CyberTech Rambler

April 26, 2007

How do you reconcile the fact that Microsoft is using Open Source Software, but at the same time seen to be anti Open Source?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 3:46 pm

If you ever find yourself needing an answer to this question, think William Hurley. Specifically, one of his reasons in “Seven reasons Microsoft Love Open Source“, i.e.,

They aren’t threatened by open source.

Open source is not the threat; Linux is.  Don’t confuse the two. Open source is growing rapidly, but Linux has several distinguishing features that make it the real challenger.  It’s more mature than other projects, it has a larger, more organized developer base, and it’s well financed.  IBM has spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing, distributing, and advertising Linux, not open source.  Microsoft doesn’t fear open source; it fears what the competition can do with it.”

He rightly says that competition from competitors armed with Linux is the threat but wrong to imply that it is the only threat. Lately, one can argue Microsoft is feeling the heat from ODF. If you think the threat is from IBM use of ODF in its product you will be wrong. After all, how many offices uses IBM software? The threat comes from OpenOffice.org/KOffice/Abiword and other open source office application software which can use ODF to erode Microsoft’s Office dominance. Before this, it is the General Public License “cancer” that Microsoft is trying to eradicate.

The essence of Hurley’s argument is correct, that open source software is a threat only if it is a credible competition against Microsoft. Considering the fact that open source universe is much larger than the sum of all open source software in competition against Microsoft, Microsoft do love open source. It uses BSD software. Based on commentators analysis on a purported leaked version of Windows 98, it appears that Microsoft is itself using GNU Make, the very cancer that Microsoft is once trying to eradicate.

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