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MS Wants To Outlaw Open Source: "Threatens" the "American Way" 1169

EnderWiggnz was one of the people who wrote to us about some interesting quotes from Jim Allchin, main Windows guy at Microsoft. Essentially he argues that Open Source undermines intellectual property (which is true) but that it also stifles innovation and he "...can't imagine something that could be worse then this for the software business and intellectual-property business." My favorite quote:"I'm an American, I believe in the American Way,'' he said. ''I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat." Wow. I know - let's blame Canada! That seems a logical next step!
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MS Wants To Outlaw Open Source: "Threatens the American Way"

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  • Can we finally lose this absurd notion of Open Source having anything to do with communism?

    In order to have communism, all members of society must contribute to society according to their ability to do so. (As in, "from each, according to his means, to each, according to his needs.")

    Since the vast majority of the users of Linux, Apache, and other free software products are passive consumers, who do not even so much as bother to submit bug reports, this is clearly not the case.

    Open Source development can therefore be considered an act of benevolence or charity... offering to share the fruits of thier labor and knowledge with the world, knowing full-well that most of the world will do nothing for them in exchange.

    If the open source movement was about communism, then every farmer who owns a Linux box would be giving their food away.

  • by sparkane ( 145547 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:54AM (#428790)

    ..or intellectual property. Not exactly, and maybe not at all.

    Understand that open source, or, to put a finer point on it, GNU and the GPL, is based on the exact principle that others' more proprietary claims are based on: that creators' can say what others may do with their intellectual inventions. Note that open source software is not released into the public domain, where anyone could do anything they want with it, including creating a new version of it and claiming that creation as their intellectual property; there are very important restrictions on the use of GPL'ed intellectual property, of which we're all aware. There is still a license in other words. If you violate that license, in theory, the custodians of the GPL'ed software could sue you in court, just as more proprietary corporations can if you break their licenses.

    Of course the GPL is a million times more humanitarian than Microsoft, and their ilk. But there's a reason RMS called it Copyleft, which is that open source software is still copyrighted, but the conditions of its use and distribution are exactly opposite of those of proprietary software, where rights are not to be distributed with the program.

  • Funny you should bring up the GPL to defend IP - I don't think the GPL is right, either. I would go along with the GPL out of politeness, and because I think the source should be free, not because I have to. I wouldn't violate the GPL, but I don't think it should be enforceable.

    The GPL does two things I don't like:
    1. The GPL tries to spread, forcing its way into other programs. I think viral is a bad word for that, since it is rather offensive to people who like the GPL, but the GPL is a... very reproductive license. This is not in and of itself bad, but it is worrisome.

    2. The GPL presumes authors have the right to control what other people do with their creations. RMS talks about free software, but then he said "...if we let them use the code in proprietary software products." in http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-not-lgpl.html

    If GPL'd software is so free, why do the users of the GPL think they have the right to not let others use their code in whatever way they want?

    This is why I prefer BSD-style or public domain "licenses." I don't think I have the right to tell other people what they can do with my code. This is why, though I admire RMS's motives, I disagree with the GPL, and with IP.

    "Why should I spend a bunch of time and energy creating something that isn't going to put money in my pocket or otherwise benefit me?"

    But there is a way it otherwise benefits you. There is now a program where there was not. You made it, you can change or customize it in any way you want, and you can do anything you want with it without having to sign your firstborn child away in some EULA. Of course, there is also the respect and admiration of your peers, and another item you can put on your resume. Even if that's not enough benefit for you, it is for me.

    "So don't attack IP, because commercial apps are the only way that Linux is going to make it out of the server room."

    I fundamentally disagree with you here. All I can say is that I, a guy in my dorm across the hall, and my dad all use Linux on our desktop boxes. My dad has a windows box, but rarely uses it. Kevin and I don't have windows, and have no interest in it. Our desktops work fine with only Linux. No, we aren't the average end user, but I don't mind. It's good enough for me. Way better than Windows, IMHO.

    "IP when applied correctly is a benefit to society."

    I won't argue with you here, but I don't understand. How can you correctly apply IP without it being a form of content control?

    "Blaming IP for all the crap that's been going on with the DMCA, Napster, etc. etc. is exactly like blaming a gun when someone is killed."

    Yes, Microsoft, the RIAA, the MPAA, and Amazon are certainly fully to blame for what they did. However, I also disagree with IP because I think it is a bad set of laws. I don't see how IP can exist without content control, and I think content control is evil.

    "...not the principle of IP. If it weren't for it, there would be no GPL."

    If there was no IP and no GPL, I would not miss either. Yes, I am sure there would be problems, but they would be our own problems, not injustices enforced upon us by big government and big business.
  • You make some good points, but your attitute and tone reek of thoughtless americanism.

    Americans have far less leisure time than many 3rd world people. We also have low unemployment, a government that doesn't have civil wars every fifteen years, the ability to vote, and plumbing. I'd have a hell of a lot of leisure time too, if unemployment was at 80%, I couldn't read, hadn't seen a dentist in my entire life and was starving to death. Low unemployment - how much of our economic strength is due to good old elbow grease, and how much is due to a history of western imperialism? I can't give you numbers, but it should be obvious that Western nations in general have a long history or mercantilist behavior.

    Civil wars and voting: Yep, not too many civil wars. Nice thing about a well run fake democracy - everyone thinks they can elect a new king every four years. We just witnessed how much your vote counts, too.

    Illiteracy: I doubt that you'd be able to read if it weren't for the schooling you received. If public schools - paid for by the taxes from an economy built on the misery of others. If private - even worse.

    Why are people killing themselves to get in? Not because we've destroyed their supposedly self sufficient economies. They try to come here because our system works and the one in thier home country does not. If you bust your ass in the USA, you can get ahead. That's not always guaranteed in other countries. Their system doesn't work precisely because their native economy has been RAPED by Western Interests. Western nations have a tendency to buy off leadership in developing countries in order to produce nations of cash-crop producing indentured servants, who previous had no interest in growing tobacco, sugar cane, etc. However, their local leaders were "convinced" by Western interests to convert their agricultural systems. Those leaders aren't the ones starving.

    but by the same token they would have difficulty believing the amount of money I get for sitting in front of a keyboard and monitor for 8 hours a day.

    They'd be even more surprised at the amount of money you spend on worthless consumer bullshit. They'd probably have a hard time understanding how any person could care about a DVD of "The Matrix" than feeding their fellow man who is starving. Consumer culture has done a lot to ensure that most Americans never really think about whether they're spending their money in a socially responsible sort of way.

    The system in the US is far from perfect, but you are trying to make it look far worse than it is, and I think you are doing it in quite a dishonest fashion. I don't think I'm being dishonest at all. I'm not against free enterprise and capitalism. It's a proven system. However, American corporations engage in activities abroad that they are prohibited from engaging in domestically. This is done with the full support of the US government. Case in point: at the same time all the tobabacco hearing were going on in this country, the government was simultaniously using diplomacy to open foriegn markets to US tobacco products. We've also gone to war (as a nation, we have KILLED already poor and disadvantaged people so that we fat americans can pay a few cents less for gas).

    For more info, check out Year 501 by Noam Chomsky.

  • What do you think IBM will have to say about Microsoft trying to make their $1.3BN investment irrelevant. Microsoft are too late to try legislative action, their most powerful enemies support Linux. I mean, do you think Scott McNealy will just say 'yes sir Mr Bill sir' when ordered to take down OpenOffice?
  • Is that the same "American Way" that allows unelected politicians to become president?

    "Land of the free" my arse...
  • Hmm, I think Allchin's point of view is egocentric. He's arguing that Microsoft's "Freedom to Innovate" (TM) is being threated by the very "freedoms" that he is trying to remove from open-source developers.

    However, Allchin doesn't realize that:

    1. Microsoft's exploitations will end. If you exercise your IP rights and your customers too far, people won't want what you have to offer.
    2. Ethics is a far greater opponent to Microsoft.
    3. He is asking that government should not encourage competition. Didn't the government just bring Microsoft to trial about that very same issue not too long ago? Talk about jumping into bed with one enemy to get under the skin of another.

    To me, it sound likes the classic "my rights end where yours start" argument. Unfortunately, Allchin's view is that he can tip the scales in his favor with Microsoft's money and the "Intellectual Property" argument.

    Fortunately, that will never work as long as the US Constitution is in law. Unfortunately, it seems that the Constitution is become nothing more than a piece of paper nowadays.

  • Several more points here, though probably not ones you want to hear:

    Americans have far less leisure time than many 3rd world people. We also have low unemployment, a government that doesn't have civil wars every fifteen years, the ability to vote, and plumbing. I'd have a hell of a lot of leisure time too, if unemployment was at 80%, I couldn't read, hadn't seen a dentist in my entire life and was starving to death.

    Why are people killing themselves to get in? Not because we've destroyed their supposedly self sufficient economies. They try to come here because our system works and the one in thier home country does not. If you bust your ass in the USA, you can get ahead. That's not always guaranteed in other countries.

    Say what you want about our financial system, but the simple fact is that it does work, and it works significantly better than any other system we've found so far. If you have a better solution, let's see it implemented.

    And the standard of living in the US is certainly not a crock. Many people in the US live with debts people in less developed countries cannot comprehend not because they are stupid corporate sheep - they live with debt because they can, and because it's not really that big of a problem.

    Five hundred dollars to me is gift money, perhaps a few days of my time. Five hundred dollars is unbelievable wealth in some countries, more than a resident might make in their entire lifetime. Of course they would have difficulty understanding the concept of a twenty thousand dollar debt - but by the same token they would have difficulty believing the amount of money I get for sitting in front of a keyboard and monitor for 8 hours a day.

    Given the chance, do you think they would trade places with me? Do you think I would trade with them? If the standard of living is so low in the US, why are they killing themselves to come here?

    The system in the US is far from perfect, but you are trying to make it look far worse than it is, and I think you are doing it in quite a dishonest fashion.

    -dennis T
  • I don't think that it's a coincidence that the US, with it's many large corporations also has one of the highest stardards of living on the planet.

    Last time I checked, we were one of the last nations to offer health care to everyone. Great standard of living, if you're among the wealthy half of the population.

  • An excellent point... Why is it that there seem to be so many people out there that can't grasp the apparent contradiction in these arguments?

    One thing to keep in mind though, is that Microsoft has their own definition of 'innovation'... One which I think can be more correctly termed 'immovation'.

