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Mundie Responds 478

HaiLHaiL writes: "Microsoft's Mundie has a commentary running on ZDNet responding to the responses to his speech. " No real surprises, but it's getting submitted a lot so I figured I'd post it for you. Lots of good points, but I'm sure you can guess the gist of it.
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Mundie Responds

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  • not just be available for anyone. If everyone can steal as many ideas as M$ has, they wouldn't be billionaires.
  • From the FAQ [microsoft.com]

    Why did Microsoft decide to highlight the Shared Source Philosophy at this time?

    We have reflected on this issue over a number of years and received requests from customers and partners to clearly state our position. It is important to have a framework to examine the debate from the business or technical perspective. The Commercial Software Model is based on the following classification: Community, Standards, Business Models, Investment (R&D) and Licensing. This is a debate about the importance of intellectual property in business and about the models being employed in the market today. Ultimately, it is individuals, businesses, the market and policy makers who together will decide the role of intellectual property in the economy.

    Translation: people were thinking of going with open source, so we pulled this out of our asses to convince people we were the nice guys.

  • There is one other point that is most likely the most difficult for Microsoft to deal with:

    - GPL'ed software can not be ported to operating systems where the underlining libraries the application must link to are not under a GPL compatible license.

    For instance, you could not port a GPL'ed game to Windows and use DirectX because the DirectX icense is not GPL compatible.

    This is of course not the case for LGPL'ed software, but since the standard appears to be to GPL applications and LGPL libraries, Microsoft is out of luck unless they agree to make all the libraries which link against the typical Windows application available in a GPL compatible license.

    Of course, the big loophole with GPL software is IPC interfaces such as COM and CORBA which allow external applications to use it without actually linking to it, but at a speed hit.

    Sidenote: Actually I'm a little curious about the Doom source that ID released under GPL. Technically, the OpenGL libraries for Windows are not under a GPL compatible license, so you should not see any mods for the original Doom source appearing on Windows unless they use something like Mesa.
  • Section 3 of the GPL states that all components of an executable that normally accompany it in a distribution must be available in source code form under the terms of Section 1 and 2 of the GPL. There are certain components that are explicitly exempt, but any component that normally ships with an executable is not.

    The GPL basically infects any object code that it links with. This includes dynamically linked libraries as well as statically linked libraries.

    The LGPL on the other hand does not infect object code that it links with. This appears to be the major difference between the GPL and

    Of course, this is just my interpretation, I could be wrong.
  • Indeed. It's very similar to saying, "We cost more and deliver less- but PLEASE continue to support us anyhow in spite of cheaper alternatives, because we are the Good Guys!"

    Worked great for Apple... ;P

    It looks pretty indisputable that Microsoft doesn't have an answer for how they're being undersold by 'cheap-n-cheerful' Linux installations. It doesn't matter much that this is not overwhelming yet- they are shrewd enough to anticipate, and what they are expecting is to be steadily marginalised by Linux dists that have dubious support, decent interoperability, pretty but klugey eyecandy... and CHEAPNESS.

    He who lives by the 'good enough, and cheaper' dies by the 'good enough, and cheaper'. I really, really, REALLY don't think they will be able to reposition as a high-end expensive luxury item like MacOSX... so all that remains is for them to slooooowly whine off into the distance while trying to make everyone feel guilty for, eventually, deserting them...

  • This rather assumes you are in the business of selling software, doesn't it? I mean, if you're a shoe salesman, you probably don't care whether you're able to make money selling software as well. You might want software, but it'd be to run your shoe selling business, or to do net searches for shoe supply houses or something.

    In that context the question becomes "Do you want to spend your money on software or get it for nothing?". And it is a similarly 'duh!' level question, but for almost everyone in the world it points the _other_ way...

  • by Sturm ( 914 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:57AM (#215627) Journal
    If you run the article through Babelfish, it turns out that IS what he said.
  • by Phaid ( 938 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:04AM (#215629) Homepage
    Boil it down, Mundie is making three points:

    -If Microsoft software were GPL'd, Microsoft couldn't make money. Therefore, the GPL is bad.

    -If free software writers use the GPL, then Microsoft can't steal their software to make money. Therefore, the GPL is bad.

    -If users select GPL'd software, they can acquire it at no cost and therefore deny Microsoft the revenue from selling them competing software. Therefore, the GPL is bad.

    The problem is, Microsoft really doesn't have a leg to stand on. Microsoft can certainly make a case that GPL'd software is bad for Microsoft. But they have provided no evidence whatsoever that GPL'd software is bad for users. And at a time when MS is changing their licencing terms and ramping up a revenue model based on software rentals, their efforts to discredit open source may serve more to show Microsoft's real intentions than to boost their market share.
  • Microsoft is not unique in their success, only in the level of their success. There are many successful close source software companies out there. They just aren't raking in the monopoly profits like Microsoft is.

  • The fact that Microsoft has managed to make a successful thriving business out of software products totally caught everyone off guard. Software in itself is fundamentally worthless, their competitors said. It was such a silly idea, that most big iron vendors didn't even try it. Businesses need custom solutions, not shrink-wrapped packages. So what about the masses with a PC at home? Realistically, that makes up a small percentage of Microsoft's revenue. Most of their killer apps were sold to businesses-- the very same businesses that IBM said wouldn't need them.

    Software products are sold to a generic mass market, and as such, they cannot possibly do what every user wants it to do. A single software package will never do what you want, and you will always need to support it, and you will always need to change it to do what you precisely want.

    Software products are proprietary by definition. They try to be black boxes. Buy it once and it solves the problem. The business model never takes into account support, for when the product fails, or further development, when the product almost does what you want, but isn't quite there. Your best bet is to hope that the next version, which will cost you to upgrade to, will do what you want, based on your feedback to the vendor.

    Amazingly, Microsoft has made billions on a flawed software model. They went out and convinced everyone, (through no monopolistic means of course. Judge Jackson was clearly uninformed), that their bits on a disc are valuable and worth every penny. Since the only value of Microsoft software is the bits printed on a CD, obviously IP rights are extremely important to their livelihood.

    The open source way, specifically GPL'd software, suggests a totally different business model. It means that someone can come in, choose from a wealth of open source software utilities, provide you with a custom solution, and you maintain all of the control you need. If anything, it means that a consultant you hire who builds you a point of sale system with open source components can't hide the source from you. You aren't stuck with the mercy of your original vendor. How could this be bad? Sure, maybe you can't resell your custom system, but realistcally, how many people can resell their closed source ones? If anything, you have a much higher chance of reselling a custom open source system.

    When I think of system development with Linux, I think 2% custom code, and 98% software integration. When I imagine it with Windows, I imagine the exact opposite. Take a bunch of black boxes and try to glue them together with lots and lots of code. Oh, also, don't forget the software licensing costs!

    There are always exceptions here, of course. Closed source works for a lot of business models. But really, people that care about retaining IP rights to their source code as a solutions provider are just looking to keep their clients at their mercy. Typically Microsoft.

    And for those of you saying "Software service? Big deal. That's a totally insignificant market", here's a way to prove it to yourself. Look in the want ads for programming positions. I'd wager that 95% of the jobs being offered to programmers are to work on custom systems, rather than working at a company that provides a shrink-wrapped product. There's a reason that COBOL programmers are still in demand, despite almost no new commercial software being written in COBOL in the past 10 years.

    Mundie says that Linux can never be used to make one company billions of monopoly dollars. You mean that we don't have to deal with another Microsoft if the world switches to open source? What's the fucking problem?

  • No. Instead of wasting their time recreating ircd, or WP5, or Doom they would actually move on to better and more interesting things.

    If your product has reached the point where volunteer collaborative programming can put you out of business, it's time for you to move on and perhaps "innovate".

    Really interesting software will always have buyers and be ahead of the gratis competition.

    Copyright is not meant to be forever anyways.

  • I can bet that Ford would be succesfull(as it certainly was, just take
    a look at any so-called freeway) even if there were no patents at all.
    Ford's process succesfuly was copied all over world, and it didn't mean anything but cars for averyone... he had a good cheap product, as opposite to MS.
    You have choices when buying cars, from Geos to Ferraris, all made with very similar processes.
    MS (future) business model is based on renting. Can you imagine if all cars around the world were rented instad of ownend?
    Can you imagine a world where al cars were unsafe at any speed because you could only buy Fords?
  • He has shifted from trying to persuade people not to use Linux, to a claim that writing GPL'd software isn't as profitable as writing closed source code. Well duh! But this isn't what we are talking about. We honestly don't care whether Microsoft is able to make money, we just want good software, and Open Source seems to provide this.


  • So my thought when seeing the mundie stuff is basically:

    Why are we wasting yet more time on this guy and his company? I mean, why bother debate MS when they aren't going to win in the end? Yes, I understand the marketing value of such a debate, but really, Linux and open source will benefit more from poeple coding and not responding to petulant children like mundie et al.

    Chris DiBona
    Grant Chair, Linux International

    Grant Chair, Linux Int.
    Co-Editor, Open Sources

  • Didn't you read the article? He makes a highly fallacious argument that free software is bad for the economy, because proprietary software is good for the economy. I made a top-level response to this nonsense elsewhere in this discussion.

    So, if free software is bad for the economy, not only is it bad for the users of that software, but for everyone else! So this implies that the writers, and primarily the users of free software can be blamed for contributing to economic problems. Not only are the users parasites and freeloaders, but they contribute negatively!

    Hey Mundie, why not just go right out and blame free software users for recent downturns in some sectors of IT?

    I suspect that redneck patriotism is at the heart of Mundie's cloudy reasoning, in addition to greed and all that. Free software is un-American because pesky outsiders can connect to American FTP sites and download free software, instead of buying proprietary software. And of course, any worthwhile software, free or otherwise, is American; none of those foreign idjits know what they are doing. So therefore those who give software away are traitors who are robbing the number one country in the world from some of its software taxation income!
  • The value of an Apache binary is its ability to execute. Yes, it certainly is no more difficult to make copies of that apache binary than to make copies of a string of all-zero bits. The actual bits of the binary do not have any value. The program source of course has a lot of value, undoubtedly. It's valuable that there is a single idea called Apache embodied in copies of source code.

