|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Microsoft GNU Pitch
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Date: Mon, 12 May 2008 21:48:15 -0400
From: Ruben Safir
Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Microsoft GNU Pitch
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Microsoft emails Blender Sunday, May 11 2008 -at- 12:52 PM EDT
Microsoft has just approached the Blender guys, and I would assume have
or will approach other FOSS projects since we learn that Microsoft has
assigned a guy to work with Open Source projects, with a request for
information on how to make Blender run better on Windows. Here's part
of what Microsoft emailed to Blender:
With respect to Blender, what can you tell me about your
community/user feedback that you have heard regarding file
formats? Specifically, Microsoft is slowly shifting toward a more
open standards based approach to its file formats. The ISO standard
Office Open XML is an example of the direction we are moving
towards. A good user experience of Blender on Windows is good for
your project/community and good for Microsoft. What we are trying
to understand is what file formats, which are not open or not fully
open, are impeding the optimal experience with your community.
OOXML is an example of openness? They're kidding, right?
While on the surface, one might think this is an example of greater
openness on Microsoft's part, I thought it would be probably a good time
to point out Microsoft's competitive strategy against Linux and FOSS. I
think this is an example of its announced strategy to "outsmart Linux",
as Ballmer put it, using "openness" -- a Brand X, tilted version of it --
to do it.
Here's the overarching strategy Ballmer mentioned recently:
I would love to see all Open Source innovation happen on top of
Windows. So we've done a lot to encourage, for example, the team
building, PHP, the team building, many of the other Open Source
components, I'd love to see those sorts of innovations proceed very
successfully on top of Windows.
Because our battle is not sort of business model to business
model. Our battle is product to product, Windows versus Linux,
Office versus OpenOffice.
Get it? They view everything as a battle. "All Open Source innovation"
means to him, I gather, that Windows runs the applications so well,
the GNU/Linux operating system dies off. Who needs it? That's how they
think, because they don't grasp any purpose to freedom for the code or
for the end user. If you do, please watch out. The OOXML saga stands as
a perfect example of how Microsoft plays to win, by hook or by crook. It
is a "standard" that only Microsoft can fully use. That's not openness
to me. Why don't they help the OpenOffice.org guys by telling them how
to render Windows Office 2007 documents properly? Really. If openness
is the goal, how about it, Microsoft? I know. I jest. Instead, Microsoft
would like FOSS developers to cross over to Microsoft's eternally tilted
playing field and lose its competitive advantage. They want Open Source
applications to run better on Windows with the purpose of battling
against GNU/Linux and FOSS more successfully. Want to help them?
I know. It's complex. But unless Microsoft also lets FOSS run Microsoft
applications on Linux equally well as FOSS apps on Windows, it's
not actually interoperability or openness, is it? It's a Microsoft
advantage. "Ha ha, Linux, we outsmarted you," I can imagine them
saying. Microsoft's idea of interoperability is that it runs everything
just great, your stuff and theirs, and you can't. You can run your stuff
great and their stuff in a hobbled and imperfect fashion that leads the
ill-informed to conclude that Microsoft is "better".
There are more than just technical issues to think through, in other
words. I'm just saying consider the entire picture. Microsoft is. Here's
where, in 2002, Ballmer said Microsoft would outsmart Linux, using
increased 'openness' as part of that plan.
The bottom line is this: if Microsoft wants interoperability, all it
has to do is follow true standards, and by that I mean ones that don't
allow proprietary extensions the way OOXML does, and open up their
APIs so everyone is on the same page. Their goal, however, isn't true
interoperability. It's to have Windows do everything, including running
Linux applications, better than anyone else. Why should you settle for
Brand X "interoperability"?
They will very likely also use such reaching out to projects in their
defense before the EU Commission, so unless you wish to be used that way,
think deeply about your response. I understand that there is a very fine
line to be drawn, but while Microsoft says it will "outsmart Linux", I
don't believe that is possible if you stay alert. Most of the brainiacs,
in my experience, are here, not there. But because there is no central
management to plan and react to their competitive strategies, they might
be successful in their overarching aim to destroy Linux and FOSS, if no
one thinks these types of issues through carefully. Happily, Blender is
GPL'd, but so is Linux, and we saw how Novell got snookered. It's natural
to want your applications to run better on all operating systems. But
if the end result is the Extinguishing of FOSS as we know it, what have
You will likely find the responses on the Blender list of interest,
as you follow the thread. Here's the very first comment:
I would not touch that with a barge pole. MS XML is an example that
they are not moving on that issue, or they would support ODF, not
using dirty tactics to force an half-backed non open standard.
They have an history to use one OSS group against another too.
Blender is in a position where we do not depend on any MS backed
format, so I think we should be very careful to stay neutral in
And the next:
Personally I don't see why specific attention should be given to
proprietary Microsoft file formats. If they continue to avoid truly
open standards and their own file formats provide a sub-optimal
experience for Windows users, then it is not the open source community
that has a problem imho.
I don't see Microsoft making it easy for Mac, Sun, Linux etc users to
use their "file formats, which are not open or not fully open". Any
multi platform application which has support for Windows specific
file formats is going to end up with a fragmented community as data
then becomes platform specific even if the application isn't.
Do we want to help Microsoft lock more users data to their platform,
or do we want to encourage Microsoft to truly move towards open
http://www.mrbrklyn.com - Interesting Stuff http://www.nylxs.com -
Leadership Development in Free Software
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town that Brooklyn, like
Atlantis, reaches mythological proportions in the mind of the world -
RI Safir 1998
http://fairuse.nylxs.com DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS -
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"Yeah - I write Free Software...so SUE ME"
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"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be
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technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in
Ancient Egypt. I guess you missed that one."
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