FOSS Community Should Not Negotiate With Microsoft On Port 25
In the wake of Microsoft launching their Port 25 blog in an effort to open the lines of communication with the Free and Open Source Software Community, a long line of FOSS proponents have voiced loud and clear their fears, doubts, and outright opposition. Indeed, one poster suggested that "there is nothing to discuss". And he has a point. Until Microsoft ceases their anti-competitive behavior, until they cease their attacks on the freedoms of users, until they cease their blatant lies about the FOSS community, its software and licenses, there can be no discussion that will lead to any understanding. Microsoft must cease to act like economic terrorists, attempting at every step to prevent others from competing fairly, and start acting like a company that is willing to compete on the merits of its software.
While the casual reader may believe my charge of economic terrorism is unfair or overblown, consider that Microsoft actually threatened to pull Windows from the Republic of Korea if they were found guilty of anti-competitive business practices in that country. If Windows was as entrenched there as my little church management database back-end, it could hardly have been considered a threat. But Microsoft's software has been heavily entrenched in Korea. They were found guilty anyway, and seem to have toned down the war talk. Still, the fact that they made such a threat is all the evidence I need that they have become, in essence, economic terrorists who feel that they can bully and threaten their prosecutors into letting them off lightly.
While facing legal penalties in the European Union for anti-competitive behavior, Microsoft has decided that, instead of doing the right thing, they should convince the US government to lobby the E.U. on their behalf. They would rather pay fines and fight a long legal battle than cooperate with the European courts. In fact, Microsoft ignored a European standards body's advice to participate in the development of OpenDocument, and then acted surprised when Massachusetts chose to adopt the office document format. Microsoft's attempt to fight OpenDocument's adoption, is simply one more attack on fair competition.
Now Microsoft wants to convince or possibly even try to coerce the hardware manufacturers (through OEM licensing deals) to not sell computers without an operating system. How is this not the tactics of an economic terrorist? What about consumer choice? What about my right to buy a computer with or without software? What about my right to buy a computer without having to buy a copy of Microsoft's operating system, if I don't want it? That is not Microsoft's decision to make, but mine. Who else but a terrorist attempts to manipulate others in such an evil way? Yet, Microsoft wants to have a dialog with the FOSS community.
The United States government has a policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. I suggest that the FOSS community take a similar stance. While I normally counsel people to make every effort to keep the lines of communication open, I also recognize that meaningful communication can only occur when it is honest and un-coerced, and when both sides listen, as well as talk. As long as a terrorist has hostages, how can he be trusted? As long as a terrorist has the ability to do harm, how can he be trusted? Microsoft must act trustworthy before we can trust them.
Like terrorists, Microsoft executives tell half-truths to mislead their supporters. When Jim Allchin attempts to redefine "open source" he is leading people away from the idea of the freedom that open source software offers. When Ballmer calls the GPL communist, he is leading people away from the fact that the GPL guarantees a free-market economy in which all can compete fairly. He is also leading people away from the fact that Microsoft acts more like the dreaded Kremlin of the Soviet era (political communism), seeking ever-greater control over their users, and in the name of "security" at that. Never mind their "Get the Facts" campaign that literally ignores, or makes up, many "facts". It's a fact that you cannot trust liars.
In order for Microsoft to hear our message, the entire community - from Stallman and Raymond to the newest newbie - must communicate loud and clear, that there can be no discussion until there is trust. This message must be heard in the blogs. It must be heard in the mainstream media. It must be heard throughout Seattle & Bellevue. It must be made loud and clear through our voices, our purchasing decisions, and through our refusal to back down until Microsoft demonstrates some trust. We don't want Microsoft's generosity. We want to be able to trust them. If Microsoft wants to communicate with us, this is their chance. All they have to do is prove we can trust them.
In my faith, we practice a process known as reconciliation. This process occurs when two parties fall out, and then attempt to repair the relationship. Reconciliation is a two-step process involving (1) an admission of failure or wrong-doing and (2) a commitment to avoid the harmful patterns of behavior in the future. This is effectively what Microsoft must do before Port 25 can be considered at all useful for anyone. The FOSS community can have open and willing hearts. Denials and continued misconduct will only lead to more mistrust and to an even more broken relationship. Thus the ball remains in Microsoft's court. Give us a reason to trust.
|Subject||Topic Starter||Replies||Views||Last Post|
|credibility.||cwakefield||6||2,622||Apr 18, 2006 2:30 PM|
|I don't think terrorist fits||amadensor||21||3,586||Apr 18, 2006 2:07 PM|
|Why should MS trust Linux users?||Obsid||18||3,018||Apr 17, 2006 8:08 AM|
|RE: Give us reason to trust||d0nk3y||6||2,820||Apr 16, 2006 11:30 AM|
|$10 says...||boatboy||6||2,548||Apr 16, 2006 8:30 AM|
|A bit jumbled||AnotherDamnUser||7||2,923||Apr 13, 2006 7:18 PM|
|Nope. Too hot.||Penguin_Pete||1||2,608||Apr 13, 2006 9:27 AM|
|this is the get the facts article||jsusanka||0||2,732||Apr 13, 2006 4:16 AM|
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