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Microsoft Flirts with Open Source 163

Vin Daryl writes "ZDNet reports on Microsoft's love-hate relationship with open-source software." From the article: "The interoperability lab focuses on getting products from open-source ISVs such as JBoss, to work on the Microsoft platform, he said. 'For example, we often collaborate with JBoss, but in certain areas we might compete with them. It's competition and cooperation,' Hilf explained. 'Over time, as you see the open-source marketplace maturing and becoming more commercial, I think you'll see more of that kind of dynamics. It's not something that's unique to Microsoft,' he said, adding that IBM and Oracle also compete, and at the same time, cooperate with open-source vendors. "
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Microsoft Flirts with Open Source

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  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:04AM (#15341998) Homepage
    And open source slaps Microsoft and throws a drink in its face and tells it in no uncertain terms to keep its grubby mits to itself.
  • Make sure that Microsoft does slip any rohypnol [4woman.gov] in your drink while she's flirting with you!
    • So Microsoft is the woman and OpenSource is the man?

      But the link... oh snap!

      Microsoft and OpenSource are LESBIANS!
    • Nice comment, but the link is bullshit! While the information on the drugs effect might be informative, it is totaly lacking any detailed description where I can get those drugs legally, how I can slip them into my desired girls drink, and so on. Additional, the proposed drugs are suboptimal. They all cause stomach problems and/or vomiting.

      Nice try, but if thats all the drugs can do for me I will stick to flirting, good by pharma industry!
  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:06AM (#15342011)
    about the sentence "Microsoft Flirts with Open Source" is that it's like the 5 year old's love:

    In the kindergarden little boys try to get the attention of little girls by being rude and abusive towards the little girl.

    Now a bit seriously, I'm not saying that MS is like a 5 year old - although you could find a lot of examples like that, but the flirting part doesn't hold up either.
  • Gates Words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fa_king ( 952336 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:08AM (#15342027)
    "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer" I think that is the way it goes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:09AM (#15342033)
    Apparently, Microsoft has purchased all Open Source, and will be selling it for $199 in stores this fall.
  • Just before offering it up to my wife, the Cat Goddess!
  • by PrescriptionWarning ( 932687 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:12AM (#15342056)
    This sounds more like a company who's trying to show everyone they aren't anti open source, because they have open source buddies... seems likes people who say they aren't racist just because they have black friends. (see http://www.blackpeopleloveus.com/ [blackpeopleloveus.com])
  • Not really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:13AM (#15342070)
    Doesn't sound like Microsoft is Open-Sourcing any of its own work, just exercising the freedom others have (unilaterally) granted to them to modify OSS products. But at least it may give the products more legitimacy in the eyes of PHBs.
    • If they're using GPL-covered code, they're required to open-source their revisions. Then again, they could just use open-source code in a rootkit...
    • Re:Not really (Score:5, Informative)

      by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:46AM (#15342329) Journal
      Microsoft has in fact open-sourced its own work from time to time. See, e.g., WiX [sourceforge.net].
    • Microsoft have open sources a lot of their work, you can even get to look at Windows code if you pay them.

      Just the other day I was looking at the Enterprise Library for .NET Framework 2.0-January [microsoft.com] and guess what:

      Source code. Installing Enterprise Library places source code for the application blocks, configuration console, and QuickStarts into the installation directory. To execute the QuickStarts or the Enterprise Library tools, you must first build the Enterprise Library source code. For instructions about how to build Enterprise Library, see "Building the Enterprise Library" in the documentation.


      So Microsoft does do open source, just not the kind of open source most in the FOSS community (including myself) would like to see.
      • I don't think that even Microsoft refers to that as "open source", even if it doesn't all fall under their definition of "shared source". Distributing proprietary software as source instead of binaries has been around a long time... Longer than either of the terms "Free Software" or "open source".
      • Microsoft have open sources a lot of their work, you can even get to look at Windows code if you pay them.

        That's not "open source". "If you pay me enough, you can see my proprietary source code" is a common closed source modus operandi.

