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Microsoft's Savvy Open Source Move 137

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the good-business-sense dept.
willdavid writes to mention Joe Panettieri is reporting that Microsoft is continuing their push for open source software interoperability. In the most recent push Microsoft is partnering with a small Silicon Valley company called SpikeSource to certify open source software on Windows 2008. "Despite growing Linux deployments, Windows Server remains quite popular for running open source applications. SugarCRM, the fast-growing open source application provider, is quick to note that many of its business developments occur on Windows Server. And Microsoft itself has sponsored SugarCRM's conferences, in order to stay in front of open source crowds."
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Microsoft's Savvy Open Source Move

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  • Does this mean... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:21PM (#22966854)
    ... that Microsoft will be writing an ODF module for MS Office?

    Didn't think so. Microsoft's idea of interoperability only goes one way.
    • Mod parent up! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:40PM (#22967022)
      Microsoft is happy to have anything running on Windows.

      Microsoft refuses to have Microsoft apps support Open Source apps.

      It's all one way. It's all Microsoft's way.
      • Microsoft is not really happy to have anything running on Windows if they can sell the same service. Look at Word Perfect, X11, Netscape, Samba and so on. Anyone who ports to Windoze has had to face the same treadmill of changing specs and sabotage. Now it's AV, Open Office, Safari and iTunes. Just look at the stink people made over something as trivial as *gasp* Apple offering another browser on Windows. Anything that threatens M$ revenue and control will always be under attack.

        The OOXML and OLPC sag

    • You mean like this (Score:5, Informative)

      by badriram (699489) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:50PM (#22967130)
      ODF Convertor, is an addin for Office. Microsoft is Funding, and providing documentation and help.
      http://odf-converter.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    • by Z34107 (925136)

      That might not be a bad idea for them, actually.

      If Microsoft Office Business Ultimate Professional Subscriber's Kittens Edition 2009 had an ODF importer/exporter built in (or available in convenient download form, like the PDF exporter for 2007), they could claim perfect support for their (only) competitor's product.

      On the other hand, Open Office still manages to choke on the minutae in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. documents. If Microsoft supported ODF - but Open Office barely supports two standard de

      • On the other hand, Open Office still manages to choke on the minutae in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. documents.

        Though I haven't opened Powerpoint documents I have opened MS Word 2007's .docx and Excel documents with NeoOffice [neooffice.org] the native Mac port of Open Office without problems. The version I have is 2.1 yet 2.2.3 is available.

        Falcon
        • by Z34107 (925136)

          Interesting - I'll have to try NeoOffice. Generally, it opens documents just fine - but it managed to garble a Pivot Table one time, and another time managed to mangle a crappy Word document someone made with a billion pictures space-space-spaced into position by hand. (Although Office 2007 choked on that one, too!)

          I wonder how long it'll take for Microsoft to have to take users away from OSS, rather than keep their existing ones from migrating.

          • I wonder how long it'll take for Microsoft to have to take users away from OSS, rather than keep their existing ones from migrating.

            Actually because of their antics I can see people moving away from Microsoft. I'd bought and used MS Windows and Office for about 10 years. About 1 1/2 years ago though when my HP was dying I got a desktop PC, tower really, with Linux preinstalled. I was sick and tired of the problems I had with Windows and hated the idea that MS was requiring Activation and spyware. The

            • by Z34107 (925136)

              I mean that, right now, Microsoft pretty much owns the market. They're not worried about growing their userbase, they're worried about keeping their user base.

              Linux and Mac are still looking at growing their userbase. I wonder how long until the tables are turned.

              • I mean that, right now, Microsoft pretty much owns the market. They're not worried about growing their userbase, they're worried about keeping their user base.

                Ok.

                Linux and Mac are still looking at growing their userbase. I wonder how long until the tables are turned.

                Linux and Macs are growing in market share but I think it'll take years before either has a sizable desktop market share. Apple has increased it's laptop market share a lot more than the desktop market share which suggests to me than pe

  • Ulterior Motives.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pionzypher (886253) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:23PM (#22966868)
    This is the same company that just extended XP to prevent linux from gaining a foothold in the low end laptop market. They can try to paint themselves any way they want... They're not fooling very many.

    Jaded? Yep. Suspicious? Yep.
    • by Westley (99238) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:29PM (#22966924) Homepage
      I don't think there's anything "ulterior" about it. It's pretty obvious: if people are going to run open source software, MS would like them to be running it on Windows. It's therefore in their interests to help open source developers to get their stuff running on Windows - especially where it doesn't compete with any of their own products.