  • by qwerty823 ( 126234 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:57AM (#428822)
    Next they'll be touting that the Department of Justice threatens the "American Way" (or at least M$'s version of it.)
  • > MS do not want to outlaw Open Source.

    > What they have said, is that the government should not encourage it.

    > And this is more fair.

    Wft the US govt have to do with what a corporation wants ?

    > Let me explain:

    > The ultimate goal of Open Source is free software.

    > Now this means that you don't pay anything for it.

    This is not true. Free software means freedom, not "you don't pay anything"

    > If this happens, there is no money to pay programmers

    The amount of money that goes to the developer is insignifiant. Really. For a retail price of a product, all programmers maybe get 1%. (Very very good contracts, at the time where programmers could do software all by themselves and hand it to a dsitributor, were just a little higher than 10% royalties. this does not exist anymore, and the concept of 'star' programmer does not exist in software houses anymore).

    > As a result, intelligent people such as myself,

    No sir. You are a moron. I'll stop commenting, as it is just too funny.

    > who could command 6 figure salaries in any profession

    In Yens, I beleive.

    > will take different career paths.

    This would be a good thing for everyone.


  • You're right but it's still a stereotype. You can't let THESE guys define what the American way is, just because they jump up and down blathering on about it. A lot of americans pursue other ways. I think FDR's "New Deal" was the American Way. I think the Four Freedoms are the American Way. I don't accept that greed and economic destruction of the weak are the American Way. Did you know that one of FDR's Four Freedoms that WWII was fought over was freedom from want? That another was freedom from fear? Compare with the Microsoft Way. You should also read Madison in Federalist #10 about the evils of faction and the need to put pressure on the largest factions so they don't just plain steamroller all the others. THAT is the American Way to me, seeing these problems and deciding to try and improve the situation, even if imperfectly, but to go ahead and make the effort- who cares if you aren't guaranteed success, TRY anyway! That to me is the American Way. That is what I practice, and sometimes it works, and when it works it's great :) when it doesn't, at least I tried...
  • At least his comments tell us one thing: Microsoft's on the run and they don't have a clue about how to deal with open source

    Not so fast, the article says:

    says that freely distributed software code such as rival Linux could stifle innovation and that legislators need to understand the threat.

    ''I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat.''

    Hold on - I think they know EXACTLY how their going to deal with the Linux threat. The same way the RIAA dealt with MP3s...

  • by chipuni ( 156625 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:57AM (#428839) Homepage
    You're right. The article doesn't say that Microsoft wants to outlaw open source.

    It just says that Jim Allchin, the Windows operating-system chief believes that freely distributed source:

    • Stifles innovation
    • Destroys intellectual property rights
    • Kills research and development
    • Is the worst thing for the software business

    ...and that legislators need to understand the threat.

    When I put those things together, I get the impression that Microsoft wants to outlaw Open Source. YMMV.

  • Actually, you could make the argument that Open Source conscribes to capitalism as well. Linux is purely following Microsoft's path for entry into a market that they do not yet dominate (see internet explorer), give it away for free to get "customers". Many Linux business models focus on the service aspect of the business or on the hardware side value added software. HP is sharply reducing the price of their base HP-UX software on their new systems, there really is no difference with that vs. VA Systems business model.

    From a customer perspective, Linux fits the capitalistic model well, too. It's got the lowest price, its what the consumer should buy. Mind you there are other cost (and preference, and for now performance) factors, which is the only reason Linux isn't on all servers.

    Linux is the way to break free from Microsoft's monoplistic rule of the software business (which has a far worse impact on progress than anything Linux would ever do.

    I like capitalism and belive it is the best way to run a society. But monoplies like Microsoft are like black holes to the continuium of capitalism, devouring all business around them. The government's role should be to make sure monoplies are not allowed to exist, they are actually the biggest threat to capitalism there is.
  • by Kiasoft ( 142069 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:58AM (#428843) Homepage

    Territorial distrust is the key concept here. Microsoft does not know how to assimilate this open source territory into their own shop, because it breaks the very foundation of their ideas, beliefs and business models.

    Unlike humanity, the software world is not bound to the same "physical" territories that have caused man to consume his way into every culture that has come and gone and been assimilated. We have pushed out those that came before us and rebuild when we destroy... the "territories" as they exist in the virtual realm don't obey these rules. When you take money out of the equation and seperate from the world of Microsoft vs xyz corporation, Microsoft was able to dominate by conversion or persuasion or harrasment.

    The OpenSource model breaks this cycle by taking money out of the equation. In effect creating a new territory (although not that new) that has come into a maturity of its own that now provides man with an alternative. Shall he continue flying with MS into a world that will eventually crumble at its own overweight blunders, or will they give a chance to evolution? A chance to experience a new territory?

    Who knows? Only if we allow MS to continue their propoganda will they scare the masses away from exploring new territories, and therein lies the danger of Microsoft.. not in stifling the competition, but in stifling the territories we are allowed to play in.

    thanks for listening... people have been trying to step all in my territory today... sigh.

  • The insight I get from your comment is not that Allchin used the wrong word, but rather that the words "American" and "Corporate" are in fact completely interchangable.
  • Apache for one, sendmaill for another. I'll ask you the same. Show me one piece of software that Microsoft didn't buy or copy from someone else.
  • Since psychological weapons of mass-destruction count, I'd say that was when the US shipped over the tapes for "Happy Days", "The A-Team" and "The Beverley Hillbillys".

    I'm sorry, but those =have= to violate some human rights convention or other.

  • To expand on your first bullet point, with new laws regarding EULAs, and more restrictive EULAs, MS's claims about responsibility are completely bogus. They can't be held responsible for anything.

    To add more, the only think I can think of off the top of my head is the bogus TCO arguments. Even if TCO was cheaper when actually buying Windows instead of using an OS OS, when you add applications - like Office/StarOffice, compilers, webservers, etc., the TCO goes through the roof with MS, and they still aren't liable for problems in their software.

  • Heh.

    Nope, sorry... I don't buy the Richard Stallman line of bullshit regarding Software Communism.

    Microsoft is right, Open Source is a threat to the software industry and as a result to our US Economy.

    I don't see how you could deny that, considering that's the admitted point of your revolution. You just don't care what the perimiter consequences are to your bread and butter.
  • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Friday February 16, 2001 @02:36AM (#428861)
    What you're saying is something like:
    In my city there's a guy which owns a Ferrari. Another one owns a Jaguar. Cars in my city are the best in the world.


    Just because there's a Ferrari and Jaguar in your city doesn't mean all cars are good. All the rest might be "how do they manage to still work", "rusting junk" sort of cars.

    Try "average quality of universities" instead of "top 10".

  • Actually your argument that programmers would go impoverished without companies running the business is bullshit

    I made no such argument (although Stallman himself flatly states that programmers will make less money with Free Software, as quoted). I'm well aware of the inefficiencies of proprietary software. I support the practice of writing free software (public domain, in particular), but not the demented Free Software theory of the FSF.

    Stallman argues that programmers should put public interest before any self-consideration beyond survival, that they should make Free Software whether they profit from it in any way or not. If you don't believe me, go read the GNU manifesto and other documents at the FSF philosophy page. I didn't make those quotes up.
    Karma casino, place your bets!
  • Show me one single innovative piece of software that was created by open source folks. Can you ?
    A few come to mind:
    • Slashcode, since we're using it right now. If nothing else, its moderation scheme is innovative.
    • While BSD was largely derivative of AT&T's Unix, there were significant innovations like vi and Berkeley sockets.
    • TeX. Can't say enough good things about it. Very innovative in computer typesetting.
    • PGP: encryption for the masses.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • See, that sounds a little more reasonable to me. I'd buy that as an explanation of what's his nutz's comments.
  • IXI's X.Desktop was doing this in 1990, at least. They preferred you use mwm, which made the whole thing look right, but it wasn't required at all. XDesktop had an internal sh-like scripting language that allowed you to define new objects, and new behaviours for objects yourself, and distribute them to your users. Different classes of users got different views of the world, and different object behaviours (e.g. an Admin might get a 'lock account' action for People objects). From what I understand of it, this is a lot like OS/2 Workplace, although I've never used that. It was pretty cool.

    They also made a funky virtual mwm, called Panorama.

    IXI is now part of SCO, and I believe X.Desktop became part of SCO Open Desktop.
  • Essentially he argues that Open Source undermines intellectual property (which is true)

    You're right to disagree. Open Source is not only innocent of any "destruction of property," but it is a great creator of wealth: The key difference is in just who owns the product. The original investment of time & talent do not vary, but it'll either be the propriety of a secretive few, or it will be an empowering item to the many that share it.

    Microsoft gave up on empowering users long ago. They're remembered for Windows and DOS, but it was their licensing of MS-BASIC to every brand of microcomputer that made them pioneers. And the innovation wasn't the software, since basic was someone else's brainchild... it was the licensing approach that made them wealthy... Why let people own software, when you can keep ownership and just license its use?

    When every IBM machine had BASIC in its ROMs, the clones could not emulate that. But once GW-BASIC provided the alternative and a Windowing platform could supplant their DOS, Microsoft woke up: "Empower the user?!? WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!?!?" Now to get a development tool from them, you'll have to pay for a bloated suite to get it.

    Customers and partners are just adversaries waiting to be taken advantantage.

  • ``If anything, one could argue that being free to develop whatever you want, without having to follow the rules set out for you by upper management, could result in more innovation, not less. It's exactly because open source projects don't have anyone to answer to (i.e. management, shareholders, etc) that they can innovate, by trying new things. Traditional management structures in closed-source companies don't like trying new things, they like to stick to older, proven, tried-and-true methods, hence, less innovation.''