        Now, its possible to be "open source" without being "free software", but "you can pay me and accept terms that prohibit you from making derivatives without paying an additional license fee and I'll let you see my source code" is neither "open source" nor "free software".

      • Microsoft's Shared Source license is NOT an Open Source License. Its lacking several key parts, including the ability to modify the code and the ability to share it.
        • Microsoft's Shared Source license is NOT an Open Source License. Its lacking several key parts, including the ability to modify the code and the ability to share it.

          Oh, come on. Microsoft's "Shared Source" license is indeed quite restrictive, and it may not be "OSI Certified", nor is it be approved by the FSF. But "open source" is a generic term that has a broad meaning.

          As much as I hate to quote Wikipedia:

          "Open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product'
          • Oh, come on. Microsoft's "Shared Source" license is indeed quite restrictive, and it may not be "OSI Certified", nor is it be approved by the FSF. But "open source" is a generic term that has a broad meaning.

            No, it isn't. Open source has a specific meaning. Microsoft's Shared Source license does not qualify. While open source is not as exclusive a definition as Free Software, it does require the ability to redistribute and alter it.
    • Microsoft has authored original works and put them under an open source license. So how can saying the opposite be moderated "Insightful"? Sheesh.
    • Re:Not really (Score:3, Interesting)

      by briansmith ( 316996 )
      Besides WiX and other Windows-centric open-source Microsoft software that was already mentioned, Microsoft Research is also the primary party responsible for GHC, the Glasgow Haskell Compiler. GHC is available under a modified Apache/BSD license. Not only that, but their primary platform seems to be Linux (Windows is also supported).
      • Microsoft Research is also the primary party responsible for GHC, the Glasgow Haskell Compiler.

        That's because they bought^Whired Simon Peyton Jones into their British research lab, who was the inventor and primary researcher of Haskell. I doubt they'd cut his work off. If you want to really see what Microsoft wants to do in the functional space, look at LINQ [microsoft.com]. Simon might dream it in Haskell, but Microsoft is going to make sure it goes into VB.

        • I am already familiar with LINQ, and its relationship to Haskell and especially HaskellDB. And, I think that, all in all, everything has worked out great for all those involved (Microsoft, C# users, VB users, Haskell users, and presumably Simon too).
  • by iogan ( 943605 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:14AM (#15342076) Homepage
    ... no wonder I have zero success with the ladies, I've misunderstood the whole thing. Go figure.
  • by rs232 ( 849320 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:15AM (#15342084)
    "Over time, as you see the open-source marketplace maturing and becoming more commercial"

    Im what areas are the current Linux offerings less commercial than the MS offerings?

    "what we're doing provides value to the [open-source] community."

    What exactly of value does the MS Linux lab provide to the Open Source community.

    re high-performance computing ..

    "We .. help [Microsoft's product teams] understand what attracts developers .. to use Linux in that environment,"

    I thought you just said that Open Source wasn't really commercial. Yet here we have you copying it. So basically you are cloning a Linux solution while at the same time somehow claiming leadership in that area.

    All the MS lab does is produce MS flavoured anti-Linux retoric in a disengenous attempt to steal mindshare in the community. What need do Linux developers have for Microsoft to 'explain' what Open Source is really about. You are merely the chief MS fud spokesman.
  • At first Open Source was responsive the advances, but after finding out its history of use and abandonment - it felt ashamed and dirty.
  • Upper management read 'Courtship Habits of the Praying Mantis and the Black Widow.'
  • Preacher: If anyone has reason why these two should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.

    Linus T.: That little Open Source whore betraid me! It wasnt supposed to sleep with Microsoft! SHE IS A HUSSY!
    Bill G: She is MY hussy now! BREWWWWWHAHAHAHAHA
    Open source: YOU think I am a HUSSY too!?!?!? (storms out, seeks refuge in a long-abandoned code repository and is not heard from again)

  • JBoss running under IIS.

    /wakes up screaming...

