[lkml]   [2001]   [May]   [3]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
    Sorry for sending a link to a (albeit, free) subcription
    service earlier. Here's the text of the article, in case
    you are interested in Microsoft's latest shinanigans.


    May 3, 2001

    Microsoft Is Set to Be Top Foe of Free Code


    SAN FRANCISCO, May 2 - Microsoft is preparing a broad campaign
    countering the movement to give away and share software code, arguing
    that it potentially undermines the intellectual property of countries
    and companies. At the same time, the company is acknowledging that it is
    feeling pressure from the freely shared alternatives to its commercial

    In a speech defending Microsoft's business model, to be given on
    Thursday at the Stern School of Business at New York University, Craig
    Mundie, a senior vice president at Microsoft and one of its software
    strategists, will argue that the company already follows the best
    attributes of the open-source model by sharing the original programmer's
    instructions, or source code, more widely than is generally realized.

    The speech is part of an effort by Microsoft to raise questions about
    the limits of innovation inherent in the open-source approach and to
    suggest that companies adopting the approach are putting their
    intellectual property at risk.

    Advocates of the open-source movement say that making the code available
    permits other developers to tinker with it, find problems and improve
    the software. Although the movement has not yet had a significant effect
    on sales of Microsoft's Office and Windows products in the personal
    computer market, the company wants to enter the corporate software
    market, where open source has gained ground.

    In is speech, Mr. Mundie will argue that one aspect of the open-source
    model, known as the General Public License, or G.P.L., is a potential
    trap that undercuts the commercial software business and mirrors some of
    the worst practices of dot-com businesses, in which goods were given
    away in an effort to attract visitors to Web sites. G.P.L. requires
    that any software using source code already covered by the licensing
    agreement must become available for free distribution.

    "This viral aspect of the G.P.L. poses a threat to the intellectual
    property of any organization making use of it," Mr. Mundie said in a
    telephone interview this week.

    I.B.M. in particular has been heavily marketing the free Linux operating

    Mr. Mundie does not identify I.B.M. by name in his speech, which was
    provided beforehand, but he says that large companies are naïve in
    adopting the open-source model.

    "I would challenge you," he said, "to find a company who is a large
    established enterprise, who at the end of the day would throw all of its
    intellectual property into the open- source category."

    An I.B.M. executive said that his company had considered the issues
    surrounding the protection of intellectual property and had decided that
    it was possible to follow both a proprietary and a shared business
    model, even one based on the G.P.L.

    The executive, Irving Wladawsky- Berger, an I.B.M. vice president, said,
    "If we thought this was a trap, we wouldn't be doing it, and as you
    know, we have a lot of lawyers."

    In February, Jim Allchin, a software designer at Microsoft, became a
    lightning rod for industry criticism when he said in an interview with
    Bloomberg News that freely distributed software code could stifle
    innovation and that legislators should be aware of the threat.

    Mr. Mundie said he would elaborate on Mr. Allchin's comments while also
    trying to demonstrate that Microsoft already practices many of what he
    called the best aspects of the open-source model.

    "We have been going around the industry talking to people," Mr. Mundie
    said, "and have been startled to find that people aren't very
    sophisticated about the implications of what open source means." He
    acknowledged that the open-source movement was making inroads.

    "The news here is that Microsoft is engaging in a serious way in this
    discussion," he said. "The open- source movement has continued to gather
    momentum in a P.R. sense and a product sense."

    He said Microsoft was particularly concerned about the inroads that the
    open-source idea was making in other countries.

    "It's happening very, very broadly in a way that is troubling to us," he
    said. "I could highlight a dozen countries around the world who have
    open-source initiatives."

    Mr. Mundie said that in his speech, he would break the open-source
    strategy into five categories: community, standards, business model,
    investment and licensing model. Microsoft, he said, in support of the
    community ideal, already has what he called a shared-source philosophy,
    which makes its source code available to hardware makers, software
    developers, scientists, researchers and government agencies.

    Microsoft would expand its sharing initiatives, he said. But he added
    that the company's proprietary business model was a more effective way
    to support industry standards than the open-source approach, which he
    said could lead to a "forking" of the software base resulting in the
    development of multiple incompatible versions of standard programs.

    He cited the history of Unix, which has been replete with incompatible
    versions. Although he acknowledged that the open-source approach had
    created new technologies, he said that business models using the open-
    source community were suspect.

    "It is innovation that really drives growth," Mr. Mundie said, arguing
    that without the sustained investment made possible by commercial
    software, real innovation would not be possible.

    He reserved his harshest criticism in the text of his speech for the
    G.P.L., a software licensing model defined by programmer Richard M.
    Stallman in 1984.

    "This is not understood by many sophisticated people," Mr. Mundie said.
    "The goal of the G.P.L. is sweeping up all of the intellectual property
    that has been contributed. That creates many problems downstream, many
    of which haven't come home to roost yet."

    Mr. Stallman has made a distinction between the open-source software
    movement and the G.P.L., which he designed as part of the free software
    movement that he led.

    In a response to Microsoft's Mr. Allchin in February, Mr. Stallman
    wrote:"The free software movement was founded in 1984, but its
    inspiration comes from the ideals of 1776: freedom, community and
    voluntary cooperation. This is what leads to free enterprise, to free
    speech, and to free software."

    Today a proponent of the open- source software movement said he thought
    that Microsoft was taking a clever approach in its challenge.

    "It's very clever of them," said Eric Raymond, president of the Open
    Source Initiative. "Instead of attacking the entire open-source
    movement they've singled out the one license that is in a sense
    politically controversial."

    To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
    the body of a message to
    More majordomo info at
    Please read the FAQ at

     \ /
      Last update: 2005-03-22 12:52    [W:0.033 / U:4.700 seconds]
    ©2003-2017 Jasper Spaans. hosted at Digital OceanAdvertise on this site