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Microsoft Reaches Out To Blender 444

dmbasso writes "Continuing its strategy to support FOSS application on the Windows platform, Microsoft mailed the Blender developers asking how they could help improve the experience of Blender users on Windows. Groklaw puts it in perspective using Steve Ballmer's own words."
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Microsoft Reaches Out To Blender

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  • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @12:57PM (#23393298)
    That's easy, release the source.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Blender for Windows is closed source?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by neokushan ( 932374 )
        I meant the source to windows.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I like how you make a joke, it's modded insightful instead of funny, and once you explain the joke you're modded troll
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by neokushan ( 932374 )
            Yeah, it's funny that...they probably think I'm some big FOSS advocate that hates windows and everything about it, when in reality I've never managed to grasp Linux and actually use Vista...
    • by NotBorg ( 829820 ) * on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:17PM (#23394406)

      Microsoft doesn't get it. Most people don't get how open source projects work.

      Open source projects improve (or are influenced most) by getting patches accepted to the project.

      Microsoft is full of developers, developers, developers. Why not just submit some patches that improve blender's performance on Windows?

      Google did that with Wine. They wanted Picasa to work in Wine. Guess what they did. They threw money and patches at it. []

      Take a look at the kernel and how it has changed because companies wanted it to do something and submitted patches. That's how it works.

      Microsoft is a software company that somehow can't figure out how to submit a patch. Sad. Patch up or shut up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rhizome ( 115711 )
        Microsoft is full of developers, developers, developers. Why not just submit some patches that improve blender's performance on Windows?

        Because maybe MS' approaching Blender is more about anti-trust [] than Windows itself? Is Blender used in education [] at all? Methinks if the recent antitrust brouhaha in Europe over interoperability gains any steam, Microsoft is going to work in advance to keep those charges from propagating to the U.S. Perhaps Blender is the first step since it can also provide a supply of XBo
  • by WaltBusterkeys ( 1156557 ) * on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @12:59PM (#23393320)
    Will it Blend?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:00PM (#23393326)
    I'm gonna fucking kill yo... err... how can I help your project?
  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:01PM (#23393344) Journal
    Does Microsoft blend?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:06PM (#23393424)
    Every year they heat up their branding irons and "reach out" to the cows.
  • Irony, much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <> on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:07PM (#23393438)

    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.
    That pretty much says it all, here.
    • Re:Irony, much? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by griffjon ( 14945 ) <`GriffJon' `at' `'> on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:27PM (#23393750) Homepage Journal
      What was parent marked as troll? I think the quote pulled is spot-on; MS wants to redefine "open," and will not stop at pretty obvious bribery and underhanded tactics to do it, such as the OOXML debacle. "The ISO standard Office Open XML is an example of the direction we[Microsoft] are moving towards."

      Thanks for your battle plan, MS! It's too bad the Blender folks didn't pull a reverse-409 style scam and draw out a new round of Halloween-style Documents.
      • Yes Microsoft is trying to get a say in what they think Open Source Should be and it is not the GPL. No big suprise here. There are a lot of people (myself included) that don't care for the GPL and even less so for the GPL/3 Yet I am a fan of the ideas open source, but not the Full GPL Version.
        Microsoft goal is to make money. <- See that period
        With software with a large name such as Microsoft, Adobe, Apple... GNU Open source will not be profitible for them because their competitive advantage is having a
        • I have a start-up company making Open Source software. GPL3, and Affero GPL3, are my money-making tools. They filter the good guys who want to share their development, from the guys who just want some software and don't plan on sharing anything. The first party is happy with GPL3 and Affero GPL3. The other folks are happy with a commercial license, and I am happy with their money.

          GPL is a capitalist tool! :-) Sounds funny, but it really is. Hey, it worked for MySQL, they sold their company for 1.1 Billion!

          So, please don't tell me that the GPL is anti-profit.


    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TrekkieGod ( 627867 )

      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.

      That pretty much says it all, here.

      As someone who really prefers open software to proprietary software whenever I can help it, I have to say that I really have no hatred for Open XML. I have no illusion that Open XML is anything other than an attempt by Microsoft to maintain Office market control in the face of increasing government regulations demanding open formats. However, no matter how you spin it, Open XML is better than the older binary blobs. In the whole spectrum of openness, this is a good thing (tm).

      Sure, ODF would be bette

      • Re:Irony, much? (Score:4, Informative)

        by codemachine ( 245871 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:46PM (#23394824)
        OOXML is definitely better than the old blobs. But it should've never become an ISO standard either. Only massive corruption allowed that to happen.

        With Blender, as long as those MS file import/export filters work on all platforms that Blender does, sure, go ahead and add support for these file formats. But if the filters use some library only available on a Windows system, then Blender ends up with functionality that only works on the Windows platform. This is great for MS, but maybe not so good for the entire Blender project.

        As someone on the mailing list pointed out, the original email from MS is pretty vague as to what they're looking to help with. There would need to be more discussion before the Blender folks could figure out whether this offer to help is something they want to pursue. Hopefully the help isn't turned down before that part happens. Better to look at the technical merits and other factors involved first, instead of just making assumptions it is a bad idea because it involves Microsoft.

