Microsoft’s Attack Against Linux & Open Source
It’s old news that Microsoft is going after GNU/Linux and their users with patent threats, but why? I’m going to review the theories as to why the software giant is making the moves as well as voice my opinion on what’s going to happen.
Those of us who are active in the tech industry know that Microsoft has been throwing patent threats since late 2006. They claim that the GNU/Linux operating system as well as other free software packages like OpenOffice.org violate 235 patents, yet they refuse to show us the code. Why? I think because they are just trying to make us think they have some sort of power, and they are intimidating Linux distributors such as Novel, Linspire, and Xandros. The thing I find amusing is that they are calling these deals “cross-licensing and patent-liability indemnification pacts1“, so it actually goes both ways. Microsoft agrees not to sue the above mentioned companies, but on the other hand, the above mentioned companies agrees not to sue Microsoft. My first theory about this hoopla is that Microsoft is trying to get as many companies in on this deal as they can before the open source community discover the patents that Microsoft is violating themselves. Why else would Microsoft have put that security for them in the deal if they had nothing to worry about? Clearly, they have some concerns there.
Another theory is that Microsoft could simply be trying to shove open source in the pits media-wise. They are trying to make them look like the victims and open source communities look like a bunch of hackers (the good kind) in their basements hacking together code and copying all Microsoft’s good ideas. Any time I see Steve Ballmer on the ‘net, he seems to be shedding negative light on something. I wouldn’t put it past him to be making all this up to put the negative vibe on open source to boost their own sales. Microsoft’s Get the Facts section of their website is proof that they are to the point on calling out Linux by name which means they are admitting that they are a competitor and threat to their future sales.
So what’s going to happen now? I don’t think Microsoft is going to have any patent lawsuits with companies or individuals because then they would actually have to have more than empty threats. Microsoft will continue to cry “no fair” while the open source community continues to grow, and Microsoft’s market share will continue to shrink. Do I think this is the beginning of the end for Microsoft? No. Although other people on the ‘net think it is, I believe the two entities can coexist. There is still a use for proprietary software, and they have proven that they can make it work.
This entry was posted on Friday, July 6th, 2007 at 7:27 am and is filed under Linux, Windows. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.