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MS VP Speech Online 472

mpawlo writes: "The widely debated Craig Mundie speech is now online." We tried not to run this, but there are too many submissions to ignore. Yes, much of what the guy says is nonsensical. Why not translate it into terms your boss can understand? For example, Mundie says forking code is bad. Here's the same thought translated into manager-speak: "Having multiple vendors competing to offer us the best product at the lowest price is worse than having one vendor who can sell the product to us at monopoly prices." Update: 05/03 8:19 PM by michael : Alan Cox has a response.
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MS VP Speech Online

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Reminds me of Stockwell Day (Leader of the Canadian Alliance party)..

    Last year, he (informally) said that the Government should hold a referendum on an issue if 30% of the population signed a petition about it..

    So the TV show 'This Hour has 22 Minutes' held an on-line poll to force a referendum to force Mr. Day to change his first name to 'Doris'..

    They succeeded in getting the 30% :o)

    I'd be willing to try the same thing with a /. story submission :o)
  • A code fork is a tool, nothing more.

    You make it sound as if there were code knives and code spoons as well...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So where are you going to work next? Hint: make sure it's somewhere where experienced managers are on the look-out for hackers to tell them how to run their company.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    (Sorry. I've just seen it like ten times in the last two days and had to rant about it.)

    It's 'no one.' 'No one.' Two words. Not 'noone.'

    If that was just a typo, I apologize for ranting. But I've seen it too many times for there not to be a significant portion of the population which thinks it's a word. It's not!

    Thank you for your time. ;)
  • Tough.

    I use the GPL, and am going to continue to use it.

    I stand to gain more from acknowledgement of what my software does than from metering and selling the software itself.

    I have the _right_ to set my own terms on my own property. It is _their_ rules that so rigorously define my code as my property. I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep if it was as free as air. _They_ are the ones who put such incredible weight on my right to dictate terms and conditions by which my work can be used.

    Because of this, my right to use whatever the hell terms I want is almost absolute- and if I choose to contribute to the pool of GPLed free software, they have no business bitching about it.

  • we demand that code that goes into Public Domain go under this brilliant license

    Then you are demanding the impossible (which I suppose might not be too surprising). If code is public domain, there are no copyright restrictions on it whatsoever. There is no licensing, there is no copyright ownership. It is in the public domain, and may be used however any member of that public sees fit.

    Now if code is instead put under "this brilliant license," then it is most certainly not in the public domain. It comes with copyright restrictions - you cannot use it except as provided under the terms of the license. This, I believe, is what Microsoft is objecting to: the failure to release taxpayer-funded source code into the public domain, choosing instead to license it under a more restrictive license.
  • I don't see how this is applicable, as there doesn't appear to be any transfer to copyrights to the US government involved (which is what that section of the law allows). Instead the US government is producing code and licensing it under the GPL. However, code produced by the US government cannot be copyrighted by the US government. Thus it cannot be licensed (since only a copyright holder may release code under a license).
  • You speak as if companies are some sort of independent entity. Companies are always owned by people (either stockholders individual owners). In addition, companies are run by people. Thus, if companies benefit, people benefit by definition.
  • But how easy is it for someone *ELSE* besides Microsoft to write drop-in replacements for those layers? If the info needed to do so is not readily available, then its the same as having a monolithic system, for all practical purposes.
  • Funny how he talks about foolish business practices such as giving something away now in hope of getting paid for it in the future, considering the fact that for the past 4 months or so almost every consumer product has offered a $400 MSN rebate.
  • Hmm.. this is tricky. I believe that the GPL does not require that it be the only license that you release your code under. So the NSA could release just their modifications as public domain software (even tho it wouldn't be terribly useful by itself, at least it would be there) and still include them in the GPL'd Linux distribution. You still wouldn't be able to co-opt the distro, but the public would have complete and unfettered access to the NSA's work.

  • I read it just now up till the point where he starts to quote Bill Gate's "The Road Ahead" then I paused, snorted and decided I'd try to read it again when I wasn't at work and could shout at the screen about how stupid MS is.

    When I read things like this, I have the feeling that MS is either very stupid or very scared. I almost get a sense from MS of the kind of ignorant dispair you get with press releases from Soviet-style governments. In 20 years will places like be selling MS apparel and glassware like they do with the Russians/Eastern Europeans?

  • System adminstrators are there specifically to tell the system EXACTLY what to do. They do this in the place of those that may to be able to or care to do this.

    Programming is nothing more than creating a reusable form of "telling the system EXACTLY what to do". It is a skill that a real system administrator should have. It is an ability that should separate those who are in control from those who are not.

    Those that cannot program really don't have full control over the machine and don't deserve to be called administrators.

    Simply, "programming" enhances control. "Control" is what system admins are PAID for.
    1. Open Source is insecure (MS VP)
    2. IIS 5.0 is insecure (MS)


    3. IIS 5.o is Open Source!

    Also, this stuff is essentially what that other guy from Microsoft said, a while back, and is very remeniscent of the suggested course of action in the Halloween Documents. Seems like those have been approved.

  • Shared source sounds to me like: "You bought my product - here is the source code. You can't give my product away and you can't give the source code away either. However, you can tailor it to your own uses and fix bugs."

    I used to work on a system like this (Banner by SCT.) It is a student record system. You get the source code and have to compile everything yourself. If you want to modify it - have at it. If an upgrade breaks your mods, tough.

    This model works great for the people who have the software - kinda like an exclusive club. And the company still makes $$$ cause what they are selling you is the software (and then ripping you a new one for upgrades/maintenance).

    This would satisfy one of the main complaints against closed-source software - "if it breaks I can't fix it."

    As for the redistribution, well that is more the free software instead of the open software angle. However, there is quite a community of users of Banner who are great about sharing mods they've made.

    I don't know how MS would license their Shared Source - if you get the source, you can't distribute mods to it, you can't do anything in your life similar???

  • Not too mention the big fat pile of money they spent on Hotmail (which apparently gives out free email accounts).

    It's not Microsoft's software that makes me sick, it is the smug assurance Microsofties have that everyone that doesn't work for Microsoft must be an idiot. Microsoft treats their customers like thieves and continually insults their intelligence, and then they wonder why so many people are willing to download and use a Unix re-hash written by a Finnish undergrad and supported over the Internet instead of their (arguably) easier to use software.

    Linux will continue to gain marketshare until Microsoft finally learns what customer service really is about (and no, it's not about making it hard for them to make MP3s).

  • The issue with games isn't so much that the development cycle is so short, it's that there's some much artistic content in games these days.

    Games consist of an engine and some content. The content is generally a lot of work, not usefully designed by a community, and has little reuse value (in the sense of code reuse). It's also generally encoded to avoid spoiling the plot.

    Engines are a good candidate for open source development, except that, since the engine is really used directly by game developers (and only somewhat indirectly by players), the usual userbase of the programmers themselves isn't really there. The game developers are hard to convince to use open source engines, especially because they tend to want to make it as difficult as possible to get the content out (other than playing it), because the proprietary engines are ahead, and because the in-house engine developers tend not to mind that the game gets spoiled for them so the developers can ask for the features they actually want.

  • ...why was it a node on Usenet in 1981?

    Got me? But I do remember Gates calling the internet a "fad". Look up the original edition of "The Road Ahead".

  • Be reasonable people.

    Microsoft is luseing marketshare. It's OS and Office Suite sales are down and it is actualy lusing money on the software side of it's business.

    To top it off you have this Linux thing which regardless of how you slice it will dictate that companies like Microsoft will make less money off each copy sold. If they adopt open sorce it means they will actualy sell fewer copies even if more people use the code.

    What do you want tthem to do? Just role over and take it up the tail pipe? Of course not. They are going to go down fighting. They will not let us eat there lunch onchalenged.

    This "brutal asoult on logic" is a perfect reasonable response from any company in the situation MS is. They need to do this in order to stall enogh people long enogh to let MS migrate into businesses that will be lucretive in the future. the sale of desktop OSs and comodity apps is not one of those businesses and they know it better than we do.

  • But if there was no intellectual property (IP) law, the GPL would not be *needed*. All code would be free for everyone to use.

    Oh, come on. Without IP law, source code would only be free if you could obtain it via legitimate means (e.g. without illegally breaking into a server to steal it).

    you could still ... reverse engineer it

    IANAL, but IP law does not prevent reverse engineering (in America, anyway). It does happen, but as a practical matter, it's very difficult to do.

    -- Brian

  • Forget Noone... lets start doing Nooners...

  • Microsoft's approach to security can be found at the links below, not at the Register. The Register is a fine publication I read avidly, but like /., it's not exactly an unbiased view of the matter.

