Microsoft Isn't Credible About Open Source

Microsoft's trying to play the open source market from both ends, and it's obvious. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith repeated Microsoft's platitudes about wanting to play nice and find areas to work with the open source community, but in reality Microsoft's actions don't back up their words. Smith was called on it during a last week's Open Source Business Conference.

Microsoft is wanting an image makeover with the open source community, while at the same time holding the threat of 200 patent infringements. It leaves the implication you need to be a Microsoft open source lapdog, signing a Novell-like agreement, to stay in good graces with Microsoft.

Lack of announced support for Linix based VMware, Citrix, Xen and Parallels virtualization technologies in Windows Server 2008 again re-enforces the belief that you've got to fold under Microsoft's dominance before you get to play.  According to Smith, "We at Microsoft respect and appreciate the important role that open source software plays in our industry". Okay, that's nice but what does that really mean.

Microsoft's promise of more interoperability is just that, interoperability and a promise, not support for creating or benefiting open source software. And Microsoft's Open Specification Promise doesn't facilitate open source software licensing, just a promise to Microsoft chosen released specs, interfaces and APIs in the clear for others to integrate with.

Microsoft loses credibility again and again with the open source community by saying it's more open source friendly but not demonstrating it through actions and aggressive behavior changes. This is a big chasm for Microsoft to cross, one that will have to happen in both steps or even leaps at a time. But small steps only won't convince anyone.

When will we see significant movement towards really supporting open source software? Early signs might be there, but not enough to telegraph to the industry that Microsoft "gets" open source. We're going to need to see a few "leaps" before the smaller steps are believable.

Related link: More Heavy Handed Tactics By Microsoft

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