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OSNews.com: Interview with Microsoft's Zac Woodall

Nov 20, 2001, 12:08 (55 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eugenia Loli-Queru)
"We of course have a policy on GPL code: we can't look at it. What is the reason for this? Well, in my read of the GPL it states that if a work includes GPL code, or is derived from GPL code, then the GPL applies to the aggregate work. And it is very hard to discern between which ideas are completely yours, and which are influenced by code you have seen in the past. What this means is that by incorporating, or possibly even reading GPL code, you are placing your own IP in jeopardy. It seems to me that anyone producing commercial code should be very careful about the implications of the GPL on their dev processes.

Microsoft is of course in the business of making money, as are all businesses, and like IBM and other Intellectual Property-driven companies, a fair amount of revenue is generated through the sale of our IP. Microsoft believes, and has publicly stated that Open Source can be a good thing, but we have concerns with the GPL. To be honest, we spend almost $10B/year on research and development writing code. This is one of the primary reasons for Microsoft?s strong performance - we can assign a whole team of world class developers to work on a new idea, and if we turn out a good product that meets business needs, we know we're going to make back all the money we spent on research and development in the sale of the ideas that team generates. In my honest opinion, I would much rather work in a company who's primary focus is research and development of new ideas and tools, than one who only makes money in supporting others? ideas. After all, in the end of the day businesses are designed for one thing: to make money.

As far as WINE and Mono are concerned, I'm just not sure whether these organizations will end up being able to produce satisfactory products. The real problem is this: it is not good enough for WINE to run some Windows apps. If the general public is going to consume it, it must run all Windows apps. Windows 2000/XP has a significant level of POSIX compliancy, but many developers just don?t write their apps with these standards in mind. You'll find pieces of code everywhere in third party apps which run statements like if (WINVER==4.0 && GrokTheBIOSForSomeACPIGoo()), which have not been tested to see whether they will run on non-Windows/x86 platforms. In fact, Microsoft has had to put in significant time and effort to insure that older Win32 applications originally written to run in Win95 will run in NT."

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