        There is good reason to be suspicious, but dismissing them outright before knowing the details just widens the gulf between FOSS and MS, and gives them little incentive to even try working with the community.
  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:07PM (#23393446) Journal
    "Continuing its strategy to fight against FOSS application on the Windows platform, Microsoft mailed the Blender developers asking how they could help improve the user experience on Windows so they could laugh at it. Groklaw puts it in perspective using Steve Ballmer's own words."

    There, fixed it for you. Microsoft doesn't want "open sores" (as microsoft shills used to call it), which Ballmer once likened to cancer, on their operating system.

    If they could make Windows so it only ran Microsoft programs without losing any Windows sales, they would.

    • by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) <saintium&yahoo,com> on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:24PM (#23393708)
      I think most of your post is tongue and cheek but...

      Back in the day when 3d applications were on Digital, Mac, and Irix machines microsoft focused on getting them ported to NT. This did a good job of killing Digital, Irix, and Apple. Getting Blender, IMHO the 3d tool with the most rapidly growing community, to run "best" on Windows would help thwart adoption of Linux. Not just adoption by users but adoption by hardware makers. If you can keep hardware makers focused on building for your platform, users will not leave.
    • Balmer's play may backfire. Read the Groklaw post. It is about trying to outsmart Linux by making sure that "open sores" runs wonderfully on Windows, so nobody needs Linux.

      The problem is that, once people start using OO, Firefox, etc., they will eventually realize that they can run that exact same software on a free OS.

      The shock of changing the OS and the office suite is a lot. However, if you can transition one little piece at a time, Windows is in trouble.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nuzak ( 959558 )
        > Read the Groklaw post.

        I'd really rather not. It's an even worse echo chamber than slashdot. Ballmer's letter is just raw meat to the crowd of screaming sychophants.

        I mean, I got a bitter chuckle out of the OOXML reference too, but I don't let that tear away all objective thought with regard to the letter -- my first impression of which is "Blender just got some serious recognition". I'm sure Groklaw is full of oh-so-clever analysis about how MS is out to get Blender, because we all know how serious
  • Did you notice that Ton only quotes a part of the message he received?

    The millions of euro's they promise him for joining the dark side are never mentioned......
  • by sokoban ( 142301 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:09PM (#23393476) Homepage
    "Bite my shiny, metal ass."
  • FOSS on Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:11PM (#23393506) Journal
    This has been said before but it's in Microsoft's best interest to support FOSS primarily on the Windows platform rather than watch FOSS grow anyway on other OSes.
  • Get the axe.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I think you're mixing movie quotes.

      "It's a trap!" -- Princess Leia/Admiral Ackbar

      "It's a trick. Get an axe." -- Ash
  • Interesting example (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ArIck ( 203 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:12PM (#23393522)
    I dont know if it is sad or funny that when speaking about open source they were talking about if file systems had any problem.... lets not talk about API or anything trivial like that but hey this file system seems to be really meddling with creating a better UI and experience in Windows.

    And OOXML.. seriously! Like how about they just release the stndards of OOXML to begin with!
  • And so it begins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:13PM (#23393532)
    "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."

    So you're moving towards bribery and pollution of international standards bodies and open mockery of the idea of open and standard formats?

    Sorry, but after that I would have told him where he could shove it.
  • by dysmey ( 1165035 ) * on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:14PM (#23393564)

    From what I have read of the original posts on the Blender site, it looks like the Blender project will tell Microsoft to go away.

    After the OOXML fiasco — Microsoft must truly be deluded to think this is a good example of their openness policy — it is only right that the Blender project, knowing what would happen to them in the end, should reject Microsoft.

    • Is OOXML "really open?" Absolutely not. Did MS Engineering produce a "more open" file format than the previous monstrosity, absolutely. There are definitely poorly defined chunks of OOXML that require reverse engineering to master, but the previous file formats required reverse engineering for EVERYTHING. Now, MS's business unit decided to corrupt a standards process to push their nonsense through, and that should be condemned, but we shouldn't deny reality, and that reality is that OOXML is in the dire
  • by Dancindan84 ( 1056246 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:15PM (#23393576)
    1. Get your "Open" standard recognised
    2. Get other companies to use your standard
    3. ????
    4. Profit

    But in all seriousness, this is the next logical progression for the OOXML beast. They wouldn't have gone to the trouble of ramrodding OOXML through the standards process if they weren't going to try and leverage it somehow outside of being able to say they have an open standard. Using OOXML would cripple a multi-platform application, but that's not their problem. They've -always- tried to force people into their rut and they've been quite successful at it in the past. I just don't think they "get" that developers aren't going to shoot themselves in the foot by using OOXML.
  • Which FOSS projects are most vulnerable to this approach? A list of those approached would be interesting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:20PM (#23393642)
    The thing that gets to me is how can a *proprietary* company ask an *open source* community to help make the *open source* work better on the *proprietary platform*. I mean doesn't that strike people as... stupid? Why not the proprietary company just... *read* the source code for themselves? Don't they have enough money to *hire* developers to work on blender? Why do they think that people who provide their own free time should work to support their *proprietary* platform, which by their own business model is built on charging people for the privilege of using their OS?