      Sure, they may well not really want to help the Firefox or Open Office teams much, but if it's a choice between "PHP on Windows" or "PHP on Linux" I think it's obvious where Microsoft's interests lie.

      There's nothing suspicious in that behaviour - it's perfectly plain in my view. Now, unless you count increasing Linux market share as an aim in and of itself, I find it hard to see how MS doing this is something to be dismal about.
      • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:49PM (#22967116)

        I don't think there's anything "ulterior" about it. It's pretty obvious: if people are going to run open source software, MS would like them to be running it on Windows. It's therefore in their interests to help open source developers to get their stuff running on Windows - especially where it doesn't compete with any of their own products.

        Wait for the "embrace, extend, extinguish" routine. Didn't they just come out with something that would only work on Novell and no other flavor of Linux? Just sayin', they've done this before.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

        Which step are they on now?
        • This is yet another "embrace" step for Microsoft. They haven't been able to extend too much, if at all, since true FOSS is demonstratively immune to EEE and its losing FUD coverage. Microsoft knows it can't cast FUD down on open source software much more lest they actually become an obvious opponent to open source. That is not a can of worms Microsoft wants to open. The departured from their own products to open source alternatives would be staggering to them.

          So now they are hardheadedly "embracing" open
          • by jimicus (737525)

            So now they are hardheadedly "embracing" open source. If they manage to get some people to stop developing Linux for "open source support" from Microsoft, they can move on to "extend" where they begin tagging on features to these projects or requiring these features to be implemented for Windows development. It will fall short there.

            Not sure about that one.

            There's lots of web applications which will only run with MySQL as the database backend because they depend on MySQL-specific behaviour - even though it really isn't difficult to remain reasonably database-agnostic provided you consider it from early on in the development process.

            It isn't too much of a stretch to imagine PHP applications which expect the underlying system to be Windows (even with simple things like expecting all paths to start with a letter, followed by a colon, fol

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Junta (36770)

        Sure, they may well not really want to help the Firefox or Open Office teams much, but if it's a choice between "PHP on Windows" or "PHP on Linux" I think it's obvious where Microsoft's interests lie.
        Of course, their interests lie in .Net on IIS on Windows, duh.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pionzypher (886253)
        That's part of it though. If you act like you're playing nice with open source then you have an argument when US and EU regulators are grilling you about monopolistic behavior. In reality it is exactly what you and the article describe... it's for their own reasons (which is fine, they are a company after all) and they'll try to keep it on their own terms.

        I'll push my luck here and wonder aloud how far out php on windows is from the Extend phase. A PHP.Net perhaps?


        You're right, I am being pretty
    • by east coast (590680) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:30PM (#22966936)
      Yeah, God forbid that a company keep a product that the public wants. Ford! Bring back the Edsel!

      Granted, they seem to have fumbled the ball with Vista but let's not get out of hand about their decision to keep XP. I don't think it was meant to fool anyone. You can loosen up your tin foil cap for the moment.
      • by Abreu (173023)
        Well, I would agree with you if they had decided to keep XP for anyone who asked for it... rather than force most computer buyers to buy Edsels.
    • by s1d (1185389)
      Sadly, they are (fooling very many). As always. But Vista is slowly changing things.
  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:28PM (#22966922) Homepage
    ... to Extend?!?
  • by dartmongrel (855947) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:29PM (#22966926)
    Seems to me that Sun are being a bit more savvy in the way they are doing things. First OpenOffice and mysql, now they seem to be partnering up with Canonical (Ubuntu). call me what you will, I'll never trust M$ again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GregPK (991973)
      Actually, I'm considering a move to ubuntu myself. It works perfectly on my machines...
      • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:53PM (#22967156) Journal
        I run Ubuntu and Fedora at home, play with a couple of other distros, but for the family members, it's Ubuntu. Fedora on the two servers. I was donated a copy (legal and stuff) of XP Pro so it sits on a box in the corner of the office if needed. Spend more time keeping it up to date and scanned than anything else really.

        The move with Sun/OOorg/MySQL is something I'm watching closely and hope that it ends up being the winner I suspect it will be.
    • Not to mention that their software runs on many different OS's (java, directory server, etc), their OS runs on different hardware (opensolaris), and their hardware will run anything (Intel, sparc, and AMD processors) Its always been a Dell shop at the office here. Sun is starting to look much, much better. (and cheaper in many cases!)
      • I'm just wondering how they're going to make any significant amount of money. The Sun engineers and software guys know they're stuff - there's no doubt. I suppose large companies and institutions will continue to buy - some - big iron from then in the future. The question I ask is, how much?