  • Microsoft is welcomed to support cross-platform development (http://wyoguide.sf.net/ [sf.net]) so OpenSource developers can easily port their applications to Windows but Microsoft may consider that cross-platform also works in the other direction so commercial vendors are able to port to Linux. Maybe this is a win-win solution for everybody ;-)

    O. Wyss
  • looking (Score:5, Funny)

    by present_arms ( 848116 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:24AM (#15342142) Homepage
    They're just looking for another TCP/IP stack ;)
  • Or forcing them to play theirs?
  • ...'For example, we often collaborate with JBoss, but in certain areas we might compete with them. It's competition and cooperation,'...

    I'd like to see this paradigm expanded to include the entire line of Microsoft Office. What will it take to see this?

  • by mb12036 ( 516109 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:36AM (#15342242)
    Comment about open source maturing gives me heartburn.

    Same feeling I get about pundits all over the web yammering about second generation Open Source, whatever that means. Don't know about anybody else but "second generation Open Source" reminds me more of shareware in the '90s than Open Source of recent memory.

    I guess this is the future. Software vendors float out little open source bundles of their software but hold the best functionality back for their commerical products. I'm not sure if that fosters innovation or not, but something doesn't smell right to me. I guess people just got tired of writing software and not getting paid so they hitched their wagons to software companies, and I can understand that.

    Then again, maybe this is the way it always was and I'm just starting to take notice. But where commercial interests have started entagling themselves with open source, it should be interesting to see what happens in those projects. When every featureset or new software project needs to be tied to the bottom line, these private interests will start to strangle innovation, and the whole open source community will suffer for it.

    • Well, most venture capitalists aren't going to continue to throw money at something without expecting some maturity advances. If these companies are persuing the model where the customer is paying for a service instead of paying for a license to use the software, it's still a good thing right? We're not talking about these companies taking on Microsoft's business model where they charge you 2 or 3 times in licenses to use their software, or software assurance services which don't even cover product upgrad
  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:41AM (#15342276)
    I found this claim interesting:
    Hilf added that his team has contributed patches to the open-source community, particularly for Samba, which connects Linux machines to Windows networks, the Gaim instant messenger, and the Apache Web server.

    Has anyone got any references to support this claim? Were their patches accepted? What did the patches do?

    It seems to me that if Microsoft are submitting patches to Free Software projects (Samba is especially interesting), that is a big step forward for them.
    • I tried a quick (and not terribly inspired) google on that and interestingly the top hit was a link to the samba developers' home page [samba.org]. To quote:

      ... to avoid any potential licensing issues we require that anyone who has signed the Microsoft CIFS Royalty Free Agreement not submit patches to Samba, nor base patches on the referenced specification. ...

      So I wonder how accepting the samba team would be of patches from MS.

      Also interesting, TFA is the third hit on google.

      Here's the search I used: microsoft submit [google.com]
  • less one annoying person?
  • famous strings in XP, c:\windows\system32\finger.exe:

    @(#) Copyright (c) 1980 The Regents of the University of California.
      All rights reserved.

    c:\windows\system32\ftp.exe:

    @(#) Copyright (c) 1983 The Regents of the University of California.
      All rights reserved.

    • Just a follow up comment - it's the same strategy as the Disney conglomerate: take public domain stories (Snow White, Beauty & Beast, etc), produce an instance of it, then heavily protect your revenue stream with hoards of lawyers going after anybody who even thinks of makes anything that remotely resembles your instance.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:52AM (#15342391)
    Microsoft wins if JBoss is hosted on a Windows Server and the database backend is SQL Server 2005. They couldn't care less if you're running Java, so long as it's on their server platforms. Would they prefer you to go all the way with .NET? Sure, but they aren't going to piss away customers willing to buy expensive server software just because they prefer different development tools. Same thing with Oracle. Who cares if the box is Linux, the application servers open source as long as the database is Oracle? They aren't going to tell customers, "buy all our products or we're going to go home and pout."
  • Oh yeah, it was when Alex Forrest was flirting with Dan Gallagher. How'd that work out for him?
  • This kind of double-eged relationship is a given when a company has offerings at multiple levels of the software stack. With Windows, SQL Server, IIS, and .NET, Microsoft is in a position to compete for virtually every part of a contract. You see the same thing on AIX with DB2, Informix, and WebSphere competing with Oracle, et al. Maybe it's significant that Microsoft acknowledges that there are viable free competitors, but everyone else has known that for some time.