    When you produce something tangible, the structure of that thing dictates the difficulty of producing more copies of it. For example, a Rolex watch is arguably more demanding to produce than a $5 dollar plastic digital watch, due to the materials, demand for precision, more use of custom parts, and so on. So we say that the Rolex has a greater value.

    I also disagree with your naive claim that clothing is easily replicated. If so, why isn't everyone you doing it? I would certainly replicate my clothing if it were possible. Why don't all clothing consumers put in the equipment investment and labor to ``replicate'' their own clothing?

    Perhaps you are confusing the ability to crank out a lot of clothing with replication. Mass production is achieved by having a lot of people sweat out each piece of clothing in parallel. If you trace the development of an individual clothing article through the production line, it will be obvious that what is going on is not replication, but construction. The method by which the clothing is assembled has to do with its structure: the procedure for making a shirt differs from the procedure for making a glove. Whereas replicating information is completely blind to the nature or complexity of its structure. The method for replicating information is a function of the source and target representation media, not of what is being copied.

    So you see writing this kind of program or that is vaguely similar to sewing this kind of clothing article or that: compiler or editor, glove or shirt. Designing the program is somewhat similar to designing the clothing. But replicating the program, once it is finished---that has no analogy in clothing production! The program is an idea, not a thing. Two copies of the program are really just aliases for the same program, you do not really have two programs! If I state a true sentence twice, do I have two truths?
  • Mart, I don't disagree that software can cause economic growth. However, I'm saying that *sales* of *copies of software* are not themselves economic growth.

    It's clear to me that the execution of software on a computer can contribute to economic growth whether or not that software is freely redistributable and maintainable by its users.

    Now Mundie makes the argument that it's the direct sales of software with a proprietary license which contributes to economic growth, and then he quotes some revenue numbers to back that up. I'm saying that those revenue numbers are simply evidence of a kind of transfer payment, effectively a tax, and not of economic growth.

    The people using that software could have made their own copies of it, and could be just as productive by having their computers execute those copies, and so whatever economic benefit there is exists regardless of the transfer payment.

    Of course, the common argument is that the software wouldn't exist in the first place if it weren't for the venture capitalists who undertook risks to fund its development, and need to keep the software proprietary to recover their costs.

    That's like arguing that housework won't get done if we can't keep slaves.
  • If you want to feed one million people, you have to produce one million meals. If you want to clothe one million people, you have to make one million outfits.

    If you want to get one million people to each run a web server, they obviosuly need up to a million computers to run them on and a network. But you only have to give them *ONE* web server program!

    Whereas the software-duplication industry claims that no, you have give these people one million programs (which happen to be identical), that each copy is in effectively a new program, a new product of the software industry. Moreover each new such product contributes to the economy. At least this is what apologists like Mundie claim when it suits their anti-free-software agenda. When it comes to the anti-piracy agenda, the spin is different. Then it is readily admitted that there is in fact only one program which is the sole property of the vendor, and the users are merely granted a license to execute one copy of that program at a time. So the users do not in fact own any product, only some limited permission.
  • by Kaz Kylheku ( 1484 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @12:14PM (#215650) Homepage
    Software doesn't actually have any value in and of itself. The companies which mass produce software and charge for it are not driving the economy in any way, they are simply taxing it!

    When you sell software within your own country, you are simply redistributing wealth, not generating any. Money flows from the software users into the pockets of the software tycoons (who probably spend and invest a great lot of it abroad). There is no net economic gain in the transaction. Whenever this software-copying industry (let's call it what it is) makes a new CD, they are effectively printing their own money.

    What drives the economy is real production of goods: think food, clothing, energy, transportation etc. Software can make the management of production more efficient in many direct and indirect ways, so it contributes to the value production indirectly. Individuals and organizations can be more efficient in certain ways if they have the right software. But it's the surplus created by the real industry which allows the technological priesthood to engage in pleasant intellectual diversions, such as the production of software, and then pretend they are doing some sort of all-important economic activity.

    The value provided by software is related to *executing* the software. There is no intrinsic value in the actual ones and zeros which are replicated trivially and at low cost. Executing the software does not cause those ones and zeros to be consumed (unless they are specially contrived ones and zeros, comprising some kind of bullshit license, which can be circumvented, unlike the law of conservation of energy). On the contrary, those ones and zeros can be replicated with a cost that is not only small, but is invariant with the complexity of the software. All that is consumed when software is copied or executed is energy. The fallacious argument that Mundie is making rests on the premise that the ones and zeros in fact have the same kind of intrinsic value as grains of wheat or barrels of oil. The truth is that they only have a value to the ``intellectual property holder'', and they only have that value because some artificial law which entitles only them to make copies for others. Take away that law, and people will continue to write software---that much is clear! Only, according to Mundie, that software will no longer have value, even if its execution continues to provide the same value as ever. What he means is that it will no longer have taxation value to him.
  • by Kaz Kylheku ( 1484 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @01:49PM (#215651) Homepage
    Didn't Edison simply steal the lightbulb idea from someone else? He also used gruesome public electrocutions of animals to scare people from adopting alternating current. This guy had the sowing of fear, uncertainty and doubt down to an art! No wonder Mundie invokes his name in awe. :)
  • long distance power transmission as dc sucks. that is the main advantage of ac.

    This sounds familliar. I encourage you to take a look at my comment [kuro5hin.org] to sig11 on K5. He said the exact same thing and it's dead wrong.

    Aw hell I'll just copy and paste the whole thing here. It's my comment, anyway. :-)

    Here [umr.edu] is a link to an HVDC chapter in a power electronics course at the University of Missouri. In short: HVDC economically cheaper than HVAC when it comes to long distance transmission and, as a direct quote from that introductory page claims: With an HVDC system, the power flow can be controlled rapidly and accurately as to both the power level and the direction. This possibility is often usedin order to improve the performance and efficiency of the connected AC networks.

    Now as I'd said in my first post and is backed up by the tutorial in the link above: DC transmission does not suffer reactive losses. Over large distances these losses can and do build up to become a large factor in your loss calculations. Also, unlike alternating current, DC will flow through the entire conductor instead of along the outer surface.

    Now while I have not investigated the actual depth that 60Hz AC penetrates aluminum wire I do know that it is small enough that the high tension lines are specially made to take advantage of this. High tension cable has a steel core and then an aluminum outer layer to minimize the transmission losses and maximize cable strength. I'm not sure what they use for DC links but I imagine they will use solid aluminum wire and space the towers closer together. I'm not sure on this.

    Furthermore, your claim that Tesla proved DC to be inferior at long distance transmission in the 19th century is only partially true. AC is more efficient for conversion and short-haul transmission: it's ability to be almost perfectly stepped up and down is wonderful and the AC motor is almost a 100% (98% efficient motors are sold every day) efficient electrical to rotating mechanical convertor. However as this [primushost.com] link shows, Tesla also did recognize that DC was more efficient for long distance power transmission.

    Lastly I refer you to this [siemens.de] document from Siemens. (the txt version from google which also includes my search terms for this whole post is here [google.com].) It talks about the advances being made to move towards medium voltage (1200V-13kV) DC transmission since the advantages of DC power transmission for high voltage systems are so well proven.

    Now that that's out of the way: you've emailled me on more than one occasion asking about information on electronics and electricity in general and where to learn more. I find it mildly amusing that you jump up claiming to have enough knowledge to scream at the top of your lungs that what you know is 100% true and proven and that what I had suggested was totally and wholly false. I didn't reply to bitchslap you but I do wonder why you did try to do it to me?

  • Microsoft has some good points.

    It is what makes Microsoft a formidable enemy. They are evil, but they have smart people working for the evil cause. Their double talk can pursade.

    Their business model is very successful. Unfortunately they did not mention all the dead corpses in the proprietary software business left on the road by Bill Gates' world conquest. Today, as the story of Software Wars [atai.org] show, the only vialbe alternative to Microsoft, is Free Software/Open Source. That's why the proprietary software business model is a bad model, for everyone, except for Microsoft.

    The only force that can counter Bill Gates today is the philosophy of Richard Stallman, and the GPL. It is the Free Software/Open Source social model, which is not a business model.


    "Most of you steal your software... What hobbyist can put years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free?"----An Open Letter to Hobbyists, Bill Gates, Micro-soft, 1976

    "GNU... is the name for the complete Unix-compatible software system which I am writing so that I can give it away free... Once GNU is written, everyone will be able to obtain good system software free, just like air."----The GNU Manifesto, Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation, 1985

    Microsoft Windows vs. GNU/Linux, Today

  • The folks at Caldera are just upset because they had the opportunity to be where RedHat is now (market leader), but instead they tried to tie their customers to their release with proprietary software. Now they have got a second (or third) tier Linux distribution, and the aging and decrepit bones of SCO's proprietary Unix, and they are starting to wish they had never gotten into the Linux business.

    They realize that as long as the Linux community stands by the GPL that RedHat has the most to gain (as market leader), but if they can trick us into using their proprietary add-ons (volution, NDS, etc.) then Caldera will be in control. Unfortunately for them it isn't going to work. Linux users aren't interested in basing their businesses on someone else's proprietary code, and are more inclined to hack a piece of free software to do what they need than to purchase a piece of proprietary software. Caldera's proprietary offerings have generally been pretty nice, but they haven't been so amazing as to be irreplaceable.

  • What I see as the appropriate major role of companies in open source development is in the development of products the company wants to use but is not interested in selling.

