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Microsoft

ESR/OSI's letter to Microsoft 166

Andy Tai writes "Eric Raymond and a number of other people have written an open letter to Microsoft about their consideration to "open source" Windows. Basically they want Microsoft to free important parts of Windows source code in the proper way, in light of Microsoft VP's quote: "There are all different types of ways you can do open source. We are looking into whether we should get into open source initiatives." The letter can be seen over here. " Update: 04/09 06:41 by H :Add your voice to the petition setup by Norm to call upon Microsoft to Open Source Windows.
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ESR/OSI's letter to Microsoft

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    While ESR, Larry Augustin, Russ Nelson, L. Peter Deutsch, Larry Wall, and Guido van Rossum are certainly prominent in the open-source community, they are not all of it, and they shouldn't presume to speak for all of it.

    I know from my personal experience that many members of the open-source community hate Microsoft with a mindless passion, and do not agree with some of the statements in this letter. There may even be some thoughtful community members who feel the same way.

    I'm really rather surprised that Larry Wall, Guido van Rossum, and L. Peter Deutsch signed a statement claiming to speak for the open-source community.

    We need to stop trying to represent the open-source community, or the free-software community, as a single cohesive unit that unanimously believes something or other. It's a big community, not a dictatorship, so unanimity is not to be found.

  • Eh? The OS/2 kernel and the WPS would be FAR more interesting things to peek into than anything NT has.
  • Now, now, let's not exaggerate. It's not necessary. :)

    58004 /usr/local/microsoft/
    58 megs for IE (without Outlook) on HP-UX. I would assume it's about the same on Solaris.


    --
  • The idea here is that the people signing the letter are people who, by and large, believe in the same things that most of us in the 'open source community' do.

    If you disagree, by all means, make it known. If you don't disagree, then you are being represented fairly!

    On matters of software politics, I for one am quite content to have my voice represented by the likes of esr & larry.


    --
  • It'd be great if Microsoft did release the source, but knowing them, they'd screw it up [min.net] by putting it under a no-modifications license or something. It'll be interesting to see how this whole thing progresses.
  • Rumor has it that at least Win 3.1 (maybe other versions too) had a routine called icantbelieveiusedagoto, and of course it had a goto statement in it.
  • Posted by stodge:

    But why would MS do something like that, which will obviously benefit Linux more than it will Windows? Linux is after all a competitor to Windows. But that depends on whom you ask inside MS... :P

  • True, these guys have contributed a lot to the community and therefor earnt a lot of respect. But they can never speak for the whole community. They are not are leaders, they are people who we respect and we let them be our spokesmen. They shouldn't claim that their opinions are the same as the opinion of the whole community. If the community agrees with what they're saying, they will get our support, but they shouldn't take it for granted.
  • "Response to Microsoft from the Open Source Community"

    What? No individual or group of individuals can speak for a community, least of all for one as diverse as ours. We couldn't elect representatives even if we wanted to - who would draw up the electoral register? That anyone would so blithely claim to speak with our voice is disturbing. Indeed, many have expressed the hope that Microsoft *doesn't* open its source to seal the doom of their bad designs, and certainly the welcome they would receive if they tried to join us would be uncertain to say the least.

    This is the worst sign yet that OSI have decided, despite denials, to appoint themselves our leaders. I really hope they change direction on this soon.
    --
  • It's a little late to change the Open Source definition (unfortunately). If MS complies (as Apple and Troll Tech. did) even technically, they'll be able to use the trademark.

    The reason for the letter is purely PR (which is OK, as far as I'm concerned). ESR is concerned that MS will release bits of Windows as Open Source and then gloat loudly that it didn't do anything for their consumers and therefore Open Source is a failure.

    By making a statement like this at the outset, they're hoping to head MS off at the pass.

  • It occurred to me last night that a source release with a tricky license could be a BIG problem. In the event that a source release happens, I would pay particular attention to be sure the license allows use of the API in other projects.

    I can see a scenario where MS takes the Wine project to court and says 'You'll notice that the license CLEARLY states on page 123 paragraph 72 section 12 in the .0005 point italic font that the source release does not constitute permission to implement the windows API in any competing product. Blah Blah Blah.

  • 1) This is plain wrong. Please learn about copyright law, and especially how it differs from trade secrets, before spreading that kind of misunderstandings.

    2) Wine is under a BSD-like license (without the advertising clause), which means it can be mixed with any other Open Source(TM) code. Also QPL and ASPL. The result will no longer be under a BSD'ish license, but under the more restrictive Open Source(TM) license.
  • Even releasing incomplete parts of MS Windows as Open Source could be useful to the Wine project.
  • Your claim is wrong on two accounts.

    1) Copyright doesn't prevent you from looking at publicated source not owned by you, when creating your own programs. You can just not copy the source outright. Maybe you were thinking of information that is "trade secret".

    2) If the code is Open Source, Wine can copy, modify and distribute it. That freedom is part of the Open Source(TM) specification. Maybe you were thinking of the scenario where Microsoft made the code available under some non-Open Source(TM) compliant license.

  • Maybe OSI learned something from the APSL release? Being able to learn is not the same as having "a double standard".
  • Look, I agree with everything the letter says, and everything you say in your post. I just don't think the authors should represent themselves as speaking for the open-source community.
  • Actually, I didn't see this as a dig at anything besides telling Microsoft if they're going to do it, don't release some 1/10th of the way finished code that doesn't work and is poorly designed, and then say 'Open Source Failed Us'.
  • Which is exactly why any Windows open-source licence must be drafted meticulously, to make such a betrayal impossible; nothing else will assuage the (justified) fears of open-source developers and win their confidence.

    In my opinion, that won't happen. If some visionary at Microsoft decides to open the Windows code, the armies of lawyers and executives indoctrinated in the One Microsoft Way and the ideology of control will put the brakes on it enough to ensure its stillbirth.
  • If Microsoft fully open-source Windows (which I believe is unlikely), it'd be possible to port parts of it to run on top of Linux, or merge it with a forked version of WINE.

    It'd probably require a lot of tidying up to prune back the spaghetti tying subroutines in the GDI and application levels to the kernel/drivers/bare metal, but it should be possible.
  • Note that the Windows API is, for better or worse, obnoxiously popular, and has lots of applications running on it. Therefore, were Windows truly open, someone would surely port it to Linux, or to a Mach microkernel or something similar.

    However, if there is anything to inspire the least bit of distrust, such as a termination clause or any restrictions or controls over releases of the code, it will be all for naught; developers are not likely to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt.
  • Both of you have done great things for the community, and it's laudable to have differing points of view. But the bickering and personal attacks don't seem to be very helpful.

    To quote Tim May about some flame-fest on cypherpunks, you two should just have sex and get it over with.
  • I think you're missing the difference in depth of the situation.