    While there is potential for a conflict

  • by timothy ( 36799 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:27AM (#15342687) Journal
    If you read through any Slashdot thread involving Microsoft (which seems to end up being about 90% of them in one way or another) you'll find a lot of sentiment (paraphrased) that "Microsoft is evil, eternal, and eternally evil," and, as a corollary, the idea that "Windows has been, is, and will remain FOREVER the dominant operating system for personal computers." Nothing like some worldly, jaded, cynical pronouncements about Everything Forever ;)

    I won't say there's no reason for Microsoft to cling to its current model of software sales for as long as possible -- it's a public, and therefore (by definition) profit-driven company. Investors like stability, and conventional models of making money.

    But I believe Microsoft could become the world's largest vendor of open source software (even if wasn't Free software in the RMS sense*), and that surely some wags and possibly some visionaries within the company have been considering what that could mean. * (That's also *possible* but a bigger stretch.)

    Microsoft employs several thousand really bright people (and of course some percentage of other people); it has one of the most recognized brand names in the world; it has a packaging and distribution system that gets software moved around the world in little boxes pretty effectively. Point is, Microsoft could move at its own pace to greater inclusion of open source software (as they've famously been happy to use, by using BSD licensed software) without upsetting the balance of the force.

    - The Windows operating systems could remain closed, but certain applications get turned into open source projects. For instance, Microsoft Office could be made open source and free for home users, but not licensed for commercial use except through specific (money-costing) license agreements. That's not so very different from how it works now, in that lots of people have "borrowed from work" copies of applicaton software from MS, Adobe, and others -- much easier to enforce expensive license agreements against companies than individuals, both aesthetically and practically. (If AT&T is ignoring their agreement to pay for something that they're using to make money, a lot of people who don't quite *like* Microsoft could understand their pursuing AT&T's agreed-on money; if Grandma Smith next door is using MS Word to tap in her favorite recipes because her nice nephew installed it for her and doesn't realize it isn't a legit copy, that's a lot harder to swallow.)

    - The *core* of Windows could be turned into an open source project, while the polished graphical interface remained exclusive to Microsoft as a branding / copyright playground, so few people (relatively speaking) would be interested in using the underlying system without paying Microsoft for the decoration level as well. ["Nahhh, that's impossible!" ;)]

    - Microsoft could just keep pushing open or semi-open development tools; heck, they could declare Mono the preferred way to develop for Windows, and set up a SourceForge equivalent to encourage new software, proprietary or not, for Windows.

    Keep flirting, Microsoft!

    timothy

  • Agenda (Score:3, Funny)

    by chiller2 ( 35804 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:29AM (#15342704) Homepage
    1. Port successful OSS applications to Windows.
    2. Exclaim loudly that there's no need to look beyond Windows as it supports both worlds of apps.
    3. Using deep pockets and large marketing / propaganda dept, repeat step 2 as much as possible.
    4. Profit!

    If there are any problems along the way, throw chairs.

    Microsoft wouldn't do the above unless they were going to profit from it or damage the competition. Anyone who thinks differently is very naive.
    • Microsoft wouldn't do the above unless they were going to profit from it or damage the competition.

      I think you meant to say,

      "Microsoft doesn't do anything unless they are going to proift from it or damage the competition."
    • 2. Exclaim loudly that there's no need to look beyond Windows as it supports both worlds of apps.

