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Microsoft's Annual Report Reveals OSS Mistakes 348

Posted by kdawson
from the or-ignorance-possibly-willful dept.
mjasay writes "Microsoft's most recent annual report suggests that the company is increasingly coming to grips with open source, yet also seems determined to perpetuate myths about open source that poorly serve it and its shareholders. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has suggested before that 'free software means no free soda' for Microsoft employees; but this is perhaps the first time that Microsoft has managed to enshrine its ignorance in a public document. In the annual report, Microsoft makes two primary false claims about open source: 1) Open source companies don't invest in research and development and instead largely free-ride on Microsoft's patents and copyrights; and 2) Open source projects don't innovate and instead mimic Microsoft's products. Perhaps Microsoft has forgotten its own 'innovative' past copying of markets and technologies created by Apple and others. But at least Microsoft gets one thing right: 'To the extent open source software gains increasing market acceptance, our sales, revenue and operating margins may decline.'"
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Microsoft's Annual Report Reveals OSS Mistakes

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  • News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:47PM (#24461713) Homepage Journal

    Did anyone expect anything other than spin from MS with regards to Open Source Software? Hmmm.

    • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ozphx (1061292) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:58PM (#24461789) Homepage

      Compared to say Cnet's spin, which suggested that MS didn't spend very much on R&D compared to OSS companies.

      Apparantly half its income - around $7B spent on R&D is "not much".

      • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:01PM (#24461807) Homepage Journal

        The R&D they do never makes it into products.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          $7,000,000,000??? What a monumental waste of money! mAYBE THATS how much the losers at MS have to pay their developers to come up with an OS that doesn't crash, and even then they have failed miserably judging by all the work I have had lately.

          If they're spending so much on R&D, where are the fucking results?

          Vista? Aero? You have to be fucking joking. That's really the best they could come up with for $7,000,000,000? No wonder Shuttleworth and the Linux crowd are making such fantastic progress.

          On Ubuntu

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            If they're spending so much on R&D, where are the fucking results?

            Here: http://research.microsoft.com/research/projects/default.aspx [microsoft.com]

          • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by stmok (1331127) on Monday August 04, 2008 @03:27AM (#24463311)

            This blog at c/net is just an indication that MS is in a more subtle tone, crapping themselves. They have NO effective response to open source. This has been true since their first public strike at Open Source. (Cancer, anyone?)

            The reason? The simple existence of open source is a contradiction to their very own fundamental business model.

            They rely on software licenses as their main source of income. They will do ANYTHING to protect that. We know this from their history. They're about control...Because to them, control is profit. (Examples: Protocols, document formats, de-facto standards, anti-piracy schemes like Activation and "Genuine Advantage", etc are all different aspects of control.)

            But Open Source turns that model upside down. Software licenses become $0. You don't control and "encourage" people to use your products. You let them do things on their own accord. You let your fellow man/woman choose. It puts more pressure on you to improve the technology.

            Companies who are based on this model now focus their resources on tools to give to the community. They let the community innovate while they polish up and improve for their commercially supported variants. (The cycle continues endlessly as they improve and give back).

            The result? Microsoft will find it harder and harder as Open Source improves. Granted, the closed source model gets you the money quicker, and its more polished for mainstream PC users, but you don't have genuine user loyalty.

            The fundamental weakness here is, if you can create an Open Source equivalent (features that are equal or better), closed source companies will be in serious trouble. Why would people pay if they can get it elsewhere for free? (legally).

            This is why they're so scared. They know the day will come. (On that day, be sure to note the share prices and the company's general behaviour).

            They can resort to petty distractions and occasional seasons of being nice to open source, but they know they cannot stop this stone wheel. It may grind slowly, but its coming. Consistent improvement, that's what its all about.

        • It does (Score:5, Informative)

          by melted (227442) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:54AM (#24463721) Homepage

          Almost no one realizes that R&D has only a tiny sliver of R of it, and the rest of it is D. And by Development, they mean everything - developer/tester/program manager salaries, computers, costs of running the buildings and datacenters, IT, etc. So it's not like they spend $7B just on Microsoft Research. Last I heard, MSR costs something like $300M a year. And stuff from there does end up in products every now and then.

        • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 04, 2008 @05:03AM (#24463763) Journal

          Well, if you don't see any of it in products, I'm curious what you call R&D? 'Cause unless I'm mistaken, it means exactly that: Research and Development. It's the first step in the chain that then goes through Manufacturing and later Marketing.

          So normally even stuff like developing a new product (say, the XBox 360) does count as R&D. When Ford comes up with a new car, even if it's not revolutionary in any way or aspect? That's R&D. When NEC or Samsung come up with a new TFT, only this time with LED backlight? That's R&D. When Seagate announces a new line of HDDs, only this time with higher density (i.e., pretty much a smaller head and more precise mechanics)? That's R&D too.

          Technically even writing a program, any program, is R&D. (That's a mistake many PHB's do: thinking that programming is manufacturing and can be treated and measured like assembly line work.) Manufacturing is when you press the CDs and print the manuals and box it, later. So if none of MS's R&D made it into a product, they pretty much wouldn't have a product.

          So, yes, MS does invest in R&D. Now if you're trying to say that they never made some major scientific breakthrough, we can agree on that. But then most other companies don't, either. And I don't remember many fundamental breakthroughs from the F/OSS camp either. They too just tweak a little here and there and occasionally put lipstick on a pig... err... skins and transparencies on the same old program. Not condemning it in any way, but let's not pretend that the latest release of KDE or Firefox are comparable to discovering Penicilin or Quantum Mechanics. It's R&D anyway. And it's still R&D when MS does it.

          And yes, occasionally R&D does produce a dud like Vista. Well, that's the inherent risk of it. It happens to other companies too.

    • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:13PM (#24461909) Homepage

      This report has very little to do with open source, it is all about marketing. The M$ board and executive team is basically treating it's shareholders the same way it treats it's customers. It is feeding them a line of non-committal B$ in order to keep their jobs and maintain a threatened share price.

      So M$'s annual report is starting to bear no resemblance to what most respectable companies would produce or what an executive team with integrity would present to shareholders. It is a empty glossy pump up produced by a marketing team rather than an management and engineering team. No new directions, no new products, no new ideas, just more of ballmer's self involved blather and bull shit.

      Psychologically it is interesting, hmm, we know everything, we make no mistakes, we are the computer industry, when it goes wrong, it is everybody else's fault, they stole it from us, they don't know anything and the customer is stupid when they don't realise this.

      Technically it is quite true that M$ help to create the OSS movement, they were such an unreliable and deceitful supplier of software that they really did do more than anybody else to drive customers to OSS.

      • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Monday August 04, 2008 @12:56AM (#24462545) Homepage Journal

        Technically it is quite true that M$ help to create the OSS movement, they were such an unreliable and deceitful supplier of software that they really did do more than anybody else to drive customers to OSS.

        Somewhat of an overstatement or at least an over simplification. You need only look at the programs that started out in /usr/contrib from long before M$ was even Billy G's wet dream. Programs like grep and awk easily come to mind.

        That being said, M$ is what made OSS into a viable, enterprise level force in the computer software business. From their buggy programs and operating systems to their use of vaporware to string the market along, M$'s unwillingness to allow any competitor to survive (DR-DOS or OS/2 anyone? How about WordPerfect, Ami Pro, Lotus 1-2-3, etc?) made open source software necessary. Linux and *BSD would still be hobby toys if there was really a competitive commercial software marketplace with real choice.

        Microsoft didn't actually create OSS. Open source software existed long before Microsoft. Microsoft is what made OSS necessary as the only way to offer a competitive, alternative product. One that couldn't be squeezed out of existence through contractual agreements that forbade offering the alternative.

        Cheers,

        Dave

        P.S. I've been using Linux since 1998 and I was an OS/2 user prior to that.

    • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:31PM (#24462029) Journal

      Did anyone expect anything other than spin from MS with regards to Open Source Software? Hmmm.

      No.

      Ok, one word posts can get good moderation but I'm willing to expand on this.

      Microsoft's innovation is to sell the ideas of others as organic product. This is not really a new idea. See "Kufu: Expansions on the Art of Building Pyramids." (not cited)

      I'm currently working my way through Cashman & Shelly's "Introduction to Computer Programming IBM/360 Assembler Language" (c)1969, Anaheim Publishing Company.

      Familiar terms there include "DOS", "Work Areas" and "Control Macros"

      I'm willing to bet there are a couple dozen ideas in this book that invalidate Microsoft patents.

      For prior art on the rest of them you need only read Communications of the ACM, origin through 1981.

      • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday August 04, 2008 @12:00AM (#24462217)

        I'm willing to bet there are a couple dozen ideas in this book that invalidate Microsoft patents.

        Just about every software patent has an idea that invalidates it. The thing though is, with MS stocking up on patents, we never know which ones they really don't care about and which ones they will sue for. It is expensive and time consuming to strike down every patent, and when someone sues Linux or another F/OSS project in a major suit (like SCO) even though anyone with half a brain knows that it should have been thrown out ages ago, it still leaves CEOs (usually missing half a brain) not using Linux because they are scared they will be sued or the support will end.

        Until politicians start to realize that things that apply with the physical world make no sense in the digital world, MS has a legal advantage, and with some judges having the mental capacity of a 4 year old MS might win a few minor suits.

        • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by symbolset (646467) * on Monday August 04, 2008 @12:33AM (#24462413) Journal

          We need a ruling that software patents are void. We're well on the way. Recent Supreme Court rulings are indicative of a climate change in the Court.

          People need to get behind the idea that software patents and copyrights serve to prevent "the progress of science and useful arts."

          Progress is the goal. If the tool no longer serves it, it needs to be abandoned [abolishcopyright.com].

          • Software patents are the problem. That and insane copyright laws. For example, if I was sued for downloading music, I should be sued at max for $5 per song, because you can usually find that song for $.99 somewhere online. The end of copyright wouldn't serve us any good, because even open source programs wouldn't have existed if not for some proprietary software, Linux was made to be like Unix which was proprietary, Firefox was born from Netscape which for many years wasn't free, etc.
  • by haltenfrauden27 (1338125) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:50PM (#24461731) Homepage
    There's no question that they've made some missteps in this area, but I think the tales of their demise are very, very overstated. Microsoft still has an enormous install base, and I would absolutely expect them to try and apply the "embrace and extend" approach increasingly to open source. All they have to do is get more involved in coding for OSS projects, and they can change the entire nature of the situation.
    • by AndGodSed (968378) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:35PM (#24462061) Homepage Journal

      Like they did with IE? Shut out competitors by mimicking another product and making it a default install of their own?

      Didn't they JUST begin to do that with Apache?

  • Damn parasites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stox (131684) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:51PM (#24461741) Homepage

    Hmm, where did that IP stack come from? Where did they get the idea of tabbed browsing? Where did they get a web browser from? The list goes on and on. I wonder how many "patents" came from ideas inspired by open source?

    The reason Microsoft is failing is that the parasite has become larger than the host.

    • Re:Damn parasites (Score:5, Informative)

      by Maxmin (921568) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:50PM (#24462157)

      The parent post is right, Microsoft has incorporated BSD-derived code into its operating systems [kuro5hin.org].

      The web browser and web server were concepts and implementations that originated within the open-source community.

      If MS is accusing the open-source community of absconding with its intellectual property, then why no compunction about incorporating same into their products?

      Software *ideas* are just that, ideas. They should not be patented, or patentable, but that's just what's happened and has been encouraged by USPTO. Companies like MS (and many others) rode that bandwagon and have patents that one might call dubious.