    In addition, please take to me to the Sun pages for Security advice [], or Checkpoint's [] (I couldn't find any, and I have partner access), or Redhat (there's no dedicated security pages - it's under "errata" []) and say that Microsoft doesn't take security as seriously or more seriously than these other respected companies.

  • Replace "businesses"/"companies" with "individuals". Same difference. The point is that government is not here to help some people at the expense of society as a whole.
  • In any case, it's not Bill Gates' book - Nathan Myhrvold ghost-wrote most of it. (Myhrvold is credited as co-author in later editions.)
  • Yes, but that has nothing to do with forking. That has to do with code being available at zero cost. Given that, code forking is a non-issue for the given reason. Not given that, why even talk about code forking.
  • ADA Core Technologies

    Cygnus (well, now they are bought out by RedHat)

    I'm guessing MandrakeSoft is

    Many, many consultants


  • ADA Core Technologies -

    Well, you said it. RedHat is not profitable, period. - What's your point? Cygnus certainly was for a long period of time. The fact that RedHat hasn't gotten there yet doesn't mean that noone else has.

    IBM _does_ make money on open source. They make money selling hardware that runs open source. People are buying and adding to mainframes to run Linux. That's making money. They developed the software, and people bought the hardware to run it - that _is_ an open source business model.

    Apple has released a lot back to the community, including an open-source streaming server.

    I alsoaven't yet haven't heard about any of the embedded Linux people going under.

    The people who didn't make money on Linux are those who were banking on Linux taking over in less than 5 to 10 years, especially those counting on it taking over the desktop, and grew their companies too fast. For example, you have Eazel, which may have had a good idea, but they hired marketers and PR people and had an office over a year before they released 1.0. In addition, their business model was based on the rapid ascension of Linux on the desktop, which hasn't happened yet. VA Linux Systems tried to be the IBM of Linux, doing just about everything, and found out that it wasn't a profitable method. They tried to grow too fast and do too much. I'm guessing Penguin Computing is doing much better because they offer most of the same services as VA, but through partner arrangements. They are focused, and they know that they serve a specialized market.

    Other companies weren't making any money before Linux, and still aren't, like Corel and SGI, although SGI has the potential to do so in a year or two, if Intel ever ships Itanium.

    So, money can be made in Linux, but the key is to have good, sound business practices, and to know where you stand. If you understand you serve a specialized market, you can make money by being a free software builder. If your business is based on the assumption that everybody is going to switch their desktops to Linux next year, you're hosed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:50PM (#247561)
    Although I loved the bullet points, it seems as though you're comparing apples to oranges and a few other fruits at the same time...

    By your own admission, you agree with points 1 and 2:
    * 1: Free software solutions are frequently a better alternative to the proprietary alternatives. * 2: Both users and devlopers benefit from access to source.

    However, you disagree with point 3:
    * 3: Community development is a superior method of development.

    That makes no sense.. If it frequently creates better software than the alternatives and it is beneficial to both the developer and the end user, it would seem as though it is actually a better development model. Is it more cost effective in the long run? Maybe, maybe not, but Free Software isn't about cost, it's about benefit.

    * 4: "Open Source" development is a superior way to run a profitable software business.

    I've never even heard point four argued... I've seen it argued that it is a viable business model, but that's different than superiority. To be honest, the best business model I can think of is to monopolize something which everyone consumes and requires a minimum of investment to create and distribute.. You know, something like "intellectual property". I doubt anyone will argue that actually doing something (ie, offering a service) is superior to raking in cash for nothing..but which one favors the consumer?

    * 5: Copyrights, trademarks and patents are all evil. I should be able to do anything I want.

    Copyrights and patents are evil, but only if left unchecked. The danger isn't in not being able to share something someone else created, but rather, not being able to share what you've created. How long is it until you have to sign license agreements to even learn computer science? When will parody and criticism be finally wiped existence? At the current rate of tradepatentsecretcopymarking, not long..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:29PM (#247562)
    shoeboy% strings FTP.EXE |grep Copy
    @(#) Copyright (c) 1983 The Regents of the University of California.

    Yep, nuff said.
  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @03:17PM (#247563) Homepage
    This leads to something I've been thinking about.

    Just how much needs to be copied for something to be a violation of IP laws? (and I recognize the answer might be different for copyright laws vs patent laws.) With the sheer gigantic volume of stuff that's been created over the years it's pretty much a guarantee that by random chance if I generate a small sentence that it matches some portion of some IP work somewhere. If I make up a guitar 'riff' of about 6-7 notes then by random chance it's probably already been done once in some song somewhere. And your hello world program was probably already done in just that way, with just those choices of variable names, at some random point in the past by some random person who may have put it under an IP law.

    How does the IP law deal with this? As time goes on, does the ideaspace of possible new texts shrink noticably, or does the near-infinite size of the space make the problem irrelevant?

  • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @02:04PM (#247564) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that Microsoft does tend to abandon platforms frequently, and tends to force upgrades of programs where the new versions aren't available in some of the streams, which is essentially the same as abandoning the stream, although they may actually intend to release new versions eventually.

    On the other hand, neither KDE nor Gnome will ever go away, not become unsupported, because the direction of the open source community as a whole is totally irrelevent; each of these has its own community, which prefers it, and which will continue to use and support it.

    As evidence for this, I should mention that even much older and less popular alternatives continue to be supported. I'm now using fvwm, like I have been for the past 6 years, and it has continued to meet my needs and be supported despite the fact that it's mostly ignored by the rest of the world.
  • "I'm having trouble keeping track of this. Code forking used to be bad. Witness the reaction to the emacs/xemacs split a long time ago, and, more recently, to the general disapproval whenever someone tries to fork the Linux kernel.

    But now Microsoft says code forking is bad, so that means it is really good?"

    I realize it's hard to grasp. After all, this is Microsoft we're dealing with.

    Code forking, by itself, is neither good nor bad. A code fork is a tool, nothing more. So, just like any tool, it can be used for both good and bad things. And just like tools, how they're used can be seen differently by different people. Someone forking code for frivolous reasons could be seen as making a "bad" code fork, whereas someone with strong technical reasons for forking the code could be seen as making a "good" code fork.

    The fact that Microsoft says code forking is bad is meaningless. It's making a generalized statement. And, as you may be aware, generalizations are oftentimes either bad or outright irrelevant (this one included).

    So, is code forking bad? No.
    Is it good? No.
    It simply is. It's the way that it's used that matters.

  • This is a common misconception. The good/badness of forking has always been debated. I am of the opinion that forks are very good. I have always hotly debated anyone who thinks they are evil. Code forks brought us egcs, OpenBSD, Samba 2.2, Apache (it's actually a fork from NCSA), PCMCIA kernel support (it got merged in in 2.4, but it existed as a "popular" fork of 2.2 for a while), Real-Time Linux, and probably a lot of other things I can't think of right now.

    The _ability_ to fork also brings good things. For example, many people produce kernel "forks" which are small, but useful, until the given functionality gets rolled into the mainstream kernel. These mini-forks are really what give free software a competitive edge.

  • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:35PM (#247567) Homepage
    In this sense, open source software based on the GPL mirrors the .com business models that proved the least successful during the past year.

    Oh good, so it'll be all over in a year or so. That means Linux should be gone by 1992 and Apache by 1996.

    Oh, wait, reality check.

    They ask software developers to give away for free the very thing they create that is of greatest value in the hope that somehow they'll make money selling something else.

    We're not asking just anyone, only people who use our code. But that's not the point: apparently Microsoft thinks that giving something away of great value is bad. I'm such a bad person.

    Didn't Microsoft give a away a web browser of great value in the hope that somehow they'll make money selling something else?

    This viral aspect of the GPL poses a threat to the intellectual property of any organization making use of it. It also fundamentally undermines the independent commercial software sector because it effectively makes it impossible to distribute software on a basis where recipients pay for the product rather than just the cost of distribution.

    Hm, you could argue that the GPL is some sort of customer lock-in. I'm glad Microsoft would never use such tactics! Or undermine the independent commercial software sector, Netscape is flourishing!

    Shut up Microsoft. We never said that Free Software was the key to solving all the problems of the world. We just like the choice and freedom and wish to protect that freedom which companies such as Microsoft itself are trying to take away from us.

    We like that better than money-hungry megacorporations who tells us what to do and what not to do. But indeed, we should understand that from your perspective, there's nothing wrong with those.

  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:32PM (#247568) Homepage
    When the resulting software product is distributed, its creator must make the entire source code base freely available to everyone, at no additional charge. This viral aspect of the GPL poses a threat to the intellectual property of any organization making use of it.

    Kudo's to the author for the clever linking of GPL with a negative tem like 'viral'. But is there really any serious business that decides to utilize some existing GPL'd codebase and does NOT understand the obligations in doing so? He makes it sound like a business extends existing code for a profitable venture and then suddenly realizes, "Oh God! We have to give up all our hard work!! Damn those OSS zealots!! They tricked us again!!"