    For instance, a company that wants to have backups could sensibly contribute to a GPLed backup program, not pay for it, and improve it to handle their needs. They pay the community in improvements instead of paying a commercial company in money, thus causing increased value in a public space instead of in another private company.

    Of course, Microsoft is a very large private company based on having people pay them for products instead of contributing time or money to the creation of products which would then be freely available.
  • That's one of the more insightful pieces of commentary I've seen come out of Microsoft in a long time.

    Microsoft always tends to get it right in version 3! :)
  • Umm, your initial point is correct. Edison did invent the electric chair.

    Not sure how Bell relates to this, and your conclusions are somewhat wrong, but...

    There was no need to setup an electric company to supply power to the current. The electric chair Edison delivered had it's very own power generator.

    In fact it sat just behind the chair with a big logo on the front that said... WESTINGHOUSE.

    Edison created the electric chair to link AC current with death, and to link death with Westinghouse.

    It did backfire. The electric chair didn't work all that well.

  • "Whitney's gin brought the South prosperity, but the unwillingness of the planters to pay for its use and the ease with which the gin could be pirated put Whitney's company out of business by 1797. "


    Sounds like another good example for Mundie to use.
  • History is really quite interesting, you missed a piece of it which links Bell and Edison.

    Bell invented the telephone, and tried to market it. It was something of a flop because their equipment was of horrible quality, didn't work well, etc.

    Along came another company at the time called Western Union who wanted to expand from telegraph into telephone. I don't know if they approached Bell's AT&T initially, but they decided to instead roll their own telephone system.

    Western Union went to Thomas Edison to help them. Edison rolled out a telephone system which worked better than the Bell system. These were primarily improvements to the handset design, transmission mechanisms, etc.

    This controversy sparked off a series of lawsuits and a giant battle royale between the companies.

    In the end it was resolved by deciding to work together and sharing their technology. As a result Western Union got a piece of the telephone market, and AT&T got a better built telephone.

    This is why up until the AT&T breakup in the early 1980's all telephones you rented for them were manufactured by a company called Western Electric. This was the spinoff of Western Union which manufactured Edison's telephone designs.
  • Uhh, the GPL has nothing to do with standards, it only licenses code.

    Microsoft can just as easily reverse engineer a piece of GPL'ed code, as you can reverse engineer commercial software. Easier in fact, because the source is freely available.

  • You're right. Nobody is forcing anything.

    Microsoft isn't forcing you to not use the GPL either.

    However they are warning of the inherent dangers of it, and lobbying our government to insure they don't make the mistake of allowing government funding projects using it as a license.

  • That and producing higher quality software than their competitors.



  • Uhh, could you please quote from the Mundie article where he makes that claim?

    I have yet to see that, and am puzzled why so many people keep reading things into the article.

    The GPL has some incredible mindshare. Most people on /. just seem to accept it without any thinking whatsoever. Microsoft is simply pointing out why the alternatives are much better, not just for them, but for the industry as a whole.

  • Go ask Richard Stallman some time about his opinion of the LGPL.

    He regards it solely as a necessary evil to extend and embrace the software market. Eventually if he has his way, the license will go away and there will be only the GPL.
  • "And for all those people GPL software is a good thing, because it makes their software cheaper and more reliable. "

    There is no question the GPL makes software cheaper because it's given away for free.

    But can you please justify the "more reliable" statement?

    thank you

  • Whose freedom are you concerned with?

    That of the consumer, or that of the software developer?

    The GPL only concerns itself with the consumer. The BSD license concerns itself with both.
  • The problem with the business model of spending $1 Million on a product, giving it away for free and then depending on charging for support to make money...

    Is it encourages building crap products.

  • You appear confused.

    DEC VAX/VMS wasn't a completely open source operating system.

    It was a shared source OS, exactly the same concept as Microsoft is proposing.
  • My point was that what Microsoft is proposing to do is really no different than most other examples in history.

    As has been pointed out VAX/VMS, Mainframes, RTOS, most commercial Unices, etc. have all had 'shared source' meaning the vendor shared the source with the consumer.

    But this has never given them the right to redistribute the OS source. Although in many cases they were certainly allowed to make modifications and redistribute that binary.

    Honestly, I just don't see it as that big of a deal. Microsoft already releases the source code for their C++ runtime libraries in Visual Studio.

    Furthermore with .Net and C# and the CLR the source is readily available for everything by simply looking at the IL.

    That's the reason why Microsoft is moving this direction, because using a psuedo-code compiled JIT intermediate language like is in .Net you really can't hide the source.
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Friday May 18, 2001 @01:47AM (#215673)
    When you go to buy a Black & Decker drill, do you pay the $10 million that it cost to design the one drill? Or do you buy it for $50?

    Personally I prefer buying the drill for $50. The nice thing is, my neighbor and his buddy can also buy a drill for $50.

    Nobody I know can afford $10 million to buy a drill. Well except for the government, and guess where they get their money?

    It's amazing to me how incredibly naive software people are with regards to economics. I suppose it's becaus Econ 101 isn't a required course in ComSci. :(
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @02:40PM (#215674)
    Oh god no, I'm horrible at drawing ASCII graphics.

    But Mundie already addresses your point very early in his response.

    I quote:
    "As the U.S. Department of Commerce stated in a report titled "International Science and Technology": "Innovation relies on a partnership between the public and private sectors in which the government invests in long-range science and technology and in mechanisms to promote private-sector risk-taking and investment."

    The innovations you gave examples of are just that, government investments. The Internet was all part of DARPA, etc.

    What Mundie is addressing is the R&D and innovation which is required to take technology A and make it into a marketable product.

    I'm a fan of cars, as well as Venn diagrams. So let me use another example.

    Honda is a huge proponent of Variable Valve Timing in engines. They call it VTEC. Honda didn't invent this technology, actually I believe it dates back at least 30 some years.

    But what Honda has done is transcend it from an interesting idea that can be used to squeeze some power out of high priced racing cars, into a technology which can squeeze some power and fuel economy out of low priced consumer automobiles.

    That is, their innovation was making it cheap and efficient to sell.

    Honda most certainly has patents on the improvements they made that relate to VTEC which prevents others in the industry from doing the same thing.

    But that hasn't stopped other auto manufacturers from also having forms of variable valve timing. Toyota calls theirs VVT, Nissan VVL(variable valve lift), etc.

    But they aren't quite like Honda's solution, and that is what makes cars like the S2000 unique. By pulling 240 hp out of a normally aspirated 2.0 liter engine.

    So I guess instead of attacking a strawman argument, why don't you contemplate Microsoft's true position.

    Instead why don't you envision a world in which all government funded research projects are licensed with something akin to the GPL. Imagine this world and how it will impact our economy?

    Would it be a good thing?

  • Actually, the interesting thing is that Oracle is the only one of those who relies on their software. IBM switched to open-source because they found that their current software model wasn't sustainable. Sun has always been pretty open with software, and even more so recently. They make almost all of their money off hardware. HP is basically a hardware company. Oracle is basically a consulting company (I imagine sales of the database doesn't _nearly_ compare to sales of their consulting).

    So, it still seems to stand that Microsoft is the only pure-play closed-source company that's really big. Everyone else seems to be focusing either on (a) hardware or (b) total solutions.

    In fact, my contention is that there _shouldn't_ be any pure software companies at all. Everything should stem from consulting or total solutions.
  • Cygnus. ReadySetNet. CollabNet. Ada Core Technologies.

    The difference between free software and proprietary software, is that free software gets developed as part of a total system. The bits that are interesting for the community at large get shared. In such a model, consulting firms are the big players, as well they should be. There's no reason for a company to produce Free OSs as their bread-and-butter. The ones that knew that are doing well (RedHat, for example). RedHat produces its version of Linux as a base technology for other services (no, I'm not talking about tech support). They can say, "look at our RedHat 7.1 - don't you think you should hire us to do your missile guidance systems?"
  • And, there are a lot of successful free software companies, but most of them aren't as high-visibility as RedHat.
  • Which is true. The question is about ethics. It doesn't matter if doing the right thing is good or bad for business, you do it because it's the right thing. Very strange coming from an atheist, but oh well.
  • JFS. Postfix. Linux for the S/390. Kernel work. Linux for the AS/400. The POP board. And the stuff mentioned in the other post.
  • Ada Core Technologies. I's sure their making money because their not IPO and they've been around for quite some time. http://www.gnat.com/
    Cygnus solutions. That's why RedHat bought them. Both of these companies were doing free software long before it was "cool".
  • You're missing the point of free software. It's about freedom. As long as the people who bought the product have full freedom to use it how they wish, that's the whole point. And, free software is _not_ a resume builder. The part of their work that is useful to everyone is packaged up for the community (compiler, debugger, etc). That's stuff they _use_. They didn't just make it saying "now we'll get more business". That's stuff they use in their consulting.

    What about Cygnus? They get paid millions of dollars to port gcc to new hardware platforms. It's about _solutions_. Free software is only about software. Giving away software doesn't hurt if you are a solutions provider. The software is necessary, but not what people are after. So why not be moral and give it freedom?

    If you are a consulting company, you don't even need to publish your code to be a free software company. All you have to do is give the companies you consult for full access to the code under the GPL. You don't have to publish it to a web site or make it available to anyone else. But you are still being moral. To quote RMS - it's not about price, it's about freedom. There are many packages which are available at no cost, but the emphasis is on the freedom.
  • But that's the thing. Linux is all about grassroots. _Small_ companies are the ones benefitting most from Linux, as it should be. Small consulting firms. Individual contractors. IT staffs doing free software development to benefit their company. It's misguided to think that the software industry _needs_ a big company producing all of its software. All it needs are individual developers and small consulting firms each helping their clients, and publishing the generally useful stuff to the internet.