  • by tinkertim (918832) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:55PM (#24461761) Homepage

    That makes sense now. Leave peer review out of research and you get vista.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      Not only peer review. Also your programmers, your users, your administrators... or rather, the programmers, users and admins that have to suffer from the result.

    • by Nymz (905908) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:56PM (#24462195) Journal
      I've noticed that stories regarding Microsoft or Apple have difficultly cultivating constructive debate. For example...

      Apple topic - The iPod design is amazing, I really want one, but am concerned about DRM. (Score:-1, Flamebait)
      Microsoft topic - vista suxors!!11!!1 (Score:5, Insightful)

      Would it be possible for Slashdot to have two sections? One for discussion of topics, that present conclusions based upon stated facts and assumptions. And a second section for free expression of angst, like 'Bill Gates is the Borg-Devil' or 'I want to have Steve Jobs iBaby!'.
  • 1) Open source companies don't invest in research and development and instead largely free-ride on Microsoft's patents and copyrights; and 2) Open source projects don't innovate and instead mimic Microsoft's products.

    Those sound like the same point. Was it that way in the report or just in the summary... meh, not worth it to RTFA.

  • Compiz (Score:5, Funny)

    by jadedoto (1242580) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:02PM (#24461813)
    I agree. Compiz-Fusion totally ripped Microsoft's patents to the desktop cube idea.

    I just forgot how to enable it in Vista Ultimate...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Leave the desktop cube (which is rather useless, really) out. I seem to have forgotten how to change desktops in good 'ol 2D in Vista!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:06PM (#24461863)

    Microsoft's innovations stand on their own.
    Their accomplishments with active directory, for instance, are wonderful. I'd like to see the open source community come up with anything like it.
    Also, their networking stack is rock solid. It would take years for the open source community to come up with anything as polished.

    From the beginning, Microsoft has been an innovative company. MS Dos, Basic, I could go on and on. Their contributions to original research have truly advanced the human condition.

    Open source projects are simply parasites on the innovations of microsoft. Bah!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)

      Microsoft's innovations stand on their own.
      Their accomplishments with active directory, for instance, are wonderful. I'd like to see the open source community come up with anything like it.

      Despite the "Funny" mod, there is actually one very good point in there.

      Yes I know Active Directory is nothing more than a kerberized LDAP server with a fancy schema. But I also do not know of any F/OSS mechanism to automatically get all sorts of software packages, configuration and policy settings from an LDAP server. Given the number of Linux distributions that exist and the sometimes only slight resemblance between any two in terms of configuration, I suspect that such a product isn't really practical

  • nothing to see here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:08PM (#24461875)

    A 10K report is *supposed* to have a section where the CEO lays out, in gory detail, external threats and situations on the horizon that have a significant chance of derailing their revenue plan for the next year.

    What Ballmer is saying here is that

    1. competitors don't have to attack Microsoft broadside, as they have the luxury of going after a niche market
    2. they have the fast follower's advantage of being able to use Microsoft's products, rather than having to do the early R&D themselves (the same advantage that Microsoft once had against Apple, Lotus, and Netscape)
    3. some of the most dangerous competitors are in open source, because they can't be finished off the same way that Microsoft crushed its competition in the '80s and '90s.

    IIRC it was Marc Andressen who first hit on this tactic for competing against Microsoft, when Netscape launched the Mozilla Foundation in 1998. It took a few years of fumbling around before that took fruit - probably because the Navigator/Communicator code was so badly written - but that turned out to be a masterstroke of business tactics.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)

      IIRC it was Marc Andressen who first hit on this tactic for competing against Microsoft, when Netscape launched the Mozilla Foundation in 1998. It took a few years of fumbling around before that took fruit - probably because the Navigator/Communicator code was so badly written - but that turned out to be a masterstroke of business tactics.

      And look how well Netscape's doing today.