    Hear, hear. At most companies, R&D is not something that they like spending a lot of resources on. It's done (I want to say ``tolerated'' but that might be too strong a word) to the extent that it sometimes produces something useful that the rest of the company can build, sell, and make huge profits on. (They'd prefer that product ideas sprang, fully developed, from the brow of Athena.) OSS development is more like pure R&D than most companies actually do in the software area. Of course, not all R&D produces a marketable product and not all open source orojects are wildly successful. If it did, maybe we'd have cured the common cold, cancer, and AIDS and all of our software would have natural language interfaces and be crashproof... and we'd have had them years ago. :-)

    Microsoft's and other traditional software houses that crow on endlessly about how much they spend on R&D are just trying to impress you with how much of a sacrifice they've made to the bottom line. I'm thinking that Microsoft's problem is that they are spending a ton-o-bucks on what they call R&D and it's not resulting in the same level of innovation that the OSS folks are producing. That's gotta stick in their craw.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, 2001 @03:01AM (#428893)
    If Microsoft had invented the electronic calculator machine, intead of Texas Instruments, Microsoft would be lobying now to prevent teachers form teaching math/algebra in the basic schools:

    - Teaching math/algebra harms the electronic-calculator industry and causes the loss of many jobs.
    - Doing math/algebra calculations manually is a stone-age thing, because the new calculators will do it for you.
    - Calculators are much more user friendly than paper and pencil.
    - Calcalators and much easier to lern than math/algebra and you don't even have to learn how it works.
    - Although doing calculations manualy is free, an electronica calculator provides a better TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), because you don't have to train people in lerning math/algebra.
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @12:06PM (#428897)
    He does talk that way.

    Is Microsoft The Great Satan? Apparently they're just one unusually large and nasty demon in the horde of Hell-spawned proprietary developers.

    This guy is a seriously demented nutcase, as are his followers. I've been saying so for years.

    There's a difference between reasonable free software supporters who see advantages in efficiency, education, and security, and Free Software fanatics who see a moral crusade against evil monsters releasing programs without giving away the source code (horrors!).

    Various RMS quotes (gathered from the philosophy page at the FSF):

    "GNU will remove operating system software from the realm of competition. You will not be able to get an edge in this area"
    (Now where would someone see a threat to innovation in such an innocuous remark?)

    "If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs."

    "it will still be possible for them to get paid for programming; just not paid as much as now."

    "All sorts of development can be funded with a Software Tax: Suppose everyone who buys a computer has to pay x percent of the price as a software tax. The government gives this to an agency like the NSF to spend on software development."
    (and he claims not to be a communist!)

    "[in some utopian future where people work 10 hours per week] There will be no need to be able to make a living from programming."
    (there never was a need; any programmer could survive flipping burgers now)

    "The economic argument goes like this: ``I want to get rich (usually described inaccurately as `making a living')...''"

    He honestly seems to support that programmers should be materially impoverished, not enriched, by their rare and highly useful talents. They should do it "for the good of humanity". To Hell with a new computer every year, high-speed internet, and a comfortable home for your family.

    There's every bit as good a reason to argue that people should let any stranger come along and take his car whenever one wants (see how much more use it gets! there's a profit for society!), or farm and give away all the food beyond what they need to survive (how evil to be willing to let it rot if nobody is willing to pay for it!).

    But none of those ideas make sense. People want more money than they need to survive; generally the more the better. People can be selfless in emergencies, but on the whole, they look out for themselves first. Telling people that they shouldn't follow their own self-interest may be met with public applause but will be disregarded in action, assuming that they won't serve themselves is just plain wrong.

    These economically unsound ideals are exactly why the Free Software movement is so often compared to communism: if you go by the FSF propaganda, it is based on the same wrong assumptions about human nature!

    Aside from a few fanatics and students (who make lousy stuff because they're just learning how), people program for some benefit from the final result. Many free software programmers just want the software they're working on. Some want to build up their resumes, others plan to sell documentation, service, or even merchandise. Some hope for donations or sweetheart stock deals.

    The reality is generally quite sensible. We're still working out how to properly reward innovation, and there's still a lot of unsound FSF rhetoric infecting most discussions, but when you look at actions rather than words, progress is occuring toward a reliable system of rewards.

    While I think RMS tells himself he's being self-sacrificing and noble by not "getting rich by cheating his neighbors", I think he's got some ulterior motive. Namely, I think he wants to be a celebrity. He's a ruthless self-promoter through putting his name on everything GNU and FSF then pushing the GNU name (anyone remember LiGNUx?). Like communist revolutionaries, idealistic rhetoric masks private ambition.

    RMS and the FSF are threats to any reasonable economic behavior WRT software, whether free or proprietary. We have to be ready to denounce such lunatics if we don't want to be tarred with the same brush.
    Karma casino, place your bets!
  • by debaere ( 94918 ) on Friday February 16, 2001 @03:10AM (#428908)
    Correct me if I am wrong, but being an relatively outsider to the States (Canada). I thought the American way is to promote freedom of expression, and freedom to do what the hell you want, as long as iot isn't breaking any laws. *shrug* guess not :P

    Regardless, in a country whose First Amendment (AKA Prime Directive) is free speech, how in the sweet name of Zaphod can MS even think of making this statement... its downright insanity.

    Ya know, I used to like Microsoft (in general). I think their Marketing Dept needs a common-sense enima, and most of the products problems are a result of marketroid hype, but now... screw em.

    DOS is dead, and no one cares...
  • by RandomPeon ( 230002 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @12:14PM (#428982) Journal
    Tip for y'all: It's time to do something!!!

    1) Start giving money to the EFF, the EPIC, the FSF, et al. very fast.

    2) There are people who are supposed to condemn these kind of statements - they're called Congress. They're supposed to launch investigations into this kind of shit. If nothing else, they're supposed to know that millions of people will be royally pissed off if they vote for anti-Open Source legistlation. Here are all the email addresses for the Senate Tech Committee:

    John McCain john_mccain@mccain.senate.gov

    Ted Stevens http://www.senate.gov/~stevens/webform.htm

    Conrad Burns conrad_burns@burns.senate.gov

    Trent Lott senatorlott@lott.senate.gov

    Kay Hutchinson senator@hutchinson.senate.gov

    Olympia Snowe olympia@snowe.senate.gov

    Same Brownback http://www.senate.gov/~brownback/email.html

    Gordon Smith http://www.senate.gov/~gsmith/webform.htm

    Peter Fitzgerald senator_fitzgerald@fitzgerald.senate.gov

    Frizt Hollings http://www.senate.gov/~hollings/webform.html

    Daniel Inoyue http://www.senate.gov/~inouye/abtform.html

    Jay Rockefeller senator@rockefeller.senate.gov

    John Kerry john_kerry@kerry.senate.gov

    John Breaux http://www.senate.gov/~breaux/webform.html

    Bryon Dorgan http://dorgan.senate.gov/webmail.html

    Ron Wyden http://www.senate.gov/~wyden/mail.htm

    Max Cleland http://cleland.senate.gov/~cleland/webform.html

    Barbara Boxer http://www.senate.gov/~boxer/contact/webform.html

    Jean Carnhan senator_carnahan@carnahan.senate.gov
  • Interesting idea, but I think you could also make a strong analogy to the effect of Microsoft on software development, variety and innovation.
    Lets consider the main applications; before Microsoft gave us Office there were numerous spreadsheets and word processors in widespread use out there. However, because of some Microsoft undocumented Windows functions, they've managed to take over virtually the entire software Wild West and innovation is stifled by the simple fact that MS either buys out, balks or produces a rival product to anything innovative. As examples I give you: "DOS ain't done till Lotus won't run!", Doublespace, IE v Netscape, DR-DOS, and many more.

    Innovation does occur in Open Source, and staking a claim as you put it is a very competitive business. Unless you produce top quality innovative code, your co-programmers will clobber your claim area with something more innovative and better.

    I think conversely that there is little incentive nowadays to innovate in the MS world, since if your product is really good the 800lb gorilla is going to jump on it one way or the other....
  • by bughunter ( 10093 ) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:18AM (#429075) Journal
    It's here: Doublespeak. It's finally arrived, courtesy of Redmond's marketing and advertising. MS has mastered the tactic of speaking the opposite of the truth, and using that to sell...

    Just last night I saw a commercial for MS Server software, bragging about how it was so stable, no humans needed to maintain the servers. Hah! In my experience, it's the most fragile and least secure server out there.

    And now this. Microsoft has redefined the word "innovation" to mean "mimicing our competition and driving them out of business" -- by "stifling competition," they mean OSS is unstoppable because it's not a business, there's no profit or shareholders to threaten, it's an ideal, a practice. A practice that they can't embrace because it's too foreign to their proprietary mindset.

    What's next? Cages with rats attached to our faces?

  • According to this article at The Register:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/16933.htm l

    Windows XP will itself destroy protected audio and video files that do not "authenticate" with the sound and/or video cards.

    Take Allchin's statement, alter it to this:

    "I'm a Corporatist, I believe in the Corporate Way,'' he said. 'I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat."

    Without Free and Open Source Software, there is no counter to the power of the corporations to control the computer the way they now control TV, radio (about to get even tighter in the digital age), newspapers, etc.

    Microsoft's attitudes and despotism in forcing `Doze users to accept that level of unrestricted third control over their own property, will only serve to further our cause.

    I never did upgrade to 2000, though I do have a dual boot Red Hat/Doze ME machine for gaming. I certainly will never allow Windows XP (XP which seems to stand for "corporate control eXPeriment") anywhere near any of my machines, especially now that I have broadband.
  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:21AM (#429086) Homepage Journal
    If this happens, there is no money to pay programmers. As a result, intelligent people such as myself, who could command 6 figure salaries in any profession will take different career paths.

    With fewer programmers, the result will be less innovation and worse software.

    Furthermore, universities, etc. won't be able to afford to run computing courses,

    Hooey, all of it. If indeed you were an intelligent person perhaps you'd have a better grasp of service based economies.

    This is really simplifying it, but.

    There is $(x) amount in the pool, and a fixed demand. In the current system, where one purchases a software product, there is $(x-y) actually going to the programmers, where y is dictated by the amount of profit the software companies make.

    Now in an open model, where the software is free and customizable but there is no support, there is still $(x) and the same number of 'sales', but that $(x) is paid directly to the programmers, support techs, etc, by way of salary. In addition, there is a higher demand for said programmers.
  • by Anoriymous Coward ( 257749 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:22AM (#429094) Journal
    [*] offer only applies to corporations. Individuals need not apply.
  • by brassrat77 ( 9533 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:25AM (#429111)
    The reporter seems to have mixed up "freely distributed" (free beer) with "open source" (source code available) with public domain ("no one owns it"). When of course Linux and most open source programs do have an owner; the owner has simply chosen to license their intellectual property in this way and be compensated for it in some way other than selling licenses to use the binary.

