Now That's More Like The Microsoft We Know

from the hatin'-linux dept

A lot of people were initially surprised by Microsoft's deal with Novell that effectively admitted that some companies might actually want to use Linux. However, in the days following the deal, as more people dissected it, they began to realize that perhaps it was a trojan horse. While it "protected" users of Suse Linux, many people pointed out that suggested that Microsoft might believe that users of any other Linux were open to a lawsuit. Of course, it didn't take long for Steve Ballmer to confirm this for everyone. In a recent talk, he clearly stated that he believes Microsoft owns intellectual property that is in Linux. Microsoft has hinted at this in the past, so it's really not a huge surprise -- but if he's going to say such things, he ought to back it up by actually showing what's infringing or filing a lawsuit. Otherwise it's idle talk. And, paying someone else to make the same claims doesn't really count. Either way, for a news story that originally came out as Microsoft becoming more friendly with Linux, it's certainly turned 180 degrees pretty fast.
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  1. icon
    ConceptJunkie (profile), 19 Nov 2006 @ 4:09pm

    Re: DUH!

    No, the scary part is that Microsoft has enough money to drag down every Linux enterprise for years, or start paying them all off like they did Novell. The good news is that they'd be taking on the likes of Oracle and IBM.

    How ironic that Big Blue could end up being the "underdog" against Microsoft in this deal. At least you can compliment Steve "MonkeyBoy" Ballmer for no longer pretending that Microsoft is going to continue trying to compete on quality or technology. At least he's now willing enough to be just transparent enough to let people know (or at least fear) that he will start trying to use the legal system do accomplish what years of massive, bloated, (and often failed) projects and billions in marketing spending could not.

    I'm afraid this is an opening salvo of a war that will go on for the next decade or more. Microsoft has realized that they can't compete with, and never will be able to compete with, OSS, and after a years long campaign of FUD, it is time to heat up the Cold War. Microsoft has realized that they are no longer the "IBM" of software and that a critical mass is being reached in the consciousness of the public that Microsoft is not the be-all and end-all of software, which can (and in fact is) much more flexible and cheaper than Microsoft would have us believe. The public consciousness is starting to be affected by the idea that software development can be a tool to benefit everyone, rather than a necessary evil of modern life that only enriches a group of single-minded, arrogant and perhaps corrupt executives. Microsoft is afraid that people are beginning to realize that their computers can work for them rather than the other way around, which is what it always was in the past.

    Firefox has gained a lot of public mindshare, and the public is starting to learn that OSS can do things Microsoft with all its billions and its army of software engineers led by ineffectual middle-management suckups can't. Microsoft would like us to forget the good old days, where one really smart guy, or a small number of really smart guys, can change the world.

    Microsoft wants you to live in the software equivalent of North Korea, where everyone is imprisoned (i.e., locked into their software) and starving (for quality, functionality and security) but Microsoft rules supreme, and you can either pay their price, march to their tune or simply do without, locked in a gulag of alternative technology with which MS refuses to interoperate.

    But lucky for us, the users and independent software developers and companies devoted to contributing to OSS have power that the poor, oppressed North Koreans can only dream about. We do have a choice, and it's possible to break free of the Microsoft chains when you want to. I'm not opposed to using MS software, some of which is good, particularly Windows 2000, but in other cases (like Word) it is a nightmare of bugs and poor usability that decimates productivity for the sole reason of "everyone else uses it". In the case of Word, I recently learned that Restructured Text allows me to create documentation about three times faster than with Word, is far more flexible, and doesn't require hours upon hours to achieve consistently good-looking output on Web pages, PDF's or any other format. I have become an evangelist for its use at the place I work, but have been warned against disrupting the political correctness of the cult of Microsoft.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft also has power, much in the same way as Kim Jong Il: an army of lawyers, prisons of DRM, EULA's that absolve them of any defect, no matter how severe, a nuclear arsenal of billions of dollars and the corruption of a U.S.-government-sanctioned monopoly status (i.e. convicted but never really punished).

    It's going to be a long war against a ruthless enemy (gee I sound like a representative of President Bush). Of course, unlike the "war on Terrorism" this enemy isn't always evil, but it is committed to domination over us nonetheless, and if there's any chance of striking a blow against the corporatocracy that America, and the rest of the world, is coming to, this could be no less than the "shot heard 'round the world."

    Let's make sure what gets heard is the shot of independence, creativity and true innovation. Let's make sure the shot that gets heard is that computers and software, rather than the users, are the tools. Let's make sure that the shot gets heard that big ideas, hard work, creativity, and true freedom can still win over lawyers, guns and money.

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