    Navigator/Communicator is an Internet application that runs on top of Windows. I believe it only has 1/2 the browser market share.

    Windows is everywhere. It is a monopoly on the corporate and consumer desktop.

    As a developer, you would simply have more to gain by contributing toward the OS that nearly everyone uses as opposed to a web browser that only 1/2 of those who work on the Internet use.

    I'm on the side of the skeptics who question just how far Microsoft would Open Source Windows, but to theorize that Netscape's poor showing (although is 30 developers really "poor"?) is a basis for determining the number developers who would work on Windows doesn't follow. The two products are magnitudes of differences apart.
  • I just think that they shouldn't represent them as being "from the Open Source community"

    Why not? They are as much members of the "open source community" as any one else. I respect those folks, and I respect the calm and rational tone of their letter.
  • It's very hard to trust micro$oft's motives after watching them backstab business partner after business partner. Why should we expect them to treat the open source community any differently than they did the Java community?

    If micro$oft does go thru with with their proposal to open source windows, I fully expect them to blind side the open source community within a year, year and a half.

  • I'm sure you'll correct me if I get one wrong.

    Well, since you invited... :)

    MS contracted with Apple to develop the apps that are now known as MS office. Under contract, MS couldn't use the proprietary info given to them by Apple in a competing product (read OS). MS gained a great deal of knowledge about windowing environments and put that knowledge to use in their windows product. Apple was furious but MS had found a loophole in the contract and exploited it.

    Apple had nothing to do with Microsoft Office. Excel and Word were Windows rewrites of Microsoft's own Multiplan and (surprise) Word, respectively.

    Apple did sue Microsoft over the Windows 3.0 interface, which was the first (relatively) usable one. Nobody would mistake the Windows 1.x and 2.x UI for a Mac. Apple lost the case, essentially on the grounds that the judge didn't believe anyone would mistake the 3.x UI for a Mac, either. Once you get beyond the basic concepts of windows, icons and pointing devices, there simply wasn't much similar--for instance, Windows managed "program groups," not real directories, and file manipulation required File Manager.

    Before Windows 1.0 there was a product called GEOS (IIRC). GEOS worked, Windows didn't. MS created a Smoke and Mirrors demo of Windows. It was a single application that gave the appearance of several applications running simultaneously under a Windows environment. It looked real slick during the press demo, and MS said just wait till we get all the kinks worked out and it'll be better than GEOS. They didn't even have a product. The public took the bait and waited for the product instead of buynig a working GEOS product. Microsoft took the trust of the press/public and exploited it.

    This is, well, wrong. GEOS was a graphic interface which predated Windows, all right--on the Commodore 64/128. The PC version was called GeoWorks, and it was a complete rewrite, very slick and efficient, a Motif-like look (but configurable) and able to run on an XT at (for the time) blinding speed--faster than a 386 running Windows 3.1. But the fact was that there were 386s running Windows 3.1 at the time: GeoWorks wasn't released until well after Windows had taken off. The company's idea was to make something like Windows that could run on "lower end" PCs that Windows either couldn't function on or couldn't function on well.

    Unfortunately, Windows had taken off by that time. GeoWorks got rave reviews and sold reasonably well for a while, but as people upgraded to faster 386s and beyond, they wanted the hundreds of Windows applications available to them, not the dozens--maybe--of GeoWorks apps.

    GeoWorks mutated into "GeoWorks Ensemble," a complete baby Office-like app with GeoWorks, until it went off the market. GeoWorks, the company, then sold their PC software line to New Deal, which sold a revamped version of it (and may still). GeoWorks then brought back the GEOS name for the embedded systems market, and it's technically competing with WinCE. You do see it in some PDAs, and also in the Nokia 9000.

  • why not? i'm developping IO driver under unix for a realtime application (under QNX), i use goto and setjmp/lonjmp as well, it's faster sometimes to use goto instead of letting the code wasting his time where you know it'll do nothing except spend precious time :)
    --
  • They use a win32 porting kit called MainWin from MainSoft. This porting kit is not available for Linux, (at this time) hence the lack of a Linux
    IE version. Besides, why in the world would you want to use a badly ported version of IE anyway?
  • I doubt it'd do much good - Windows is such a monolithic beast to begin with. If they put less of it in the core OS, it might help... Oh yeah. Nevermind. The government already took a shot at that part a few years ago...
  • As for L. Peter Deutsch being prominant in the open-source community, his main product is Alladin Ghostscript, which is not open-source, as no money can exchange hands for it. GNU Ghostscript is merely a 1-2 year old version of Alladin Ghostscript released under the GPL. While I appreciate Ghostscript, I don't count him as a prominant member of the open souce community.
  • Every piece of software that's worth anything probably has some badly designed parts. I'm sure that much of my code could be better designed. It's just the nature of the beast. All they are saying is that just because some code is open source, that doesn't make it instantly better for any reason. A turd with a flower on it is still just a turd, however nice the flower may be.

    I think, too, that Microsoft knows full well how they treat the rest of the industry (with contempt and distrust), and I'm sure they know how much of the industry, especially the OSS community, views them (the same way). You are exactly correct that people expect nothing but 'empty demonstrations and half-measures' from Microsoft, and I'm sure that Microsoft is aware of that fact. They basically invented the concept of vapourware, and practice it often!

    As far as having respect for Microsoft, I don't see that we need to. They have been treating the industry with nothing but disrespect for years now. Should we not treat them with the same disrespect? The Golden Rule, indeed!

  • There are plenty of gotos in the Linux source tree. As of version 2.2.1, there are 6158 gotos in the kernel tree (of 1604566 lines total).

    I don't think it's really important whether or not gotos are used, but whether or not they're used correctly.

  • Microsoft could always release their code contained in OS/2. It would end any excuses IBM could have about releasing Warp as Open Source and put IBM in the position of putting their money where their mouth is. It's not as if Microsoft is threatened by Warp anymore and this would also act as a sop to the DOJ.
  • But in the real world, you need a voice speaking on your behalf.

    Define "need". Are you saying that I need Apple or Microsoft's software? Hardly. Are you saying that free software needs media and commercial interests to succeed?

    Sure, people can try to work with commercial interests, but when they do, they should speak for themselves. Not all of us agree with ESR about what makes free software successful and we don't want to be spoken for when it comes to these almost-opensource license things. Look at the names on that list - who better to be speaking?

    This is a problem. I am generally turned off by both ESR and RMS. I think Bruce Perens has been making some good arguments lately, maybe he would be a good person to see in the press, but nobody should be the leader of this community. The idea is ridiculous.

    A large chunk of people that come to free software do so because they want freedom, not just better software (I don't agree with those that feel that free software is just about a better design process, I feel it is about a feeling of ownership, too). Anyone that tries to speak for them is going to fail.