        Just out of curiosity I looked at their workstations recently, and for what you get, it doesn't seem like a bad deal. Its not standard desktop fare. But I'd probably prefer a Sun Worksation to a Mac Pro.
  • by VampireByte (447578) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:32PM (#22966960) Homepage
    She has a great track record - founded Marimba, product manager for Java at Sun. I'm not surprised that Microsoft would want to be involved with her when it comes to their open source interests.
    • I agree. The interesting part of the article is where it mentions Intel is putting another $10 million in fresh capital into SpikeSource. That clearly shows both that Intel has some faith in the company and in open source. And Kim's a pretty smart babe.

      I personally can't stand Microsoft and its software (although I make a living supporting it). but I don't mind if SpikeSource gets to spread OSS on Windows with Microsoft's help. In the end, Microsoft won't benefit from it as much as OSS will.
    • by dzelenka (630044)
      When I read "SpikeSource" I thought "Oh good, we're no longer communists! Microsoft thinks we are vampires now!"
  • by legirons (809082) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:32PM (#22966966)
    so Microsoft having just destroyed the international standards organisation to prevent interoperability between word processors, someone manages to write this slashdot summary with a straight face?
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:41PM (#22967040)
    Kind of left that out of his background there on his bio page.

    Microsoft is interested in anything that sells Windows Server. However, with all of their sword rattling, known monopolistic behaviors, partnering with them still can get you the Black Widow Effect. Just ask 3Com, or Ashton Tate, etc.
  • Partnerships... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by andrewd18 (989408)
    I'm tired of reading about what corporation or project Microsoft has hooked up with this week. Open-source software is about the community (and thus partnerships), but first and foremost it's about the code. The community comes because of the open-sourced code, not the other way around.

    When Microsoft actually starts releasing code under a real open-source license, then we can start talking. Maybe.
  • Microsoft did a nice deal with Moodle for adding MSSQL server support - rather than specifying just MSSQL server support be added they funded the development of an XML tool for adding database support - so it was easy to also add support for Oracle and other RDBMSs to Moodle (which already supported PostGreSQL and MySQL).
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:44PM (#22967060)
    This is a "certification" process. How much do you want to bet Microsoft just wants to use this as a tool to control OSS? I'm sure Microsoft thinks they can create the artificial need for "certification" to run on Windows. Then just don't certify certain products, or make the certification process wind up making the software hugely advantageous for Windows. They could try to design the certification process so the software becomes less cross-platform, say uses a lot of closed-source windows specific APIs.

    I'm not sure exactly how MS will turn the certification process to try to control OSS, but based on past behavior I'm pretty skeptical to accept it at face value.
    • by gnutoo (1154137)

      Certification is yet another way to waste free software effort. If reverse engineering a sabotaged and constantly changing OS was not difficult enough, they now offer the chance to lick boots and pay for a certificate of Microsoft appreciation. Real interoperability is easy, liberate the code and follow reasonable standards. The more Microsoft does, the more transparent their motives are.

      They can also use it for fear mongering at companies that continue to run Windows. What do you want to bet Microsoft

      • Wow, I can't believe you got modded troll. Well said.

        It's interesting to wonder what would have happened if the talented folks working on Samba has spent the time instead building a next-generation networked filesystem that Microsoft could only dream of and implemented clients and servers for the three major platforms.

        Things would have turned out differently, that's for sure.
        • by Vellmont (569020)

          It's interesting to wonder what would have happened if the talented folks working on Samba has spent the time instead building a next-generation networked filesystem

          You mean Microsoft working to make the OS and Samba as incompatible as possible with the new next-gen client/server at every OS release? Or maybe the Samba folks having divide their resources among supporting all the various different client versions (95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista), and being able to work less on the server part?


          Things would have t
    • I'm sure Microsoft thinks they can create the artificial need for "certification" to run on Windows. Then just don't certify certain products, or make the certification process wind up making the software hugely advantageous for Windows.

      Except it's the Open Source group SpikeSource that will be doing the testing and certification not Microsoft.