      What's your point? This is an EXCELLENT point, that, in all honesty, helps to keep me using Windows in my business. Linux isn't even a possiblity because it doesn't run any of our mission critical applications. But we do use a few open source apps on Windows. I know you're trying to be funny with this, or imply that this is a bad thing... but in actuality, you're 100% right. I'm less locked-in with Windows
      • I'm less locked-in with Windows

        You keep using the word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        I'll bet if you looked around, you'd find accounting and POS packages that fit your business that run on Linux (or some other OS). They might be better (for some value of "better") than what you're using now, or they might be worse (ditto). But they almost certainly exist.
        • I'll bet if you looked around, you'd find accounting and POS packages that fit your business that run on Linux (or some other OS). They might be better (for some value of "better") than what you're using now, or they might be worse (ditto). But they almost certainly exist.

          Actually, no they don't. I have spent a LOT of time looking, and anything available for Linux isn't close to useable. DOS actually has a much better selection for these kinds of apps that Linux does. The OS isn't expensive. $200/machi
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:29AM (#15342708)
    Microsoft is merely doing what is in their best collective interest - since they were unable to crush Open Source and eliminate competition, their best option is to ensure that their products interoperate with Open Source.

    It's a hedge - rather than saying "Our product is inherently better and will prevail in the end", they're saying "Our product is established; rather than risk becoming irrelevant in shops where Open Source is used, we want to continue to operate and compete even in places where Open Source has proven to be the winner."

    Y'know, Microsoft has maintained a set of interoperability tools for UNIX (I forget what it's called, it includes a POSIX environment, can handle NIS/DNS/NFS among others, works kinda crappy but it works) - this going back over five years. I don't care for Redmond's OS at all but let's face it, they've been driving a huge chunk of the IT sector for a long time now. Microsoft actually provides quite a lot of valid solutions to current IT-related problems, and they're demonstrating that they're ready to attempt to provide more solutions. For a price, of course, but even Open Source has a certain price-tag attached to it, eh?

    Bottom line - we Linux fanbois (myself included) had best accustom ourselves to the presence of Microsoft Windows-based solutions in the workplace. If Microsoft can develop, price, deliver and support working solutions it's a fair bet that the PHB's of the world will notice and we'll end up working with some of those solutions. It would be best if we collectively were prepared for this, rather than screaming "Evil!" every time a certain Redmond Washington based firm does something.

    • Remember: embrace and extinguish, don't expect FOSS community to cheer because a small piece of free software is used on Windows:
      usually when Windows is used, the number of .doc increase, the incentive to use proprietary Windows management tools grows, etc.
  • How is this surprising in any way? Microsoft is simply making sure Windows is a good platform (or client in the case of Samba) for these rather successful OSS applications. Especially in the case of JBoss, Microsoft isn't naive enough to imagine they can take over the J2EE world with .NET so they want to make damn sure there's no reason for companies to switch off Windows boxes when using it.

    In any case, their interop labs aren't anything new. They were talking about interop and the tight communication t
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:54AM (#15342883)
    Open Source doesn't necessarily have to be thought of as a giant, deliberate movement. Really, it's just people enjoying their spare time by using their skills in fun & creative ways. Like painting or hiking.

    Of course, the Big Software Corps don't like this, because when those people employ their computer skills for fun, the resulting code collects and aggregates and grows into free versions of things which are sold for big bucks by the Big Corps. Horrors!

    The funny thing is that the home computer was originally invented and sold by hobbyists for hobbyists. --It was only later that the big corps came along and provided well-made software, --and we paid them big money for it.

    But then came along the internet and Hobbyists began to network. Networking is incredibly powerful, and the internet is a great place to organize and assemble big code projects. --Like a cool hobby convention which is run 24/7, and only a few mouse clicks away. How fantastic!

    And just look at how much fire and hot air has been spent by the Big Corps in an effort to quash the people who enjoy coding together. It'd be like if, through some strange twist of economics and social science, a shoe company, like Nike, somehow decided that non-professional basket ball players were a threat to their revenue and started vilifying free sports.

    But guess what? There will always be jobs for coders. Free things aren't going to kill the job place. There's always going to be people who need coders to help make their computers go. Games don't code themselves. Every new piece of hardware with a chip in it needs a team of people to make it work. There's always going to be work out there, so the fear factor is totally unnecessary.