  • "Response to Microsoft from the Open Source Community"
    What? No individual or group of individuals can speak for a community, least of all for one as diverse as ours.

    I agree completely. This is why I don't use the term Open Source (tm) anymore - I see it as the term to use if you want ESR/OSI speaking for you.

  • The subtext: "Think Different, don't do it the way Apple did..."
  • There is nothing wrong with representation. And the fact that people have representatives doesn't necessarily mean that literally everyone agrees with what their representatives say.

    You have lots of representatives, unless you live in a cave: Congressmen, Senators, a Rapis^H^H^H^H^HPresident, a mayor.... If you're in school you have still others representing you. If you have a job, you are represented. Your parents represent(ed) you.

    You aren't going to escape from representation, so you may as well accept it. It's part of living as part of a society. If you don't like what your representatives are saying, then you should fire up your mail client and let them know.

    As to your particular claim that unanimity doesn't exist among open source folk: Duh. ESR, Larry Wall and the others are, I think, aware of the diversity of opinion within the community. This doesn't obviate the need for representation in certain circumstances.

    By the way, there is absolutely nothing that prevents you from issuing your *own* "Open Letter" to Microsoft if you don't like this one. So if you don't like it - why not do something? You can even say that you speak only for yourself, if you are so afraid of representing others.

  • too bad i dont have the spare time :(
  • Seems to me Eric is proposing to require much more of Microsoft than he did of Apple when he blessed the APSL.

    He decries any release of Windows source that "won't build into functioning, usable software" , but isn't that essentially what Apple did with the APSL? He also states that "a license that exposes source but denies outside developers full rights to modify, re-use and re-distribute without legal hindrance" would be a sham, but isn't that exactly what the APSL does?

    This attitude of embracing anything a competetor of Microsoft's does, regardless of how bad an idea it really is, and then donning the holy robes of free software when dealing with Microsoft's proposal reeks of hypocrisy.

    Either it is ok by the "open source" definition to release partial, incomplete software with extreme restrictions, or it isn't. By raising the bar just because this time it is Microsoft diminishes OSI's reputation.

  • Okay I use KDE and such stuff, but:

    If MS opens up source and do not bodge up the licence, then we could take the GUI stuff and put it on a Linux OS. With some API playing All windows apps would run perfect and windows users would find it really easy to get a stable version of windows. They would not even know that Linux was underneath.

    We get a really stable operating sytstem that 90% of the population use as we can always bring up a 'UNIX Command Prompt' or something and work like we did before.

    Everyone gets the best of both worlds....

    Projects such as KDE and GNOME would also need to adapt, ie become the new program standards for writing apps, as the windows app programming model is crap and KDE/GNOME programming models are really clean and enjoyable to program and use.
  • ON HP-UX With IE it's actually:

    wmerh02t-206> du -s microsoft
    64814 microsoft

    bigger.
    *************************************** *****
    Superstition is a word the ignorant use to describe their ignorance. -Sifu
  • I can't think of a single good thing that could come out of implying that Microsoft's source code sucks. If any one thing was going to make them forget this whole open source idea that was it.
  • When I saw that ESR had written a letter, I was hoping it was something to the effect of "We don't trust you one little bit, but if you act in good faith, we will accept you.". I think the letter properly conveys this tone. I'm pleased with ESR and company for having written it.

    On the other hand, I would prefer that ESR say that he speaks for OSI, not the open source community. I aprreciate what he's doing, and I think we need a spokesperson, but I never asked him to speak for me. The best leaders I've seen lead from behind. They help people accomplish what the wanted to in the first place. Putting words in my mouth doesn't fall into that category.

    A way it could've been handled is if he had said something about our general reaction, attempting to summarize in a shorthand way our chaotic and diverse opinions. I think this is what he was attempting to do, but the semantics of the letter imply otherwise.

  • Somehow, I didn't find myself worked up all over it. Like, who cares if Microsoft thinks Open Source is what it is, or if it's something else? I don't.

    Despite MS's assurances that the weather is good, it's nice and sunny, and things just look rosy, MS is under siege from multiple sources, and they're simply losing their control of their monopoly, they know it, and they still haven't figured out what to do about it.

    The whole concept of Open Source is just so alien to MS, that they simply don't know what to do about it, and are just trying the same embrace/extend/redefine/mutate approach, in a different venue.

  • I don't like Windows for technical reasons, not because it isn't open source. Mostly, Windows has suffered feature and code bloat. Open sourcing it is not going to fix that. For commercial reasons, Microsoft simply can't remove features.

    Distributing Windows sources will simply mean that more and more developers will start to depend on Windows internals. And just like the "Java Community License" access to Windows sources, "open" or not, will likely prohibit developers from using information they can get from the sources for improving clones like Wine.

    Furthermore, open sourcing Windows is not going to address the two areas where Linux really needs access: proprietary drivers and proprietary content formats. Those are usually offered by other companies and often mired in patents. Opening Windows sources won't help.

    The best thing with Microsoft is to let them go on with whatever they are doing. If current open source efforts deliver more value (as I think they do), OSS will win more marketshare. We don't all need to take the same approach to software development. There is a diversity of needs that is best met by a diversity of approaches. There are people who actually like programming Windows and see nothing wrong with it. Why spoil their day? And if a single model really were superior to all others, we will also only find out if we try a diversity of models.

  • The letter is a call to arms for the OSS community as well as a treaty for M$ acceptance by the same.
    ESR outlines what the OSS community should accept, and what it should reject, on principle.

    Well written, to the point, and clear to both intended recipients. Kudos.

    Now let's hope all involved get the message.
  • I think MS will open source some of its code and I'd be willing to bet they open WinNT 4 up.
    Why? Because it would take years to start serious modification and improvement at the source level for WinNT. In addition, Win2000 would be out (maybe) and would be established by the time end users saw quantifiable reasons for trusting and using OS'd versions of WinNT. Besides, during the startup curve for changes and comprehension, MS would be watching and seeing what can be done to improve their Win2000 product that is based, I think, on WinNT to begin with.
  • Given the number of bugs in M$ products,
    claiming that their software is not of
    GNU quality is not an offense, merely a
    truthful statement. And besides, all
    code can improve.
    I do not see any offense in the letter.
    It was short and to the point.
  • The only people that would work on this open-sourced windows would be people that are stuck with windows anyway and have a job to do. And it would be a difficult project to get up to speed on. Jwz mentioned that people took a couple weeks to get familiar with the mozilla codebase before they could really work on it - well this is windows we're talking about!!! Multiply all the mozilla numbers by at least 20!

    Of course, this would all only matter if they do it just how the letter requested. If they don't, they might find themselves puzzling over why nobody is rushing to help them out.

    I liked the letter. It respected the rights of ms while at the same time reminding them what it really means to call their project an open source one.