    But it does suggest a likely way for Microsoft (and others) to attack Linux and other open source alternatives through the US legal system:

    1. "free" (as in beer) distribution of IP is bad. (example: movies and music) [and please ignore the hypocrisy of M$ objecting to the free licensing of software by anyone other than M$]
    2. Linux is "free" (as in open AND beer) and is developed by many of the same people doing (1). [and please ignore the further inconsistancies in our argument]
    3. Therefore, Linux in particular and open source software in general aid and abet illegal activities. Government action to control this is necessary [ignore the flaws in this argument, I'm sure it can be artfully presented]

    Another tack would be to sneak language into various spending bills requiring government IT departments to only acquire software that just happens to be rule out use of open source/linux/... Such regulations exist (Posix certficiation, for example), but don't always get enforced.

    Although M$'s record lobbying has been poor, they do eventually get things right. And their logical allies (MPAA, RIAA, ...) **KNOW** how to lobby.

    should be interesting....

  • by Breace ( 33955 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:26AM (#429120) Homepage
    I like this quote:
    Microsoft distributes some of its programs without charge to customers

    Yeah, and exactly WHEN did it start doing that? Did they distribute any significant software for free before Netscape?

    Even the development tools where a pain in the ass to get your hands on before then, like the DDK for which you needed to be an MSDN subscriber to get it.

  • by bughunter ( 10093 ) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:27AM (#429123) Journal
    Amen, brother!

    The idiocy of the concept of Corporation As Person needs to be exposed more to the average citizen. Few people today realize that it's the root of all our political and social problems. Rights and privileges no longer belong to the individual citizen, because these corporate "persons" have usurped the roles reserved for individual persons by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. And corporations are motivated by one thing, and one thing only: Maximum Profits.

    It used to be, in the 17th and 18th century, that in order to acheive corporate status, an organization had to demonstrate that it operated in the public good. And there was no rights to the corporation itself, just a limitation of liability to the officers and exectuives in exchange for their service in the public interest. But somehow this got twisted and tortured into an entity with rights and privileges surpassing that of any entity mentioned in the Consitution. It's wrong and that needs to be exposed.

    It's ruining our country. It's ruining the world.

  • by kyz ( 225372 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:27AM (#429125) Homepage
    Look, I know this is a troll, but it's always good to have a straw man to crush:

    The ultimate goal of Open Source is free software. Now this means that you don't pay anything for it.

    This is but one of the freedoms that Free Software (not Open Source) brings. However, many people in this world, myself included, are delighted to pay for software even when it's free. It's called 'morality', and if an author would like a gift in exchange for his dedication, I'm happy to offer one. The greater good in this scenario is not that the individual programmer is richer, but that the whole community is enriched by the new, free software.

    If this happens, there is no money to pay programmers. As a result, intelligent people such as myself, who could command 6 figure salaries in any profession will take different career paths.

    That's utter tosh. Yes, I know you're a troll. However, innovative companies such as Cygnus Solutions make large profits and employ full time programmers simply to work on free software! The software is costly to initially create and maintain, but once a single copy exists, every other copy is free. Companies like Microsoft are backwards! They charge nothing to their customers for the expense of creation and maintainence, but charge full whack for the part that's completely free - making copies! Why should it cost more to have 1000 licenses of NT workstation than to have 10? It's exactly the same software on each workstation, duplicated at zero cost.

    Finally, you might want to look at this essay on motivation [gnu.org]. I personally expect to get paid for working on proprietary customer solutions at work, but all the programming I do outside work is for Free, in all senses of the word. By doing that, I'm adding value to the software community. I also think it's fair, given how much I rely on other Free programs.

    Furthermore, the evidence is that open source does not tend to produce new innovation. For example, desktops such as KDE are based on older products from Apple and MS. When open source is the only thing remaining, innovation will obviously be reduced.

    Yes, I know this is still a troll, but currently with things like GNOME, most of the innovation is in the programming APIs and code implementations - the actual user interface is neglected, programmers are just happy to leave it looking like existing interfaces because they're not UI experts, and they at least want the user to be instantly familiar, even if they do just steal layouts (such as M$ does heavily, eg Start button vs Apple menu). Personally, if I were to come up an innovative compression method, the user would not care. All he would care is that my program had the same user interface as zip, otherwise he'd say "it compresses much better, but it's a bitch to use!"
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:53AM (#429135) Journal
    Greed is good.
    Therefore Free is Bad(tm)
    The freedom to share freely what I create because I want to is Bad.
    The freedom to give is bad.


    Slavery is the goal of human happiness, especially when everyone else is the slave.

    Outlaw Christmas.


    Some people just cannot see the fundamental results of the flaws in their philosophy.

    Blindspots like this = justifying the crimes they have commited, that they are planning to commit, or wish they could commit.


    The freedom of the world is not dependant on everyone becoming a microserf. But microsoft's wealth is. they must grow, or die. And to heck with who they stomp on to get their way.

    I make obscene noises in their general direction

  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:57AM (#429174) Homepage
    What next? Is someone going to argue that I can't buy a book and get the actual text? I should gouge out my eyes.

    Is someone going to argue that the government, or anyone else for that matter, can hire software developpers to write whatever they need and that they can't then give it away?

    Is someone going to argue that manufacturers should all have their own measurement scales. What's an inch for then, or a milimeter?

    Is someone going to argue that the only "free" speech is found scribbled on bathroom walls.

    Is someone going to shrink my world down to what-ever I can defend with my bare hands.

    You want to see the result of this kind of abusive restrictive regime?

    Look to India before Ghandi. Look to China before Mao. Look to every barbarian who ever terrorized a village and the sorry state the village was in when they were reduced to huddling in fear.

    You want to know who's un-American?

    It's the Facists who want to restrict anybody's ability to express themselves and share it and/or stomp on my ability to write software to suit my needs and pass it on.

    Shakespeare was right: The first thing we do. Kill all the lawyers! This is the kind abjest stupidity that reduces common sense to a lost art and reduces people to slaves.

    M$ will die by the law or the lower TCO that created them in the first place.
  • by Johnathon Walls ( 27265 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:00AM (#429208)
    Interestingly enough, your most valid point is in your .sig:

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin.

    What "American Way" does Mr. Allchin refer to? He is quite obviously trying to give up the liberty of what the user can do with the purchased product in order to gain some safety from the competing markets.

    I guess Mr. Allchin deserves neither.
  • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <paul@pjrc.com> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:31AM (#429243) Homepage Journal
    Ralph writes:
    Why do I picture an MS executive alone in the office of some commitee chairman, with checkbook in hand, saying "How much education do you think you'll need to outlaw open source software?" To which the Congressman replied,
    "How about Active-Update® exclusive premium placement on all Windows® desktops throughout the election season?"
  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:37PM (#429261) Homepage Journal
    Worst education? Americans are among the most highly educated people in the world. Our colleges and universities ARE the best in the world. Ever hear of Harvard, MIT, Yale, Cal-Tech, Stanford, or University of Chicago, just to name a few? There are good schools in other countries of course, such as Oxford and Cambridge in England, but the majority of the world's best universities are right here in the USA.

    I'm assuming you're talking about our primary and secondary schools when you say we have the worst education though. Education is 90% the student and 10% the teacher/institution. Good students are going to learn, bad students are not without outside intervention. If someone is a good student then very little needs to be done other than present the information to them. If someone is a bad student on the other hand, then the teacher charged with their education must work harder to encourage/convince them to learn the material. The problems we have with our schools are not because we have good students who aren't being allowed to learn, its because schools are under-funded and unders-staffed and therefore don't have the resources to deal with the bad students.

    There are other issues of course and I'm sure there is much room for improvement in our public schools. Even so I think you should go take a look at the educational system of a place like Zimbabwe or Cambodia before you declare the US system the worst.
  • by lordvolt2k ( 301516 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:33AM (#429265)
    Oh boy, got a lotta things wrong there...

    I have to wonder here, how much do you know about open source, other than MS FUD?

    1. Open source is innovation. Instead of being money-and-management driven innovation, its innovation by the people. Innovation != Marketing. Learn that.

    2. Worse software? couldnt be further from the truth! Linux is open source, and its great software. GNU tools are open source...and they are used almost daily by almost all IT departments with a *NIX box.

    3. Universities cant teach computer courses without MS funds? Wrong again. I work for a university, we get $0 from Microsoft. In fact, we get donations of equipment from HP and Kodak, but that equipment is part of our infrastructure. Our computer courses do not rely on those donations, nor does the courses revolve around ms in any way.

    4. Some open source developers, or linux die-hards may wish to see MS dead, but it is not the intent behind open source. On the other hand, MS would like to see Linux and other open source projects go away. After all, linux is their #1 threat now, as Ballmer has publicly stated. How often do you see Torvalds or Alan Cox say "we must get rid of closed source software!" or "MS is our #1 threat".

    5. KDE are based on older products from MS and Apple? Maybe some features. I would say that they took some of the bad points, added good points. One thing I can say about each release of KDE I can look forward to new features that make it even better. Windows? Last 6 years have been bug fixes and a handful of features. Oh, and dont forget who had the GUI first, it was not Microsoft, or even Apple. Xerox. And it may even go beyond there. Every company has just built on the previous one. Linux and KDE/Gnome is just the next generation.

    6. Remaining innovation will be reduced? Please! Give me one REAL INNOVATION ms has come up with in 6 years? Just one. One that benefits the consumer. Not the retailer. Not MS's bank account. All I have seen MS do in the last 6 years is find ways to get even more money from the consumer. Example: Office & Subscriptions. There just isnt much more MS can do to word, excel, etc. Theyre done. And they know this. Of course, MS could stop selling the product, but they wouldnt make any money from that. So what to do? Subscriptions! That way, MS doesnt have to do a thing to Office, but they will continue to rake in the money each year.

    7. *Nothing* is truly free? Such an optimist you are. Guess what? Alot of things are free. True love is free, whether it be from a family member, lover, or friend. Know what else is free? Open Source software. Both of these things requires some commitment, some time, but they really are free. Open source comes from developers with a passion for writing code, not from developers who just must command a six-figure salary. Oh wait, Im a developer. I dont make anywhere near six-figures. Guess what, I love doing what I do. And given extra time, I would gladly write open source code. OH WAIT! I do. Imagine that. And you know, It hasnt cost me a dime.

    8. Economy is so great because of growing IT departments? wha? Oh, then you change to industry...ok.. well, dont forget, some companies are in that industry, whos business is built around open source. VA Linux. Redhat. Mandrake. SuSe. Debian. Penguin Computing. Not to mention the numerous Dot-coms and web hosting companies that rely on open-source software to run their business-critical systems. And what about all these massive systems companies getting into open source? Like Compaq, IBM, Sun, HP, SGI? Would these companies really get into the market if there was no money to be made? Dont think so.

