A brave new world? – Microsoft wants to work with others?

"We come in peace" says Microsoft?
"We come in peace" says Microsoft?

I get a little resentful when I read about Microsoft wanting to embrace/work with Open Source.  To me it seems like every time Microsoft make one of these statements its implying that its doing everyone a favour by welcoming Open Source with bold statements, open arms and a great big Steve Ballmer grin.

I personally think the opposite is true and that its the Open Source community that is doing Microsoft the favour by giving it a piece of what it so desperately want to be a part of (IMO).

The problem is Microsoft and Open Source in general are like oil and water, Microsoft needs to make revenue for its shareholders, Microsoft needs to sell you things and Microsoft needs you to need it.

I don’t think anyone can argue that point and in the last few days, yet again Microsoft have made another brave statement trying (IMO) to show that its ready to “open up”.

On October 7th 2009, Brad Smith of Microsoft said this:

We welcome today s announcement by the European Commission to move forward with formal market testing of Microsoft s proposal relating to web browser choice in Europe. We also welcome the opportunity to take the next step in the process regarding our proposal to promote interoperability with a broad range of our products.

Today s announcement follows our publication of earlier drafts of these two proposals in July and broad feedback from across our industry to the Commission in August. Microsoft then engaged in extensive discussions with the Commission over the last month, during which we agreed to make numerous changes to improve these proposals. For Microsoft, today s decision is a significant step toward closing a decade-long chapter of competition law concerns in Europe.

And you can see the press release (source) in its entirety here.

Lets look at this more closely, We also welcome the opportunity to take the next step in the process…” – really? does anyone actually believe Microsoft is happy with the EU commission’s concerns over browser monopoly?  Well according to the first part (IMO) it reads like it was Microsoft’s idea all along: European Commission to move forward with formal market testing of Microsoft s proposal relating to web browser choice in Europe” – again, was this a plan instigated by Microsoft in the interests of fairness or was it Microsoft making the best of a decision which in my opinion was damaging to Microsoft?  I’ll let you decide.

Looking further down the press release we also get this “gem” of generosity by Microsoft:

The second measure is a “public undertaking” that covers interoperability with Microsoft’s products—the way our high share products work with products from our competitors.

and we have all read the articles on the net in regards to Microsoft interoperability haven’t we?  I’m sure Microsoft just loves working with other products and I’m sure Microsoft is happy to help out it competitors when ever it can.  Back in the real world is this just another example of Microsoft trying to say the right things in the hope it will be accepted?  Microsoft (IMO) is not the one-stop-shop for consumers anymore.

Further more, Microsoft have said:

Microsoft s proposed undertaking will ensure that developers throughout the industry, including in the open source community, will have access to technical documentation to assist them in building products that work well with Microsoft products.

I’m sure.  Tell me if FOSS is working well with Microsoft products whose benefit is that?  I certainly haven’t needed anything Microsoft in the home for a good few years now, what benefit is there to me as part of the Open Source community that FOSS products work well with Microsoft’s?  Heres an outlandish idea, why doesn’t the mighty Microsoft make its products work well with FOSS (instead of the other way around) If Microsoft want’s to play “happy open source families” then can’t it do the leg work?

This is not (IMO) a kind gesture on Microsoft’s part and I really don’t think the FOSS community as a whole are particularly bothered anymore.

Cast your mind back about five years and consider the response you would get if you asked someone why they used Windows.  At the time alternatives were regarded (IMO) as exotic and difficult to use, users wanted Window for its mostly “out of the box” simple experience.  Now come back to the present.  From my many conversations with people in regards to the justifying of Windows it seems to me that now the main justification for using Windows are 3rd party apps that require the platform.  As we move more towards web based apps, FOSS having viable alternatives to those 3rd party apps and Wine coming on in leaps and bounds, again I ask, what justification is there for using Windows?

Whilst thinking of Microsoft’s brave new open source world, consider that today according to: http://www.latestpatents.com/microsoft-patents-granted-on-13-october-2009/ Microsoft has had 69 patents granted.  Also keep in mind Microsoft has been selling some of its portfolio, argued by some as a patent attack by proxy.


A Twitter friend made a rather witty comment in light of Microsoft “killing” Works.  He said:

Microsoft Works – that name always was an oxymoron.

and we see that Microsoft Office Starter will be bundled with new machines, allegedly ad driven.  Does this sound like a viable alternative to Open Office?  Could the inclusion of ad’s in Officer Starter signify that few people are interested in spending money on the full version and Microsoft is trying to recoup what losses it can from an ad invested package?

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

5 thoughts on “A brave new world? – Microsoft wants to work with others?

  1. If I remember correctly, doesn’t the browser ballot appear as a web page in IE ? As in “you can choose whatever browser you want, but to save you some time we’ve already preloaded ours. You’ll have to download and install the others yourself.” Now, yes, that is a slight improvement if it makes people explicitly aware of the other choices out there, but beyond that, it doesn’t seem much different than before. Besides, there are bigger issues at present than than the browser market, which I have a feeling will take care of itself over time due to IE’s perpetual foot-dragging on performance and standards compliance and rapid advances from Mozilla and Google. On that note, let me know whenever Microsoft manages to get ODF support right. Maybe they need help from the 10 or so other developer groups that pulled it off without problems and with a fraction of Microsoft’s resources? I kid, but the nice thing is that people see stuff like that, and the only impressions it can leave are ones of willful malice or abject incompetence.

    1. IMO, the only reason microsoft’s products are currently being used is primarily it’s installed base generated through OEM bullying. Federal Trade Commission in the US knows about this but does absolutely nothing about it.

  2. Hi Will!

    I think its too little too late, MS has now realized that we are not addicted to their products anymore and I cannot think of any compelling reason why I would want to return to using ANY Microsoft product, ever.

    I am personally of the opinion Microsoft can keep its “favors” to Opensource and also its offers of compliance and interoperability…..not interested.

    I think as we move more and more to web based apps Microsoft is going to find it even tougher to stay in the home, when you look at what the average user is doing with their machines there really is no need to even consider Microsoft products (IMO)..

    In my opinion 3rd party apps are the only thing keeping users with Windows now.

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