    RedHat has stated that they don't want to become a billion-dollar corporation like Microsoft, but instead they would rather make the OS a commodity, bringing MS down to a 100-million dollar company. There _won't_ be any Microsofts under Linux. That's the point.
  • Yay! Someone gets it! Yay!
  • Does anyone think that Nicholas Wirth, Edsger Dijkstra, Grace Hopper, Steve Wozniak, Don Knuth, John von Neumann, Alan Turing, Brian Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie, Kenneth Thompson, Linus, etc, etc, were doing it all for the money?

    Well, there is that really nice box at Shoreline Amphetheater labeled "Woz" :)
  • Students and other poor people are NOT allowed to participate in their philosophy.

    Oh yes they are -- in the belief that they will eventually get rich(er) and be able to afford software, M$ has a major campaign of donating computers (exclusively running Windows) to libraries (where poor people get 'net access), and has been more agressively targetting "exclusivity" licenses with schools than Pepsi. If a school agrees to the terms and ONLY runs M$ for its education programs (including CS departments) and only sells M$ products in its bookstores (this means no MACs as well as no Linux), then M$ gives a rather large grant to the school. These actions were praised by the press as "Bill Gates finally starts donating some of that cash of his" -- but the reality is that its to hook people on M$ software as soon as possible.

    Get 'em hooked on M$ early and they'll stay with M$ when they can afford to buy it themselves...
    You know, you gotta get up real early if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)

  • I found this paragraph intriguing:

    In other words, a critical flow of information and experimental data follows every major scientific discovery and results in the verification, refutation or refinement of the new idea or theory. To facilitate this process, neither copyright nor patent protections are available for abstract ideas or theories. This is as it should be.

    I couldn't agree more. But does this mean that Microsoft is opposed to software patents?
  • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:15AM (#215701)
    I think the quality of the commentary is declining because all of the best commentators have moved along to other forums. It's been so long since I've seen a good Natalie Portman naked and petrified post. Equally infrequent today is the wonderful hot grits post. I haven't seen a penis bird or an ASCII-art rectum guy in ages. All your base are increasingly less likely to belong to us.

    Where has all the great intellectual rhetoric of the past gone?

  • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:07AM (#215702)
    THe main problem with Mundie's argument is that there numerous counterexamples. Mundie:
    Without intellectual property protection, neither innovation nor a healthy commercial software industry is sustainable. The last 50 years of public- and private-sector collaboration has demonstrated that when intellectual property rights are protected, innovators are rewarded for their efforts.

    But actually, that isn't what the last 50 years have shown us. In exact opposition, the last 50 years have shown us that open systems are the one s that exhibit massive, uncontrolled growth and contribute the most surprising things to society. The "PC era" that Mundie invokes in this article was possible not because of IBM's lightning wit, but because Compaq and the rest pried IBMs intellectual property away to make PC clones. The Internet was the result of public sector research. HTTP, SMTP, DNS, POP, IMAP, SSL, ICP, HTML/SGML/XML, and every other enabling technology of the Internet was given away freely by its creator. The web was created, and given away. BIND, Sendmail, NCSA httpd, Apache, and free operating systems are examples of key technologies that enjoy wide, free distribution unconstrained by their licenses.

    There is only one example of an underlying enabling technology that fell under strong intellectual property protection. RSA encryption was patented and required licensing until last year. This "protection" literally crippled encryption innovation for some time. People were forced to either invent their own encryption schemes that weren't covered by RSA's patents, license RSA's patents for large sums of money, or ignore their patents. If you have set up an Apache HTTPS server before this year, you know what a pain in the ass it was to do so legally in the United States. The intellectual property protection afforded to RSA was a huge blow that slowed the growth of encryption for years.

    There are so many more examples of technology that was freely distributed to the benefit of society. The C and C++ languages upon which Windows is built are an example. Think of where Microsoft would be if they had to pay a recurring licensing fee for every C++ object they compiled. Consider also how damn hard it would be to debug a C++ program if the format of the object file were protected under intellectual property laws. Think of what Windows would be if the inventors of TCP/IP had refused to license the protocols to Microsoft. Windows would of course be worthless with TCP/IP networking. What would Windows 2000 be if LDAP and Kerberos had not been available to the developers? Microsoft is standing on the shoulders of a giant so big, that they don't even realize it.

    Mundie is flat wrong in his argument: almost all of the software technology that we take for granted today was the direct result of research and development performed in the open and given away.

  • by Bilbo ( 7015 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:28AM (#215707) Homepage
    > In their defense, though, Mundie is saying that it's a choice, and it's a choice Microsoft has made.

    This is true, and I think it's am important point. Microsoft (and any other software company for that matter) has the write to craft their licenses in any way they see fit, as long as the consumer has a choice to accept or reject that model Of course, monopolies run into other problems, since people are no longer free to make decisions in their own best interest... but that's another topic.

    What bugs the heck out of me though is the continual insunation that Mundie and others are making now that the GPL is threatening to take away their IP out from under them! That's why they keep repeating this "choice" thing. The lie is: "If everyone starts using GPL software, then we will be forced to give up our own investments in IP." It makes no sense, as anyone who has ever bothered to read the GPL knows, but it falls into the old saying:

    Repeat a lie often and loudly enough, and sooner or later, it will begin to be accepted as an established fact

  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:54AM (#215709) Homepage
    I think this boils down to Mundie stating that you can't get rich selling GPL'ed Software. That might be true but the flip side is that you can save a lot of money using it. Isn't that what RH's Bob Young has been saying all along. He has staed that Redhat will reduce the OS market by 80% in dollar terms.
  • Nope, you are correct. The biggest "benefit" of DC would be generating plants in every location, requiring obviously more expense, but providing more cost and jobs, etc. That would have cost more money, but made the developers of the technology more money. Who really wants the best solution, rather than the solution which will make the most money? (More on topic than when I started this post. :)
  • Everyone who reads slashdot should read these three lines over and over until they get it:

    Bill Gates wants to make money

    Richard Stallman, Linus, Miguel, and others want to make software.

    Both groups are a success in that respect.

    Remember MS is in the business of making money by selling software, just like Ford and GM are in the business of making money by manufacturing cars.
  • by Luke ( 7869 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:48AM (#215713) Homepage

    Legendary inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford (who held thousands of patents between them) succeeded precisely because they were able to use funding, management and market insight to deliver their innovations as unique, practical and useful products.

    Actually wasn't Bell successful because he got to the patent office first, and beat some other guy to the punch?

  • Microsoft has crafted the term 'shared source' very carefully, using the connotations of sharing to good effect. In fact, there is precious little sharing going on - only selected large customers get the source, and they are not allowed to redistribute it.

    Let's call this model 'source available' - in other words, it is proprietary software that has source available, just like most RTOSs, VAX/VMS, many early mainframe OSs, and so on.
  • How this guy Mundie's proclamations are a new threat to people creating software under the GPL license. Take for example this statement:

    > What is at issue with the GPL? In a nutshell, it debases the currency of the ideas and labor that
    > transform great ideas into great products.

    Yeah, it's an eloquent statement, precisely states Microsoft's take on GPL, yet it fails to explain just how the GPL ``debases" creativity. Is this because the programmer does not get paid for his work? Mundie never says this; we have to read between the lines, & look back to Bill Gates' own adolescent 70's rant about software ``piracy". Otherwise, we are free to assume this is due to any cause -- for example, Mundie holds this true because programmers who release code under GPL are under the mind control of SMERSH, unlike Microsoft programmers, all of whom dutifully wear tinfoil hats.

    Mundie is a third-string player in this continuing struggle between Microsoft & GPL'd software. The first string was Gates & Ballmer, neither of whom made much of a serious impression. Next were a series of VPs, of whom the only one who sticks in my mind was Allchin, & that was mostly for his brain dead McCarthy-like statement about GPL'd software. All of them had their shot, found themselves in a no-win situation, & delegated the problem to someone lower in the MS food chain.

    Now comes Mundie, a guy with a couple of failed computer companies under his belt, & the protegee of former Microsoft VP Nathan Myhrvold -- who was responsible for Microsoft almost missing the importance of the Internet & left Microsoft shortly afterwards. Mundie repeats the same arguments Microsoft has already stated, perhaps hoping that if you repeat something enough times, people will start to beleive it.

    So when Mundie realises that his 15 minutes are up & he failed to sway opinion, who will he delegate this problem to? A junior programmer? Any direct employees left in the cafeteria or on the janitorial staff? Someone from HR?


  • We're not talking about running Windows, we're talking about seeing the source code. As far as I know, somebody who is unemployed and perhaps hasn't taken a bath in 2 weeks can probably figure out a way to get ahold of the Linux source code. That same person would have a very tough time seeing the source code to Windows.

  • by PD ( 9577 ) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:17AM (#215730) Homepage Journal
    Summarized and dissected:

    1) Helping customers and partners to be successful through source access programs.

    Their philosophy is exclusive, and therefore limited in how effective it can be. Students and other poor people are NOT allowed to participate in their philosophy.

    2)Building the development community and offering the tools to produce great software.

    A community is a spiderweb network arrangement of people, with free associations. Shared Source is a star topology network, with Microsoft strictly arbitrating all associations between clients. They don't fit my definition of "community" very well.

    3) Improving feedback processes in order to create better products for Microsoft's customers and partners.

    This is an unequal flow of information, which makes me wonder how Microsoft thinks of their partners. Imagine what would happen if our relationships with wives and girlfriends (ideally a partnership) worked like this. The Man (Microsoft) would do what he wanted. The woman would give everything she earned to the Man. The Man would provide everything that the Woman needed. Occaisionally, he would sit down and listen to the various ways he could improve the quality of what he provided to her, to make her happy. If he decided not to implement suggestions, that would be touch luck for the Woman. How long would it take for the Woman to tell the Man to screw himself and his "partnership"?

    4) Maintaining the integrity of our customers' environments.

    Integrity simply means that words and actions are aligned. Microsoft doesn't seem to understand what partnership and community actually mean, so how can we expect them to have integrity? Integrity is easy if you are the author of the dictionary.

