Rant Mode Equals One: The Linux Reality Versus the Microsoft Dream
Feb 16, 2001, 09:08 (147 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
By Paul Ferris
Well, we're finally getting down to brass tacks with
Jim Allchin, in an interview with
CNET.com comes right out and proclaims that "Open source is an
intellectual-property destroyer." He then goes on to equate
Linux-like operations with Napster-like operations. The two things
aren't the same and Allchin knows it. But possibly a lot of people
looking in will think the two are inseparable. Possibly the witch
hunt can begin if you throw enough mud at the competition.
The threats are not comical anymore. I was laughing at Steve
Ballmers' characterization of Linux as
"crummy". I have to admit that when I read that I thought "If
that's the best he can do, then we're in the home stretch." What
was baffling was why he didn't go all out and say it was "Ugly", or
"Butt-ugly"? I don't know -- but crummy? Well!
These sound-bites from Allchin, however, aren't so funny. You
get the feeling that possibly he wants to begin legislating
something in Microsoft's favor (like UCITA wasn't already enough).
This from a company that has been screaming mighty loud about
preventing the government from meddling in their affairs.
It's different, I guess, when it comes to Linux and Open Source,
eh? The government might begin supporting Linux more, I guess is
the worry. The government should support Microsoft more -- why?
Because Allchin hints that Microsoft is where the real innovation
is taking place.
When has Microsoft been innovative? It's no secret that the
single most innovative thing in recent years (the Internet) is
running mostly non-Microsoft products. Some of us will even go so
far as to say that the Internet wouldn't have happened had it not
been for Open Source. Why? Because that's where the real
innovation is happening.
Anywhere but Microsoft
Microsoft has been a close follower, picking up technologies
developed elsewhere and rolling them into their own. That's not
Jim, I understand that you want to innovate -- please start
sometime soon, and maybe we'll all listen closer to your demands.
In the mean time, what about my right to innovate? Where
is my right to innovation when you have the rights to the source
code locked up tight in a safe in the Redmond castle?
Where is all this talk about "The American Way" when the rights
of the people who use a product are compromised -- when there is
taxation without representation? When you charge for something that
many (inside and outside of the United States) believe should be
the property of the people who use it?
Microsoft did not invent the operating system. Microsoft came
along and packaged it, branded it and made it as proprietary as
they could while at the same time yanking as many ideas from
competitors as possible.
Jim -- that's not innovation. That's integration. That's
marketing. You are now and always will be free to do that.
And Linux isn't a threat to Microsoft's ability to innovate
either. Not only do you now have a cool source of new ideas to
patch into Windows -- you have the source code to go along with it
as an example (Not that Microsoft would ever use Open
Source code in any Windows product, mind you).
Linux is a threat, however, to Microsoft operating
system revenue. Possibly the same way that the American revolution
was a threat to Englands' tax revenue. For the same reasons, the
Linux and Open Source revolution is going to continue to
So Jim, what do you suggest? Legislate usage of Windows? Look
around -- Linux is a global phenomenon. The global revolution is
going to happen, regardless of the legislation passed in America.
You want to import more programmers from around the globe, but at
the same time you don't think that their ideas will make it in too?
You want to import talent from around the globe, but you think you
will keep out something like Linux?
It's amazing the way that Microsoft plays the game. The rules
only apply when things happen in their favor.
Taxation without representation? Only if it helps Microsoft.
Legislation? Only if it helps Microsoft maintain their
Innovation? Only if it can happen in one place -- Redmond
It's time for Microsoft to give up the FUD -- and start innovating like
they claim they want to.
The cat is out of the bag. The GNU General Public License is no
more anti-American than the United States Constitution. True,
honest to God innovation is happening with Linux right now, and the
party is open to everyone -- including Microsoft if they want to
get in on it. It's a growing phenomena that is creating
intellectual property and true new innovations. The only thing that
can possibly upset Jim Allchin is that Microsoft can't own that
intellectual property. They aren't free to repackage it and drive
out competitors with the same tricks they've always depended upon
in the past.
What a sham. It's un-American all of a sudden if Microsoft can't
Go ahead, squeeze harder. Lobby like crazy. That's the American
way, right? Get the government to help support the Microsoft-Party
line. Get that threat of competition extinguished right away. Go on
importing programmers from around the globe so that you can
maintain your precious locked-in intellectual property and tax the
whole world for items that are available otherwise for free from a
user-supported code base.
Keep the American dream alive, Jim.
Yours, that is. In the mean time, I'll live with my Linux
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 3 years.