Missing the Boat

Brad Shimmin in his comment, Unholy Alliances — get used to them, which describes alliances between Microsoft and various Open Source providers like Novell and Linspire. Brad implies the only risk is for Microsoft to inject patented code into the Open Source codebase to be used as Trojan Horse attack dogs at a later date Microsoft is currently claiming 235 undisclosed patent breeches and clearly would like a lot more if it decides on another full frontal patent attack on Linux or other Open Source on par with its SCO financed efforts. Remember the current power triumvirate at Microsoft includes Craig Mundie allied with Steve Ballmer as rabid Open Source Deniers.

But what Brad fails to credit is the full polish and scale of Microsofts attack vectors. In attacking W3C and Web standards Microsoft deployed a full array of attack tactics. These include making integration with their tools proprietary or adding “two options”, the slow or deliberately made difficult Open Source way or the proprietary “better” way – where “better” means making their proprietary links to faster starting, easier to access or more options if done with Microsoft-only tools. For example, one can use the latest Java browser in IE – the only problem one has to follow four torturous Microsoft links to get at the very fast and efficient Sun JVM download. And this is true despite the “kiss and make up” deal between Sun and Microsoft.

A second tactic is to outsource development to 3rd parties for critical components – often the important cross platform ones. Microsoft has never been responsible to make things work when they have pledged to provide cross platform support for software like ASP, DCOM, and now C# and Silverlight in Linux through Novell. Over and over the fully functional software a)never gets delivered or b)never matches the full Windows set of features. It appears that SilverLight is going down the latter path. Just as Mono is but a small shell of the complete .NET and C# framework, so too SilverLight on Linux will be MoonLight – a deliberate “also ran” to full Silverlight on Windows. Why would any company want to contemplate SilverLight for pseudo-cross platform and pseudo-cross browser development when Flash, Java, and JavaScript/AJAX provide the real deal ? Why become beholden to the the company insisting on those nasty Software Assurance Audits and no longer lowest cost software provider in the market for key parts of your cross platform strategy?

But the third and most disruptive tactic is to inject proprietary code into Open Source projects which will run only in Windows or best only in Windows. Then if the proprietary routines are not accepted as defacto standards – Microsoft reserves the right to reverse itself on previous promises and commitments to Open Source. The current ODF versus OpenXML standards dispute is but just one example.

So yes I agree with Brad, there will be more alliances between Open Source and commercial vendors – Eclipse and IBM, BEA and Beehive, Adobe and the Flex SDK are good examples. But dealing with Redmond is its own special category – and until Microsoft comes clean on its 235 patents and counting regarding Linux or starts to deliver on 1997 promises to implement w3C and other Web standards, treat Microsoft as a wolf in shoddy sheeps clothing.

(c)JBSurveyer 2007 If you liked this, let others know:
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