    Unlike the Msft attitude of "Windoze everywhere" and "why would anyone use anything else" - you don't have to use GPL code. Just write your own from a clean start - or just pay Msft or someone else.
  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:41PM (#247569)
    It is not public domain. It is the fully copyrighted work of the author who *allows* you to use it *under license.*

    Actually, the GPL places no restrictions on *use* of GPLed code:

    Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted ...

  • by gorgon ( 12965 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:25PM (#247570) Homepage Journal
    Yahoo news has an interesting take [] on this. Its a pretty well-informed rebuttal of Microsoft's FUD.

    I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations ...
  • by Merk ( 25521 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:00PM (#247571) Homepage

    One argument I've seen against Open Source before is "There's nobody to sue if it blows up and costs you thousands of dollars". And that's true for sure with the GPL, as it says, it comes with no warranty.

    But insurance companies routinely insure against flooding, earthquakes (and these days even alien abduction). Are there any that will insure against Apache blowing up? If not, there should be. It would be a steal for them. Charge $20 a year that version XXX of Apache is insured against flaws YYY and ZZZ. This wouldn't include anything the administrator does to screw it up (like driver's insurance doesn't insure you if you trick out the brakes on your car). I'm sure the insurance rates would be far lower than the equivalent cost of buying IIS from Microsoft, and it would be a struggle to win a court case against Microsoft, whereas an insurer would have to pay out if you did nothing wrong.

    Just an idea bubble.

    Oh, and one more thing. All these people who talked about wanting to have someone to sue if things went bad -- why didn'tcha sue Microsoft when their faulty software allowed the various email virii to propagate? If that wasn't Microsoft's fault, what will be? Windows crashing? Word files getting corrupt? I personally can't recall anyone ever successfully suing MS over faulty software -- I can't even remember anyone trying...

  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:34PM (#247572) Homepage
    If Microsoft was so ignorant of the Internet, then why was it a node on Usenet in 1981?

    (See the map - here [])

  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:25PM (#247573) Homepage
    The reason they never complained is because Microsoft can freely use/abuse public domain software, incorporate it into their products or take ideas from it, and nobody can complain (after all, it's public domain).

    If they try those same stunts with GPL, suddenly they're in violation of a license.

    In other words, they don't have free reign over other people's inventions/work.

    Which were paid by our taxes, so we should be able to use them without constraint.

  • by rjh ( 40933 ) <> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @02:14PM (#247574)
    Everything created by the Feds exists in the public domain, yes; but public domain works can be used in GPLed programs. For instance, there are a great number of public domain "Hello World" programs out there. For instance, this one, which I hereby donate to the public domain:

    #include <iostream>
    using namespace std::cout;

    int main(int argc, char *argv[])
    cout << "Hello World!" << endl;
    return 0;

    Now let's say that I want to write a piece of GPLed software, such as the following:

    #include <iostream>
    using namespace std::cout;

    int sayHello(void)
    cout << "Hello World!" << endl;
    return 0;

    int main(int argc, char *argv[])
    return sayHello();

    ... As can be seen, the second GPLed piece of software uses a line of code that's in the public domain. This doesn't make the second piece of software non-GPLed; it just means that the line containing the cout statement is in the public domain and, once removed from the software, is still public domain and not GPLed.

  • by Pingo ( 41908 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:46PM (#247575)
    I believed that Microsoft was just bleeding $$ but this indicates a more serious situation in Redmond.

    Now, I just have to say:

    Thank you Microsoft for giving us this free PR and credibility.

    If anyone is still ignorant about the OSS movement, they will now feel the urge to find out what it's all about.

    This is the most stupid move that Microsoft have ever done since it's just giving us even more attention.

    Once again, thank you Microdoft we really needed this extra and free PR.


  • by TheGreatAvatar ( 49772 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:26PM (#247576) Homepage
    So I can get technical support from MS about Windows 3.0 driver I'm having problems with?

    I don't think so.
  • by Dwonis ( 52652 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:55PM (#247577)
    I suspect you can use the NSA's patches without constraint, because under US law, the government cannot hold copyright.

    Thus, the modifications are public domain, even if it's not explicitly stated.

    Of course, once incorporated into a GPL work, the work as a whole remains under the GPL.

  • by joq ( 63625 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:48PM (#247578) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft today unveiled details about the latest product line of software geared to dominate the enterprise market. Aptly named "Closed Source Code 2000", Microsoft is marketing the product to compete with GPL [], and BSD [] based Open Source
    products that have capitalized a substantial market share.

    "By continuing to create pre-compiled, closed source executables, we see a great demand for revenue, and a large portion of the open source market making the switch to CSC2000. Its just hip to have the words "Source" in your products. So amidst all the confusion and bickering surrounding the licensing amongst the Open Source community, we are kind of sneaking by delivering high quality
    products in the same fashion as we always have, but we've made it more hip by incorporating the words "Source Code" in our products, we will
    guarantee 100% market share by 2021." stated LeRoy Jones V.P. of Marketing.

    As usual we are the first to report the news in its entirety so here are the terms of Microsoft's CSC2000 licensing.

    Copyright (c) 2001 The International Government of Microsoft All rights reserved.

    Redistribution and use in executables, without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

    1. Redistributions of executables must be obtained at an outrageous price, must retain this license, and the following disclaimer.

    2. Redistributions of executables must also be kept away from sites like 3r33t eReEt, 1337, and 31337, as they may be pirates of software which take away from our trillion dollar business.

    3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software must display the following acknowledgment:

    This product is the best product you could ever buy. You are getting sleepy, BUY MORE MICROSOFT.

    4. Neither the name of Microsoft, Bill Gates, or any other Microsoft employee may be used in the
    same sentence as Open Source, Linux, BSD, or Anti Trust lawsuits, else they'll feel lethal wraith.


    continued []

    Nobody expects the GBonic [] Inquisition.

  • In the past 20 years the velocity of that change has accelerated at a seemingly exponential rate
    Everyone says these MS guys are dumb. I don't buy it. This guy just used a fourth derivative.
  • by The Good Reverend ( 84440 ) <> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:18PM (#247580) Journal
    We tried not to run this, but there are too many submissions to ignore.

    How many is too many? I have 100 friends and some stories about my website, my hobbies, my cat...

    The Good Reverend
    I'm different, just like everybody else. []
  • by kimihia ( 84738 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:50PM (#247581) Homepage

    Giving away your code for free, or even letting other people copy your code is usually NOT a viable business model. Microsoft does not develop custom projects.

    Using an 'open' license does not force you to give your code away for free.

    Have you taken the time to read the GPL (as an example of a open license)? It says that you can charge for the pleasure of distributing your code.

    If you don't like the GPL, then write your own - the NineNine License.

    Admittedly I've never charged people to download my software, (distribution is ~2c/download, most was written because I wanted it), but I do get paid because of it. Take for example Clatter []. Because of it I landed a job with an company friendly to open licenses and I've been paid to support my software.

  • by dbrower ( 114953 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @02:32PM (#247582) Journal
    Microsoft on Usenet in 1981 was Xenix development. They got rid of that long ago, to SCO.


  • by JCCyC ( 179760 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:59PM (#247583) Journal
    And once you stick your code in GPL, there is no way to get it back, ever. You cannot even reuse what you have already developed for new proprietary projects.

    Bzzzt. WRONG. If you are the author you're perfectly free to relicense the same software under a non-GPL license and demand $$$ in return. Trolltech [] does that with Qt.

    This "you can't reuse your own software" nonsense is the kind of bald-faced LIE M$ will be feeding upon the PHB's of the world. We need to be around to give them the Truth instead.

  • by Saib0t ( 204692 ) <> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:44PM (#247584)
    A common trait of many of the companies that failed is that they gave away for free or at a loss the very thing they produced that was of greatest value - in the hope that somehow they'd make money selling something else. [snip] A common trait of many of the companies that failed is that they gave away for free or at a loss the very thing they produced that was of greatest value - in the hope that somehow they'd make money selling something else.
    So, selling gaming consoles at loss and making the revenue back on licensing development kits is a bad business model? *cough*

    [snip] and the clear failure of newer firms that gave away products for free,[snip]
    Like IBM?