      Falcon
  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:51PM (#22967140) Journal
    I gotta agree with the article. This makes complete sense from a business perspective. As much as slashdot may beat on Windows, many of are using it while we type our abuse. Windows is not going away. If you want a PC to just run out of the box, you install Windows. Linux is getting better, but just isn't to that level, yet. My XP system is littered with open source apps, at work and home. I use Firefox hourly. I use OpenOffice to type up my messages. I use thunderbird to read my ISP mail. I have sunbird loaded, but have not quite got into using the computer to track my appointments, yet (I like my post-it notes, thank you). Open Workbench does a fair job at project management. It is the best of both worlds, imho.
    • I gotta agree with the article. This makes complete sense from a business perspective.

      I agree too, it does make good business sense. However how often does Microsoft make decisions that are good for business? I can name 1 decision which I think was a bad decision, not releasing a version of MS Office for the Unices. In part because MS didn't Open Office has gained ground. Now, some will say or ask who wants to run Office on Linux but if no one did then CodeWeavers [codeweavers.com] would not have created CrossOver so

  • Microsoft cannot stand to see a product they do not control gain popularity. How long before Microsoft releases a half-backed 'competitor' to SugarCRM and using their monopoly to squash it?
    • by jimicus (737525)
      My memory may be failing me here, but aren't SugarCRM and VTiger somehow related?

      Assuming my memory is correct, unless SugarCRM has some drastic differences, they don't need a half-baked competitor. They're quite half-baked enough as it is.
  • Sounds like they are very serious about open source.

  • !savvy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:59PM (#22967198) Homepage
    A -savvy- open source move would be announcing a port of MS Office to SuSE. This "we want you to make your Linux software also run on Windows" move just increases the vulnerability of their cash cow.
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Friday April 04, 2008 @04:04PM (#22967244)
    This is just making sure various popular OSS projects can run on top of Windows. That's not interoperability. It'll be interoperability when MS helps OSS projects written specifically for Windows port to *nix without the need for WINE or other emulators.
    • by jimicus (737525)

      This is just making sure various popular OSS projects can run on top of Windows. That's not interoperability. It'll be interoperability when MS helps OSS projects written specifically for Windows port to *nix without the need for WINE or other emulators.

      No. It'll be interoperability when an OSS project can communicate with a totally unrelated MS product without having to reverse-engineer everything from scratch.

      There is a damn good reason Samba 3.x can only implement Windows NT-4 style domains. It's only in the last couple of months the Samba project has been able to obtain proper specifications.

      There is also a damn good reason that there is more or less nothing Free (speech and beer) which integrates fully with Exchange or Outlook without requiring a s

  • Quote of the Day (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bayesela (1151523) on Friday April 04, 2008 @04:09PM (#22967286)
    "Because some of you *did* think Microsoft was changing and getting more open and was wanting to build bridges to FOSS, etc. I know you did. I hoped for a while myself. Well, take a look at the evidence splayed out before us on the ISO table. It speaks. And what it says is, "There is no new Microsoft." And so we need to get smarter. Make the division more clear. People will choose well, given a clear choice. Firefox and Ubuntu and Red Hat and others have demonstrated that. There is no need to compromise. And if you are tempted by the money, think about the rest of us, will you? Look at ISO. Do you want to be like that? Anyone, then, from this day forward who is naive enough to believe a single word from Microsoft needs to see a doctor right away. That is the single most important positive result from this OOXML process, as far as I'm concerned. Now we know. They shouldn't be invited to Open Source conferences to give keynotes, I don't think, or get to be on boards of directors of organizations, or let inside in any way that gives them the chance to pretend to be members of the community or even fair-dealers with FOSS. They will harm you any time they feel like it, and clearly from the OOXML story, we see they do indeed feel like destroying FOSS. They don't mind if a redefined, brand X version of "open" source limps along in its wake, paying tolls along the way to Microsoft, but they intend to kill off the real thing. That's why the OSP doesn't cover the GPL and the February "interoperability" statement opening up certain documentation is only for FOSS if it is noncommercial. Otherwise, all signs point to patent litigation, with all those presidents of countries that just got phone calls from Bill Gates lending a hand, one presumes. That is the plan, Stan, as best I can make it out, and anyone who enables that strategy by signing patent pledges, inviting them to speak as if they are now members of the community, etc. is helping to kill off FOSS. There is no middle ground now." --Pamela Jones via http://www.cafeaulait.org/quotes2008.html [cafeaulait.org]
  • by Vexorian (959249)

    Microsoft is continuing their push for open source software interoperability.
    LOL! Err, wait a sec! April fools has ended 2 days ago...
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Friday April 04, 2008 @04:20PM (#22967460) Homepage Journal
    ...where 'we' are offended that Microsoft makes calculating and obviously self-serving moves to court open-source applications to run on Windows.