    9. Anyone who thinks open-source will "kill" the tech industry (which is what helped the economy IMHO) is a fool. What industry are you referring to? Software? Open source couldnt kill the softwar industry. That would be killing itself. Rather, its changing the industry, and someday it may very well kill off those that wish to avoid change. But it would not kill the economy. It simply is transforming to a world of service rather than product. Something MS probably knows nothing about. Thats why they are so afraid of the future.

    In closing, I would just like to ask you something.

    Have you EVER used open source software?

    My $0.02
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:53PM (#429285) Homepage Journal
    You touched on a very good point- 'community property'. Microsoft doesn't consider its users to have rights to computer property. If you read the Register you'll have noticed recent articles on how Microsoft XP will not only encrypt your data on your computer to keep you away from it, but will be designed to destroy your data if it's learned by a central authority that you've been sharing it.

    I'm not making this up. Stranger than fiction...

    So when they say they are determined to protect intellectual property, they're not just blowing hot air, but you NEED to do the homework and realise they're saying 'we are going to protect intellectual property by OWNING all of it and being the sole arbitrators and gatekeepers of it by controlling the access methods the music industry people stupidly want. They said they wanted control, and they seem happy to trust US to administer it. *chuckle...*'

    I can't consider this unexpected. After all, Microsoft needs to grow geometrically and that's not possible in just computers anymore, so this is what they look like deciding they want to make a strategic move to be the chokehold on all world communications and intellectual property: it will all have to be in a Microsoft format on Microsoft systems running Microsoft-specified hardware, or you'll be unable to communicate. That's the goal, and they're quite right that it's the only way for them to keep growing geometrically with an eye to the future.

    Unfortunately they have no sense of how this looks to outsiders, such as governments. Any government- ANY government has to look at this and do a doubletake, thinking 'hey, they're acting like another government! Or one of those 'zaibatsus' in William Gibson novels'. Which of course they are, being the sole controller for information the world over would put them in a position _over_ most governments, and of course another things governments understand is expansionism- they can't stop there, they _must_ continue to expand even past that, to unthinkable levels of control.

    In 1996 would you have said, "In 2001 Microsoft will be building stuff into their OS to remotely destroy your data if they decide you are illegally sharing it with others"? And yet they are.

    It becomes a political problem, and will be treated as such, to the great shock and confusion of Microsoft, which is pretty psychotic by this point.

  • In other news, CmdrTaco was overheard saying "Fuck Microsoft". Tomorrow's Slashdot headline: "CmdrTaco Wants to have Intimate Sexual Relations with Bill Gates".

    Just because a Microsoft employee says he doesn't like open-source does not mean that Microsoft as a company holds that view.


  • by LarsWestergren ( 9033 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:21PM (#429325) Homepage Journal
    >"First they ignore you.
    >Then they laugh at you.
    >Then they fight you.
    >Then you win."

    Unless, of course, you are on the losing side, in which case it goes:

    "First they ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then they fight you.
    Then you lose."

    I wish people could do more thinking and less rehashing of worn out old quotes. The only one worse is the one about people who sacrifice liberty for safety not deserving either. Well, we do that every day to get a functioning society, for instance traffic rules.

    ************************************************ ** *

  • by gotan ( 60103 ) on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:26AM (#429358) Homepage
    ... when he says: ''Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer,'' Allchin said. ''I can't imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business.'' but i think he confuses the American Way with the Microsoft way.
    I can't put it better than Jon Gilmore when he says that content protection systems are a way of earning by creating an artifical scarcity [cryptome.org]. The same holds true for software too, Free Software, by means of providing not only free applications, but also free implementation of key routines (string handling, searching, sorting, indexing ... you name it) paving the way for other applications. Now Microsoft would rather have it their way: patent efficient string handling algorithms and thus virtually stop all competition for word processing in it's tracks by forbidding them to use those algorithms.
    But this is impossible for MS as long as much of the development they do is on grounds already covered by GPLd Software. There it's easy to see who did what first, many protocols are already established and, worst of all, there is no possibility to buy it all to lock it away.
    Also, despite MS tries to ridicule it all, the synergy effects working for big corporations against small business (for example reusability of key routines, and a broad pool of talents/wisdom to draw from) works for free software too.
    But i think the biggest danger for MS is something else at work: Free Software brings with it a new mindset: people appreciate the fact, that there is no need for artificial scarcity, and that it is easier to achieve something by sharing than by greedily keeping every innovation to oneself. It now becomes apparent, that you even can make a living from this. Well, open source surely limits corporate control over innovation! But that is not a problem of open source, it's a problem of Microsoft.
    There is even an easy way for them to take part in it all, they simply can set some programmers to work on an open source project. Only they would have to release the results as open source again, and giving away control is surely not the Microsoft Way.
  • by Pinball Wizard ( 161942 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:46AM (#429407) Homepage Journal
    in their Interix product. Here's the beginning of the GPL licence for Interix.

    The utilities bc, ci, co, cpio, csplit, dc, diff, diff3, gawk, gzip, gunzip, ident, merge, nl, rcs, rcsdiff, rcsmerge and rlog are covered under the GNU General Public License, here reproduced.

    In accordance with section 3b of this license the source code to those utilities is available from the Interix World Wide Web site, http://www.microsoft.com/windows/sfu.

    I love it. sfu. As in Shut the fuck up, Allchin.

  • by SpanishInquisition ( 127269 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @12:34PM (#429504) Homepage Journal
    There were three programers from Microsoft and three programers
    from Apple that met in a train station while getting ready to go to a meeting.

    The three programers from Microsoft went up and purchased three
    tickets for the train ride. Right behind them the three Apple programers went up to the same ticket window and bought one ticket.
    The Microsoft programers asked the Apple programers how they were going to get away with just one ticket. An Apple programer said, "Just watch us."

    All six programers got on the train and the three Apple programers went in the bathroom. When the conductor came by, knocked on the bathroom door, and said, "Ticket please," one of the Apple programers handed the conductor one ticket.

    On the return trip home the Microsoft programers said that was a neat idea and went up to the ticket agent and bought one ticket. The Apple programers did not purchase any ticket at all. The Microsoft programers asked the Apple programers how they were going to get away with no ticket. They responded, "Just watch."

    The Microsoft programers went in the rest room just as the Apple programers had before. One Apple programer then went to the door of the rest room, knocked, and said, "Ticket please."

  • by JWhitlock ( 201845 ) <John-WhitlockNO@SPAMieee.org> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:08AM (#429551)
    From the article:

    ''I'm an American, I believe in the American Way,'' he said. ''I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat.''

    I've always thought that one of the best things that could happen for Linux and other open-source efforts is if the government, in the name of being better stewards of taxpayers money, moved toward open-source solutions. For one thing, we could have real tests of how Linux does on the desktop on a wide scale. Another benefit would be that government-funded software development could be immediately open-sourced, and developers would get paid (government contracts) to make open-source software.

    Microsoft is directly threating to convince lawmakers that open-source is un-American, against business interests, and should not be trusted. I doubt they can pass laws against open-source programs, but they may convince lawmakers to create laws that limit open-source penetration in government, schools, etc.

    As we've learned with other battles, Being Right often looses to Having Lots Of Money To Buy The Ears Of Courts And Congress

  • by mosch ( 204 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:09AM (#429560) Homepage
    Home of the Free(tm).

    We invented freedom, and we copyrighted it. You may license it for a small (enormous) fee.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:09AM (#429563) Homepage
    I love that quote: "I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat."

    Why do I picture an MS executive alone in the office of some commitee chairman, with checkbook in hand, saying "How much education do you think you'll need to outlaw open source software?" To which the Congressman replied, "I think 15 million credit hours will do nicely".

    Hemos: Great Strangelove reference.

  • by ocie ( 6659 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:10AM (#429572) Homepage
    Q: Are you now, or were you ever a member of the FSF?

    A: no

    Q: Are you now or have you ever written free software?

    A: yes, I wrote several apache modules used by the senate's web server.

    Q: oh, well, I , er...
  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:11AM (#429592) Homepage Journal
    A mix of both? Are they wanting to outlaw ameteurism and hobbies? Oh no! A hobbyist coder at the keyboard! Sheriff, arrest that scoundrel! Coding is something only corporations should do!

    Again this shows that some groups believe they are at the center of the universe. I really don't believe that Microsoft's rise and fall really has any impact on the economy or the American way.

    Heck, I remember the American Way as doing everything for yourself with your own two hands, even to the point of making your own tools, working in communities in a few projects and not relying on companies for your survival. Of course there is a lot more to it, good and bad, but if they are trying to remove the hobbyist 'hacker' and force them to use commercial products then they really are a monopolistic evil entity. They must get their ideas from the tragedy / satire "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley.
  • by MillMan ( 85400 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:11AM (#429593)
    who make more money than they deserve.

    You know, he should be right...windows should be better than linux. All that money and power, and look what they put out. Semi-functional bloatware. I don't need to tell everyone here about all the inovation paradoxes in his statement. Too easy of a target :)

    Frankly any product that is free, or at least costs less than what you needed before, gives more power to the individual. That, my friends, is the American spirit. THAT is democracy. The right to profit is NOT. Unfortunatly, most of America has forgotten this.
  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:11AM (#429595) Homepage
    An Open Source programmer isn't necessarily motivated to innovate, true. But what happens if they don't? Let's say that for a moment, every single Linux programmer decided that they were sick of innovating in a way that was beneficial to the vast majority of society. So they decide to just turn Linux into a very souped up screen saver but nothing more. What would happen?

    1) People who wanted a robust operating system would pay somebody else to build it

    2) Other enlightened folks would decide to take the old Linux and continue innovating along a more practical course

    3) Other enlightened folks would work on some other system (FreeOpenNetBSD, etc).

    So, how can innovation be stifled? At worst, it is increasin people's expectations of what they should get for the money they spend. And ultimately that encoruages better products at lower prices which is increasing efficiency (and that's pretty innovative).


  • by JimDabell ( 42870 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:12AM (#429599) Homepage

    Essentially he argues that Open Source undermines intellectual property (which is true) but that it also stifles innovation

    How can people possibly take this seriously? Scientists have been relying on others' work all along, "standing on the shoulders of giants" in order to make the next innovative step. Having to reinvent the wheel to think up a car is just plain stupid. So why can he get away with claiming that the inverse is true for software?

    'Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer,'' Allchin said.

    This, again, is rubbish. Perhaps it takes away the ability to make money in specific areas (who would pay for a proprietary 'ls'?), but that it a really good thing for innovation. It means that software companies have to invent new things (oh the horror) if they want to remain profitable, instead of hocking the same old stuff over and over.

    Microsoft provides support to change and develop products based on its operating system software that Linux companies don't, he said.

    Hmmm. Sounds like the journalist got Windows and Linux confused. It's Linux that is available to modify and base products on.

    On a side note, are there any arguments against Free software that are actually more specific than "stifles innovation"?

  • by twivel ( 89696 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:12AM (#429602)
    It doesn't threaten the american way. After all, americans are becoming more and more service oriented each year. With manufacturing plants moving to other countries like Mexico.

    It threatens a business model, nothing more. It threatens the idea that you create software with the intent of keeping it secret and selling executables.

    Please don't forget our free software fundamentals. Free software is not about price. In fact, there are costs to free software. Even the GNU philosophy describes what the "Free" in free software really means. It's freedom not price [gnu.org] that matters.

    The cost of free software is the work it takes to maintain, modify improve and support it. Free software relies on the community to support it and contribute back to it. This is why it is great to see big corporations like IBM paying money to develop and improve it. So everyone who reads this, go out and pick a project you like. Then start learning how to help it. Whether that be develop documentation or write code, it's your choice.


  • by StoryMan ( 130421 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:14AM (#429612)
    The quote is odd. My guess it was some strange off the cuff remark that's not contextualized.

    He doesn't make a causal link between the dangers of open source and the demise of intellectual property.

    He seems to be implying that a commodity such as an "operating system" loses its "value" (and remember, there's more to value than just a price tag) if it's open and free.

    And from this I assume (making an ass of u and me, of course) such a reduction in value means that "intellectual property" is weakened and therefore endangered.

    In a sense, this is plausible. I mean, sure, why not? But it seems to me that the whole argument rests on (a) your definition of "intellectual property" and (b) your idea of what constitutes "value".

    I mean, let's face it: MS employees (and MS in general) operates on an entirely different world-view than does open source and its advocates. Neither purely exist to promote "goodness" in its pure essence. But I think it's safe to say that MS's priorities are quite different than the priorities of open source advocates. (I'm not saying one is better -- I'm saying that their means and ends are different.)

    So the real complaint of this guy -- the MS hotshot who made the quote -- isn't that open source weakens property it's that open source weakens the *value of MS intellectual property.*

    But what this guy doesn't understand is that from a non-MS perspective this isn't a bad thing. It means that MS has to compete. It means they can't just walk over the gameboard with their size 14 shoes, kick the pieces across the room, and then go into their bedroom and lock the door.

  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:33AM (#429616) Journal

    I would dispute that intellectual property is really being undermined by free software. The code is still owned by one or more persons, and licensing issues seem to be even more closely policed than those of proprietary software. I mean, when was the last time /. had an article about Bruce Perens accusing someone of violating Microsoft's EULA? :)

    But seriously, what's being undermined is the notion that intellectual property is only valuable if it's scarce. The open source world is proving that ideas are more valuable in the presence of others, not less, and that people with good ideas are the most valuable resource you can have. Ideas and code are still property and there are still disputes over them, but rather than being zero-sum proprietary "products", the sharing of IP creates a sum that's much greater than its parts. The more you share, the more you get in return. And that's going to be a tough lesson for the elder dragons of the industry - sleeping on a bed of golden ideas all day just doesn't cut it anymore, because the action's all down in the Laketown bazaar.

    My apologies if I just paraphrased the collected works of ESR (and J.R.R. Tolkien), but that's how I see it.

  • by Kara B. ( 315771 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:34AM (#429625) Homepage
    I know the truth. Taco wrote this story and had Hemos post it to the front page. The proof is overwhelming:

    Linux is developed in a so-called open-source environment in which the software code generally isn't owned by any one company. That, as well as programs such as music-sharing software from Napster Inc., means the world's largest software maker has to do a better job of talking to policymakers, he said.

    There's only 1 person on earth who writes such painfully incoherent prose and his name is Rob Malda.

    Linux is the most widely known open-source product, though other programs including the popular Apache system for Web server computers also are developed the same way.

    Read this sentence. Then read it again. Either the author learned english as a second language or his name is CmdrTaco.

    Allchin said he's concerned that the open-source business model could stifle initiative in the computer industry.

    Anyone who's spent more than 3 minutes listening to a Microsoft employee knows that "innovation" is their favorite word, but here's Jim Allchin apparently saying "initiative" instead. Only Taco could make such an error.

    He's also a leader in a project develop an open-source file and printer server program.

    Leaving out "to", that's vintage Malda.

    Linux is the fastest-growing operating system program for running server computers, according to research firm IDC.

    Normal, non-Malda writers would have phrased it as "According to IDG, Linux is the fastest growing server operation system."

    Give it up Rob, we're on to your game.

  • by Syllepsis ( 196919 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:37AM (#429653) Homepage

    You sure do go a long way in painting all corporations as being evil. I don't think that it's a coincidence that the US, with it's many large corporations also has one of the highest stardards of living on the planet. I don't know too many other countries where people are literally killing themselves to try to get into.

    Yea, corps aren't all bad, but I would argue that the US standard of living is pitiful. We have a very high murder rate, 25% of the worlds incarceration, the worst education system, 60% obesity, and a slew of mental disorders. Heck, I can't even go out for a walk in the summer with a beer in my hand where I live.

    We have a very high standard of stuff which jives well with the corps. However, I think we could pay a little more attention to life outside of furnishing the house and eating McDonalds, being the fat, murderous, uneducated, and restricted people we are.

  • by Pauly ( 382 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:37AM (#429655)
    For the record, some of us Americans don't care that our standard of living is "among the highest." America suffers largely from a "we're the best country in the world" myopia.

    Get out of the country and go to anwhere in Scandinavia. Then you may realize America has a long way to go to become one of the highest in "quality of life."

    I for one find it very telling that Linux started in Finland.

  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:17AM (#429657)
    America didn't invent the corporation. But in the 19th century, America went further than any other country in perfecting this glorious instrument of money-extraction. Who else would have thought to give the status of natural personhood to corporations as our Supreme Court did? Who else would have turned the English language into the most imperial language on the earth today, not because of any military conquest (though the US does have plenty) but because of corporate conquest?

    You sure do go a long way in painting all corporations as being evil. I don't think that it's a coincidence that the US, with it's many large corporations also has one of the highest stardards of living on the planet. I don't know too many other countries where people are literally killing themselves to try to get into.

  • by fornix ( 30268 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @06:53PM (#429669) Homepage
    Corporations are run by humans and do as much good or evil as those humans would

    I tend to beleive that coporations can greatly facilitate and amplify the evil tendencies of the individual humans that run them. First off, greed is a much higher priority for the average corporation than for the average human. And greed is the primary interest of the shareholders (other altruistic interests of individual shareholders are pursued in other areas of their lives). The corps make a science of greed.

    Secondly, corporations foster a "mob mentality" whereby the group engages in ugly behavior that few of the individuals would be comfortable with if they were held directly responsible. This mob mentality insulates the actions of the corporation from the conscience of its individual stock holders. And the corporation insulates the shareholders legally and financially, so there are fewer personal ramifications to unethical behavior. If the corporation is attacked legally and possibly dissolved, then so what - it's just paper money. But if the shareholders were held more responsible and had to worry more about personal financial ruin or imprisonment, then you could bet that the corporation would be on better behavior. Corporations can greatly amplify the power of unethical people as long as they are bringing in money.

    The lack of a human face is precisely the problem with corporations. Not saying they are all bad or there is no place for them - only that they are not very similar to natural persons. They're more like mobs of people.

    You are right to put some of the blame on the legislature. But corporations are so much more powerful than natural persons, it is easy for them to leverage the goverment to further their own interests. I would be interested in knowing what proportion of new laws are motivated by corportate interests and how many are designed to protect the liberties of natural persons. Does anyone have rough figures on this?
  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@gma i l . c om> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @06:54PM (#429671) Homepage

    ...promoting open source to our elected representatives? Start by offering to help them set up Linux, if only on one PC, so that they know what's going on.

    Hell, the least we could do is send them a letter telling them what Open Source is all about, along with a CD of open source software. Why not buy a copy of Red Hat 6.2 for your local Congresscritter?

    ObJectBridge [sourceforge.net] (GPL'd Java ODMG) needs volunteers.

  • by donglekey ( 124433 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @09:58AM (#429678) Homepage
    So are we at the fighting stage or the laughing stage, I can't really tell.
  • by Tony Hammitt ( 73675 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:39AM (#429681)
    We all sat around and laughed about the tobacco industry lawyers keeping a straight face when claiming that smoking had no adverse health consequences. Now we have another group of certified liars coming out with rubbish like 'open source stiffles innovation'.

    I see this as a positive sign. Now everyone knows that tobacco is harmful, the industry has to pay $250B to settle the lawsuits. Looks to me like M$ is going to be in the same boat in a few years. All that they can do now is lie about their own as well as their competitor's products, the end must be near.
  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:18AM (#429686)
    Bob O. Roberts, a senior officer of the largest soda vending machine, announced a major PR initiative to fight "free soda" policies common at many companies, most notably Microsoft.

    "These companies claim it is just a cheap HR trick that the inhabitants of the cube farm really suck up", Roberts claimed, "but they overlook that this kills a lot of entry- and mid-level support jobs. With a vending machine, you have the guys working in the factory making the vending machines, you have the guys on their runs stocking the machines, emptying the change box, etc. You have repairmen. You even have a white colar sales force. That's a lot of jobs, many of them some of the few jobs still available to working class 'joes' without a college diplomma, that these companies are wiping out by having an intern run over to Costco to stock up on soda to just GIVE OUT to the employees!"

    Roberts continues: "what made America the leading industrial power? Was it white collar workers sipping free drinks in their office? Hell, no, it was INDUSTRY. Henry Ford and his mass production assembly line! Steel mills! Railroad lines stretched from coast to coast! None of those workers got free soda from their boss! They all paid for what they got, supporting additional jobs, and that's what made this country great!"