    BTW, at least esr didn't call it Halloween VI :-)
  • It's important to make sure that people don't try to get a free ride with the open-source name. Ballmer tries to do that without knowing what open-source is. Al Gore knows even less. This letter gives Microsoft a fair warning in a polite way. It gives a nice, professional feeling of the open-source community.

    I know from my personal experience that many members of the open-source community hate Microsoft with a mindless passion, and do not agree with some of the statements in this letter. There may even be some thoughtful community members who feel the same way.

    The open source community is not about hating Microsoft. It's about cooperating and sharing code. It's supposed to be a nice playground for ideas. Good ones live while bad ones die. Now, if Microsoft wants to join, we have no right whatsoever to reject them. They have the right to offer their code and those who want to contribute will.

    However, I bet that MS would screw it up like they usually do. Probably they'd release only a bit with a lot of marketing hype. They could maybe get some positive news articles but that'd be all they'd get because they'd not even expect to win more than that. They don't believe in open-source so they'll not make an effort big enough.

    So if Microsoft does something, let's remain calm. Us fighting and rejecting them because they are Microsoft is not the way to go.

  • Yeah right. Remember when Intergraph raised all that hooplah over releasing their specs to the Voodoo Rush? Only after Daryll Strauss figured it out? But they still have yet to release the 3D specs? Have fun, boys and girls.


    Skevin
    "You're fired."
    "What? But I work eight hours and sleep eight hours like anyone else!"
    "Not when they're they same eight hours."
  • The subtext: "Think Different, don't do it the way Apple did..."

    I hate to have to break it to you, but this is not the subtext. How can I be sure? Two simple reasons:

    1) This letter is from ESR and others. ESR is the one who has been working with Apple on their Open Sourcing, both on the license and on other issues. He's been the one supporting Apple in their move, and hailing it as a good step, against the vocal objections of RMS, Bruce Perens, and others. So I doubt that he'd be writing a letter to Microsoft condemning Apple's approach.

    2) Apple did release a runnable OS. What they didn't include was some of the higher level stuff, the GUI, etc. But you can download Darwin, compile it, and run it. You can even write your own GUI for it (as people have been talking about since it was released), and have a very nice OS. So the points he's making to Microsoft are points that were covered with Apple. I wouldn't be surprised if he's able to enumerate those points precisely because he went through them with Apple, and knows what some sticking points might be. However, he managed to get them past Apple, so that we got a good release from them.

    -Snibor Eoj

  • No individual or group of individuals can speak for a community, least of all for one as diverse as ours.


    You're speaking just for yourself when you say that, right?-) --PSRC

  • Hell No!

    I can't *beleive* the amount of people who think that MS releasing their source would be a Good Thing (tm).

    First of all, you realize that Open Source (tm) is a registered trademark. MS using it is a violation of it's trademark.

    Second, all MS releasing their source code would do, is remove the significance of Open Source and the Linux Community all together. Of course, this would just go to prove that MS monopolistic habits are attempting to run over into a market Billy can't touch.

    I am APPALLED seeing the Microsoft petitions and letters from leading Linux people supporting this action! I am AMAZED to see that petition on LJ's website. What the hell are you guys thinking?

    What benefit would MS releasing their source code have on the Open Source Community? Do you think that movement would get us more respected? No. Do you think that movement would make MS succumb to us, saying that we were right? FUCK no. All Billy would do is say he saved the Open Source community by releasing his code, saying otherwise we'd have failed. monopolistic asshole.

    MS can make every attempt at trying to fix their code. By releasing theirs, our developers are just going to laugh their butts off at it, and then, be so preturbed as seeing broken code, they'll fix it, just to say they did. MS wins, we lose.

    Let MS do whatever the hell they want. As long as we don't openly support these decisions, they'll lose. WTF after this battle, when we're prevailing, do we want to help them?

    -Kara Pritchard
    kara@luci.org
    Linux Users of Central Illinois
  • The GPL is not really all that difficult to understand. In the spirit of public service, it explains what it does and what the ramifications are *very* clearly.

    The GPL is kind of long, but is written to be as simple as possible while still achieving its goal of causing software to be really free. I've read the whole thing and understood every line, and I'm definitely no lawyer.
  • It may not belong there, but it is definitely not a threat.

    Eric is referring to the idea that MS might only be releasing any source at all in order to help themselves out in their little antitrust case, saying that a half-assed release will not accomplish anything to that end.

    It is definitely not a threat.
  • I would wholeheartedly agree with their letter if it weren't for the APSL. "half-measures" seam to be ok except when coming from M$.

    And I can't escape the feeling that if Steve Balmer perceived ESR as a *leader* he would have talked to him first (as others did) and maybe, just maybe, the tone of the letter would have been slightly different.

    Because M$ are only expressing intentions after all. Apple's license is light years away from anything GNU-ish but was praised nevertheless.

    After all in what way are Apple better than M$ except that they are worse businessmen (and women)? 'You do not even manufacture cases, Redmondites, let alone transparent ones!'
  • I find it odd that people are saying "Windows code is terrible" and it "bloat" when no-one has read it (They haven't released it yet!). I agree we can infer from the general performance of almost any flavour of Windows that something is wrong in there, but until we can see inside we will never know exactly what it is.

    And don't you find the idea of looking in there intriguing? You say Windows is poorly written and designed (which it may well be) but you won't know until you look. It is just as likely that SOME of the code is very well written, designed and even documented. How would it not be useful to take some of these good parts of Windows and add them to Linux and some of the best features of Linux and add them to Windows? Wouldn't everybody win then? What kind of operating system might evolve from that?

    Remember, one of MS greatest problems is that they have many disparate development teams writing code that doesn't always have the same goals in mind, and the directions these teams are travelling sometimes bring them into collision with each other. This could be an opportunity to fix some things properly because we WANT to fix them, with no time pressure, not because they HAVE to be cobbled together in order to get the product to market.

    Personally, i find this a very exciting prospect which will make the quality of all software in general better.

  • I'm not sure I understand your objections. MS DOES write raunchy code, and I think it's a good idea to tell them so in no uncertain terms. They are a company who wants to join a community (so they say), so what does that community owe THEM? The community didn't go say "Hey, Microsoft, we think it'd be really cool if you joined us". I'd bet my bottom dollar that if MS's legal Sword of Damocles was affixed more firmly to the ceiling, they wouldn't even CONSIDER this move.

    "Magic pixie dust" is a direct quote from somebody who had a front row seat for the still-birth of a major corporation's foray into the open source community. It's very appropriate to include it here.

    MS deserves no respect. For one, they're a corporation. THEY owe US respect (that is, if they want our money). For another, they've never done anything WORTHY of respect. They've been poor citizens of the software community since their inception. I don't know if it's a smart move for MS to attempt Open Source licensing...it's a path fraught with peril. However, if executed correctly, it could be the first decent thing that MS has EVER done.
  • Define "need". Are you saying that I need Apple or Microsoft's software? Hardly. Are you saying that free software needs media and commercial interests to succeed?

