will notice and begin wondering what else they can get without having to pay licensing costs.

    By your logic, the latter would happen for any free product that Microsoft offers, not necessarily FOSS (since the client is presumably mainly concerned about saving $$$). Which does not stop MS from releasing stuff for free or very cheap (e.g.: SQL and VS Express, DreamSpark, BizSpark).

    Why? Because sometimes, when you drop the price, or even give something away for free, it boosts sales for the rest of your stuff. For example: free Windows development tools -> more Windows applications -> higher Windows sales during the next upgrade cycle. For the same reason, Microsoft publishes that installer thingy that downloads and configures PHP on Windows/IIS, even though PHP is technically a competitor (to ASP.NET): if it makes someone who's sticking to PHP pick Windows over Linux, then it's still one more sale.

  • Simple, really. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tokerat (150341) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:26PM (#33432310) Journal

    Developers, developers, developers, developers.

    Open Source projects for Windows mean more functionality, interoperability, and convenience for Windows users, and Microsoft doesn't have to do a damn thing to get it. Open Source and Linux are two different things, and Microsoft now realizes this.

  • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yyxx (1812612) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:40PM (#33432380)

    Wow! They contributed Linux kernel extensions to let Linux run on their Hyper-V platform! Amazing! Will wonders never cease?

  • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by microbee (682094) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:40PM (#33432384)

    Your comments show a total misunderstanding of open source on your part.

    Your point seems to be that we need to *trust* a person or a company before we *let* them join open source. And the trust should be perpetual. That is a darn big barrier. I doubt anyone is actually qualified.

    I think Linus Torvalds once said it very well: "People don't need to trust me because of the GPL" (or sth to that effect). The GPL protects the copyrights of the contributors and makes sure it stays in the public domain forever. There is no requirement or need for a "trust" in the contributor (other than that the code he contributes does belong to him). For whatever reason, as long as the code is good with the appropriate license, we should welcome that.

    Linux has long gone beyond 'us vs Microsoft'. Please let it go.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 @11:43PM (#33432400) Journal

    They see they've missed the transition to mobile, they feel their empire slipping away. Deliberate incompatibility isn't working any more, so this is the change-up. Don't be confused though - as an entity Microsoft still sees open source as "open sores" - a cancer, in Steve Ballmer's words. They just realize that in some markets they have to be more diplomatic now.

    In others? Well I'll just quote the first comment from the fine article:

    Nicer? Not really! Here is an excerpt from an invitation for a seminar by Microsoft in Budapest/Hungary on 8.30.2010. "Program: 9:30 - 10:30 The art of selling against free, opensource Office competitors by Moritz Berger / Enterprise Tech Strategist (in English) 10:30 - 11:00 Coffee break 11:00 - 12:00 Technical teardown of OpenOffice by Moritz Berger / Enterprise Tech Strategist" by Anonymous (not verified) on 8/30/10 at 4:43 pm

    I get these invitations from Microsoft too. Everybody in tech does. If they want to fool the public into believing they're all about competing on an open field they're going to have to get all of their messaging in-line everywhere, because we have this "Internet" thing now.

  • GUIs GUIs GUIs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:56AM (#33432852) Homepage Journal

    MS may be eyeing the market niche that IBM pretty much dominates (IMNSHO) while still making hardware and creating software; services that mix and match across whatever has in place and make it work. I've seen the first steps in this direction with their various systems management tools, especially for virtualization. The Office cash cow won't last forever and I think they are getting that. Finally.

    That's where I see MS cutting a nice niche for itself without having to dominate OS's. Their GUI's are usually more intuitive than OSS I have to say. No, they are not perfect, but so far MS does GUI's better than OSS.

    I suspect MS spends more time road-testing their GUI's with actual users than OSS products. It's not that they are smarter, they just log the GUI tester hours that most OSS don't or can't. "Basement" coders simply cannot afford such testing sessions, and must rely on email etc. Think about it.

    I'm just the messenger, don't shootmod me, please.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @04:34AM (#33433274) Homepage

    Making a profit by providing a valuable service or product is one thing...
    Actively harming your customers and those around them by getting them locked in to your proprietary and often inferior platform is quite another.

    Also, proprietary software having to compete with open source is simply part of the market, if someone else can produce a cheaper and superior product than you, then your business model is failing and you will have to resort to underhanded tactics to prop it up.

    At the end of the day, thats what proprietary software is... It might start off with an initial lead over open source but in any non niche market that attracts significant enough developer attention an open source alternative will soon start catching up.
    At which point not only does it become very expensive to stay ahead, but once open source reaches the "good enough" level it will be chosen purely based on price.

    Look at proprietary unix, sco and bsdi died pretty quickly when linux caught up and ran on the same hardware, other proprietary unixes fared a little better due to having their own dedicated hardware but are still either dead or being pushed into very small niches.
    Windows keeps itself alive due to inertia and lock-in, how well do you think they would be doing if it was ms-dos vs freedos instead?

  • Re:not true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:04PM (#33436830) Journal

    I'd heard the educational system in India emphasized math. To what degree I guess I don't know. I was under the understanding that it was the primary emphasis of the educational system in India.

    They stress arithmatic in the lower elementary school a lot. Rote memorization of multiplication-tables and very fast arithmatic work is emphasized. I can still rattle off my multiplication table upto 16 times 16. I also memorized fractional multiplication tables. one "arai" times three "kaal" is three "araikaal" and such things. The Indian languages have named fractions for 0.5 (arai), 0.25(kaal), 0.125 (araikaal) and 0.0625 (maakaani). English has names only for 0.5 and 0.25. These were tough. But my aritmatic peaked in my entrance examn years. I knew by heart the logarithms of 2, 3, pi, and square roots of 2, 3 and 5!

    But when it comes to higher mathematics like Algebra and Trignometry Indian system is not much better than American system. The American system places less emphasis on arithmatic and rote memorization and stresses understanding basic math concepts. By the time Calculus comes around, you will see the superiority of the American education system.

    But vast majority of the students in both USA and India do not get do much higher mathematics. So the enormous investment America has done in emphasizing the math concepts is wasted and frittered away. Indians appear to be so much stronger in math. But remember Arithmatic is just one subset of Mathematics. In fact it is a small subset of higher mathematics.

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