    Microsoft executives refused to comment on this story.
  • by Syllepsis ( 196919 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:40AM (#429699) Homepage
    Military conquest was made obsolete with the WTO. There is no reason to march in and install a puppet government when you can control the existing one.
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:00AM (#429702) Homepage Journal
    Then, if Mr. Allchin really feels this way, what is needed is:

    Don't teach compiler theory in schools. Someone might make an open source compiler.

    Don't teach OS theory in schools. Someone might make an open source OS.

    Only sell your compiler/development tools to a select few who agree not to develop open source products. After all, if you sell to anyone, who knows what they might do?

    Get a fscking clue, Mr. Allchin!

  • by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:40AM (#429708)
    What we need is a letter-writing campaign to our government representatives (even if you're not an American) to consider open-source technology when appropriate.

    Unfortunately, it's difficult to come up with good content for this letter. What we don't want to say is that our government should be dumping closed-source technologies for open-source ones just because they're open-source. That would just make us look like fanatics, and even if they did listen to us, it would make open-source look bad if the migration were to fail. For instance, suggesting that a secretary replace his Windows desktop running Office 2000 with a Linux desktop running Star Office is foolish.

    So what we need to do is come up with reasonings that make sense. I think we need to "educate" our government that assuming everything else is equal, an open-source solution is superior to a closed-source one.

    So we need to enlighten with truths and (more importantly) debunk myths. Here's a list to get started:

    • The idea that you can hold a company responsible in case something goes wrong with your software is a myth. If your Windows server crashes, you'll need to hire someone to fix it. Microsoft won't be any real help, and you'll never get a refund from them any way.
    • The licensing fees for closed-source products do nothing but make the product more expense the more you use it. Let's say you hire another 100 employees. If the organization were using Windows, you'd have to pay for another 100 Windows licenses. It wouldn't cost you a dime if they were Linux desktops. You'd still be paying the IT staff to install the systems, regardless of the OS.
    • Open-source technologies give the end-user control of his resources. If something breaks, you don't need to rely on an outside party to fix it.
    This list is just a start. I'm hoping the /. community can add some meat. It'd be really cool if we could come up with a nice, well-written letter (i.e. one that didn't look like CmdrTaco wrote it), that would really drive these points home.
  • by abelsson ( 21706 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:41AM (#429709) Homepage
    The big problem for microsoft starts when people starts questioning the entire idea of intellectial property. If the public becomes used to software being zero cost some very frightening things happen. (remember what they say in basic econ about supply and demand. When supply is infinite, cost should approach zero). Then what's next? People expecting free music? hah!

    It will be the downfall of civilization (or atleast of some very large multinationals) - and free software is bringing the idea of content freedom to everybody. That's why microsoft, RIAA, MPAA and all the others are fighting with everything they have to suppress the *idea* of free content.

    I predict a long, hard fight..


  • by Alan ( 347 ) <arcterex@ufie s . o rg> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:42AM (#429728) Homepage
    When is the last time you got any support from M$?

    About 3 or 4 years ago, when I was playing around with Visual C++ 4 and had a question that wasn't answered in the FAQ, docs, etc. So I call up the support number. They tell me (after a bunch of wading thought phone systems and waiting on hold) that I should call the non-1800 number. OK I figured, why not, a quick call may cost a couple of buck, but it'll answer my question, so why not.

    So I waded through more phone systems, and waited on hold some more. When I finally got to talk to a real person, they asked me all sorts of information. Name, address, phone number, zip/postal code, version, place of purchase, etc etc. Finally I got around to telling her my serial number.

    "Sir, this serial number is registered to a canadian location."

    "Yes" (I had given my location when she asked for it, as "BC Canada", and a Postal code not a zip code.

    "... and it also appears to be an educational version"

    "Yes" (I had given my place of purchase as University College of the Fraser Valley, and I don't think you can get more educational than that).

    "Well, you'll have to call [random non-toll free number] in Ottawa to get support for this product."

    By this time I had randomly clicked around and figured the answer to this question, and hung up in discust.

    And *that* is the last time I got "support" from MS. I guess you can get support for Linux by paying other people for it, OR you can get support from MS and pay them for it. Last I heard "real" incidents of MS support are charged $100/$200 or so to get support.
  • by Sandlund ( 226344 ) <chris@@@sandlundmedia...com> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:01AM (#429731)
    Oh, like Amish barn raisings should be declared illegal because they threaten the innovation of contractors across our great land.

    At least his comments tell us one thing: Microsoft's on the run and they don't have a clue about how to deal with open source.
  • by srhuston ( 161786 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:02AM (#429735) Homepage Journal
    'We can build a better product than Linux,'' he [Allchin] said.

    So... why don't they? :P
  • by Bluesee ( 173416 ) <`michaelpatrickkenny' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:07AM (#429749)
    I would like to believe that M$ is on the run, but I can't. However it may be true that they don't have a clue as to how to deal with open source.

    In reading the article one cannot find a single logical argument that is supported by any facts. To wit:

    - freely distributed code can stifle innovation
    - this will result in the demise of IP
    - also the demise of incentive to R&D

    and that's it. Those are the only 3 points he makes. But he never backs up his assertions with any facts or even anecdotes. But he does say - more than once - that he's worried and that legislators need to made aware - oh no! Important choice of words! - legislators need to Understand the Threat!

    The only threat Linux, and Napster, for that matter, poses (it's true) is the threat to unreasonable IP protections. I say unreasonable because many of the recent copyright / patent rulings seems unreasonable in this day and age.

    What is really happening is that the existence of the internet has, through its ability to promote the free exchange of ideas, created a sea-change in the business world, relegating ideas that were truly once protected by 'security through obscurity'- type barriers (inasmuch as you used to not be able to get near-real-time updates on developing products) to a truly unprotected and unprotectable status. That is, unless the government takes draconian measures, ultimately monitoring our each and every movement on the computer through an active oversight system, it will never be able to supress the free exchange of ideas once they surface, no matter who owns them.

    But MS is well-poised (if I read some of their .NET concepts correctly) to assist the government in just such monitoring of our daily clicking.

    This is ultimately the only way to secure IP and MS's predominant role in um, society.

    Kinda frightening, if you ask me. We are not safe until the government 'gives up the ghost' on IP rights.
  • by gagganator ( 223646 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:02AM (#429753)

    he "...can't imagine something that could be worse then this for the software business and intellectual-property business."

    how about monopolies?

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:44AM (#429765) Journal
    Open Source provides a method for consultants who develop software to leverage the experience they gain from working for one client into the projects they do for the next clients, just as most other consultants do.

    There was a recent Free Telephony Summit held by ostel.com, who do Open Source Telephony work, with participants including openh323.org, the Bayonne.cx project, Pre-Viking, GNUComm, and others. Several of the participants were individuals or small companies that developed open source telephony products funded by major corporations (who were either hiring work out, or had bought the small companies.) This turns out to be a useful variant on the traditional consultant business model - instead of the code you develop for customers becoming their intellectual property as work-for-hire, you still own it and can reuse it for your future customers, because it's Open Source (whether religously correct GPL, BSD-like, Artistic License, Free Beer, or whatever). It's practical for the telephony business, because most of the work involves building complex but relatively standardizable interfaces and then heavily customizing applications on top of them, so the client needs to either pay the consultant to build the Ugly Telephony Standard Toolkit or buy an overpriced commercial version which will still need extensive customization, and open-source developers are good at building toolkits and applications that are easy to customize and at least as well documented as commercial code, plus they can use other open source tools to build them , which may be difficult for Software-Hoarders to do. Additionally, some of the clients are manufacturers of telecom hardware products, such as interface boards, so funding development of open-source tools that support _their_ hardware is a good way to leverage hardware sales - the gamble is that they'll get more money providing free software and selling more hardware than if they sell overpriced development software (especially because any commercial product developer will buy a bunch of boards for their development work, plus you can sell to smaller developers.) It's a good deal for everybody.

    A decade and a half ago, when I was interacting with my employer's PBX developers, I would periodically go into a rant about the need for open, standardized, well-documented interfaces to the hardware and software components of their systems. It's not so much that our _customers_ need to develop applications to hack their PBXs (though that's valuable even if a pointy-haired product manager can't see a well-defined revenue stream), but so our own _developers_ could develop products quickly and easily instead of spending three years of formal development cycles to be allowed to get all the pieces they need into the schedule so they can do their six months of work for a feature that might only be a medium-sized win instead of a big win. That's one of the real advantages the IP PBX world has, is that it can chuck out 2/3 of the baggage, though some of it's still around :-)

  • by Monty Worm ( 7264 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:03AM (#429768) Journal
    This seems realistic really...

    The American Way :

    • Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (in the declaration of Indepenence - I saw this on "Hollywood Squares" last night)
    • or The right to make a buck off the next guy whether he wants to or not

    Seriously though, this is the most interesting sign that Microsoft feels badly threatened that they've decided to kill off the opposition lika this...

  • by elomire ( 216685 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:08AM (#429775)
    Linux and OpenSource do not threaten Intellectual Property. You can not threaten something that doesn't exist. IP is a fiction invented in the late 18th century by the English Crown in order to overthrow the freedom of the press. The greatest works of the English language come from the time where IP wasn't a thought in anyone's mind. Marlowe, Shakespere, Ben Jonson, Chaucer, all before IP. Supposedly the greatest work in any Western language was made with the Open Source mentality, the Bible. So I say it's time to end this fiction and get back to real innovation!
  • by uriyan ( 176677 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:08AM (#429781)

    Microsoft obviously doesn't feel comfortable with Linux. This is completely natural, since Linux is a competitor. Normally, they crush all their competitors before they become big, however they couldn't devise a crushing strategy against Linux, and in a couple of years it will become a serious threat to MS's business.

    The reason for Microsoft's inadequate handling of Linux is that Linux is supported by many people whose main occupation is not supporting it. As fair as I've seen so far, most of the contributors to OSS projects (and ./ readers) are sysadmins and CS students who feel anxious to help humanity. Microsoft has difficulty fighting something which is not a corporation.

    I think that OSS does provide people with job opportunities. A Linux programmer may do sysadmin jobs, or if he's good enough be hired by some Linux company (which survives through support fees and media sales).

    In addition, many major corporations like IBM find using Linux more comfortable than using closed code specifically because of its openness. For instance the updates Sun puts into Linux benefit not only Sun, but also IBM and SGI. The improvements that go into the common source work to all parties' benefit, so the companies are more than content to pay developers for OSS.