    The principles of the Shared Source Philosophy are:

    Helping customers and partners to be successful through source access programs
    Building the development community and offering them the tools to produce great software
    offering them? Selling them you mean
    Improving the feedback process in order to create better products for Microsoft's customers and partners
    Maintaining the integrity of our customers' environments
    Like creating stable OSes*cough* *cough*
    Increasing educational access in order to get the technology into the hands of universities worldwide, and to seed the future of a strong technology industry
    I don't see how that is an asset of Shared Source(TM)
    The OSS development model leads to a strong possibility of unhealthy "forking" of a code base, resulting in the development of multiple incompatible versions of programs, weakened interoperability, product instability, and hindering businesses' ability to strategically plan for the future. Furthermore, it has inherent security risks and can force intellectual property into the public domain.
    So, having 2 separate programs sprouting from a single program, both having the same basic functionality but different advanced functionalities is a bad thing? I know I prefer having the choice between 2 or more programs, that way I can pick whichever is most suited to my task. But well, let's take the arguments one by one:
    - multiple incompatible version of program.
    Yes, that's called "having the choice".
    - weakened interoperability.
    then again, that's 2 different programs, so no inter-operability is needed, else the 2 set of features would have ended up in the same program (unless they are antagonists, and in that case, you anyway have to pick one).
    - product instability.
    Huh?!? Why does forking induce instability?
    - inherent security risks.
    Since when has obscurity meant security? Sounds like bugs that are visible by many an eye are more likely to be seen than otherwise.

    The GPL mandates that any software that incorporates source code already licensed under the GPL will itself become subject to the GPL.[snip] This viral aspect of the GPL poses a threat to the intellectual property of any organization making use of it.
    Don't want your code to be released under the GPL? Don't use GPL'ed code in the first place.
    it effectively makes it impossible to distribute software on a basis where recipients pay for the product rather than just the cost of distribution.
    The GPL doesn't prevent people from charging for the product at all. (agreed it might not be very efficient)
    They [OSS] ask software developers to give away for free the very thing they create
    They don't ask to give it away for free, and no one forces developers to develop OSS or GPL'ed Software.
    We believe that interaction between the public domain and the IP-based sector needs to be based on mutual responsibility and respect.
    *cough* *cough* Kerberos *cough* *cough*
    The GPL asserts that [snip]it becomes subject to the GPL itself. When the resulting software product is distributed, the creator must make all of the source code available, at no additional charge. This effectively makes it impossible for commercial software companies to include source code that is licensed under the GPL into their products, since by doing so, they are constrained to give away the fruits of their labor.
    And, needless to say, the fruits of the labour of others upon which the later work is based. If you do'nt want to share your work, don't use the work others shared.

    Blah, enough wasted time reading M$ propaganda. Back to code...

  • by skoda ( 211470 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @02:32PM (#247585) Homepage
    I don't think that assessment is wholly accurate. Let's assume that whatever code that is produced under gov't contract is available to any and all. Now suppose that GPL is not used. The code is available to all. It is not 'walled off.'

    Now a company takes this code and begins selling it. That's no good, since people can get it for free.

    So the company takes the code, adds to it, sells that version, but doesn't release their new version of the code. What has been taken from the public? Nothing. The original, tax-payer funded code is still available. But the new, corporately funded changes are not. But those were never the people's to begin with, so nothing is lost.

    So, it's not clear to me that GPL'ing gov't projects adds security to the public's access to it's 'own' code. And it could be argued that this would hinder the transfer of research from the gov't realm to the private realm, since companies will be less eager to utilize work that then hinders and/or destroys their business model.

    Just some thoughts...
    D. Fischer
  • by Rudeboy777 ( 214749 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:45PM (#247586)
    Adapt or die.

    Given the nature of the organizations you just mentioned, you should probably amend that to "Adapt, die, or sue".
  • by RandomPeon ( 230002 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @03:06PM (#247587) Journal
    You can make a tremendous amount of money even if you sell a highly visible product at a loss - sell a profit-making complement too.

    Gllette spent millions developing the Mach 3 razor and sells each one at less than 20% of the manufacturing price. They make money selling replacement blades above cost. It works, its worked for decades.

    RedHat sells RH Linux below cost ($0). But compared to Windows, it's cheap to develop - you take other people's innovations, add a few, and package it in a useable format. Then you sell services above cost - no OS is so easy to use that there are no support issues. RH Linux is a loss-leader to get people to establish a relationship with the company. It would make sense that if I need high-level support for RH Linux, I would turn to RedHat, since they know the product better than anyone esle. IBM has the same business model now - they want to sell you a complete Linux solution - they've largely given up on PCs to be a services company.

    This sounds stupid, but service/support is a better business than proprietary software. All of your costs are marginal - if you sell n hours of support for $r/hr and you pay $e/hr to the support guy, you make n(e-r) dollars, which is always a positive number if e>r. Software costs d dollars to develop, where d is a very fucking large number. If n people buy it a cost c, you make (n*c - d). This can be negative if not enough people buy your product. This is a gross oversimplification, there's overhead in support, and some neglible marginal costs in selling software, but this is why there are so many little support shops - you don't need to invest a tremendous amount of cash upfront.

    Microsoft is one of the few large companies on the face of the earth whose only product is proprietary consumer software. Oracle, IBM, Apple, you name it, all sell something else besides software - consumer software is a ridiculously risky business. They've managed to succeed by becoming a monopoly and essentially forcing people to buy their products. They used illegal pricing games to drive the competition out of business - offering "competitive upgrades" on competitetors products, giving away IE, breaking cross-platform compatibility and so forth. They can't use the same strategy against Linux because you can't undercut it on price, so they've resorted to their other famous tactic, FUD.
  • by RandomPeon ( 230002 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @03:31PM (#247588) Journal
    They're startups, they're supposed to lose money initially. Startups succeed when you go from losing money to breaking even to turning a profit. They fail when they lose more and more money. Redhat is breaking even, which means their revenue is rising faster than their costs and we can assume they'll proceed on to profitability. Microsoft is making money, but making less every year. Their costs are rising faster than their revenue. Factor in their impending breakup, dozens of lawsuits getting thrown at them, and a few other things, and their long-term outlook isn't very good.
  • by RareHeintz ( 244414 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:33PM (#247589) Homepage Journal
    Mundie says forking code is bad? Makes sense - it's not like Microsoft has ever, say, split a code base for their flagship OS to serve different market needs...

    Also, he seems to deliberately confuse free (speech) with free (beer), probably as a subtle way of cultivating FUD about the viability of Linux vendors. You know, because your company's chosen Linux services vendor - say, IBM - could go under any day now.


    I'm fortunate to work in a place where the management is technically inclined, and will laugh this off like the desperate raving that it is. I have to wonder what sort of effect this has on suits who don't know any better, though. Has someone like ESR put up a response yet?

    - B

  • by tb3 ( 313150 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:27PM (#247590) Homepage
    From the speech: Furthermore, it (Open Source Software) has inherent security risks and can force intellectual property into the public domain.
    As opposed to Microsoft's approach to security documented here [http] (Article from the Registry: "Microsoft tells U.S. Air Force to bug off).
    With an attitude like this, he has no basis what so ever in talking about security risks!
  • We tried not to run this, but there are too many submissions to ignore.

    Can we have a pool, Dad? Can we have a pool, Dad? Can we have a pool, Dad? Can we have a pool, Dad? Can we have a pool, Dad? Can we have a pool, Dad? ... and so forth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:07PM (#247592)
    To play devil's advocate a moment, "a vendor that's guaranteed to be around in 10 years" sounds good to a manager too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2001 @03:38PM (#247593)
    Click Start | DOS Command Prompt
    CD C:\Windows\System unless on NT
    Type FIND /I /N "Copyright" FTP.EXE and press Enter key.

    You will then see something like:
    ---------- FTP.EXE
    [7137]@(#) Copyright (c) 1983 The Regents of the University of California.

    This technique can be used to unearth Copyright info for other programs in your standard Windows directories, such as:


  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:33PM (#247594)

    I think that with very small works, the problem is magnified all out of proportion. But for most small works, you probably can't even find the person who did it first. Nor are small works usually worth enough to warrant any real vigilance on the part of the creator to protect them. Infringement cases will also take intent into consideration. If it is determined that you willfully infringed on someone's copyright, you will likely be in trouble (i.e. trading Metallica MP3s), but if it's determined that the infringement was coincidental and/or caused no real harm, you'll probably get off very light or completely free.

  • But if there was no intellectual property (IP) law, the GPL would not be *needed*. All code would be free for everyone to use. That's the whole point of the GPL -- to make software free for everyone to use as they wish. The GPL is just a trick to use IP law against itself. It creates nearly the same situation that would exist if there were no IP law. The only 2 exceptions I can think of are that GPL code cannot be mixed with closed-source code (evening the playing field for itself) and that the source must be easily obtained (without IP, it could be hidden, but you could still "steal" the original source or reverse engineer it).
  • I'm unaware of the situation in the US, but one of my old lecturers was involved in a fascinating case that provides much of the software copyright case law here in Australia.

