Joining A Community Means Accepting Its Norms

The progress of Microsoft towards acceptance into the open source community continues. The Azure team is definitely a force for good in the company, constantly pushing Microsoft’s developer teams to understand how important the Linux platform and open source developer components and tools are to the success of Microsoft’s cloud business. After the partnership with Red Hat, the news they will release SQL Server for Linux, while not surprising to me, was very interesting, as was the news they are joining Eclipse. Continue reading

Azure Loves Linux; What About Microsoft?

The news that Red Hat and Microsoft have reached an agreement about hosting Linux is very welcome. I am delighted for Red Hat here, and see this as a huge sign of the continuing power and growth of open source. It shows that the cloud market is one where and embrace of Linux is table stakes. It also shows that the enterprise market is one where Red Hat is a huge and powerful supplier.

All the same, let’s be clear that all the “Microsoft Loves Linux” hype I saw at SUSECon in Amsterdam yesterday and at other events earlier this year is just not true. Microsoft Azure loves Linux, there is no doubt; it is a basic requirement for them to become relevant on a cloud market dominated by AWS and Linux. They have been out in force at every commercially-oriented open source I have attended this year and have a full-scale charm offensive in place.

But the rest of the company still does not. They still seem to covertly spread open-source-related FUD about LibreOffice here in Europe. They haven’t foresworn making embedded Linux vendors pay for patent licenses of dubious necessity. The Azure business unit is certainly embracing the ecosystem the same as many before them have done so in their steps towards open source. But the Windows and Office business units show no signs of “loving” Linux and only modest signs of co-existing with open source.

It’s hard to change a company as large and profitable as Microsoft quickly. But a significant and binding gesture of goodwill would go a long way to convincing those of us with the scars of Microsoft’s decades of verbal and actual abuse of open source that they mean business.  It’s no secret what the necessary gesture is.

“We both know we have very different positions on software patents,” said Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president for products and technologies. “We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.”
(WSJ)

Red Hat, despite asserting they don’t believe Microsoft has any patents that read on their products, included a standstill agreement in the deal. Sources tell me it is carefully phrased to comply with the GPL. If Red Hat felt they had to do that with their new partner, there’s no doubt everyone else remains at risk.

If Microsoft truly want to signal the end of hostilities, step one is to sign the Mozilla Open Software Patent License Agreement or join OIN. Until one of those happens, I remain sceptical of Microsoft’s love for Linux.

[Please see my InfoWorld article for more]

Ballmer to leave Microsoft

Honestly it’s about time and exactly what the company needs if it’s to get fixed. Let’s hope they get someone who will truly embrace open source rather than firewalling it and paying lip-service to it while secretly attacking it. That’s the change I have long said is needed to move beyond stage four of the journey.

No matter what the conversation, this is the man my mind’s eye sees:

Open Source and App Stores

Package management in Perl and Linux may have seeded their existence, but app stores have been hostile to open source and failed to pass on software freedom to users. But that could be changing, and today’s exemplar could be … Microsoft. Read on in InfoWorld today as I lay out the groundwork for the discussion Amanda Brock and I will lead at FOSDEM.

Samba 4 As Anti-Trust Remedy

Has Microsoft got a problem? The extensive new features in Samba 4 make it a viable, license-free, security-certified alternative to Active Directory, and make OpenChange a viable alternative to Exchange. What’s more, Microsoft has participated in testing to make sure they work as advertised. This could be the open source identity solution everyone has been waiting for.

None of this could have happened without Microsoft’s European anti-trust conviction in 2004 and the subsequent purchase of the documentation on behalf of the Samba team in 2007. Could this be the first time an anti-trust settlement has done more than just fine the victor?  My piece in InfoWorld has more.

☝ A liberating betrayal?

Having suspended disbelief for as long as I could, my ability to take Microsoft at their word over Skype was shattered today by the announcement by Digium, sponsors of the Asterisk project, that they have been told they can no longer sell their Asterisk-Skype interaction module after July 26. In one move, we have illustrated the risk of a hybrid open source model, the danger of dependency on a proprietary system, a proof that Microsoft still can’t be trusted with open source and an impetus to open source innovation.

All in one announcement.  Read all about it on ComputerWorldUK.

☝ OSI Refers Novell Transaction To Competition Authorities

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) Board of Directors announced today that it has taken the unprecedented step of referring the proposed sale of Novell’s patents to the CPTN consortium (led by Microsoft and allegedly including EMC, Apple and Oracle – unlikely bedfellows) to the German competition authorities.

Continue reading over at ComputerWorldUK

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