    5)Increasing educational access to get technology into the hands of universities worldwide, and to seed the future of a strong technology industry.

    This is called indoctrination. It's not a philosophy, it's a strategy.

    6)Protecting software intellectual property rights based on the firm belief that software offers value as the basis of a successful business.

    Software is the basis of Microsoft's business, but other businesses base themselves on things like financial services, building houses, making industrial machinery, etc. Reminds me of a guy at American Express that I used to work with. He actually told me "if Amex were to adopt open source, how could we make money if we gave all our software away?" I had to remind him that Amex made money off charge cards (not software), and they weren't required to distribute source if they didn't distribute the binary.

  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:58AM (#215733) Homepage
    I see two places where Mundie's attacks are directed.

    1. Suits in traditional industries who make IT buying decisions. Mundie's basic goal is to scare these people into thinking that a company that uses GPL software automatically surrenders their intellectual property rights. This is, of course, total nonsense, but there are a lot of people out there who are paranoid and/or clueless enough to believe it.
    2. Investors. Oh, not VC investors, at least not at first. VCs tend to be clueful. But Joe and Jane Average don't know the details of the GPL or the businesses that make their living off of GPL software, and they're going to look at Craig Mundie's comments and keep their investment dollars away from Linux based companies. VCs will then follow suit, if only because they know that the public won't go for stocks in Linux-based companies.

    I believe this is quite literally the best response that Microsoft has to the threat of the GPL: if you can't beat it on technical merits, strangle the money supply instead.

    Microsoft knows what would happen if Red Hat and VA Linux Systems went under: whole segments of the open source community, including Slashdot and Sourceforge, would suddenly find themselves quite strapped for cash. Linux and OSS development would be permanently crippled, at least relative to today's heady pace. Eventually, Microsoft would once again beat Linux on technical merits.

    The best solution to this problem is for companies like Red Hat and VA Linux to turn a profit, and soon. This is realistic for Red Hat; I'm really really hoping that it will also be realistic for VA soon.

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

  • The purpose of copyright is not to benefit authors. The purpose of copyright is to benefit the general public by encouraging authors to publish works, which, at the time the Constitution was written, meant open publication. The idea of a "closed source copyrighted work" is something that would have appalled the founding fathers. The entire purpose of creating a copyright clause was to eliminate proprietary licensing of writings, specifically the restrictive licensing of navigational maps.

    Map makers didn't want to sell maps, because they could be easily copied. Therefore, mapmakers resorted to individually licensing maps to ship captains, as trade secrets, and the result was that no one could study, compare, and correct maps, and inaccurate maps proliferated, often resulting in loss of life.

    This situation is very similar to the situation with commercial closed-source software, where the "state of the art" swirls around in a fog of secrecy. Only the authors of closed-source software are in a position to study, compare, and correct source code, and their publishers all spend inordinate amounts of effort in mutually preventing themselves, and the rest of the world, from doing so.

    Certainly, rewarding authors is not incompatable with benefiting the public, but it is important to remember that copyright has a purpose, and a permissible means.

    The purpose of copyright is stated in the constitution:

    The Congress shall have power ... To promote the progress of science and useful arts,"

    The means of promoting progress is:

    "by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

    Note that the constitution does NOT say:

    The Congress shall have power ... to secure for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

    because the promotion of progress, not the rewarding of authors, is the sole legitimate purpose of copyright.

    Think of the GPL as an effort to repair our failed copyright system.
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:39AM (#215748) Journal

    The funny part is that Ransom Love doesn't really support Mundie's position! The quote was:

    Ransom Love, CEO of Caldera Systems...said he thinks Microsoft was right in its claim that the GPL doesn't make much business sense.

    This is taken entirely out of context. The GPL doesn't make much business sense to Caldera, since they can't figure out how to make money selling it. For the 99% of companies whose business doesn't involve trying to find a profitable way to distribute GPL'd code, GPL'd code makes perfect sense when used as part of their IT environment, development systems, Internet services, etc.

    Mundie's trying to trick his customers into mistaking Microsoft's interests for their own. It's in the interest of IT purchasers worldwide that it be just barely profitable to distribute GPL'd software - that means that customers aren't getting reamed by monopoly profits and channel control. It's just not in the interest of the software industry (i.e. Microsoft).

    He's mistaking a means for an end - heightened economic productivity and all the great things that the Internet has brought are a result of using software to make life better, not a result of some company in Redmond charging for it.

    Sure, innovation is necessary in the software world, but open source innovation comes from the customers who use it, not from the business that's pushing it. When you look at it from the customer perspective, how many of Microsoft's innovations are just tricks to extend their business model, rather than really responding to customer needs? By definition, open source innovation is for the users, by the users - you get exactly as much innovation as you need, and you get what you pay for. There's no profit skimmed off by Microsoft, and no paying for features you don't want. This leaves the customer with more money to spend on the core parts of their business, which in the end is better for the economy, not worse.

    OK, maybe it's worse for Microsoft. It sounds to me like Mr. Mundie's found himself in a commodity market all of the sudden, and it seems he doesn't like it too much :)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • by IQ ( 14453 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:54AM (#215750)
    No real surprises, but its getting submitted a lot so I figured I'd post it for you. Lots of good points, but I'm sure you can guess the gist of it

    This is not the first time the editors of slashdot have admitted to posting stories with no redeeming value beyond the fact that they've been submitted repeatedly and they can no longer be bothered to send off rejections.

    In short, it has been announced to astroturfers everywhere that, in order to get your stories published, no matter how inane (as this one certainly is), all you have to do is make a concerted series of submissions to the story queue, until CmdrTaco or someone else gets sufficiently tired of it and do exactly what said astroturfers desire: publish their story and lend an air of legitemacy to their view.

    And we wonder why the quality of slashdot's content, in both story and commentary, is so rapidly declining..
  • by krarick ( 15374 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @05:43PM (#215755)
    On May 17, 2001 7:34 AM PST, Craig Mundie wrote:
    > COMMENTARY--On May 3 I spoke at the New York University Stern School of
    > Business about Microsoft's position regarding source-code licensing. I wanted
    > to articulate some of the benefits and drawbacks of the various ways
    > commercial software companies could share their source code. I described
    > Microsoft's shared-source philosophy, a balanced approach that enables
    > commercial companies to share source code with their customers and partners
    > while preserving the intellectual property rights that support a strong
    > software business. I also articulated some ways in which shared source
    > differs from open source.

    Read: ... Microsoft's shared-source philosophy, a carefully crafted approach
    that enables commercial companies to recieve free software development labor
    from their customers and partners while preventing those customers and partners
    from gaining any reciprocal benefit.

    You can now give Microsoft bugfixes for their products, and in return for that
    hard work, Microsoft will give you... absolutely nothing!

    > The reactions to my statements have been many and varied. I wanted an active
    > debate about intellectual property and the software industry, and I certainly
    > got one.

    (My opinion: This is a rather arrogant statement. As if Mundie was the first
    person to think of this subject, and subsequently started a debate. More like
    he wanted to save face for Microsoft after the Shared Source announcement, so
    he decided to join in the (already long-running) debate.)

    > But this is more than just an academic debate. The commercial software
    > industry is a significant driver of our global economy. It employs 1.35
    > million people and produces $175 billion in worldwide revenues annually
    > (sources: BSA, IDC).

    Indeed. The Free Software industry is an even more significant driver of our
    global economy. I have no statistics to quote, but that is because the scale of
    this benefit is so exceedingly astronomical as to be entirely inestimable. To
    begin to imagine what I am talking about, think of where the world economy
    would be today without the World Wide Web.

    Or email.

    Or the entire Internet.

    But this is more than just an economic debate. The point that Mundie ignores
    completely in his commentary is that the Free Software development model is
    simply more techinically efficient than closed development. It produces better
    software, faster.

    The benefit to consumers is ultimately the most important factor, and that is
    where the closed development model cannot hope to compete.

    > The business model for commercial software has a proven track record and is a
    > key engine of economic growth for many countries. It has boosted productivity
    > and efficiency in almost every sector of the economy, as businesses and
    > individuals have enjoyed the wealth of tools, information and other
    > activities made possible in the PC era.

    A proven track record? The commercial software industry is only 20 years old,
    and is already beginning to fail. Compare its age and sustainability to other,
    truly proven industries, such as Agriculture, Oil, Medicine. In this young
    upstart field of software, who knows whether a business will really be around
    for the long haul?

    But don't worry! With the GPL, you as the consumer (a point of view
    consistently ignored by Mundie) don't have to worry about whether your
    commercial supplier goes out of business.

    So much for the importance of a proven business model.

    The development model for Free Software has a proven track record -- it is more
    well established than that of closed source software. Also it is a key engine
    of technological growth for many countries -- many more than is commercial
    software. It has boosted productivity and efficiency in almost every sector of
    the economy, as businesses and individuals have enjoyed the wealth of tools,
    information and other activities made possible in the Internet era. (Gee, that
    last sentence didn't even change much, but somehow fits Free Software better
    than closed source. Go figure.)

    > Companies have the choice of protecting or relinquishing the intellectual
    > property resulting from their research and development consistent with their
    > particular customer and business needs. As the U.S. Department of Commerce
    > stated in a report titled "International Science and Technology": "Innovation
    > relies on a partnership between the public and private sectors in which the
    > government invests in long-range science and technology and in mechanisms to
    > promote private-sector risk-taking and investment."

    Of course, this partnership is only necessary for fields of endeavor where
    significant monetary or hardware resources are a prerequisite for development.
    As this is not true for software -- the only resource required is a brain and a
    computer -- the Commerce Department quote is irrelevant.

    > We believe that one of these mechanisms is intellectual property rights.

    The umbrella term "intellectual property rights" does not refer to a single
    mechanism. It is impossible to have intelligent discourse when such vague and
    meaningless terminology is used. Nevertheless...