    IIRC, the proprietary software company concerned copy-protected its software with a parallel-port dongle. Some bright young hacker monitored the parallel port and figured out that if a certain sequence was sent to the dongle, a 128-bit sequence was sent back. He developed a small device which would do the same, and sold it for $500 - appoximately 1/10th the cost of the software.

    Now, as it turned out, that sequence of bits was generated as the output of a small collection of flip-flops and the like on a custom chip - it was hardware. However, the software that checked the dongle stored the sequence directly. The hacker's device also stored the sequence directly as software.

    And, after several appeals, the crux of the matter turned out to be that the arrangement of flip-flops and the like could be legitimately reverse-engineered, so if the hacker had have simply wired up some transistors that would have been legal. However, because the device contained the bit sequence - which was a piece of a copyrighted software program - the device was ruled to be infringing copyright law. So, at least in Australia, 16 bytes is enough to infringe copyright.

    Whether that would extend to a 40-bit DVD key is, of course, open to question, but it would have been very interesting as to how Jon Johansen and his unknown colleagues would have fared in front of an Australian court . . . :)

    After all that (and several other fascinating court cases as a technical expert), it was interesting that my lecturer took the view that software IP laws are a disaster area.

    Go you big red fire engine!

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @02:12PM (#247597)
    But now Microsoft says code forking is bad, so that means it is really good?

    No, it's still bad. It just that Microsoft is claiming that Open Source is responsible for code forks.

    Ironically, this is about as far as you can get from the truth while still being slightly based in it. You see, without access to source code, you can't have a code fork. What's there to fork if only the one party controls the code? However, to say that Open Source causes code forks is ridiculous.

    You see, without the release of the original AT&T V7 source code to UNIX, there could have never been forks in the UNIX code base. What happened is that each proprietary UNIX vendor decided to add missing features to their systems to encourage people to buy their hardware. Without adding nifty new features to UNIX that other vendors didn't have, you didn't have as compelling a reason for customers to buy your hardware. Once you got them used to your API's you got to sit back and enjoy vendor lock-in. It was the lack of cooperation between vendors and their unwillingness to give their additions back to the community that led to the forking of UNIX.

    Nowdays, in the BSD worlds, you still have code forks over political/philosophical differences. These led to the FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD camps. The difference between what happened to the commercial UNIXes and the modern BSDs is that the modern BSDs can take advantage of what their rivals have done! While there is different focus in what they are improving, each group gives its contributions back to the whole BSD community. This means that security audits in OpenBSD can turn up flaws that can be patched in FreeBSD. New ports done by NetBSD often turn into the basis of new OpenBSD ports. Heck, even Darwin may have contributed a good HFS+ filesystem layer that the others can adapt.

    Microsoft is also being a huge hypocrite whenever they talk about code forking. Hello? Windows 95/98/ME vs. NT/2000? Oh, and there's Windows XP/2002 now -- a professional vs. consumers product fork in grand NT tradition. If you've ever once looked through MSDN, you've probably seen the functional documentation about how this or that function does one thing on 95, another thing on 98, and yet another thing on NT. Don't even get me started on WinCE, either. Microsoft is the pot calling the kettle black. However, since the forking of UNIX has long been one of it's greatest derided problem, and since most people aren't really aware of the differences between Windows versions under the hood, they can get away with it.

    That's what irritates me most about this. MS is completely misrepresenting the truth. It's not that code forking is suddenly good because MS is demonizing it. It's that the situation isn't as bad as it once was, it's that it isn't that different from their own products, and it's that it was the commercial interests that caused the problem in the first place.
  • by matthewn ( 91381 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:29PM (#247598)
    Let me get this straight. We tried not to run this, but there are too many submissions to ignore. Tried not to run this? So it's all right to post [] a preview of a speech, along with ESR's preemptive strike against it, but there's no need for another post once the speech is given? At least Slashdot readers know a big story merits hearing from both sides. Too bad the Slashdot crew is clueless in that regard.
  • by haystor ( 102186 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:54PM (#247599)
    This is practically admitting that the GPL is a valid license. There have always been doubts because it have never really been brought up in court.

    Also, the government using the GPL is completely correct because it was paid for through tax money. Saying that it is "walling if off from commercial business" is a half truth. It is mandating that commercial business may not wall it off from the people that paid for it.

  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:13PM (#247600) Homepage
    I'm having trouble keeping track of this. Code forking used to be bad. Witness the reaction to the emacs/xemacs split a long time ago, and, more recently, to the general disapproval whenever someone tries to fork the Linux kernel.

    But now Microsoft says code forking is bad, so that means it is really good?

  • by Satai ( 111172 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:54PM (#247601)
    One thing from this article, and others that gripe about the GPL, is the basic fact that GPL'ed code doesn't go where it isn't wanted. Microsoft clearly isn't speaking about its own business practices when they warn against the GPL - they've obviously been staying away from it so far. What they're doing is using their weight, their influence, to warn companies away from supporting the GPL.

    The GPL is very easily avoided. Yes, it's viral - if a license can be considered 'viral.' It does 'infect' the derivative works. That's what it's for. Microsoft is right when it says that this makes it more difficult to sell products - and certainly if a product can't be sold, it could be viewed as 'removing incentive.' (Odd that such a phrase, commonly used to argue against higher taxes, would be used to argue against reducing the so-called "software tax.")

    But, as others have touched on, GPL'ed code isn't forcing itself down the throats of commercial developers. No one is forcing anyone to take the metaphorical hypodermic full of GPL. Think you can make a better grep, and sell it? Fine. Provde it. But don't use GNU grep code without giving back.

    More importantly, it should be noticed that Microsoft objects to GNU software because it takes a price - a price that is paid to the community at large, not to a specific individual or company. GNU software may not charge for anything besides the distribution costs (not that it couldn't!) but it does charge you with the responsibility to give back.

    These are things we all know. Microsoft isn't willing to pay that price. The so-called Shared Source is an attempt to appease the desires whetted by the OSS movement. No one is allowed to give back to the community once they look at this source code.

    The biggest shame in this whole situation is that Slashdot may be the most public place for OSS and Free Software advocates to respond to these nonsenses.
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:14PM (#247602) Journal

    I just got through reading Mundie's comments all the way through. I found little if anything with which to disagree.

    "Having multiple vendors competing to offer us the best product at the lowest price is worse than having one vendor who can sell the product to us at monopoly prices."

    You are looking at things through Slashdot colored glasses. Mundie wasn't referring to monopoly vendors or even competing vendors offering products implementing the same standard. He was referring to competing vendors all trying to push slightly different standards, with no clear winner. Interoperability is a costly problem. Transferring files between Macs and PCs causes problems all the time, and that's just two platforms.

    Most importantly, Mundie stood up for independant developers. There is one fault I can find here. I think reducing or eliminating the cost of MS development tools would be much more beneficial to independant developers than revealing source. I would much rather get MSVC 7.0 for the price of the CD than look at source code that belongs to MS.

  • Hehe. To be honest, I had just finished writing this message and was planning on submitting it to Slashdot (hence the link to Microsoft's article in the first paragraph of my message). When I had finished writing it, I went to slashdot and checked to see what was on the front page.

    This story was, so I just replied to it and attached my message. I really do not sit around hoping a story like this gets posted. :)

    (Moderators, mod this down if you wish, I don't care, but you are better off modding up more useful articles)


  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:52PM (#247604) Journal
    As seen here [], and here [] and many other places, the basic techniques is to overcome your enemy by constantly redefining the terms used to describe them.

    For example, the original purposes of the mental health industry were to help government and big business control populations and to control markets. The classic historical example of this is Nazi Germany.

    After the war, many companies wanted to make use of the techniques to improve their markets, politicians wanted to advance their causes etc, all taking a page or two for the Nazi play book. But they did not want the stench of the association.

    Now we all know that these are honorable men, and that these end goals of control and manipulation have been set aside by the vast majority of governments and organizations around the world.

    But here and there we see a hint of the old technique. You redefine the word. You include just enough of the truth, and twist it with a lie, that it requires a sophisticated understanding to spot what is wrong.

    to quote Hitler (full chapter here): given variously as (depending on translation:" ... all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan." (or alternatively) "... an effective propaganda has to limit itself to just a few points and must keep repeating them in the form of catch phrases for as long as it takes to have ascertained that even the very last person understands under these words what one wants him to understand." The full chapter makes fascinating reading, especially when comparing it to MS Marketing FUD and tactics.

    Ultimately a lie *will* backfire, however, because people see through it and hate you for it. It may take a while, a long time.

    Therefore the best PR campiagn is not based in lies, but is uses real truths.

    But the MS marketroids resort to twisting and distorting the facts

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • by skoda ( 211470 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @02:47PM (#247605) Homepage
    From the speech: "Despite the demonstrable success of the computing industry and the IP-based economy, and the clear failure of newer firms that gave away products for free"

    Yes, MS has been quite smart about not giving software away for free!