  • Microsoft knows that a lot of open source products overlap their patents, many of which would be dubious in court. MS is positioning itself to justify using it's patents to try and crush competing open source projects.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:54PM (#24462175)
      MS will justify crushing OSS in any way possible. Honestly, if you call the people of the FSF free software zealots, then call MS proprietary software zealots. MS basically exists totally proprietary, not to make money, not to be inventive but to prove a key point in the Open Letter To Hobbyists by Gates, that quality software will not be written without a lot of money. Unfortunately for MS, it seems that the tables have turned, just about every quality application is OSS in some part if not fully OSS (OS X, Firefox, Apache, etc) and about the only major software vendor that isn't transitioning to OSS is MS, look at it, Apple mostly has with OS X, IBM has embraced Linux, Sun seems to be trying to open source everything they have, Novell has openSUSE, and everyone in between is getting things open sourced.
  • The originally proposed wording:

    "Open source means you should sell your shares."

    Just got reworked to make it easier to read.

    --Q

  • RTFR (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:23PM (#24461973) Homepage

    Not really worded as the author states, and is quite interesting - mainly the meat is the Risk Factors section where they must report the possible situations on investment/profit risk. Nothing really much there about stealing ideas, but what was omitted by the author was the probable losses incurred by MS "opening up" on some interoperability technology as well as being forced to open up other standards due to high court rulings.

    They still call their Licensing "Ownership" as in Cost of Ownership... sigh.

    Very interesting read.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ignavus (213578)

      Cost of ownership has nothing to do with *you* owning the product ... it is the cost you pay because they own you.

      Perhaps it would be better if they called it the Cost of Pwnership?

  • Reality check? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:28PM (#24462005)

    I fail to see where Microsoft makes any "mistakes" in its filing. The statement the company made were, as far as I can tell, correct. Without making judgment calls on R&D models, it's fair to say that the proprietary-versus-open source methods are very different, and that open source products benefit from the fact that their research costs *are* distributed amongst the various contributing developers.

    The filing never says that OSS companies don't spend a great deal on R&D, nor does it say that Microsoft's R&D (ie. feature development and coding) hasn't been influenced by outside factors. Therefore, I fail to see how there are any mistruths spoken here.

    Keep in mind that this is SEC filing, for goodness sake, and that the questionable sections are intended to be simple, concise analyses of the competition and a few differentiating factors between them and Microsoft. I think it does that just fine.

    With all the complaining we do here about the FUD inflicted on us by megacorporations, I am rather embarrassed to see us using the very same tacticts with this sort of story.

  • The two statements from Microsoft in the summary is just their usual FUD. Spreading FUD doesn't mean the originator is ignorant, though.
  • pure narcissism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:40PM (#24462105) Homepage Journal
    Thankfully, most observers are able to see through this particular line of nonsense at this point. Sadly, however, it's likely that Ballmer and other 'softies actually believe it. They're so narcissistic that they really do believe that Microsoft is the epicenter of innovation, and that it really is impossible for good ideas to come from anywhere other than Redmond.

    In fact, many open source projects and products use Microsoft as a reference point for how not to design software. Call it a second mover advantage if you like.
  • Such statements come from the company that has been so many times declared by Novell a benefactor and the only reason for its economic growth.
  • by smchris (464899) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:58PM (#24462205)

    Compatibility gets confused with copying. And when you know nothing about the history of computing, well, "UNIX? That's like DOS, right?" Because the GUIs can be made similar to Windows, because menus like OpenOffice are made similar to Office for ease of transition, because compatible file formats are often read and written, people who know nothing about the underlying structure of computers or the history of innovations can logically, if incorrectly, conclude from their experience with Windows from the earlier '90s that linux _must_ be a copy of Windows in the '00s.

  • They must drink alot of soda in Redmond.
  • 1) Open source companies don't invest in research and development and instead largely free-ride on Microsoft's patents and copyrights;
    2) Open source projects don't innovate and instead mimic Microsoft's products.

    I think Microsoft is absolutely right here. I mean if you see this story [slashdot.org] about what they did to BlueJ I think you'd get a better picture of what I mean.

    Pot, meet Kettle.