    > Without intellectual property protection, neither innovation nor a healthy
    > commercial software industry is sustainable.

    Half of this assertion is questionable, while the other half is simply false.
    It remains to be seen whether profitability can be sustained making Free
    Software, but it is obvious that innovation certainly can be! And at a much
    greater rate than is seen from closed source development. After all, who
    invented the Internet? Certainly not Microsoft. Or any other commercial entity,
    for that matter.

    > The last 50 years of public- and private-sector collaboration has
    > demonstrated that when intellectual property rights are protected, innovators
    > are rewarded for their efforts. Furthermore, technology is advanced
    > guaranteeing economic growth and a cycle of future collaboration, investment
    > and innovation.

    Actually, the last 50 years has seen continued innovation *despite* so-called
    "intellectual property rights", rather than because of them.

    A company's desire to protect its copyrights and patents prevents it from
    freely sharing development work with other individuals and copmanies. Its
    desire to retain revenue causes it to develop software that is not
    interoperable with the rest of the world (creating vendor lock-in and ensuring
    future revenue).

    The mere presence of such software slows the general progress of technology by
    distracting customers from the superior software which has been freely
    developed. Free Software is more interoperable because the developers have no
    incentive to create lock-in, and more robust and efficient as a result of
    shared development and peer review.

    > In my speech, I did not question the right of the open-source software model
    > to compete in the marketplace. The issue at hand is choice; companies and
    > individuals should be able to choose either model, and we support this right.

    Likewise, no one has questioned Microsoft's legal right (under generally
    accepted interpretation of current copyright and patent legislation in the US)
    to compete in the marketplace with a closed source model. We simply question
    whether this is a wise thing for Microsoft to do in the long term.

    The issue at hand is not choice. No one has said that individuals and companies
    should not be able to choose. The real issue is that we believe a real problem
    exists with the new licensing model that Microsoft employs: Shared Source.
    Essentially, it provides obvious benefit to Microsoft, while providing no real
    benefit to any other individual or company. Microsoft now offers "Shared
    Source". My question is: Why should we care?

    > I did call out what I believe is a real problem in the licensing model that
    > many open-source software products employ: the General Public License.
    > The GPL turns our existing concepts of intellectual property rights on their
    > heads. Some of the tension I see between the GPL and strong business models
    > is by design, and some of it is caused simply because there remains a high
    > level of legal uncertainty around the GPL--uncertainty that translates into
    > business risk.

    There is also a high level of legal uncertainty around Microsoft's shrink-wrap
    and click-wrap licenses. This is less true now that the DMCA has passed, but
    still the enforcability of many clauses in those licenses has yet to be tested
    in court. But Microsoft seems to consider that an acceptable risk.

    > In my opinion, the GPL is intended to build a strong software community at
    > the expense of a strong commercial software business model. That's why Linus
    > Torvalds said last week that "Linux is never really going to be a rich sell."

    Corollary: commercial licenses are intended to build a strong commercial
    software business model at the expense of a strong software community.

    A strong software community is necessary for significant innovation. It is
    necessary to build truly great software.

    The GPL is intended to build a strong software community. Period. If this must
    happen at the expense of a strong business model, then so be it, but that is
    not part of the design. While the development model for Free Software is well
    established, the business model is very new, and nobody's really sure how to
    make it work yet. If it does work, then great. If not, then there are plenty of
    other ways to make a successful business.

    > This isn't to say that some companies won't find a business plan that can
    > make money releasing products under the GPL. We have yet to see such
    > companies emerge, but perhaps some will.

    What a kind concession on the part of Mr. Mundie.

    > Recent history tells us, however, that finding a business model that works is
    > difficult. According to ZDNet News, "Ransom Love, CEO of Caldera
    > Systems...said he thinks Microsoft was right in its claim that the GPL
    > doesn't make much business sense."

    That may or may not be true. Time will tell.

    > What is at issue with the GPL? In a nutshell, it debases the currency of the
    > ideas and labor that transform great ideas into great products.

    "...the currency of the ideas and labor..." I must admit that after several
    rereadings, I still have no idea what that is supposed to mean. It certainly
    sounds very grave, but really is quite ambiguous. Does this noun phrase refer
    to actual monetary currency related to ideas and labor? Perhaps it treats ideas
    and labor metaphorically as currency which is then mixed with another metaphor
    of transformation? Who knows?

    What is certain, is that the GPL requires freer exchange of those exceptionally
    important and wonderful transformative ideas and labor. That is the core of the
    GPL, and it accomplishes this goal better than any other license.

    > Alfred North Whitehead, the renowned British philosopher, logician and
    > mathematician, observed: "It is a great mistake to think that the bare
    > scientific idea is the required invention, so that it has only to be picked
    > up and used. An intense period of imaginative design lies between. One
    > element in the new method is just the discovery of how to set about bridging
    > the gap between the scientific ideas and the ultimate product. It is a
    > process of disciplined attack upon one difficulty after another."
    > In other words, a critical flow of information and experimental data follows
    > every major scientific discovery and results in the verification, refutation
    > or refinement of the new idea or theory. To facilitate this process, neither
    > copyright nor patent protections are available for abstract ideas or
    > theories. This is as it should be.

    This is perfectly agreeable as far as it goes. However it is important to be
    perfectly clear when determining exactly what constitutes an abstract idea or
    theory. Algorithms fall squarely into this domain. Software patents are granted
    for specific implementations of algorithms, but have been interpreted to cover
    any implementation of the same algorithm. So while patents themselves are not
    available, patent *protections* effectively are! This is a serious problem.

    > Legendary inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Henry
    > Ford (who held thousands of patents between them) succeeded precisely because
    > they were able to use funding, management and market insight to deliver their
    > innovations as unique, practical and useful products. Arguably, the
    > creativity and inventiveness needed to deliver their products was comparable
    > to that needed for the underlying theory or discovery that made their
    > business possible in the first place.

    Of course, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford actually
    invented things. Computer Science (along with the important parts of the
    software industry) is really just a subdomain of mathematics. The important
    discoveries (they are not inventions) in software cannot be owned by anyone. It
    is one of the greatest swindles of this century that Microsoft has somehow
    managed to fool all of its customers into paying money for a piece of math.

    > When comparing the commercial software model to the open-source software
    > model, look carefully at the business plans and licensing structures that
    > form their foundations. This comparison leads to the conclusion that the
    > commercial software model alone has the capacity for sustaining real economic
    > growth.

    More importantly, a careful comparison leads to the conclusion that the Free
    Software model alone has the capacity for sustaining real technological growth.

    A closed source model actively inhibits innovation and general progress by
    preventing the free exchange of ideas and development work among the worlds

    > Intellectual capital has always been, and will remain, the core asset of the
    > software industry, and of almost every other industry. Preserving that
    > capital--and investing in its constant renewal--benefits everyone.

    Of course. And the best way to preserve and invest in that capital is to ensure
    that it recieves the widest possible dissemination.

    > Craig Mundie is a senior vice president at Microsoft Corporation.

    Keith Rarick writes code.

  • Ok... I've seen the phrase "astroturfer" used a few times in the last couple of days... Could somebody explain what it means?

    You've heard of the phrase "Grassroots movement"? If not, look it up. Astroturfer is an individual who is faking a grassroots movement. Microsoft did it during the DOJ trial: a series of "editorials" and web sites popped up all over the place defending MS's stance during the trial, and a "grassroots" group formed to defend their stance.

    When all those web sites turned out to be supported and written by Microsoft, and the editorials were written by Microsoft PR people, the term "Astroturf movement" was coined.

    Not sure if that was the first usage, but it's a good example.


  • > And also cost software companies $175 billion annually so the total gain for businesses is 0, some gain some lose, it would also put 1.35 million people out of work and with $175 billion less being spent anually you have economic slowdown. Money saved is no good to the economy, but money spending is what makes for a vibrant and thriving economy.

    The unavoidable conclusion is that we should allow people to stand at streetcorners and charge you a fee before they let you pass. By failing to do so, we have put millions of people out of work and kept trillions of dollars out of the economy. Surely we owe it to ourselves to implement such a system immediately?

  • > Software development is a valuable skill, and it's so ironic seeing reams of misled software developers leading the rampage for devaluing what we do.

    It's the simple march of progress. Fifty years ago there were probably only a handful of programmers in the whole world, and only a handful of machines to run their programs on. Now there are millions, maybe tens of millions of programmers, and a similar proliferation of machines to run their programs on. "Demand, meet Supply; Supply, meet Demand."

    Where do you think that trend will put is in another 20 years?

    Yes, there was a window in history where you could become a zillionaire by starting a software company. That window is rapidly being closed by the same technicological trends that made it possible to begin with. This is hardly the first business or trade that was once lucrative and now isn't (or at least is quickly headed that way).

    What Mundie and most others don't understand is that open source is going to win no matter what anyone says or does, because its ultimate basis is neither a fad nor a social movement, but the simple march of progress. Microsoft might be able to buy enough legislators to postpone the inevitable, but inevitable it is. Where are the monopolies from the Age of Merchantilism, and what good are their Patents Royal doing them now?

    Unless someone is powerful to completely shut down technological progress all over the world, they might as well think of progress as a law of nature and start getting used to the idea of its side effects. What Microsoft needs, whether they realize it or not, is a business plan that doesn't rely on a vault full of source code as its crown jewels.

  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday May 17, 2001 @11:27AM (#215772) Journal
    Not only did he use the electricity to kill an elephant (which was very sick and had to be put to sleep anyways). But he invented the electric chair, which used AC power to scare people away from it. Hmm Bell invents electric chair -> prisons need electricity for chair, prisons use alot of electricity -> electric company sets up for AC to supply prison and uses AC for everyone else. HMMM looks like the plan backfired. (ok so maby thats not the real reason we use AC but its kinda funny to think about)
  • I like how Mundie casts it solely as a money issue, and how he cites a few notable, successful, capitalist inventors (Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford) to make it seem like all innovation is about wealth.