    Unless, of course, you happen to be Microsoft, which only through a fluke, became as big and powerful as they did. Remember the days when operating systems were on chips and came built into your computer? It's only through a severe perversion of rationality that the world slipped away from the old model of doing things and a couple of guys in Redmond became billionaires.

    Things balance out in the end, and we'll all have fun doing it.

    Cheers, and have a great day!


    -FL

  • Trying the OSS Way (Score:2, Interesting)

    by orty78 ( 707288 )
    I always wondered why a mega company like Microsoft doesn't do the mature thing by at least giving "new" ideas an honest try.

    What do I mean?

    Why can't Microsoft take one of its pet projects, like Media Player, or Outlook Express, or any other, and turn it into an OSS project. Let the community have at it. There's only so many outcomes:

    The community reviews the project's code and either:
    --a) Improves it, makes it more efficient, fixes bugs/security holes
    --b) Makes suggestions that Microsoft thinks a

    • You left out Item C...all of the above.

      Wanna bet that Microsoft Management would think that patching those "features"....I mean security flaws would be a bad idea?
  • by i am kman ( 972584 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @11:00AM (#15342927)
    In the many Slashdot discussions on China and the internet, there's always this great debate between folks that see the internet as a philosophical movement to free the world from government oppression versus others who see it as a technology that, as it matures, needs to conform to the laws of the countries it operates in.

    I see a very similar divide within open source. The original open source movement started as a free software/anti-software patent movement supported by an alturistic (and idealistic) global community united by their belief that software should be free and shared. As the open source movement has matured (or devolved), the big boys have stepped in (IBM/Oracle/SUN/HP) and taken over much of the 'real' Linux movement (i.e. enterprise-class), open source is MUCH more about enabling these companies to compete against Microsoft.

    These vendors could really care less about the ideals of the open source and shared development except to the extent it destroys its competitors. In a recent talk I attended by IBM, they argued that they embraced open source specifically because it gave them a strong competative advantage and crushed the opposition. In effect, IBM develops high-end software, makes tons of money for 3-4 years, then releases it into open source as soon as their profit margins starts to slide because of new competition. Thus, in effect, they undermine the competition by giving away the software.

    Also, open source used to be about open SOURCE. Now 99% of the world sees open source as FREE software and really could care less about the SOURCE part. That's certainly the only part 'real' businesses care about.

    So, rather than bashing Microsoft for trying to co-exist with open source, keep in mind that the large companies embracing open source are only doing it for business reasons rather than some philosophical alignment with and belief in the goodness of open source. They could care less about all that crap. And their customers could care less for the most part.
    • In a recent talk I attended by IBM, they argued that they embraced open source specifically because it gave them a strong competative advantage and crushed the opposition. In effect, IBM develops high-end software, makes tons of money for 3-4 years, then releases it into open source as soon as their profit margins starts to slide because of new competition. Thus, in effect, they undermine the competition by giving away the software.

      And how exactly is this bad? It means that IBM makes money and consumers ge
  • If Macroslab is flirting, it's only to lure OS to the room so Ballmer can whack it over the head with a chair and steal its kidneys! Don't go! You'll wake up in a bathtub filled with ice and a note to get to the hospital.

    Or maybe it's a hormonal thing...

  • Microsoft competes AND cooperates with open source, news at 11..

    Why don't they just give up already? Concede. They lost! Their opinion is wrong. There's no need to drag this on. Anytime they wish to move on and get on with their lives they can adopt the full F/OSS model and make the world a better place. Until then they are just causing intentional friction because they're greedy and selfish.
  • software. or even free software. i'm sure they use plenty of bsd license software throughout windows, office, etc.

    what they don't like are the reciprosity requirements of the GNU Public License.

    GPL effectively prevents microsoft for using their embrace and extend software strategy, and prevents them from keeping strategic portions of their software closed agains competitors.

    given the popularity and solidity of linux and other gpl software, i'm sure microsoft would like to cherry pick their favorite bits for
  • Shouldn't it be flirt first, screw later and not screw first and flirt later?

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