    No, I'm saying that dealing with the media and commmercial interests is a fact of life. Both of these parties are going to warp the view of something we hold dear. I think we need people who can articulate well and who are well respected to speak up and try and make sure that doesn't happen.

    I never said we need someone to be a leader of the community. You can like or dislike ESR, RMS and whomever else you want.
  • Sure they can speak for the community - they just did.

    Apparently, all the moderators agree with people like you, though, becuase they are spending their points scoring up two-line posts. lovely.
  • So I guess you are one of the "worrieds" that were agitated to "paranoia"?

    We have a lot more in common than the code. I would like to think that there are a set of ideals that we share as well.

    As I have already pointed out, the people who signed this letter are a respected group who can and will write open letters like this on our behalf.

    Just because someone speaks for a community does not mean that it is "homogenous" or "entirely self-identified". When the US bombs Serbia, and Clinton comes on TV, does that mean that every American agrees with him?
  • You are right, maybe I did misunderstand. Maybe you should have made your last post the first paragraph in your first post.

    I guess IMHO, these people are "from the Open Source community". Although we don't have an "elected" body, there are always dissenting voices either way.

    If you don't like the idea of Microsoft releasing their source, then by all means get up on your soapbox and tell us why. Heck, e-mail ESR and Larry Wall and tell them why.

    I'm just glad that some respected voices from our community have stood up and made this point. I think by the names signed at the bottom of the list, they do represent our interests (if not everyone's point of view) pretty well.
  • if you want.

    But in the real world, you need a voice speaking on your behalf. The media and commerical interests are facts of life.

    Look at the names on that list - who better to be speaking?
  • Ok, I would be the first to agree that:
    a) MS code would most likely suck
    b) MS code might be undocumented/hard to follow
    c) Bill Gates is a band-wagon-riding-weenie
    ... but, would it not be MUCH easier to code
    device drivers if we had some starting point?

    Even if their drivers (the ones on the install cd)
    suck, at least we'd be able to say, "ah, I see...
    that register controls this...".

    That would be good for really alien (read spiffy/
    new/unusual) hardware, and gasp - we could even write drivers for Blozedems. :)

    AH, but even if they did release the code,

    they'd probably have to take out lots of driver
    code they dont have license to open. (like
    Netscape had to take out Java :( - oh well, Java
    sucks anyway.)

    Ok. I'm done spitting.
  • Just look at the size of Windows. Just look at what happened to mozilla. Just look at some of the causes jwz pointed to explain that failure. Who is going to go through the code and try to make sense of it. Just look at all the cruft that's been layered through the years. Will it really matter?
    I don't understand why is there all this thing about Microsoft. I think the main step was taken by Netscape. Microsoft will be just another one entering the boat (If they will really do it). So I think there shouldn't even have been any letter. Let them go their way, and we will go ours. If they want to do something good, let them contribute to WINE.
  • IMHO documenting their API and proprietary fileformats and make them freely available would
    be enough.

    An Open source Windows - what a joke. I guess they missed April's fools day. Microsoft would die as Netscape did.
  • Even if MS does make Windows code open source, in a reasonable manner (unlikely), how many developers are going to write code and give it back to MS. According to Jamie Zawinski's resignation letter, only about 30 people contributed code to Mozilla. Considering that among developers, there are probably more people willing to help Netscape than MS, how many people would give MS source code for free?
  • Your arguments are true for any group of individuals. Presedents, Kings, Ambasadors, etc. Anytime focus is needed a representative is needed also to get things done. Our community can get a whole lot more done with its support than with its betrayal. And being ESR, he has enough respect from the community to make such a letter. Note, he also has a number of other respected individuals in the community sigs on the letter. And he is pres of the OSI. It is his call.

    Focus. A single focused individual can do more than a group of opposing and intermittent people. This is not a democracy. If it was, the same things would be said. The same misjudgments, the same bickering, and the same confusion. Furthermore, the opensource community would enter an area it doesn't want to be in: politics.

    The best way to get through to MS other than the open letter, would be a massive e-mail writing campain. But then you get a number of Dear Mega$oft: letters from people who don't know how to write respectfully enough, even to get Microsoft to do such a big thing such as open up the source.

    One other thing. ESR is smart. He knows Microsoft would never open up the source to such an extent. It is just ploy to deter Microsoft from openning their source halfway and propietary and getting positive press for it. I can see it now, ZDNet: Microsoft goes GPL! Linux bottoms out.

    It makes me wonder what next, if anything, ESR has planned. Let's say MS does open some of their source. The press goes wild. But somewhere in each of the numerous articles is a quote from ESR: "The Open source Institute warned Microsoft about a halfway effort on their part. Developers have no use for such a weak Open Source initiative. Linux is the best alternetive for Developers" or something thereof. Of course ESR is a better speaking than I am and could find something more modivating to say.

    You are quite justified in asking me, "So, you trust him that much?" Yes. And so should everyone else. Not because he represents the community but because he is the closest thing we got.

    --

  • Cfr. subject. After all, what does it say? It simply says to M$: if you do it, do it properly, and even then don't expect too much from it. Big news. I for one, while welcoming Netscape's move, back in '98, have said from the start that simply "going open" is no solution. For instance: it's supposed to attract developers, but hey, if everybody does it, then what? How many good developers that have both time and motivation to contribute are there? And then there is the problem of having a clean design that supports the approach well enough. M$, know this just as well, I think.

    In any case, it's up to M$ to figure out what to do. If they mess up, too bad for them. If they don't, well, read the response: "we will welcome it", which obviously is the only possible polite answer the authors could provide to that scenario, so it could just as well have been left unsaid. Which also holds for the other part of the response. Especially since it can be read to imply that the design of M$ is a mess. That may very well be so, but there is no way to convince any pro-M$ (or even neutral) reader of this without proof. So the response ends up looking like a wild attack on M$ that is being made for no other reason than that M$ might be looking into knocking down one the people's favourite anti-M$ arguments: that it has to be bad because it is not open. This is of no use.

    So why was this response needed? Or at least, why did some people think so? Think about it! I've given my answer already somewhere in the previous paragraph.

    Note that this is not an anti-ESR or anti-whoever posting. In fact, I tend to be somewhat pro-ESR. In any case, it is definitely not intended to be a pro-M$ posting.

    --

  • I agree that their letter is a well thought out response to Microsoft's declarations and it's an all-round Good Thing that OSI are writing them. I just think that they shouldn't represent them as being "from the Open Source community".
    --
  • I was urging OSI not to represent letters as "from the Open Source community" since a community can't send letters. If your reply addresses that then I'm failing to get some part of the content.