    But, we applaud the efforts of the FOSS community to make every effort to run Windows apps on *nix operating systems.

    And I think both approaches are equally sel-serving. We understand and support it in FOSS, since we assume FOSS is the underdog, righting wrongs, giving us choice, and generally being a hero.

    But Microsoft is trying not to be the underdog in open-source serving, giving us a choice, and generally being as self-preservationist as any *nix vendor. And there are, indeed, *nix vendors. Not just Sun, Red Hat, Novell, but others much smaller that carve out their niches and do very well, thank you. And they, mySQL for example, are not displeased that they also serve a Microsoft customer or two.

    Trust Microsoft to not try and hijack FOSS? Of course not. Assume they want to play nice with FOSS? No, probably not. Condemn them for doing what their competitors are doing? just to pile on, IMHO.

    If only Microsoft had done this when Novell was advancing the art of PC servers. But that's another tale for another day. Back then, the market was up for grabs. MS won, Novell lost. Today, I don't see Microsoft destroying the *nix marketplace any time soon. Too much momentum, too much good stuff out there. Microsoft thrives when they can identify a limited range of competitors. It's not like that any more.

    • ...where 'we' are offended that Microsoft makes calculating and obviously self-serving moves to court open-source applications to run on Windows.

      But, we applaud the efforts of the FOSS community to make every effort to run Windows apps on *nix operating systems.

      And I think both approaches are equally sel-serving. We understand and support it in FOSS, since we assume FOSS is the underdog, righting wrongs, giving us choice, and generally being a hero.


      But FOSS also works to run *nix applications on Windows.
    • But, we applaud the efforts of the FOSS community to make every effort to run Windows apps on *nix operating systems.

      Setting aside the fact that a LOT of people think making Windows apps run on UNIX is a bad idea...

      We applaud the efforts of Microsoft to make every effort to run UNIX software on Windows. That's where real interoperability comes in - the core UNIX API is much simpler and more complete than the corresponding parts of Win32, so you can write a native UNIX app once and run it anywhere (it's not
  • Sharing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Friday April 04, 2008 @05:21PM (#22968092)
    Microsoft is like that brother/sister/neighbour who agrees to share things but doesn't actually understand the social rules of doing so. So you lend them something you cherish and then ask to loan something of theirs and they give you a blank look then say "oh, you mean I have to share to, I didn't know that was part of the deal".
  • I have managed to get Novell's ODF Converter working on Mandriva Linux. It took some packaging, but it works. Although Binary only, there is no reason odf-converter won't work on any given Linux distribution.
  • Yes, but mainly because of how ubiquitous Windows is. We develop Java applications using Eclipse, but all of our desktop machines are Windows XP machines. This means we run Eclipse, Java, and all the various JARs we need (not to mention both Ant and Maven) in Windows. We also use CVS, but will be moving to Subversion. All open source, and all running on Windows.

    Why Windows? Because that's what corporate environments use. Our corporate officers want Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visio, and
  • Here are some concrete little suggestions that would prove Microsoft really is trying. Not nonsense that they won't do (like open-source stuff, or port Word to Linux). Very simple stuff that they have refused to do for years and years:

    1. Do not "certify" software that will not accept a filename that is typed in or is dragged & dropped or cut & pasted that has forward slashes in it.

    2. Do not "certify" software that cannot read a text file with bare linefeeds in it and preserve the line breaks.

    3. Add
  • by Vexorian (959249) on Friday April 04, 2008 @07:18PM (#22969030)

    It is awesome BTW, Microsoft should probably make "Microsoft (r) Logic" a new ISO standard.

    1. Open source is popular.

    2. Most open source is written in a portable way hence they run in many platforms including windows.

    3. There are a lot of windows users out there.

    4. (miss the point)

    ----

    .: Windows is a popular open source platform!

  • In the most recent push Microsoft is partnering with a small Silicon Valley company called SpikeSource to certify open source software on Windows 2008.

    Wait a minute. Microsoft's "interoperability" aside, how is open source software certification supposed to work? By definition of open source, I, being the idiot that I am, can freely modify the thing and therefore break whatever signature protects the version that was certified. Then my version becomes lesser by virtue of not being certified anymore. Neve
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by falconwolf (725481)

      How is certified open source any more open than TiVo?

      It's not certified open source, it's certification that open source software will run on Windows Server.

      Falcon
  • A little bird told me this:

    echo microsoft interoperability \
        | sed 's/ i/ e/;s/per/ops-/;s/bi/h-sh/;s/l//;s/.$//'

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