    He left out a lot of inventors who weren't in it for the money, or who got cheated by big capital: Tesla died penniless, as did Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun, Jan Matzeliger, Mandee Daguerre, Walter Shaw, Samuel Morse, William Friese-Greene, Lee de Forest, Johann Gutenberg, Henry Trengrouse, and on and on....

    Then there are all the inventors/researchers who did what they did not for money, but for the love of it. Let's look at computer scientists. Does anyone think that Nicholas Wirth, Edsger Dijkstra, Grace Hopper, Steve Wozniak, Don Knuth, John von Neumann, Alan Turing, Brian Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie, Kenneth Thompson, Linus, etc, etc, were doing it all for the money?

    There's doing it for money, which is the world Mundie understands, and then there's doing it for love, which he finds very threatening.
    bukra fil mish mish
    Monitor the Web, or Track your site!
  • I know it's a troll, but I just have to correct this misconception...

    You can't generalize from a sample size of one. You can't claim that anything is the way it is now because of MS because we don't have a comparable yet seperated industry to compare it to.

    Moore's law has held constant since he conceived of it, that means computers have gotten more complex over time. At some point they became powerful enough to be easy to use, enabling millions of users to get on the net, etc.

    Your hypothesis is that MS made computers easy to use. The more reasonable hypothesis is that companies like MS and Apple made computers as easy to use as was possible with the hardware of the day. Companies like Intel made computers more powerful, enabling MS and Apple (etc) to build powerful GUI OSes.

    Computers are right where they would be without MS. Apple made the first consumer GUI, AOL sent out free trial disks for all popular OSes... The only difference without MS would be that BeOS and Amiga might still be fringe players and Apple would be larger.
  • by Brento ( 26177 ) <{brento} {at} {brentozar.com}> on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:50AM (#215780) Homepage
    Companies have the choice of protecting or relinquishing the intellectual property resulting from their research and development consistent with their particular customer and business needs.

    We know what choice Microsoft has made. As much as we want to flame Microsoft for making buggy, expensive software, it's their business model, and it's obvious that Mundie is advocating something more than shared-source here. He's rubbing it in the face of the Linux industry when he says it: companies have the choice whether to hang on to their source or not, and the success of the company is often indicative of the choices they make.

    Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, you just can't point to any other company and say they've had the same results. It's easy for Mundie to say that shared-source (rather than open source) has played some role in that growth, because there's no way any of us can refute it. But at the same time, he could just as well have been saying that the success of Microsoft is due to Gates having a bad haircut, and that every CEO/founder/President should have a bad haircut.

    In their defense, though, Mundie is saying that it's a choice, and it's a choice Microsoft has made. It's not like they aren't aware of the choice: they're making it to satisfy their business needs, like stockholders, and I sincerely doubt the stockholders would jump for joy if Microsoft gave up the source code tomorrow.
  • by Vryl ( 31994 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @11:06AM (#215788) Journal
    The real battels to validate the legitimacy of "Intellectual Propery".

    Do not be confused by the feints against Linux, the GPL and Open Source, the real agenda is the extension of Perpetual Copyright and Worldwide Patents, the restrictions on reverse engineering and other forms of innovating and creative thought.

    This is the article to read: http://www.consultingtimes.com/ms_infowar.html [consultingtimes.com]

  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:12AM (#215799)
    You're right. It's inexcusable for the Slashdot editors to pay attention to what the readers find interesting!

    They should decide what we will read, and when we will read it! AND WE SHOULD LIKE IT!

    I mean, letting readers decide what's covered by the media is as silly as... as silly as letting users decide what features the OS and applications should have! That way lies anarchy! Madness! Declining Microsoft stock prices!
  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:13AM (#215812)
    His argument is that hoarding ("protecting") IP is the only way to economic success. And he may be correct. There's no doubt that keeping your code proprietary and out of the eyes of others will make you more money when your product is the code itself. But who cares? Who is arguing against this? This is not an argument. This is a truism.

    The discussion is at a more fundamental level - should people be allowed to monopolize ideas indefinately? He casually skirts this larger undercurrent by preemptively Fearing us with some blather about IP resulting in economic growth, IP making us rich and happy. *You* don't want to be the one to ruin the economy, *do you* hippy free code slacker? What's good for Microsoft is good for America.

    Seeing as he was talking to a business school, it does make sense that he was saying that Open Source is not the way to make money (so, and helping old ladies accross the street all day isn't either). His arguments seem to stem from the assumption that making money is the ultimate test of human endeavor. Whereas the Free Software community has different values.

    yes this is rantish, i don't care
  • by iceT ( 68610 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:04AM (#215827)
    At least now he can distinguish between Open Source and the GPL, although I believe the title of the article is mis-leading.

    There is nothing in an open source model that can keep someone from competeting against it. If you can build a significantly better mousetrap, then people will buy it anyway. DEC VAX/VMS was a completely open source operating system that was a SIGNIFICANT player in the late 80's and early 90's. Their OS source code was available for a nominal fee (to pay for the Microfiche it came on).

    What Mr. Mundie and Microsoft in general still seems to be wresting with is competing against the GPL. The GPL is a software house that produces code that's free, is of good quality, and can't be bought, incorporated, dismantled, or undersold. All their tried and true techniques of competition don't work.

    The only way to compete with the GPL is to be more customer focused, have better quality, and respond to changes quickly. MS's customer base is too big and too divserse to do that, and they lack real cross-platform development abilities.

    Perhaps Microsoft is starting to feel a similar pain to what Netscape felt when Microsoft released IE and IIS for free? Netscape couldn't buy it, they couldn't dismantled it, and they couldn't undersell it, and it was good quality (Esp. for Windows platforms), and their last resort was to open-source the browser.

  • by lowLark ( 71034 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:51AM (#215829)
    "The GPL turns our existing concepts of intellectual property rights on their heads." I love that M$ actually considers this an arguement. I think that the real reason that Microsoft doesn't like GPL is clear. In the past, if a technology challenged Microsoft, they always had a back up for getting rid of it: Buy the technology (remember [pmn.co.uk] when they tired to buy Palm). But GPL takes way this option. once a technology is GPL'd, they can no longer just throw money at a technology and make it "go away". One good point in all of this, GPL must reaaly be making M$ feel threatened for them to be spending all of this time trashing it. -lowLark
  • But Joe and Jane Average don't know the details of the GPL or the businesses that make their living off of GPL software, and they're going to look at Craig Mundie's comments and keep their investment dollars away from Linux based companies.

    Alright, you know what? I don't have such a problem with this. I've used linux for 6 years, and I love that linux companies are popping up all over the place and great software is coming from it. But those companies are facing quite a challenge in taking Linus's hobby and the GNU's political activism and combining them to make a business. And if Joe and Jane Average don't understand what a risky proposition this is, then they shouldn't be investing their retirement accounts in linux stocks.

    I for one am quite skeptical that companies like VA and Redhat should in fact be public at this point. Maybe redhat, since they're much closer to turning an actual profit (or did they last quarter? I don't watch their bottom line much), but in general, Linux companies who went public did so because it was en vogue in the late 90s. Those that make it, good for them, but if they shouldn't have been in that position in the first place, I can't really encourage investment in them by people who aren't familiar with the issues.


  • We agree that Intellectual Property is an important part of the industry. Without the current intellectual property infrastructure, the GPL would not be possible.

    The GPL relies on copyright to work. Unlike licenses from companies which remove rights of the consumer, the GPL only grants you rights. Should the GPL be tested and fail in court, the more resrictive laws on copyrights should apply. While many point out that the GPL has not yet been tried in court, one might also point out that multi-billion dollar companies have had their lawyers go over it with a fine tooth comb. There's a reason it hasn't been tried in court yet. Stallman also has a legal team and I'm sure they've also gone over the wording of the license.

    As to the applicability of the GPL versus the BSD license, I don't think it's a lot to ask that if you use code that I wrote, you return something to the community. It's not like I'm demanding money from you. And if you don't like my license, you can certainly offer to give me some and I might consider licensing it to you under different terms. Did Microsoft pay any of the BSD teams or the University of California for use of the various BSD pieces that you see copyright statements for when you boot Windows? The Microsoft agenda is pretty transparent.

  • by aralin ( 107264 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:11AM (#215872)
    Is it just me or does it seem to you also that the reply is lacking some conclusion and basicly just states a lot of things in random order? Its pretty clever though, since he uses the same tactic again. He implies how intelectual property is so much important and then he raises his concerns about GPL, without making any conclusions.

    But the problem that no one really mentioned is that GPL is protecting my intelectual property. Its protecting it in the exact way I want it to be protected and its protecting it so well, that Microsoft cannot steal it! And thats why they cry out loud. They see all the revenues lost, they could gain if they would be able to steal my intelectual property. And thats makes them mad.

  • by Frizzled ( 123910 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:47AM (#215888) Homepage
    this line was funny and painful at the same time:

    The issue at hand is choice; companies and individuals should be able to choose either model, and we support this right.

    yet from the beginning it seem MS has wanted to make this choice for us ...

  • by stilwebm ( 129567 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:04AM (#215890)

    Anyone else notice a trend in his economic growth examples? The trend sites individuals who experienced economic growth through their intellectual property rights. Sure, there were others who profitted off of these inventions, but in order for them to make a profit, someone had to pay for their invention.

    Economic growth does not just come from the masses paying a few. Economic growth comes when productivity increases. When inexpensive software allows many to increase their productivity, there is more economic growth. Further, this growth fuels a desire to contribute to the mechanisms behind increased productivity (here: open source software). This further increase productivity and results in greater economic growth.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @12:02PM (#215893) Journal

    Ford didn't invent anything

    Yes he did. He invented the $5 day (much more than the average worker made at that time) and he invented the car that was cheap enough to be driven by the factory workers who made it.