    Well, except for that whole Internet browser thing.
    And Outlook Express.
    And perhaps a bunch of little utilities that come with the OS
    Oh, and all those fonts and clipart from their website.

    Hmm... what was MS saying about the folly of giving away IP freely? ;)
    D. Fischer
  • by zencode ( 234108 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:48PM (#247606) Homepage
    Sweet Jesus on an open-sourced pogo stick! You wrote all this and still managed to get post #5???

    Somebody was sitting around with the ctrl key already pressed and just waiting for Slash to post a MS story... =)

    My .02,

  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:39PM (#247607)
    The primary point of this article is that Microsoft is simply saying that they need to maintain a viable business model. Giving away your code for free, or even letting other people copy your code is usually NOT a viable business model. Microsoft does not develop custom projects. They develop general use products for the public. If they were to release the source code for Windows, there'd be absolutely no reason for anybody to buy Windows, period. It could easily be re-copied, and re-packaged. They're NOT in the custom software business, so while companies like RedHat can make a tiny bit of money (and I do mean Tiny) from doing some custom projects, Microsoft is not structured like this. They DO sell the exact same software to millions of people. It makes no sense, whatsoever for Microsoft to open source their products. That's all this article is about.

  • by Dragoness Eclectic ( 244826 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:06PM (#247608)

    That's a bit specious, considering that software developed by the government is required to be public domain. Does that mean the NSA's mods are not GPL, but Public Domain?

    The Public Domain nature of taxpayer-funded development of software is why TCP/IP is an open protocol. Funny how Microsoft has never complained about the Public Domain aspect of government-developed software, but the GPL gets them hysterical...

  • by karmawarrior ( 311177 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:39PM (#247609) Journal
    "It's bad" if you assume the entire free software and open software communities to be one mass that speaks with one voice and has one opinion. But that's not true. Indeed, there is a chasm between the free and open software proponents all by itself.

    As an example BSD has "forked" several times. There are/were commercial, proprietry versions varying from BSDI, SunOS, NeXTStep, etc, open source versions such as Darwin, and free software versions such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD. There are those who feel that this is a bad thing, because it means that the energies of all those who might be involved in some congealed BSD project are split amongst several.

    Others, myself included, would disagree. The forking has resulted in several first class operating systems, each excelling in a particular field and to some extent feeding off each others strengths, to a degree that might not have happened if someone had tried to manage the project centrally.

    This isn't to imply that one way or another is bad. In the XEmacs vs GNUEmacs case, the situation is slightly different in that the intention of the XEmacs people was not to fork, and so the system had to be reluctantly maintained. In the BSD example, talented, intelligent, programmers felt that they could do it better, or had different project goals to the other groups.

    I don't personally see forking as a bad thing in itself. It may be "inefficient", but it's rarely the case that it happens for no reason, and projects that don't fork are unlikely to attract the programmers that would want to work on the versions forking would result in in the first place.

  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:15PM (#247610) Homepage Journal
    "In this context, it?s not surprising that, as early as 1995, Bill Gates wrote in his book The Road Ahead about what he called the "Internet gold rush". . .

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this part added in a much more recent edition of Gates' book? Even in 1995, Gates viewed the Internet and the World Wide Web as nonentities.


    Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:43PM (#247611) Homepage
    Hmm - Here's two problems I notice in their blasting of forking in OSS?

    1. - Some of the 'flaws' of forking mentioned are actually 'flaws' of having multiple choices in general, regardless of whether those choices were generated due to code forking or independant code bases competing with each other. Thus they are 'flaws' that are shared by the closed-source world as well a the open source world.

    2. - Having many forks (or multiple product choices developed independantly) to choose from forced the UNIX world to develp things in a layered fashion, something Windows doesn't seem to do very well. Using a layered model, where each piece of the picture is an independant piece, gave us things like the Window Manager in X, and the filesystem drop-in replacements, and the standard file i/o device drivers, and so on. This layered model, which is needed to get things to interoperate well in a highly "forked" world, has design benefits outside of just being able to replace a module with a new one. This is not a flaw. It's a benefit. MS is proof that when there is no incentive to design walls between your layers, you generally don't, and you get a messy pile of software. Forking forces good design up front.

    3. Without sharing of source, you get *more* incompatability due to the need to restart from scratch and design anew when what you really wanted was just "Something that works just like product foo, but with one or two minor changes." This type of new product spawning will make far more incompatabilities than code forking from one shared base will. Consider, how incompatable are the KDE and Gnome guis? It might seem like they are incompatable until you compare to how incompatable OS/2 and Windows were. KDE apps and Gnome apps can run at the same time on the same desktop screen without any problems.

  • What you fail to realize is that the whole concept of copyright protection is something that the governement/people gives to businesses so that the people will benefit. Not so that companies can benefit -- that's just the means to the end. Microsoft is implying that the government needs to protect the means, even if the end is no longer being achieved. But that doesn't make sense to the people unless there is some benefit the people will get. But Free Software already provides that benefit.
  • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:06PM (#247613)
    I've wondered how the NSA (as well as Becker's drivers) can put stuff under the GPL. Without Copyright, there is no GPL. But the Federal Government can not get copyright protection []. Everything produced by the Feds exists under the public domain.

    I can imagine that a GPL project can incorporate stuff from the public domain (just as commercial software can), but I can't see how things like Becker's drivers alone or NSA patches can be GPLed. MS ought to be free to use any of that code in any way they see fit.
  • by Weasel Boy ( 13855 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:05PM (#247614) Journal

    They're NOT in the custom software business, so while companies like RedHat can make a tiny bit of money (and I do mean Tiny) from doing some custom projects, Microsoft is not structured like this.

    This is true. However, no where are Microsoft, the members of the RIAA, the members of the MPAA, or any other enterprise ever given the guarantee that the business model that they have freely chosen will always be profitable. Times change. Technologies change. Markets change. Adapt or die.

    Change and progress are good. They wash away the dead wood institutions in our society, while vital ones adapt and prosper.

  • by Merk ( 25521 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @03:42PM (#247615) Homepage

    How to fight this? Explain that the GPL puts no restriction on the use of the software. If you can get GPL software you are free to use it as you see fit. The only things the GPL restricts are copying, distribution and modification.

    On the other hand Commercial software, especially Microsoft software has harsh limits on how it can be used. Hence the term "End User License Agreement". Tell 'em they'll never have to click through one of those for an Open Source product.

    Next mention that the only way you'll be affected by the GPL is if you want to copy, distribute or modify GPL software. You can use a GPLed editor like GNU Emacs on a GPLed system like Linux to write proprietary software if that's what you want to do. If you're not writing software that links with or uses GPLed code, selling or giving away GPLed software you don't have to worry.

    Explain that when Microsoft's code leaves their building it's "hands off". You can look, but you can't touch or even show other people. Their "shared source software" is at best a learning tool for other people. At worst it's a means of trying to get cheap student labour to find and fix their bugs for them.

    As for standards, explain that Microsoft is infamous for embracing a standard then extending it so that nothing works with it. Explain that this would be fine if it weren't for their monopoly which basically makes an open standard into a Microsoft standard. Tell them that by its very nature, Open Source software is open standard. If you want to know how something works, just look at the source.

    Finally explain that the only reason Bill Gates and Microsoft can give so much money away is that they've made such obscene profits on their software. Explain how if an Open Source company were on 95% of desktops it would never have that kind of power because everything it made would be open and freely available. Explain how many eyes make bugs shallow. Then say "if you love something, set it free". *grin*

    Any other suggestions?

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @02:52PM (#247616) Journal
    Frankly, it doesn't much matter to me whether MicroSquish code is ever available under an Open Source license. Mozilla has shown us that opening your source code doesn't necessarily make for a better product.

    What's wrong with windoze, is not that I can't read the source. What's wrong with it is that it's unreliable, unsecurable, incompetently designed, and bloated as all get-out.

  • by Bates ( 76023 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:05PM (#247617) Homepage
    I'm inclined to agree with Microsoft and my objection is with the people who invoke Perl and BSd to defend Eazel and Napster.