  • What innovation (Score:5, Informative)

    by fermion (181285) on Monday August 04, 2008 @12:15AM (#24462303) Homepage Journal
    For the most part, MS has bought what is mostly mature technology and made it accessible to the mass market. This is useful, but not innovation. Most of it's problems come from the fact that it is not a super high tech company. It is a medium tech company that provides good components for inexpensive solutions to common problems. This is the second problem. MS does not provide solutions. It is up to third parties to hack together solution to common problems from proprietary MS components and commodity third party components. This can be an efficient method to problem solve, but can be expensive as the MS proprietary solutions are becoming less competitive, and the cost savings are increasingly coming from third party commodity products, products that can run non-proprietary software. A MS certified team to make everything work is not cheap either.

    So what MS is and has been saying is that it acquired the IP fair in square, and is properly selling it on the market, while others are just copying. Let us not dwell on the fact that is where MS was 20 years ago when Apple acquired the WIMP interface fair and square and MS copied it to run on cheaper hardware, which let us remember that Compaq created at no small expense fair and square. No, let's just look at the claims as they stand using a classic example, SQL

    SQL server was aquired acquired from sybase. Is there technology here that MS can claim was part of that deal, and stolen by the OSS community. I think not. SQL was developed by IBM and what is now Oracle, and was standardized, I believe, in the mid 80's. The two big OSS competitors, mSQL and PostreSQL were both independently developed by teams concurrently with the Sybase product and opensourced, partly or otherwise, by their creator. I am sure that both not include features that MS SQL has, but I would also guess that Oracle or IBM has the features first.

    In the end MS problem is simply that they are not 2-3 years ahead of the curve. When this happened to SGI, they went bankrupt. A firm simply cannot charge a premium for this years technology. In the case of software, this is because the OSS people can do the same thing, for free. MS Office is simply too mature to be a profit center. MS Server is simply relatively too low tech. Even the X Box is not at the front of the pack, at least not by more than six months.MS has some traction through collaboration, and they can continue to make money there, but complaining about the loss os MS Windows market share is silly. They had the chance the database file system, but for some reason they did not provide enough resources. This in itself proves that they are not innovative.

    MS will lose customers because they are lazy. They will continue to have enterprise customers, they will continue to have the gaming market. We will see the general desktop and server market move away from them unless they come up with something big or go back to their roots as the cheap solution. We see this in the emerging $100-$200 portable market. If this will provide the growth the stock market wants is yet to be seen.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday August 04, 2008 @12:29AM (#24462381)
    FREE SOFTWARE REDUCES HEALTH RISK FOR MICROSOFT EMPLOYEES

    In a surprising twist, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has admitted yesterday that Free Software is the cause of better than average health for Microsoft employees. "Free software means no free soda" is the new catch cry at the Redmond, WA software powerhouse.

    "We used to offer our developers free soda, and never thought about the health consequences", said Ballmer while rocking on a designer chair. "Then one day, one of our employees installed Linux on his workstation, which also happened to run the in-house Visual Basic control panel that overrides all the networked soft drink machines on the campus. Suddently, people couldn't get their Mountain Dew anymore, unless they actually paid for it themselves".

    Ballmer went on to explain that the programmer who wrote the soda control software had left years ago, and nobody could replace him. Soft drinks were left in the machines for months and morale went down at first among the employees, but soon picked up again when a drop in the monthly rate of deaths from heart failure was noticed. "Free software is like a virus that actually helps you", Ballmer said. "With the money we saved in ambulance fees, I bought every employee a free yo-yo, and even had enough money left over for a new chair. Way to go, Free Software, we love ya!" Former CEO Bill Gates declined to comment.

  • HA!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by josmar52789 (1152461) on Monday August 04, 2008 @12:37AM (#24462429) Journal
    "open source software doesn't innovate"

    Ha! The article directly below this one states that someone has developed an app to graph or diagram SQL statements... Now, that's innovation - and it didn't require any Microsoft products to be harmed during testing or development!

