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Rant Mode Equals One: Microsoft Forks Windows on Purpose

Oct 30, 2000, 13:28 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)

By Paul Ferris

[ Warning: Dangerous flaming sarcasm ahead! ]

The computer industry is littered with espionage and conspiracy. In this column I'm going to examine the latest breaches of security with a spotlight so bright as to send Bill Gates' innovation team running for their basement-lit coffins. Many people have done this already, and some have suggested that somehow the theft is related to the rage that Open Source programmers feel toward Microsoft. Could the Open Source movement somehow be related to this heist of source code?

Hint: I'm prepping for a job as a tabloid journalist, or a ghost writer for the next "Chariots of the Gods" sequel.

We have two, seemingly unconnected events. First, last last week we have the SAMBA code team fork. And then this past week we have the break-in by nefarious means of the stronghold in Redmond.

I'm sure the words "stronghold" bring to mind the wrong impression, so let me clarify what I mean by that statement. The word stronghold usually means an unbreakable fortress with 10 foot thick stone walls, for example. But with the simple word "Redmond" added, we bring to light a different scenario, altogether.

Picture instead a fortress consisting of a small sign on the front yard near Funk and Wagnels' house. The sign is next to the front porch and reads "Please do not take the code!", in big red, bold letters. Under the sign is a large arrow, pointing to a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar, the contents of which consist of a stack of CD-ROMS with Microsoft logo's and copyright warnings emblazoned upon them.

That's what I mean by the phrase "Redmond stronghold".

Yep, real serious stuff, that Microsoft security. I don't know about you, but with their software powering some Naval vessels, this is a real concern. Pray the Navy doesn't extend the usage to Nuclear submarines next. In light of that possibility, I'm tempted to go out and find one of those much-touted fallout shelters that were all the rage in the 1950's.

But wait, there's more. We have the much publicized, yet somehow oddly ignored, flame bait of the latest SAMBA code fork. How does it factor into this new world you might ask? This corrupt world, filled with espionage and system crackers. This world where possibly millions of lines of bloat are floating about, just waiting for someone to find the Terra-bytes and Mega-flops to required compile them into something somewhat usable? You'll have to forgive me for my bias here. When I speak of Microsoft operating systems the words "somewhat usable" naturally enter my vocabulary.

Simple, just follow my twisted conspiratorial logic. It goes like this: First, you have to imagine yourself as Bill Gates. You're tired of this Linux thing getting all of the attention of the press. You're jealous even. You've been paying for the best press coverage money can buy for years. Recently, for reasons you cannot fathom, all the money hasn't seemed to make a difference. On top of that disappointment, you somehow sense that the way to get the coveted eyeballs to focus upon your products involves the words "Source Code", "Hackers", "Free" and "Fork".

What a mastermind. Just by "hacking" into his own system, Gates has innovated a totally new marketing strategy. He's even touched all the buzzwords in one fell swoop! In order for someone to use the stolen Windows code, they'll have to fork it, and create their own version of Windows ( Windows NYET , would be my first guess for a brand name ). That version of windows will have been created from shared (um, stolen, but shared no less!) code by a group of hackers on the Internet.

You get all the benefits of an Open Source press release, and even better you didn't pay a dime for it!

I knew there was something relating to the open source movement in there somewhere -- didn't you?

Related Story:
Salon: Who cracked Microsoft?(Oct 28, 2000)

Don't let Paul Ferris feel left out spreading twisted conspiratorial logic. Use the talkback system below to tell the world what's really going on.

Used incorrectly in the context of this article. Hackers are not the same thing as system crackers. Hackers are simply people that are into computers with an artistic bend. I used it thusly in the article because:
  • People that don't know better will understand it the way the media portrays it.
  • I'm going for maximum flame with this article. Use the talkback system below to point out my Simian ancestry.
  • In reality, I don't think there's a single open source programmer [hacker] involved in the heist of Microsoft code.
  • I'm sure most of you can take a joke.
Take your pick from the list. I, for the record, consider myself a "Hacker" in the Open Source definition of the word. I mean, I'm not a cracker -- OK?

There, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Paul Ferris is the Director of Technology for the Linux and Open Source Channel at internet.com, and has been covering Linux and Open Source news for over 2 years. He is an editor for Linux Today and a contributing author on Linux Planet.