    Alright, what the heck does Napster have to do with ANY of this?? Napster wasn't open source, and don't you dare make the arguement that it operates like open source. With Napster, users download copywrited material and share it with others. With OSS, programmers share their own work and creations with their peers for them to improve and use how they wish. I don't see how they are similar what-so-ever. In ESR's editorial on this very speech he warned that he would try to group OSS, Napster, and software piracy under the same heading. I personally don't understand MS's objection to the GPL, except that they can't take the code and sell it. This "viral" activity of the GPL is only a problem to companies who wish to exploit the code. If everything was distributed under the BSD license, MS would be happy as can be, they would just keep taking the code as they needed and marketing it as their own.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:47PM (#247618) Homepage Journal
    They also gloss over the fact that if you write original (not derived from any other product) code and release it with a GPL license, you're absolutely free to license it out to someone else under a different license. If a company wants to use it in a proprietary product, they can come and offer you a shitload of money for you to allow them to do so.
  • by Ded Mike ( 89353 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:41PM (#247619) Homepage
    At Linus' first appearance at COMDEX, in 1999, in Chicago (the year of Gates'/Ballmer's infamous 'Disco Deflection' movie, and the year after the '98 BSOD), he was asked about forking the code. I was the member of the audience that asked the question. Some coverage is here [] (thank god for Google!)
    "...Torvalds deflected concerns about the potential for similar fragmentation in the Linux space, noting that the copyright/license for Linux requires anyone who modifies the source code to make changes available to others under the same license. 'This insures that the splinter heals,' quipped Torvalds. Torvalds added that the Internet development paradigm under which Linux has evolved has made it less likely to splinter, as well. Different programmers are working on different pieces of the OS. Linux has been ported to a variety of form factors, from the Palm Pilot to supercomputers, Torvalds said. Some developers, like Torvalds, are working on the kernel; others are more focused on user-space issues. He did acknowledge that more work needs to be done to make Linux a "serious mom and pop contender on the desktop," but that, too, is possible in two to three more years, Torvalds predicted."
    IIRC (and I am sure I do!), as reflected in the quoted story, the question came right after his answer to a question about Java and some jokes about the then still-secret TransMeta. My question was along the lines of "What if there is a serious commercial challenge to your license and they fork the code?" I distinctly remember that I used the word 'fork.'

    Linus, as usual, used his own metaphors, to enlighten the press and non-geeks. IOW, he simplified my question, de-jargoned it and answered it plainly and honestly. His metaphor was a tree with branches, and that brought up the 'splinter' comment.

    What wasn't reported in the article, was how he ended his answer, and I clearly remember this:
    Besides," he said, " Because of the GPL, and international trademark law, I own the source. If the fork drifts too far off the trunk, I can cut it off and kill it."
    That was also the year I recognized why I admired and supported the OSS movement.

    When Gates was done with his speech, he was hustled off-stage by an army of handlers and into a waiting limo, looking neither left nor right, and interacting with none of his so-valued cutomers.

    When Linus was done, he and his wife and children hung around the show floor. His wife pushed the stroller around, and, despite the press and admirers, he kept his focus on them. After the show floor closed, there was a gathering sponsored by one of the early Linux companies. Linus was there with his wife and kids. They mingled for about two more hours, then someone suggested Buster's for video games and more beers.

    In contrast to Gates, his handlers and the limos, the last I saw of Linus that night, he was piling with his wife and kids into a mini-van, on their way to Busters', with mad-dog and a bunch of geeks (Can I bum a ride? situational carpool).


    Hell, they already have.

  • by twivel ( 89696 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:12PM (#247620)
    Wow, they do a great job of pulling the reader in. This is a masterpiece. The first half of this article is spent really discussing some good points about the technology movement, lending credibility to the whole article. They do a great job of detailing points and backing up their statements in the first half as well.

    I didn't have a huge problems with the first half, other than a few veiled hints at where the article was going. I did get a chuckle when I read the paragraph talking about .net.

    Now, they start moving on to the negative points of OSS. Not that I don't think OSS has it's problems. In some of these places I think microsoft may have some points - but they often exaggerate them or extend them to places where I don't think they are applicable. Some things they say:

    Unhealthy forking that leads to incompatability. At first, I thought "This is stupid, it doesn't happen". But in one way it does. Look at the different releases of redhat. A program compiled for RH 7.1 most likely won't work with redhat 6.2. Now, I don't call this "forking" as much as I would call it "Upgrading". Microsoft has exactly the same problems with their operating system upgrades as well though. The difference is, when you upgrade an operating system or one software component, often you have to upgrade others. With OSS it's easy, get the source and recompile. With MS it costs money. His point on the GPL and including other peoples code is ridiculous. I'm glad he gets his information on licensing of the GPL technically correct, but what he is complaining about is just silly. In the proprietary world you can't include someone elses proprietary code in your program and release it, right? So why would he even care that he can't take GPL code and include it in his proprietary code? Whats the point here? If you want your code to be proprietary, just write it all yourself. To those who write and release proprietary code, GPL code is nothing more than "someone elses proprietary code". Now him saying "The viral aspect of the GPL poses a threat to the intellectual property of any organization making use of it" is just plain FUD. Sure, if you take the damn code and use it in your code, it affects you. If you just use GPL software as 'end-user' software, you have no problems.

    They talk about open source business model being support or hardware oriented. They claim that it will fail due to the falure of similar attempts earlier by other companies that are support or hardware specific. For sure he can't be talking abut SUN (who still makes a great amount of money by selling hardware and developing enterprise quality operating systems). This model does work. But the good thing about OSS is that it is not tied to a company. It existed before the companies sprung up to support it and it will exist even if some or many of the companies die. It will always provide a valuable product to the community and end-users who rely on the product. When companies like microsoft die, you are stuck with a pile of binary garbage that will never be maintained, upgraded or fixed.

    Ok, their real point here is that mass-marketed products tend to not do so well with either of these models. I think Microsoft may be partially right here. For example, selling PC games (not online type games) will never work in a "support" model, nor would it work in a "hardware business model" either. The only way to really support cool single-user games that require lots of R&D, quick development times to be competative, etc is to support them by paying customers. This is why I think the number and types of free games doesn't even come close to the numbers and quality of commercial games.

    Free software is better suited for cool apps that have longer development cycles, like a word processor, or operating system. Things that aren't "completely redone" every few months like computer games are. Ok, maybe even computer games will start slowing down once we achieve near-realistic graphics and people can focus primarily on content. But for some reason or another, I think the game industry still has quite a bit of evolution to go through though.

    Microsoft's primary business model is *not* games though. It is Operating Systems and Office Applications. Given time, and number of upgrades, I believe OSS products WILL catch microsoft products. Right now microsoft does have the lead in end-user software such as word-processors. Already, we notice that micorsoft is digging and clawing for new ideas to "differentiate" or give a "competative advantage" to their products over others. The failed "Paperclip" is one example of an attempt to differentiate office from other products. The question is, how long can microsoft continue to justify paying more and more money to upgrade their apps? Microsoft themselves know this is a dead-end. This is why they created ".NET"! There's no need to force people to upgrade if they pay monthly fees. If they can change the thought process of the users that "Users don't own software" "Users buy a service", their business will live into the future.


  • by bma ( 107077 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:22PM (#247621)
    I was at this talk today. The biggest mistake the open-source community can make is to under-estimate Microsoft and to dismiss these comments as pure hogwash. It's actually *scary* to me that the Slashdot editors considered *not* posting this. Please realize that today is the day Microsoft decided to publicly declare war on open-source. This is not just big. This is *huge*, and it's time to sound the alarm: Microsoft will attack open-source with every resource at its disposal.

    Open-Source is a threat to Microsoft's business model and, as a business, Microsoft is making the decision to attack its biggest threat. This will include exaggerations, leaps in reasonings, and a lot of FUD. The important concept to take away from today's meeting is that Microsoft is *very* smart. They understand open-source. They understand the weaknesses of the open-source community. And they are attacking them with full force.

    Gathering thoughts from a few open-source hackers at this meeting today, it seems Microsoft is leading a 3-pronged attack:

    • Making the GPL out to be very evil (whether we believe this is true or not is irrelevant). Characterizing open-source solely through this "evil" GPL license and instilling fear about how the GPL destroys intellectual property if you so much as use GPL software.
    • Pointing out that there is a difference between open standards and open-source. We know this, but we haven't made our case strongly enough. Now Microsoft gets to have the first word in this public debate, and they are blaming the open-source community for muddling the issue. Nevermind the truth, this attack is extremely intelligent.
    • Partially adopting all the easy, non-threatening aspects of open-source. Peer review? yeah, they do that with Microsoft source code licensing to universities. Community? sure, they have 5,000,000 members of MSDN! Giving back to the community? Of course, closed-source companies pay $26B in taxes every year, which funds government programs, which funds university development, which funds software research.

    What Microsoft is doing is simple: they are taking away the easy open-source arguments, and muddling the complex ones. Whether you think their message rings true or not is irrelevant: they are making a solid marketing case. The Open-Source community had better be ready to respond.

  • by yamla ( 136560 ) <> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:06PM (#247622)
    Microsoft has released an article entitled, The Commercial Software Model []. In it, they lay out their belief in the Microsoft .NET strategy and in Shared Source, something entirely separate from Open Source. Microsoft makes a number of dubious claims in their article and I examine some of them here. I focus primarily on Microsoft's misunderstanding of open-source software.