    As a final note, I'd like to mark that America is famous for its witch hunts. I really hope it's not one of these.

  • by egburr ( 141740 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:46AM (#429782) Homepage
    The right to profit is part of the American spirit. It is the guarantee to profit that is not.

    Edward Burr
  • by SnatMandu ( 15204 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:46AM (#429792) Homepage
    I don't think that it's a coincidence that the US, with it's many large corporations also has one of the highest stardards of living on the planet. I don't know too many other countries where people are literally killing themselves to try to get into.

    Several points here:

    Your statement makes typical assumptions about "standard of living". We Americans have far less leisure time than many 3rd world people.

    Why are people "killing themselves to get in"? Laregly because the economies in their native lands have, over the past few centuries, been co-opted by imperialist western corps. Previously self-sufficient economies the world over have been tricked, forced, or manipulated into participating in Euro/Americentric mercantalist frameworks.

    Furthermore, the "high standard of living" in the US is sort of a crock. Many people in this country live with debts people in less developed nations cannot comprehend. This is because Corporate America has done a good job of turning us into merchandise-addicted consumers instead of thoughtful and free-thinking citizens.

  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:04AM (#429813)
    This is the kind of sign that indicates we've progressed past the laughing stage. It's *not* funny to these people anymore. Actually this kind of "Open Source is anti-American" FUD indicates some real fear brewing. Makes the blood rush through my veins. I love a good fight.
  • ...that Micro$oft wants to outlaw open source. I certainly believe they would have a big old party if it were outlawwed, but this is irresponsible journalism.

    You are twisting the words of Microsoft to suit your own ends, and it diminishes your credibility.

  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:05AM (#429825) Homepage
    The thing is that free/open software plays by the rules. There is no stealing of intellectual property and nothing else illegal going on at all. open/free software is even copyrighted and licenced to its users, just like MS' products are. The only difference (from a legal standpoint) is the distribution method (source) and the terms of the licenses (you don't need to pay, but you have to share).

    As far as I am aware, there is only one way that giving stuff away could pose problems, and that is if a market player dumps stuff at below cost in order to squeeze out their competitors. This should not apply in our case, as 'free' is the normal price, not a limited offer, and the cost is (close to) zero, as the vast majority writes the stuff as a hobby, on their free time. Even those companies employing programmers to work on open source should be off the hook as they legitimately can say that they are improving the software for internal use, then sharing the improvements as per the license; or that they are in the service business, not the software business.

    I get the impression that MS has current, accurate figures about linux adoption and are getting scared. It'll be interesting to see when usage figures are next published...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:12AM (#429835)
    Kind of strange how this intellectial property controversy has all the sudden become such a hot topic these days. Everybody is in a mad rush to gather it all up whether it was created by them or not. And then when somebody lays a claim to a concept that everyone had long ago recognized as common knowledge, the claiment announces that they have just partaken in some form of innovation.

    Time and time again, I'm reminded of Asimov's Galactic Library. And if you aren't familiar with his works, that was a storehouse of all human knowledge stockpiled and hidden in lieu of dark ages that would last for a thousand years.

    In a way we have our own Galactic Library. It's composed of every useful idea ever created whose details can be recalled with enough precision to reproduce that idea. These ideas, information, properties;however you want to phrase the concept, are valuable. Good ideas allow things to get done and problems to be solved. Some ideas can chnage the direction of the entire human race. Steam, electricity, semiconductors, transportation, and countless others.

    Each technological revolution stands on the shoulders of the last. Each generation building upon the available ideas of their time. We stand on the shoulders of giants as we sit here typing away our impassioned thoughts on slashdot. Many us doing so from an environment that is nearly 100% free in it's origins and implementation and distribution. It feels good to know that one can rely on himself to do certain tasks without having to worry about playing by someone elses rules or having to use someone elses property. To operate in an environment owned by someone else is to lose the ability to work or play without inhibition and inhibition is a mild term considering most proprietary software licenses are over 20 pages now.

    Our giants we once assumed made from bedrock, are being chipped away by theives who view the spectrum of long established ideas as some sort of territory that can mapped out and claimed as if the past and unnamed innovators could somehow be erased and forgotten becasue they don't have a piece paper in the patent database.

    They know and we know it's all just a bunch of bullshit but they move forward every day, taking a piece here and a piece there.

  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:49AM (#429844) Journal

    In related news, McDonald's Corporation [mcdonalds.com] Executive Vice President Steve Barfly spoke to legislators on Tuesday regarding the escalating numbers of free soup kitchens in inner-city America.

    "Soup kitchens are the destroyer of commercial food enterprises," Barfly said. "I can't imagine something that could be worse than this for the food industry."

    Barfly made his announcements shortly after confirming rumors that the Justice Department would be investigating their planned acquisition of Burger King [burgerking.com], another fast food empire. Burger king announced last month that they would be stopping all of their donations to soup kitchens, but claimed that McDonald's was not consulted regarding the decision. Maggie Smith, founder of Charitable Look, said most cities with soup kitchens do retain some number of for-profit restaraunts.

    "I think McDonald's is trying to paint the soup-kitchen community as being fascist; that all food has to be free, or none of it can be," said Smith, whose organization assists churches and community groups in setting up their own soup kitchens.

    Barfly said he's concerned that the give-food away model could stifle initiative in the food service industry.

    "I'm an American, I believe in the American Way," he said. "I worry if the government encourages giving away food, and I don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat."

    "We can deliver a tastier product than the soup kitchens," he said. "There is always something enamoring about thinking you can get something for free."

    "You owe me a case of beer. Sucka'."

  • by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @10:49AM (#429849) Homepage
    From the article:

    Despite Linux's success in some markets, Allchin says he isn't concerned about sales competition from the product. Microsoft provides support to change and develop products based on its operating system software that Linux companies don't, he said. Companies that use Linux in their products then must pay someone else for support, he said.

    "We can build a better product than Linux," he said. "There is always something enamoring about thinking you can get something for free."

    I work for a software company. No, our code is not open, not everything should be. However, we run database servers, and they will work on Linux, Novell, or NT. What server is selling most often?


    Why? First, we charge for Linux on the servers (because the GPL allows for that) We charge $600.00 for the software install, this is LESS than the cost of Novell or NT/2000. If you want us to install NT or Novell, we will do it, but at a cost above the licence fee.

    Second, the Linux servers are very stable (server won't run on BSD yet), and it costs us nothing to install OpenSSH for, you guessed it, REMOTE SUPPORT.

    Linux is easier for us to support as a server, it is more reliable, it costs the customer less, and makes our business MORE profit. So if he believes that "We can build a better product than Linux" Go ahead. I will use anything that works, and benifits our business and our customers the most. Right now that solution for a server is clearly Linux. Still, I strongly doubt that MS can beat the price and power of free.

    I apologise for the formatting of this post. The lameness filter would not allow me to post it in its original format.

  • by dimator ( 71399 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:14AM (#429874) Homepage Journal
    "First they ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then they fight you.
    Then you win."

    I think we're at #3?

  • by jeffsenter ( 95083 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @08:15PM (#429902) Homepage
    I don't know if MS's Allchin meant to target education as well as just educating lawmakers, but higher education may be the area where Microsoft is least popular. Academia is where the GPL is most popular. I am at Columbia University and despite the donation of a lab of 30 computers with Windows and regular visits to campus and recruitment of students, the CS department HATES Microsoft. I mean they HATE them with a passion. Students like myself are anti-MS, but it is the professors who are really vehement.
  • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:16AM (#429906)
    Dear Microsoft,

    You've got me totally confused. As a supporter of your right to make obscene profits, conquer markets and drive the competitors to their death, I have to admit that I was totally taken aback today when I heard your position on open source.

    People, you claim, do not have a right to their property if they choose to give it away. The only appropriate use of property is for the greater good, you say, and in this case, for the greater good of corporate society (which is somehow different than the social society you diametrically oppose in your antitrust litigation).

    Open source is a misuse of property, according to your observations, and takes innovation that should benefit the good of the corporate community and destroys it, depriving poor corporations of their right to monopolize them. Only by preventing selfish programmers from carelessly giving their innovations away without going through a corporate party can this community property be protected.

    Only government action, you state, can protect helpless corporations from this destructive action, such as mandatory programmer licenses, outlawing of open source and free software (unless it says Internet Explorer on it and comes from Microsoft), and minimum pricing standards to require a fee for all software.

    With all this said, please help me understand your demands are any different from any other redistributionist thief's views. Help me determine why I should defend your rights any further, instead of regarding you as yet another parasite.


    Your Former Friend Scoove

  • by dsplat ( 73054 ) on Thursday February 15, 2001 @11:52AM (#429941)
    I am not a great fan of Microsoft or its products, but I am not, nor have I ever been an implacable enemy of them. I'm sure there are people at MS who read Slashdot, especially when the articles are about them, and it is to them that I write this, although it applies to a boarder audience.

    To put my point bluntly, Microsoft was the target of antitrust prosecution precisely because it was an enormously successful company. Regardless of whether you agree with MS's tactics, it has bought out or buried an impressive list of rivals over the past two decades.

    When a company stops trying to beat its rivals in the marketplace and seeks legal protection, that is the beginning of the end. Perhaps legislating away competition can protect it in a few markets. But laws are either meaningless, or they limit our freedom, as individuals or corporations. Outlawing open source when so many people are already writing it and using it would clearly fall into the category of limiting freedom. The competition will move out of the jurisdictions in which it is outlawed, but it will not die. And the protected company will grow complacent and weak.

    I use both open source and Microsoft products in different settings. I think that at this point in the game both sides are strengthened by the challenge of competition. Each side has an incentive to try to hone its strengths to stave off attacks and to attempt to best the strengths of the other side.
  • by Ektanoor ( 9949 ) on Friday February 16, 2001 @01:44AM (#429954) Journal
    Change the words "business", "intellectual-property", "America Way" and similars for "communism", "collective farms", "Revolution" and similars. You see? The expressionism of this M$ executive does not make a difference from a old hard-working Soviet Narkom of the 20's... This guy is only a totalitarian buffon desguised behind values that Americans care as part of their well-being.

    It also is curious to see an executive of a multinational corp doing such a nationalistic call as the "American Way". This shows how M$ looks at the world. And how it looks at America itself. While they didn't get burned, it was globalisation and "Government keep out of bizz". Now, when they got real burned, is "Uncle Bill needs you!"

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe