Friday, November 24, 2006

Comments on the MS deal

Further to my (the editorial "we" seems too presumptuous for a blog) coverage on how Ballmer of Microsoft is attempting to slander Linux, here's a pointer to an article on the subject from techdirt; I'd like to draw your attention particularly to this interesting comment:
First of all, Microsoft isn't imitating SCO. It did eventually come out that there was a big venture capital infusion into SCO at the time of their Linux patent trolling, and this venture capital infusion was traceable back to Microsoft. So clearly, all that's happening is that they're now doing openly what they were previously doing through proxies. Secondly, while this is something of a threat to linux, it is far more a declaration of defeat by Microsoft. Face it, they're sitting on a bloated, expensive software project that is hardly offering radical new functionality to motivate upgrades. XP, and Server 2003 are far from great, but they're functional enough for most people to keep using, especially when more and more of the computer's functionality is coming in through the web browser, and hence is pretty much OS independant. The traditional forced upgrade trick of not supporting the old OS on snazzy new hardware won't work, because people can just run Linux on their snazzy new hardware for free. Finally, Linux is starting to get very user friendly( without talking paper clips!), and with Compiz/Beryl, is probably the coolest looking GUI out there. Microsoft has made a great deal of money, and I doubt they'll be going out of business anytime soon, but their days as the scuzzy kings of corporate computing are numbered. Amen.
Not to mention this one:
The thing is, if MS tips their hand to early, it will be a fairly simple matter for the offending code to be removed from Linux, and then we'd have, say, a 2.8 Linux kernel against which MS has no patent claims. Of course, they can drag this fight out for years, and whether or not their patent claims are legitimate won't really matter. Besides, the fact that you can patent virtually anything imaginable will allow MS to patent (after the fact if necessary) some feature used by Linux, OSX or anything else, and simply bleed its victims dry regardless of the existence of prior art or anything else that would prevent their winning in a fair world.

I see this as the gauntless being thrown down. I see this as an admission that MS isn't going to even pretend they can or are going to compete. I see this as the true test of whether or not the United States, and the rest of the world, has become a corporatocracy, or whether the Rule of Law still has any power left.
Clearly, fellow FOSS advocates, now is NOT the time to give up. Educate people; keep coding; explain where and why and how MS is full of bull; stand up to them. Build a Chinese wall around Novell/SUSE and openSUSE, if necessary (it probably is :-( ). Keep doing what we've always been doing: Fight for your rights!

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