The real question...
Apr 21, 2006
9:59 AM EDT
|The real question is whether we would recognize a change in Microsoft's ways.
Microsoft will not simply flip a switch and say "Hey! We're good guys now."
They don't want to and we wouldn't believe them if they did.
Microsoft has a vested interest in getting along and...believe it or not...so do we (at least those of us who would prefer to make a living using free software). I expect them to hold out small olive branches and see what happens, possibly wincing the whole time.
You see, Microsoft's grand plan has failed. Failed big. By now, Microsoft had hoped to own the server room -- as in enterprise space -- as thoroughly as they own the desktop.
Their sales pitch was Windows NT (and follow-ons) + cheap commodity hardware that was growing steadily more powerful AND cheaper + armies of cheap MCSE's.
But a couple of things happened...Microsoft shot itself in the foot repeatedly:
1. Security gaffes. 2. Broken promises (Isn't Windows on Alpha sweet?) 3. Attempts to shake down customers -- including the largest corporations.
And the world changed around them...
1. Linux and company. If you're a Unix shop, it's cheaper to move to Linux than Windows. Not only that, but knowing that you won't need to prepare a massive years-of-planning and skadillions of dollars to make the move to Windows, you might feel less pressure to leave Unix land.
2. Legal action around the world. We like to think that Microsoft laughs at the law, but the truth is all that money and energy takes a toll. It affects focus, morale, and the perception of the marketplace. I don't think its's any coincidence that talented people have been leaving Microsoft in droves over the last few years.
So...Microsoft (whether they have figured it out or not) has an incentive to play along (a little different from playing nice -- you still have to do the right things, you just don't have to smile while doing it) because there is going to be Linux and Unix and Tigers and Bears in the world, Oh my!!!
Making money will mean getting along at some level.
For FOSS guys 'n gals, getting along opens more doors, gives more opportunities to make a fair living. That may not mean much to the purists, but some of us enjoy taking care of the kids.
Apr 21, 2006
10:30 AM EDT
|We need to see deeds and not just talk.
Thus far Microsoft has given us nothing but cheap talk. They try to fool us with marketing speak like "coopetition" which not even they can define.
If they truly wish to be taken seriously, actions are needed. Providing support for OpenDocument formats or providing programming interfaces for third-party applications are two good examples.
We are way past the time for cheap talk and pretty web sites.
A monopoly does not have to get along to make money.
Apr 21, 2006
10:58 AM EDT
|[WARNING - SOAP BOX MODE = ON]
I, for one, will not recognize any of Microsoft's actions as "good deeds" for a long, long time. Why not? Because we've seen it all before.
Does the phrase 'Halloween memos' ring a bell. How about this one?: 'Embrace, Extend, Extinguish'
Port 25 simply looks like the 'Embrace' phase to me. I have not visited and will not visit Port 25. Why not? How does this phrase strike you?: 'Anything you say can and will be used against you...'
I am forced to use Windows at work, and I have to say that the quality of their products isn't bad. It's come a long way in the last four or five years. However, I'm sick of their lack of ethics. Mind you, this isn't unique to Microsoft. A Marketing professional at a local software company recently told me, "When you get down to the brass tacks, my job is to create a monopoly and lock in our customers."
There was was a time in this country when the phrase 'fair price' meant that the seller makes a decent living and the buyer gets a quality product at reasonable cost. Now it means 'whatever the market will bear'.
Corporate America is busy redefining words like 'fair', 'ethical', 'reasonable', etc. and Microsoft is leading the effort. What's more, their monopoly is built on operating systems and office suites. Operating systems and office suites have been around for more than a decade, but they continue to reinvent the wheel and choke innovation. They should be commoditized by now, but you can't feed a $50billion monopoly by selling commodities. So we hear, "Yeah, that old wheel was good, but just wait till you see our next wheel!" Hey, here's a thought. Why not use the wheels you have and build something innovative! [SOAP BOX MODE = OFF]
Whew! I feel better.
Apr 21, 2006
11:17 AM EDT
|There will be no good deeds.
There will be actions taken of business necessity.
They are no less useful just because the other side isn't smiling.
Apr 21, 2006
11:52 AM EDT
|MS Office for Linux would be a neat thing to see, but it's already pretty much obsolete. Had Office been offered back when Office was new, say O'97, that would have locked in office software for well past now.
...but they didn't. They played the bad guy, and now they reap what they have sown.
I don't want Microsoft to play nice. I want them to FAIL and do so spectacularly, so that the next software house that happens to stumble into the same path to "greatness" won't follow the same path.
Apr 21, 2006
12:49 PM EDT
|Microsoft has stockholders. When the stockholders start showing that they are upset with the company's performance, *then* I will believe that Microsoft is interested in changing.
The driving force behind any for-profit corporation is survival. Being nice is ok, if it makes more money. "Doing the right thing" (make up your own definition, please) is ok, if it makes the corporation more money. The only corporate behavior you can trust is behavior that aligns with the driving force.
I'm done stamping my foot about evil MS. I'm going to show the GNU/Linux tools, show how they can help my customers, my friends, and my family. I will show the advantages and disadvantages, and I'm betting I'll win some customers. When MS finds the market has changed because of the stings of a million mosquitoes like me, then they will have to change.
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