Nearly a decade on from my original journey model, how far has Microsoft really come? Are they now aligned with their peers?
A decade ago, I wrote about the journey corporations take as they move from treating open source as a threat to embracing software freedom as a corporate philosophy within their business strategy. It wasn’t a perfect model, but it had plenty of resonance for me and many others at the time. The steps were:
Fact-checking some tweets about Linux Foundation’s newest member and their harvesting of other members’ money.
Microsoft recently joined the Linux Foundation while still asserting its patents against the rest of the membership. As I found that odd, I tweeted some casually-calculated statistics about Microsoft’s patent revenues that seemed to me to simply be the aggregation of common knowledge. But maybe people have forgotten the details; at least two respondents asked me to substantiate the figures. Having struck a nerve, this post is by way of explanation. Continue reading →
But claims “Microsoft Loves Linux” are premature; this is just the Azure team throwing big money at credibility, not a decision by the whole company to end hostilities. To do that they would need to join OIN.
Microsoft’s recent announcement that much of .Net will become open source and that it will support both Linux and Mac OS X is fantastic news. Along with the additional, full-featured, no-cost versions of its developer tools the company is introducing (though they remain proprietary), this represents a large, positive step in Microsoft’s open source journey.
Simon’s spoken and written a number of times about the seven stages of a corporation’s journey into open source and used Microsoft as an illustration of his ideas. This new development puts the company very clearly at the fifth stage of Simon’s scale, which is impressive, but begs the questions “what’s next?”, “how does Microsoft’s open source journey continue to develop from here?”
The answer lies in a holistic view, in which respect for open source extends to every business unit of this famously divided company. While those business units that don’t yet respect open source continue to use tactics such as patent attacks on Linux community members and covert political moves to undermine the Open Document Format, further progress will be slow in coming. Microsoft’s gradual acceptance of the inevitability of open source however, seems to be in full swing. For more detail, check out Simon’s InfoWorld article.
The action law enforcement services have taken against the GameOver-Zeus malware syndicate is great news for a change. In the UK, this was communicated with typical tabloid alarmism, framed as “two weeks to save the world” instead of “unusually effective action by law enforcement”. As a result, UK publications have been posting self-preservation information for their readers.
The BBC’s instructions start with the statement “If your computer does not run Windows, stop right here.” Users of other operating systems like Linux or ChromeOS have nothing to worry about this time, even if they are increasingly likely to be targeted elsewhere. As a result, some have asked whether Microsoft is to blame for all this malware. Continue reading →
The Microsoft news is coming thick and fast. A few days ago we discussed Office for iPad, Microsoft’s confession of unethical behaviour and its release of MS-DOS code under a prohibitive license. This weeks news seems even bigger: open source for .Net and $0 pricing for mobile Windows. There’s cause to be excited, yet as ever caution is required.
The excitement comes from the .Net news. The formation of the .Net Foundation and the hosting of 24 projects within it should liberate developers to innovate in a way that seemed impossible under previous leadership. This move has seemed an obvious one for the open source community for a long time, as it offers a new lease of life for .Net through contributor innovation and should help create a rich, monetisable market.
The caution relates to the news that Windows for mobile will be free of charge. Whilst unarguably a big move, it’s not open source — the license terms still restrict how you can use the software. This is important, as whilst a “first hit is free” approach to getting people using mobile Windows might bring some results, the key to sustained innovation and therefore sustained increase in the user base comes from removing the need to ask for permission before you can innovate.
Perhaps it’s too soon to be jumping to conclusions, but is it possible that Microsoft’s promotion of Satya Nadella into the CEO spot is a sign of willingness to change? Holding out for a future in which Microsoft embraces open source, Simon explains in InfoWorld this week why despite the ‘true to character’ release of MS-DOS code under particularly unhelpful licensing terms, the first few weeks of Nadella’s leadership still leave him with a of tinge of hope.
The two incidents he examines are the release of Office for iPad and Microsoft’s moves towards higher ethical standards regarding the privacy of their customers. Whilst there is much caution and qualification, Simon’s reading of the signs seems to be that Nadella is the man to open doors for Open Source at Microsoft. Read his full article on InfoWorld here.
Since the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia there have been numerous assessments of what this says with regard to Microsoft’s future business model. Are they becoming another Apple clone? Much less attention has been paid however to the remains of Nokia.
You see, Microsoft didn’t acquire everything. They’ve got the traditional mobile phones, the smart devices and all related services. That’s all the important bits right? Not quite, Nokia has been left with a mapping data business, a technology business providing phone companies with infrastructure, and (significantly) a considerable portfolio of patents.
Having sold on their physical devices, Nokia is now free to ruthlessly pursue anybody they feel is “infringing” those patents without worrying about counter attacks against their own technologies. Licensing the patents to Microsoft but keeping the patents themselves in hand, Nokia is left as a potentially very unpleasant patent troll, presumably seeking to harass Microsoft’s rivals. For the full story, see Simon’s InfoWorld article.