Community Column: An Open Letter to Craig Mundie
May 04, 2001, 03:03 (24 Talkback[s])
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By Tom Adelstein
Craig, before your speech today, I've prepared a few notes to
help you set a context. First let's start with a statement from a
lengthy US Justice Department Legal Action and the resulting
"412. Most harmful of all is the message that Microsoft's
actions have conveyed to every enterprise with the potential to
innovate in the computer industry. Through its conduct toward
Netscape, IBM, Compaq, Intel, and others, Microsoft has
demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and
immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing
initiatives that could intensify competition against one of
Microsoft's core products. Microsoft's past success in hurting such
companies and stifling innovation deters investment in technologies
and businesses that exhibit the potential to threaten Microsoft.
The ultimate result is that some innovations that would truly
benefit consumers never occur for the sole reason that they do not
coincide with Microsoft's self-interest."
From "Findings of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, Nov. 5,
Perhaps we should consider the above segment from Judge
Jackson's findings before we pay much to the build-up your speech
at New York University received by the New York Times:
"Microsoft is preparing a broad campaign countering the movement
to give away and share software code, arguing that it potentially
undermines the intellectual property of countries and companies. At
the same time, the company is acknowledging that it is feeling
pressure from the freely shared alternatives to its commercial
"In a speech defending Microsoft's business model, to be given
on Thursday at the Stern School of Business at New York University,
Craig Mundie, a senior vice president at Microsoft and one of its
software strategists, will argue that the company already follows
the best attributes of the open-source model by sharing the
original programmer's instructions, or source code, more widely
than is generally realized...."
"In his speech, Mr. Mundie will argue that one aspect of the
open-source model, known as the General Public License, or G.P.L.,
is a potential trap that undercuts the commercial software business
and mirrors some of the worst practices of dot- com businesses, in
which goods were given away in an effort to attract visitors to Web
sites. G.P.L. requires that any software using source code already
covered by the licensing agreement must become available for free
Let us not forget the vibration of the findings, "The ultimate
result is that some innovations that would truly benefit consumers
never occur for the sole reason that they do not coincide with
In this context, some people may find it difficult to take
seriously any open forum defense of Microsoft's position by a
spokesman from Microsoft. As one of my friends often says about
similar situations, "How dumb to they think we are?
Obviously, very dumb.
We need to take some care in how we present the viewpoint on
GPL, don't you think?
Why we have copyright and patent law
Congress passed the original Copyright Law of the United States
and President George Washington signed it on May 31, 1790. The law
in its entirety took up one and three-quarters columns in
"Columbian Sentinel", printed on Wednesdays and Saturdays by
Benjamin Russell in State Street, Boston Massachusetts.
President Washington and Congress agreed on the law's intent in
the opening paragraph where they say, "An Act for the
Encouragement of learning by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts
and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of Such Copies during the
Times therein mentioned".
The law arranged for the author to hold title for 14 years with
an additional 14 years upon proper renewal. Additionally, it only
covered works by United States citizens for works produced in the
Given its context, Congress passed this law to protect the
"little man" against the tyranny of unjust governments and Royalty.
No matter how the law has evolved, we cannot ignore its intent.
I doubt that Thomas Jefferson, the Secretary of State would have
wanted to provide a safe harbor for any Company making billions of
dollars annually with gross profits of 50% with the Copyright Law
The implicitly of Jeffersonian philosophy toward governments and
organizations seems at odds with an empire built by a mamoth
company off its publication share. People still have to give you
credit for knowing how to make money a la "buy low and sell
Too Much Precedence for Whining
Having had the opportunity to program and administer various
Microsoft programs and then compare them to Linux, the amusement
level reaches significant heights for me. It appears to me that
some developers spend the vast majority of their time finding ways
to confuse other developers than they do improving Big DOS.
Is Microsoft Coming Down?
Bynari has been very, very good to me. With the opportunity to
visit with the major OEMs in either the capacity of an alliance or
the due diligence process, I gained significant information.
The OEM's ask us the same question continuously: What is your
strategy in the event Microsoft is broken up this year?
I ask myself what would cause these close alliance partners of
Microsoft to ask these questions? Why are they straight-faced
Maybe, they just know something I don't.
Tom Adelstein is a
member of the Computer Press Association and is a Certified Public
Accountant. He often jokes about having two CPA cards in his
wallet. Tom began his writing career with the publication of his
first book in 1985 by "Longman Press, Chicago." He writes numerous
aticles about Linux for a number of publications. Tom helps
Tradeclient and the open source ezine, Consulting Times. His day job
includes the duties of VP Technology for Bynari Inc. who recently released
Insight, the Linux client for Exchange.