    This all depends on how you define "invention". Mundie explained that, but a lot of people on Slashdot didn't want to hear it. Sure, Ford didn't hold patents on Vulcanization, the Otto cycle, or planetary gears but he put all of those things together in a unique and innovative way. "Invention" as most people see it, and as Mundie explained, is just one step on the road to successful and enjoyable products for end-users.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:50AM (#215896) Homepage
    Microsoft is standing on the shoulders of a giant so big, that they don't even realize it.

    At the risk of being labeled as Redundant, Microsoft clearly does understand the size of the giant they're standing on. That's why they're attacking the GPL specifically. They love open standards and BSD style licenses; they've built their whole company on them. They're free to get their hooks in, take advantage of the interconnectivity that the use of common standards gives them, and then subtly pervert the standards to get customer lock in. The GPL was designed specifically to prevent that last step, and Microsoft is attacking it specifically for that exact reason.

  • The problem is, Microsoft really doesn't have a leg to stand on. Microsoft can certainly make a case that GPL'd software is bad for Microsoft. But they have provided no evidence whatsoever that GPL'd software is bad for users.

    Obviously you don't understand. Business is the only thing that matters; users are unimportant. What's good for GM^H^HMicrosoft is good for the United States, and vice versa. After all, a bunch of hobbyists could never produce a sophisticated, stable, robust operating system that anyone would actually want to use. Only businesses can do that, so anyone who wants such an operating system will just have to grab their ankles and enjoy some good old fashioned Microsoft loving.

  • by Ur@eus ( 148802 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @12:51PM (#215914) Homepage
    I think it is incredible that Microsoft comes out screaming that intelectual property is such a cornerstone, I mean their whole business is based on the opposite.

    a) Dos was a CP/M clone
    b)Windows itself started out as a Mac clone.
    c) Excel and Word clones Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect.
    The market for M$ software exists today due to Compaq managing to clone the IBM bios.
    And the list goes on.
    Wonder where in this list Microsoft came to feel that intelectual property was a good idea.

  • by bonzoesc ( 155812 ) <[ten.yelrekecyrb] [ta] [yelrekb]> on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:51AM (#215919) Homepage
    Edison was successful because Tesla didn't want a patent, from what I've heard. Edison was a big fan of DC, while Tesla liked AC better. Edison was an early user of FUD, with demonstrations showing AC killing elephants (I'm pretty sure I'm not making this up), while Tesla stuck to his guns of technical superiority. I've noticed that almost nobody has DC running into their house anymore, at least in North America...

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • by vsync64 ( 155958 ) <vsync@quadium.net> on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:51AM (#215920) Homepage
    From the article:

    In my opinion, the GPL is intended to build a strong software community at the expense of a strong commercial software business model.

    Whether this is a bad thing or not is open to debate.


  • Mundie say the software industry "employs 1.35 million people and produces $175 billion in worldwide revenues". Microsoft produces $24.6 billion of revenues with 39,100 people, or $629K per person. So the rest of the software industry makes $150 billion with 1.31 million people or $114K per person.

    The implicit argument, though, is that the software industry creates jobs and keeps people employed. But look at it the other way: when you or your company don't have to pay for software, it frees up money that can be used for other things. Will this money just disappear? No, it will probably be spent on something else that will create jobs and keep people employed, incrementally across many industries, making for a better balanced, healthier economy than one that has to constantly pay a software "tax".

    Among those incremental things are many which of course involve software. So, much of the money will go towards developing new and better things and solving new problems, rather than paying over and over again for commodity software which has already been invented.

    In terms of the variety of software applications that exist, Microsoft's offerings are but a tiny speck. There are many, many other software applications that are quite brilliant and just as necessary, but for which the market is specialized and small.

  • by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @09:59AM (#215938) Homepage
    Why do I get the impression that this gem wasn't at all written by Mr. Mundie himself at all, but by some highly skillfull PR flack ?
  • by BlowCat ( 216402 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:40AM (#215978)
    I've noticed that almost nobody has DC ...
    I've noticed that despite that fact there are very few dead elephants lying around.
  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @11:40AM (#216004)
    Are you telling me that you can't name another successful closed-source software company? Every heard of Oracle? Sun? HP?...? Where are all of those successful open-source companies that I keep hearing about?

  • by markmoss ( 301064 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @01:19PM (#216031)
    I notice that this lets one of Mundie's original statements quietly die: something like "We can make better software" [than Linux and other freeware]. To which every geek I know responded "So why don't you?" It's a plausible claim, considering that M$ has more than enough money to hire all the good OS programmers -- if they are willing to work there. But somehow they don't write reliable software. It isn't because the field is so new -- computer OS's are 40 or 50 years old!

    Their most bogus claim: that freeware will suck out the money that's needed to develop high-quality commercial software. After all, most corporations are still buying Windows and MS Office because of an illusion (IMO) that it is better quality. Lousy software definitely costs more in support costs than it would take to buy good software if good software was mass-marketed.
  • by Dr. Dewpoint ( 302506 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:31AM (#216034)
    I heard Stallman lecture on intellectual property a while back, and the big problem is software patents and how the big guys can use them to prevent the little guys from doing ANYTHING. If you have some software the uses exclusive-OR to redraw a graphics cursor, well, you are infringing.

    If I use a patented washer in some mechanism that I sell, well, I can buy that washer from a supplier that holds patent rights. If I use a patented software hack, only a component in my system, I can get shut down if I get caught. The big guys sue each other over patents but end up cross-licensing each other into a big guys club.

    Stallman's concern was that in the software land-rush patent-grab where the most obvious stuff gets patented but it is tres expensive to challenge any of those patents once they get issued, one wouldn't be able to write any software at all.

    What the GPL does is stake out territory, not only in high-level stuff like OS's and compilers, but also low-level stuff like algorithms. GPL code lying around makes a strong case for prior art that someone cannot patent, say, a compression algorithm found in GPL's source somewhere.

    The extension of this, is that if Microsoft needs a compression algorithm found in a popular piece of GPL code, they will have to prove that they did not look at the popular code and hence have to open-source all their stuff, which they are not eager to do.

    IMO the GPL is a fair way of fighting the software patent land grab, and software gets written on account of government funding at universities and gets GPL's, well, Microsoft needs to suck it in.

  • by karmawarrior ( 311177 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:36AM (#216048) Journal
    Of the three innovators above, Bell is probably the only person whose key discovery qualifies as an invention. The infamous patent office story is both widely accepted to be a red herring (Bell clearly developed the telephone independently, and the rival invention was actually a way of transmitting multiple morse code signals by using different frequency tones as carriers - it wasn't intended as a voice-based communication device.)

    Edison's picked up a lot of credit for stuff he developed rather than invented. The lightbulb? That was Joseph Swan's. Edison merely made it last long enough and packaged the infrastructure to go with it. Most of the major discoveries to do with electricity and ways of transmitting it long distances were Tesla's doing.

    Ford didn't invent anything. He was an innovator in the classic sense - putting together different technologies, from the assembly line to the motor vehicle, and using business know how to turn it into a success. Ford did not invent the assembly line, despite being credited with it - that honour goes to Ransome Olds, 10-15 years previously.

    As a group of "inventors", Mundie seems to wide of the mark again. Ironic really. Microsoft's apologists usually claim that Microsoft is being innovative, and when forced to justify that given they've never invented anything, point out that innovation does not equal invention, merely the popularisation commercially of a new technology.

    And Microsoft didn't even do that. Xerox put together the first GUIs. Apple turned them into commercial successes. Microsoft merely jumped on the bandwagon, and managed to take over the market doing that.

  • by Spamalamadingdong ( 323207 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @11:38AM (#216061) Homepage Journal
    The problem with DC is that a power surge will melt your whole line.
    I hate to tell you this, dude, but a power surge sufficient to melt a line will melt an AC line too (how many times the rated current do you think it takes to make a wire fail physically?). That's what circuit breakers are for. A DC line will handle this kind of thing in the power converters, which are switching anyway and can be cut off in half a cycle or less even without any special provisions.

    You should also check out this response [slashdot.org] and this course tutorial [umr.edu] to which it refers.

    (Yes, I am an engineer, and qualified to comment on this professionally.)
    Having 50 karma is an itchy feeling; I know I'll get

  • by janpod66 ( 323734 ) on Thursday May 17, 2001 @10:00AM (#216063)
    The fact is the open source software is part of this economy. It is based on, and protected by, intellectual property laws, just like Microsoft Windows. Open source software is simply a different way of distributing software development efforts efficiently. Open source software has costs and risks associated with it, and customers in our free market economy choose free software if its benefits outweigh its costs.

    Arguments about the size and significance of the software industry are also misleading. Oil spills can also contribute significantly to our GNP. That doesn't make them desirable. Or we could start charging for the air we breathe and add a lot of activity to our economy. Microsoft is trying to insert themselves into every possible way in which we communicate, and that should be almost as repulsive an idea as charging for the air we breath.

    What is particularly irksome about Mundie's statements is his claims about how the GPL "debases the currency of ideas and labor". The primary "debasing" I have seen in this industry is Microsoft's claim to have invented and innovated in lots of areas where they have mainly copied from competitors and open source software. Ironically, a lot of the ideas that Windows is based on were, in fact, developed by people deeply involved in open source efforts.

    What it comes down to is that all this whining by Microsoft about "intellectual property" and "innovation" is merely an expression of their fear: Microsoft has been reaping enormous profits with a faulty product, developed based on the inventions of others. In part, those were disequillibrium wages--artificially high, temporary profits. In part, they have been able to maintain them through questionable business practices. Microsoft is afraid of competing in the real world, where margins are razor thin. Just like IBM, Ford, and other formerly grand companies, Microsoft needs to come back to reality sooner or later. If it weren't open source that brought them back to reality, it would be something else.

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