    Thinking about it, this reflects a comment Bruce Perens made: industry want to see Open Source as a corporation with ESR as CEO, and OSI, seeing how corporate support will further all our interests (and it will) are tempted to try and meet these expectations. However, since we can't succeed it's a mistake to try.
    --
  • They speak for themselves, as I do. No-one can speak for the community. I respect them too, I just think they should be careful not to misrepresent themselves.
    --
  • Why don't we wait for Microsoft to start responding or at least acknowledging receipt of these "open letters". These things are getting tossed around the repair shops and tech support pools but never getting a glance from managers.
  • Larry Wall, ESR, Guido, et al have contributed VAST AMOUNTS open source code to the community. They are well known *precisely* for that reason, though ESR is better well known because of his excellent essay-writing ability.

    If you contribute code or documentation to this community you too will become well known and help further the cause more than any baffle-gabble on Slashdot will do.

    If you don't do the above, you're just a voice in the herd, and there really isn't a reason to listen to you over the others.

  • As an example, there are people out there in the "Java" community who really are happy about Sun's licence for Jini so they can ensure it is continually refined. The "pay if you play" model may have potential.

    The slashdot community does not represent "every" interest. Some people just want to see better quality infrastructure & don't care if the license is restrictive.

  • the problem with that approach is that there is just chaos with regards to "community opinions", and nothing will be accomplished.

    having respected members of the community speak on our behalf is an imperfect, but acceptable solution, especially when dealing with the business community. the alternative, anarchy, is not an option.
  • While ESR, Larry Augustin, Russ Nelson, L. Peter Deutsch, Larry Wall, and Guido van Rossum are certainly prominent in the open-source community, they are not all of it, and they shouldn't presume to speak for all of it.

    I know from my personal experience that many members of the open-source community hate Microsoft with a mindless passion, and do not agree with some of the statements in this letter. There may even be some thoughtful community members who feel the same way.

    I'm really rather surprised that Larry Wall, Guido van Rossum, and L. Peter Deutsch signed a statement claiming to speak for the open-source community.

    We need to stop trying to represent the open-source community, or the free-software community, as a single cohesive unit that unanimously believes something or other. It's a big community, not a dictatorship, so unanimity is not to be found.

    (I originally posted this as Anonymous Coward due to a Slashdot bug.)

  • We've gotten where we are without political "leaders".

    The kind of leadership that free software calls for is technical leadership --- that exemplified by Linus and Alan's work on the kernel, or Larry Wall's on Perl.

    If free software achieves world domination, it will be because of the leadership of technical leaders like Linus and Alan --- making free software into the best damn code that's ever been written --- and not from the proclamations and denouncements emitted by politicians.

    I'm a system administrator. It is not because of a political proclamation that I choose to use Debian GNU/Linux on the systems I run. It's because of the code. It's because the software is good. No amount of politicking will make a system stabler, a kernel faster, or a GUI friendlier.
  • I liked the letter.. It was very polite, and respected Microsoft's right, while at the same time, saying 'Please don't do this as a farse'. I'm very impressed..

    So why didn't Al Gore sign it? I mean, he invented the internet, and now, apperently the Open Source movement.. ;-P
  • I'm reminded of a proverb, the origins of which I cannot recall (I think it might be American Indian):

    A young man is about to take his boat across the lake, and he hears a viper whispering to him.

    "Please take me across the river with you."

    "No, you're a viper, you'll bite me."

    "No, I promise I won't. If you don't help me, I'll die."

    "Okay then."

    So the young man loads the viper up in the boat and takes him with him. The young man rows across the lake, and gets to the other side. He picks the viper up to unload him, and the snake bites him.

    "Why did you do that? You promised you woulnt'!" the young man says.

    "Because it's my nature. You knew I was a viper, and yet you trusted me anyway."




    Wil
    --
    Internet Meta-Resources [navi.net]:
  • I have to agree. What's the point of this press release. To answer a rumor about M$?

    ...richie

  • I'm not going to do that with him, no thanks.

    I'd hope that in the future my own Open Letters would be considered more fairly by Eric. That's all I want.

    Bruce

  • Not a bad letter.

    Isn't it ironic that Eric is now using the same Open Letter strategy that he criticized me for when I used it on Apple? Wouldn't it be funny if I said something like You should have known better. You've interfered with my private negociations with Microsoft and have made all of this much more difficult :-)

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • Let me get something clear: I don't expect Microsoft to ever do anything more than say "You can order most of our Windows 2000 source code for $200 as long as you sign this agreement not to redistribute it or any patches to it except to us, not to work on any other operating system or Windows API related projects, and to give us your eternal soul." That kind of "new type of open source" would have little or no effect on Windows itself - except it would make life much easier for warez dudez who want to make trojan software and hackers looking for remote exploits.

    What I'm worried about is that some clueless but well-meaning judge might decide that the best way to crack down on Microsoft would be to whip out the "eminent domain" stick and take away Windows by making it true open source. That would be OK for free software in general, but for the state of computing it would be a horrible step backward.

    I don't just want free software, I want free, good software. We don't need hackers poring over Windows 2000 in some vain attempt to make remote display of apps stable and scalable, or trying to fix whatever hideous kludges they've got preventing them from throwing away DOS finally.

    For those people who say that "we haven't seen the source code, how do we know it sucks", we've got enough good evidence to go on. Their repeated attempts and repeated failures to get rid of the 16 bit code and DOS core in Win9x is one example. The travesties of the Win16 API and WINS is another. The fact that they've had a half-baked 32-bit port of NT to the Alpha instead of writing 64-bit clean code in the first place is a third. How about the WinNuke/Teardrop/Syndrop/Newtear/etc series of attacks on the Windows IP code, where the patches took weeks or months to be released, and where half of the new attacks were just minor changes (e.g. using UDP instead of TCP) on the "patched" attacks?

    I'm told that NT has some good kernel design decisions, and that it's just the wacky video drivers and the mess of the Win32 API weighing it down... but I'm told this by people who still claim that NT is a "microkernel" architecture.

    I'm also personally impressed with OLE, which I think is one example of something Microsoft did themselves, did without too much prior art (All I can think of is ToolTalk in the Unix world - apologies given and corrections requested if I'm missing some Mac history here), and did well... but the underlying implementation isn't of value here (and is probably inferior to CORBA if they're just making it network transparent now), the API (which we already have and which Gnome is practically cloning AFAIK) is.

    In short, it's evident that with the exception of accelerated Wine development, an open source Windows would be fairly valueless.

    What an open source Windows would do is something I'd rather not see happen: insure the immortality of Windows. More than ensuring "World Domination", open source software is ensuring that free Unix will never die... and for both obvious and personal reasons I hope Windows does die. In the next 5-10 years, please. The idea of Windows dying may have seemed ridiculous a couple years ago, but with Linux pulling out the rug from under NT server and threatening the desktop, with the Godzilla movie of Windows 2000 fast receding, with 64 bit NT development headed by the guy responsibile for Windows 3.1 (which scarred me emotionally), and with even Apple clawing their way back out of the grave...

    One of the best things about Unix is that, incompatible vendor extensions aside, all the Unices are built around a set of common, well-designed APIs that give the word "standard" real meaning. I'd hate to see Windows become a standard as well, not because of any design features but because people got to make a lot of cheap copies.
  • Why are people in the open source movement rushing to embrace MS? Doesn't the history of this company send up red flags. Searching my memory here are a few things that should cause Open-Source supporters to pause. I'm sure you'll correct me if I get one wrong.

    MS contracted with Apple to develop the apps that are now known as MS office. Under contract, MS couldn't use the proprietary info given to them by Apple in a competing product (read OS). MS gained a great deal of knowledge about windowing environments and put that knowledge to use in their windows product. Apple was furious but MS had found a loophole in the contract and exploited it.

    Before Windows 1.0 there was a product called GEOS (IIRC). GEOS worked, Windows didn't. MS created a Smoke and Mirrors demo of Windows. It was a single application that gave the appearance of several applications running simultaneously under a Windows environment. It looked real slick during the press demo, and MS said just wait till we get all the kinks worked out and it'll be better than GEOS. They didn't even have a product. The public took the bait and waited for the product instead of buynig a working GEOS product. Microsoft took the trust of the press/public and exploited it.

    Windows95, via win32, was seen as a boon to application developers before it was released. Trade magazines saw increased ad sales for the competing products in their future. Now, where is the compitition and diverse applications people were expecting. Gone. MS used the win32 api as a weapon. The Win3.11 upgrade did.....? Sure it broke the win32 compatibility of OS/2 but what else? MS took their position as maintainer of the win32 API and exploited it.

    How many times in the past have they done this? Can anyone think of a single case in the past where MS hasn't exploited their business partners or customers to further their own obsession with wealth and power. I cannot.

    Why would it be any different this time? Does ESR and crew have a legal team that write a contract better than Apple did? Can their philosophies about software development (freedom and choice) even allow them to think along the same lines as MS(exploitation and control)?

    We don't need them. Yet they need us. We are winning the hearts and mindshare of the public and press and they *NEED* that to survive. If we accept them into our community, the only thing we'll end up with is a knife in our backs.
  • That's an interesting thought. If Microsoft is insisting that IE is a part of the operating system, and this letter has its intended effect, we'd wind up with the source to IE. Imagine if Internet Explorer could be made completely standards compliant, and ported to... oh, jeez, I gotta stop or I'll wet my pants.
  • It is interesting to speculate about which OS they would release, and how fully? Would they free NT/2000, or just Win98, which seems to be headed toward depracation?

    It would be great to get all that source, but it seems that Visual C++/Basic would have to be thrown in for it to be effective. COM/DCOM is so complex to write that people only use the wizards to implement components. If they kept Visual Studio, they could continue to control their core technologies by controlling the development tools.

    It does seem like a good move for Microsoft. Linux will continue to put pricing pressure on the OS market, and they still have a pretty lucrative office suite.

  • The people whose names are at the bottom of that letter are people that people in our community (and outside) respect.

    Your opinion of whether Micorosft should release their source code aside, the fact is that anyone can release anything under any license they choose.

    The message that is being sent here is an excellent one:
    If you want to relase open source, do it right or don't expect to any kind of welcome into our community.

    I thought it was well written and calm, explaining a rational point of view. I'm glad that ESR and the others have taken this step in an open letter.
  • i don't get it, with that kind of thinking, nobody can speak for the community, cause if these people (ESR, Larry Wall, etc.. who did much more FOR this community than the majority of the people whinning here) can't talk for us, nobody can.

    I suspect that's what a whole bunch of our group want. But let me tell you this: It won't happen, we need leaders, if we want Linux and OSS to dominate the world (Linus words). We should consider ourselves lucky to have these great leaders speaking for us, and you should thank them for their effort, cause they are working for you. Even if u don't agree with everything said or happening , at least respect the effort. If you don't respect it DO SOMETHING!(whinning is not doing).


    "But please don't claim to speak for everyone who uses the software"

    Please don't forget they made some of the software.

    my 2 cents
  • Personally, I agree with the OSI's response -- an open-sourced Windows would be a boon to the entire computing community. Windows could become a better OS by adopting methods used in various open sourced operating systems, and despite all the hell that's about to rain down on me, Linux would be a better and more interoperable OS than it is today. I am a Linux fan at heart, but please remember that majority of the OS's and applications are Win32 based. Windows would benefit from the OS improvements that it could gain, and the traditional open source operating systems could become better through more applications. The key word of the day is inter-operablilty.

    Just my $.02

    -Chris
  • "...open source is not magic pixie dust. Code that's badly designed or non-functional won't instantly improve simply by being open-sourced. ... We must therefore caution Mr. Ballmer and Microsoft that empty demonstrations and half-measures won't do."

    I believe that this letter was somewhat unconstructive for several reasons. First, I believe that it directly insulted Microsoft by accusing it of producing bad and non-functional code. Although I personally believe that to be true, approaching Microsoft with that attitude only makes it get defensive and not want to cooperate. It puts it off the open-source community and encourages it's desire to undermine us even further.

    Secondly, using terms like 'magic pixie dust' trivialize Microsoft's potentially serious move before they have a chance to show their intentions.

    'Empty demonstrations and half-measures' are what we are accustomed to seeing from Microsoft. Nonetheless, I still feel it is wrong to approach Microsoft with this confrontational attitude if we truly want to encourage them to listen to the voice of the Open Source community.

    "...if Microsoft is sincere in wishing to join the open-source community, and does the right things in the right spirit, we will welcome it."

    If the Open Source wishes Microsoft to do things in the right spirit, it needs to do things in the right spirit itself. I find it hypocritical of the Open Source people to attack Microsoft before it has actually made a move, and then ask it to have a cooperative spirit.

    I was always taught the Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If we want Microsoft to treat us with respect, we must treat them with respect (even if it turns our stomach).


    http://www.nara.gov/exhall/charters/declaration/ declaration.html

  • The message the writers are sending is a good warning not only to Micros~1, but to any other closed source vendor. It should help to battle some of the coming FUD. I see the same problem infecting Sun, Apple and Al Gore. They believe that if they call their code open and post the source that 1000s of talented developers will magically show up to work on the code and then hand it back to them -- no strings attached. The corps (and Al) have taken the quote and changed it to, "Don't think of it as free software, but free labor." (of course, the worst part is they forgot the beer 8*)

    To herd people (or cats) you've got to give them a reason to go in a particular direction. For this community, that reason is ALWAYS to scratch an itch. What itches us in MS code? The fact that it doesn't integrate with other OSs as well as we'd like. If MS opens the source what will be the first thing 'fixed'? All the sh** that makes it break OS/2, Samba, etc., or 'decommoditizes' protocols.