    Before I begin, I should point out that open source means different things to different people. I will assume that Microsoft is talking about Open Source [] that meets the Open Source Definition. That is, the source code must be freely available. The software must be freely redistributable. Other users must be allowed to modify this code and distribute them under the same license. Note that there is no limit on charging for distribution, though specific open source licenses may indeed prevent this. Also, once you have distributed the binaries, you must also distribute the source if requested.

    Microsoft points out that open source often leads to forking of the code base. This is indeed sometimes true. However, shared source/commercial source does not prevent this. Witness Microsoft's operating systems. Windows CE, Windows 9x (including ME), and Windows 2000. In fact, Windows 2000 is perhaps even a clearer example of a code fork as it is available in at least four different binary versions (Windows 2000 Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and Dataserver), each with a slightly different code base. Even ignoring this, each one of Microsoft's operating systems shares a common lineage, MS DOS, though Microsoft has sometimes started fresh.

    The viral nature of the GPL, the Gnu Public License, is the next thing Microsoft takes issue with. They point out that once software is licensed under the GPL, all derived software is also so licensed. This is absolutely true and is certainly something that companies need to be aware of. However, there is a flip side to this argument. Say I write a new browser and release all the source code under the GPL. Now, my intellectual property is protected in the event that a company comes along, takes my source code and makes minor modifications and then sells it for $250 a piece. Saying that the GPL is a threat to intellectual property implies that the GPL abhores intellectual property and this is certainly not the case.

    Microsoft also points out that the GPL undermines commercial software development. This is somewhat true. If I GPL a word processor, I am quite unlikely to be able to sell thousands of copies of it because anyone who purchases a copy can turn around and distribute it for free. However, Microsoft seems to be ignoring one thing. The majority of software developed for profit is developed for specific customers. Programmers or development houses are contracted to develop a specific solution for a specific customer. This customer then pays for the delivery of the software. Open source software (and indeed, GPL'ed software) does not affect this proven business model at all. The only problem would be that the customer could then freely redistribute the software or modify it without paying the developer. This essentially prevents the developer from selling the exact same software to another customer.

    This is important. Please note that open source software does not require that you give your software away for free. You are quite free to develop it for a significant price, making all your profit from this development. Microsoft seems to ignore this.


  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:25PM (#247623)
    And indeed that many OSS people seem to only be vaguely aware of, is that the GPL *depends* on intellectual property law to function.*

    It is not public domain. It is the fully copyrighted work of the author who *allows* you to use it *under license.*

    It is no more viral than the commercial license which seeks to 'infect' your pocketbook. Over, and over, and over again.

    The GPL 'infects' your code by allowing you to take is WITHOUT financial recompense, which it would be perfectly within the rights of the author to demand, and asks only that if you modify the code to give those modifications back under the same terms that you obtained the original code * for free.*

    Noone holds a gun to your head and tells you to use GPL code. If you don't like the terms of the license, don't take the code. Just as some say about commercial licenses. If you don't want to pay for it, don't use it.

    GPL code HAS a pay structure. Don't dance if you don't want to pay the piper, who in this case is only asking to be allowed at the banquet table.

    The irony is that MS is bashing a license that is * totally in keeping* with its own from a legal standpoint, and only exists BECAUSE of such intellectual property laws as protect MS's rights.

    If the GPL destroyed intellectual property it couldn't, itself, exist.

  • A common trait of many of the companies that failed is that they gave away for free or at a loss the very thing they produced that was of greatest value - in the hope that somehow they'd make money selling something else.

    Sound anything like, oh say, IE?!

  • by wolpert ( 164907 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:23PM (#247625)
    The real reason that Microsoft is 'attacking' GPL is not only because they cannot steal the code, legally, but because of their fear that the government will support GPL code. Take for example, this:

    "Today, any government putting work under GPL is walling it (the work) off from commercial business,"

    That comment is specific to attacking the NSA's secure Linux project, which release their code under GPL. Expect more attacks in the future, until the government regulates that government code cannot be GPL.

  • by Yunzil ( 181064 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @02:14PM (#247626) Homepage
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this part added in a much more recent edition of Gates' book? Even in 1995, Gates viewed the Internet and the World Wide Web as nonentities.

    No, Gates always knew the Internet was going to be important, just as Oceania has always been at war with East Asia. ;)

  • by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:59PM (#247627) Homepage

    All in all, I found what was said to be rather accurate, and it is interested to see Microsoft moving itself towards a Shared Source model. 2 years ago, I never saw any source. I found it kind of humerous that they included their "samples" as a significant contribution of source code, and that they boasted that "100 universities" had the source code. But all in all, it was rather rational.

    This is coming from a guy who volunteered for the GNU booth at LISA (sysadmin conference), writes GPL'ed software at home, advocates Free and Open Source software at work, and teaches free classes on programming twice a week [] in his free time. Honestly, this article seems like a nice concise representation of the issues that we are facing in the technical world, and the licensing tradeoffs as well. It is a remarkably centered piece, especially considering that it's coming from Microsoft. Maybe it's coming from their Biz department, rather than Marketting.

    However, I wouldn't take the article as a sign of the impending doom or non-use of GPL'ed software. As another /. reader said, it's good to view GPL'ed and OpenSource software as software belong to a single company (GNU?), namely, the company consisting of all contributors.

    I believe quite strongly that Free and OpenSource software will overcome Microsoft.

    First, the very thing that allowed Linux to exist in the first place, the life blood of Free/OpenSource Software, namely, communication, is becoming cheaper and easier. We are watching a bandwidth and connection revolutions. As barriers to communication come down, the success of Free and OpenSource software will increase.

    Second, as more and more people become involved in the computing world (and they are coming, they are definitely coming- just look overseas) and the online world, the # of Free and OpenSource developers will increase. I believe that our numbers as Free/OS software developers are, and will, increase faster than the # of employees at Microsoft.

    That KDE and GNOME (particularly KDE) would cease development because OS/Free software isn't a viable business model would be a faulty conclusion. KDE is not a business. Go to the KDE web page [] and tell me that they're running a business. It's very clearly a community.

    We can build our own operating system, and as developers, it's just sort of our nature to do so.

    Anyways, Kudo's to MicroSoft for a well written summary, and a "Yay" if they actually follow through on their commitment to share their source.

    Back to my side of the fence: Yay KDE! Yay GNOME!

  • It's definately bad. I can't count the number of times on both hands that I've said aloud (when you get older you start talking to yourself) "Why won't this forking code compile!?!??!" :-P

    Well, your fingers weave quick minarets; Speak in secret alphabets;
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:15PM (#247629)
    I think is what Mundie is trying to announce. Of course their 'Shared Source' is a load of crap, but I get the hint that Microsoft is truly starting to realize that a lot of their potential developer base gets more serious systems development done with OSS tools and libraries. They're trying to treat the Open Source philosiphy the same way they treated Java. Embrace Open Source and 'fix' it, until it benefits Microsoft.
  • by RareHeintz ( 244414 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:48PM (#247630) Homepage Journal
    Easy response: Then go with IBM. There's a Linux services vendor that shouldn't fold anytime soon.

    - B

  • by dodson ( 248550 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:35PM (#247631)
    By making the source under glass more readily available, is MS undermining a persons ability to work on open source projects.

    If more people are allowed to see the source does this increase the likely hood of IP litigation if programmer X has been in the vicinity of MS source and later works on an open source project?
  • by Crayola ( 250908 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:51PM (#247632) Homepage
    Not only does Microsoft have forking in their own code, but they develop mutually incompatible products, and the very fact that their file formats are closed and proprietary make it much harder to create compatibility. An open source program has a wide open data format, which is inimical to Microsoft's own "viral" model of creeping data formats.

    I agree, the assertion that the GPL undermines IP is disingenious. The GPL simply asserts that if someone wants to use some IP for free, they in turn must not charge for source to the resulting IP. They can still charge big bucks for the development work involved.

    What's more, if some company doesn't want to take the software under those terms, nothing prevents them from going to the copyright holder and paying for a separate license that doesn't fall under the GPL. But if the license can't be bought for reasonable terms, there's always the GPL option. It's up to the companies involved to decide what's best for them.

    It's ironic that Microsoft sings the praises of the WWW, lambastes open source, and totally ignores the fact that Apache is one of the main engines of the web. Or perhaps not ignore. Wishes it didn't exist is more accurate.

  • by ryants ( 310088 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @12:31PM (#247633)
    "a vendor that's guaranteed to be around in 10 years" sounds good to a manager too.

    How about "code that will be around forever"?

    Ryan T. Sammartino

APL hackers do it in the quad.