    Oh by the way, the Internet itself is an open source effort and I can't imagine anything more innovative or groundbreaking than the most advanced communications medium ever created!
  • Pot-kettle syndrome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WoollyMittens (1065278) on Monday August 04, 2008 @01:07AM (#24462605)
    It took "innovations" like Firefox to finally get the monolithic Microsoft of its collective ass and FINALY update their aging browser after letting it hold back the internet for about half a decade.
  • Slashdot at work... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2008 @01:46AM (#24462817)

    I know it's somewhat taboo to RTFA around here, but I thought I'd compare with the summary anyway:

    Article, quoting MSFT:
    "Some of these firms may build upon Microsoft ideas that we provide to them free or at low royalties in connection with our interoperability initiatives."
    Implication: there exist some companies that reuse some of Microsoft's ideas, reducing their costs in the process (presumably at MSFT's expense)

    Slashdot summary:
    "Open source companies don't invest in research and development and instead largely free-ride on Microsoft's patents and copyrights"
    Implication: Microsoft claims most/all open source companies copy Microsoft's ideas and don't contribute anything

    Article,quoting MSFT:
    "Open source software vendors are devoting considerable efforts to developing software that mimics the features and functionality of our products, in some cases on the basis of technical specifications for Microsoft technologies that we make available."
    Implication: there are open source products that look and behave very similarly to some of Microsoft's products

    Slashdot summary:
    "Open source projects don't innovate and instead mimic Microsoft's products."
    Implication: Microsoft claims most/all open source products are copies of MSFT's products

    I understand that bashing MSFT is a popular passtime around here, but when the article summaries are completely misleading, that starts to get in the way of the trustworthiness Slashdot as a whole. If Slashdot hopes to remain relevant in the longterm, it needs to make at least some effort to accurately portray the stories. Otherwise, it will eventually become the internet equivalent of tabloids, worth only the entertainment value of reading the stories+comments, and completely untrustworthy for actual facts.

  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Monday August 04, 2008 @02:38AM (#24463083)

    1) Open source companies don't invest in research and development and instead largely free-ride on Microsoft's patents and copyrights;

    I say Microsoft cannot sue. If they could, they would've already done it. I think if Microsoft sues, they are either afraid that they'll get sued for the free-ride they've been enjoying or they simply do not know who or how to sue. OSS isn't really making any money. OSS is not a company. Yes, MS could sue, say, Redhat, but Redhat is not equal to or represent in anyway OSS itself, and I doubt Redhat really does that much IP damage since most of their business is distributing what others have made and providing support - they are not burning CDs of Windows, if you will. Then sue GNOME or KDE? Can't. Sue kernel developers? How? For what? They would have to go project to project performing drive-by lawsuits which will all be tedious and expensive and very unrewarding.

    Like all annual reports, these are self-published documents designed to serve the appetites of shareholders. So anything written in it should be viewed with that in mind. It is not a tech document or a fact sheet. It is a spin sheet.

  • by rs232 (849320) on Monday August 04, 2008 @04:43AM (#24463663)
    "Our business model has been based upon customers paying a fee to license software that we develop and distribute .. Certain "open source" software business models challenge our license-based software model..."

    I do believe MS has been drinking too much of its own koolaid. If they really believe this then they are only deluding themselves. That their current business model is under attack is a given, but not from the Open Source sector. I mean how many times can you sell the same GUI, web browser and email client to the same people. The only real innovation they do is making each new version of Windows more bloated than the previous version, forcing the endusers to buy a new computer year after year. They also manage to make their older formats incompatible with the 'newer' software. That you see the writing on the wall is evident in your "software as a service" sector.

    The WinTEL PC is obsolete and people would have moved onto smaller embedded Internet aware devices if it wasn't for your repeated actions in stifling the market. Twenty years of CrapWare. That a bunch of hobbyists working in their garage can produce applications that equal anything Microsoft has produced tells us just how lacking in the innovation department you really are. Anything you ever produced you only ever leeched of the academic sector.

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