    So the letter writers are correct. MS shouldn't expect to open their code under a ridiculous 'give-it-all-back-to-me' license and have us finish their dirty work for them. But this is exactly what MS will do, and then they'll FUD to high-heaven when their tactics don't improve their code (see, we released the code as open source and in a year only got two contributions and they were both ridiculous. All they did was move our data structures back under the 512M memory limit so that OS/2's Win32 implementation isn't broken anymore. This whole open-source thing is a crock, and if you use it for your business you'll never get updates.)

    Watch for the coming FUD!!
  • "Here's the source code to Windows 2000, in its entirety, no restrictions, no charges, nothing hidden."

    "In order to compile it, you need Visual Studio 2000, which only costs $995. You may not copy, redistribute, or tinker with Visual Studio 2000 in any way, shape, or form or we will cut off your favorite body part."

    "Gotcha!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 1999 @08:51AM (#1942360)
    Of course we shouldn't take Microsoft/Ballmer seriously on this point. They might be trying to horn in on the "Open Source," this might be part of a "everyone really wants Windows" campaign; who knows?

    What one would expect is that the mainstream press picks up the "pixie dust/non-functional product" slam for what it is: senseless posturing. They'll eat this up..."Linux geeks lambaste Gore, Gates"

    ESR was a more effective agent for change when he was working in the background, influencing journalists by educating them. This press release garbage is counterproductive.
  • by Paul Crowley ( 837 ) on Friday April 09, 1999 @09:00AM (#1942361) Homepage Journal
    "Response to Microsoft from the Open Source Community"

    What? No individual or group of individuals can speak for a community, least of all for one as diverse as ours. We couldn't elect representatives even if we wanted to - who would draw up the electoral register? That anyone would so blithely claim to speak with our voice is disturbing. Indeed, many have expressed the hope that Microsoft *doesn't* open its source to seal the doom of their bad designs, and certainly the welcome they would receive if they tried to join us would be uncertain to say the least.

    This is the worst sign yet that OSI have decided, despite denials, to appoint themselves our leaders. I really hope they change direction on this soon.
    --
  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Friday April 09, 1999 @10:39AM (#1942362) Journal
    I agree wholeheartedly. While I usually find myself agreeing with what ESR says in re FS/OSS, and I have rarely found anything to object to in the works of the other signators, I find it very troublesome that they would consent to the ascription of their views to "the Open Source Community". ESR and Larry Wall are geniuses; the others at least have their hearts in the right place; but none of them have the authority to speak for us all, because nobody can have that authority.

    How can you "speak for" a bazaar? How can you "speak for" a "community" where the only thing we really have in common is the code? It's a nonsensical proposition, but one that's bound to confuse the press and piss people off. It reminds me of animal-rights activists who claim to speak for deer, or trees, or mink --- as good as their intentions may be, they're hallucinating their authority.

    To ESR --- as much as we may agree with you most of the time, you do not speak for "the Open Source Community". Nobody, no matter how wizardly, no matter how eloquent, can do that --- because the group so labeled is neither homogenous nor even entirely self-identified as such. There are people whom you don't like and don't agree with, and who don't like or agree with you, who are yet users and writers of free software just as legitimately as you are.

    Speak, if you will, for yourself or for groups which actually are capable of appointing you to speak for them. Speak for OSI. But please don't claim to speak for everyone who uses the software; all it does is mislead the media, agitate the worried to paranoia, and the paranoids to flaming.
  • by wardk ( 3037 ) on Friday April 09, 1999 @09:38AM (#1942363) Journal
    With the Win2000 release being pushed back further and further, with reports of 30 some-odd million lines of new code, and a public track record of delays it is aparent that more delays are all but inevitable for the "next generation" windows.

    Rather than continually admitting the trouble and being subjected to the fallout of unmet expectations, Ms can announce a "redirection" that introduces "source code" would buy MS time and provide and excuse for further delay of the Win200x release. (They can point to OpenMozilla's delays as an example).

    By releasing "source code" in what will surely be a more limiting license than Apple's, they can get the benefits of being "open source" (it's hip, it's in and it's geeky), as well as stall the movement to the "alternative" open source system, Linux by corporate america. Business will get all the benefits of Windows support and applications, as well as the coolness of "open source", why move to the unsupported, application (re: Office) deprived Linux?

    In the same way Win95 was used to check the short-lived momentum of OS/2 (recall that it was billed as a true preemptive multitasker, when it was really DOS/Win4 in fancy dress), the "open" Win200x can be used in an attempt to hinder broad Linux acceptance.

    Can it work like it did against IBM? I personally don't think so.

    Just my $.02
  • Also, throughout the 80s, there was no press or public excitment over MS Windows. Most people thought it was a joke, although some did use a runtime version to use Excel (but more people used a runtime GEM desktop to run Ventura Publisher.)

    Everyone in those days thought OS/2 was the GUI PC OS of the future. That is, until Microsoft started giving away millions of copies of Windows (only hook - add WIN to the AUTOEXEC.BAT). PC Users essentially staged a revolt, demanding a GUI interface over the DOS standards of WP and 123, and that's pretty much how we got to where we are today.
    --
  • BTW, the letter that I signed didn't have that headline. I presume to describe the community, to outline the price of admission to the community, and even warn about the reception Microsoft might get, but not to speak *for* the Open Source community.
    -russ
  • To be blunt: just why do you hate Microsoft? Would you still hate them if they wrote good code? If Linux Distro X takes over 90% of the market, will you feel obligated to hate them because they took over 90% of the market? I hate being forced (yes, I will say it, forced) to pay good money to get brain-damaged software. I hate business models that make their money off of disservice to the customer. I despise the ability of a company to ignore the needs of the customer base and so improve their profits. Are you afraid of Windows becoming a decent OS? I would love it! Give me a copy of Windows that works and works well, and I will gladly pay for it. Give me a truly Open Source Windows (that is, one with OSI-compliant licensing), and I will work with people to improve it so that it stays up, remove the bloat, and plain old make a respectable OS out of it. If that is impossible, screw it. If Microsoft puts out an Apple-style license, they can watch the Open Source movement pass them by. If they put out an OSI-compliant license, there may be some benefit. We might be able to improve it. If they take on an open-source mindset as a company, then they stand a chance at becoming the greatest respectable software house in our time. Microsoft may be making a careful gesture of reform and repentence. Then again, they may be trying to sucker us again. I suggest that we remain cautiously optimistic.

The amount of time between slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is precisely 1 bananosecond.

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