Open Source Supporters Question Microsoft Motives -- Again

Lora Bentley

Bloggers and tech journalists are still trading barbs over Chris DiBona's reaction to Microsoft's OSI submission, it seems. In his Open Source Guy blog, Guy Snir points to a comment piece in The Register in which Ashlee Vance argues that it's "near impossible not to take Microsoft's side here." Google is a bigger threat to open source than Microsoft is, in his view.


Snir doesn't agree:

I find it hard to accept the claim that if Microsoft plays the game by the rules, we should not criticize and/or make cynical remarks (which I enjoy...).


The Open Source "trademark" has its share of problems and issues. Add the confusion Microsoft is creating and the highly likely confusion it will create if one of its licenses is approved, and you have a definite concern and a legitimate debate.

Neither, it seems, does ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn, who calls Vance's piece "a complete indictment," adding:

Let me state for the record that I am a big Google fan. They have built a proprietary powerhouse on open source.

And Groklaw's Pamela Jones contributes the following:

[The Open Source Definition] doesn't say OSI can't discriminate. It can if it wants to, as far as the OSD is concerned. So Microsoft's representatives and defenders need to stop twisting the definition's words.


So the question becomes, should OSI discriminate? Will a farmer let a fox into the henhouse if the fox puts on a chicken suit?


I think not. Not if he wants to have any chickens. A fox in a chicken suit is still a fox and is still planning to eat his chickens. So only a stupid farmer would reason that a fox in a chicken suit, even one made from real chicken feathers, should now be allowed to reside in his chicken coop with his tasty chickens.

After taking in the varying opinions, my question is this: Does Microsoft have to be assigned an evil motive just because it's Microsoft? Could it not be that the company is coming to terms with the market reality that open source isn't going away and it probably needs to alter its proprietary game plan to survive? Just a thought.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 23, 2007 9:27 AM Serhy Serhy  says:
>Could it not be that the company is coming to terms with the market reality that open source isnt going away and it probably needs to alter its proprietary game plan to survive?Microsoft is the biggest and richest software company in the world. They have total dominance on the market. I really don't think that they need to change something to survive. Doing business the way they do now they still will be the biggest and richest software company. Why do they need to change something? Reply
Aug 28, 2007 11:45 AM John Eckman John Eckman  says:
As I've written in my blog post about the issue (, I don't think *intent* is even the problem - the issue at hand in most of the current discussion on the OSI's license-discuss list is about the *impact* of the licenses - which is a valid place for the OSI to spend time. Reply

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