    What, it's ok for MS to charge people to use their software, but it's not ok to expect MS to shell out some money for other people's software? MS wants the software for free?!?!

    • mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:30PM (#23393782) Homepage

      Exactly so. If Microsoft really wants to improve the software... then commit your own programmers to the project and put your improvements back into the community.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Phroggy ( 441 )

        Exactly so. If Microsoft really wants to improve the software... then commit your own programmers to the project and put your improvements back into the community.

        So let's say Microsoft committed its own programmers to the project. What would be the best use of those programmers' time? Don't you suppose the best way to find the answer to that question would be to ASK?

        Also, improving the application isn't the only thing Microsoft is asking about here. They're also asking, how can we improve our OS to make it easier for you guys to get your application to work the way you want?

    • You're crazy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:56PM (#23394118)
      MS normally reaches out to developers through the paid developer channels. As a result, OSS developers were ignored by Microsoft. Microsoft creates a new position to reach out to them, and contacts them saying, "How can we help? Is there a file format problem? We're working on making our file formats more open, is there something that we can speed up that would help," and you all make snide remarks.

      If file formats are not a problem, than a simple, "We're fine for now, but when the issue comes up, I will pass your contact information on to developer with trouble, here's my vCard, let's keep in touch," would be fine.

      Microsoft isn't passing any judgment here. Windows competes with Linux in the marketplace, Blender is an application that runs on Windows and Linux, the company that makes Windows reaches out offering to help because they want Blender to run really well on Windows.

      It's not about Microsoft WANTING the software for free, the Blender guys GIVE the software away for free, to Microsoft and everyone else. This is simply Microsoft realizing that their competition with Linux and other Open Source PROJECTS doesn't mean that other applications should be supported as well as other third party developers. I'm sure that Microsoft gives Adobe support because they want Adobe products to run as well or better on Windows as Mac OS X, now they are offering support to Blender.

      The Blender guys may not need/want that support, but this is Microsoft "getting it," and Slashdot users NOT "getting it." The software marketplace is not proprietary vs. open source, it's not non-Free vs. free, it's product area by product area. I find it unlikely that Microsoft would offer support to the Open Office guys, because OO running better on Windows hurts their market leading Microsoft Office product, but other areas that Microsoft doesn't compete in, they can offer them support.

      I would expect MS to be willing to support The Gimp writers as that program gets better, because Microsoft is indifferent between users running Windows/Photoshop and Windows/Gimp, and would like EITHER scenario better than OSX/Photoshop, OSX/Gimp, or Linux/Gimp.
  • by wandazulu ( 265281 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:21PM (#23393658)
    They should have done something similar with SoftImage for the time they actually *owned* the company. SoftImage on Windows was a terrible, horrible experience, they clearly simply got it compiled onto Windows and that was it.

    I was at an animation shop for awhile where we had both the Windows and SGI version of 3.7 and the Windows version *ran* faster, but crashed a whole lot more. Finally the two guys begged for anything, even Indys, to get their work done.

    Finally they sold SoftImage to, was it Avid? I can't remember now. It was clear to us, anyway, that Microsoft simply wanted to show that NT could compete with SGI in heavy-duty graphics work, but they did a terrible, terrible job of it.

    That said, both Max and Maya work pretty well (I know, Max was always a Windows-only product), but neither were ever owned by the company who actually wrote the OS.
  • Better than linux, in fact. At least, to this dabbler. I've tried it under my chosen linux distro (Ubuntu) and when I want to do anything more than rotating the starter-cube, I reboot into windows.

    Granted that could be because my (now ancient) Radeon 9600 XT is not very well supported in Ubuntu, and the interface is a bit sluggish there on my machine compared to XP, even for non- complicated3dgraphicsfiddlingtasks, like web browsing. So I'm not ready to blame the blender team for its usability under linux
    • by grumbel ( 592662 )
      Hm, could you explain a little more what is different between Blender under Windows and Blender under Linux? I was under the impression that its pretty much the same thing, since it has all its own GUI components and doesn't really make much if any use of OS specific features.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LetterRip ( 30937 )

        Hm, could you explain a little more what is different between Blender under Windows and Blender under Linux? I was under the impression that its pretty much the same thing, since it has all its own GUI components and doesn't really make much if any use of OS specific features.

        They should be the same - but there might be performance differences based on your graphics card driver (they vary in bugginess across platform), how it was compiled (what optimizations were used), etc. One user recently reported double the general performance on Ubuntu 64 as compared to Windows XP on the same hardware, others have reported results that are the reverse. Our developer base uses a wide variety of OSes and hardware.


  • Anyone else glance at the subject and first thought it said "Microsoft Reaches Out To Bender"?
  • I really have to pay more attention when reading Slashdot headlines.
    • Actually, I thought it said "Microsoft reaches IN to Blender"

      My first reaction was...ooh, that's gonna hurt.
  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:35PM (#23393834)

    Based on the snip that Ton posted, I get the impression that MS doesn't comprehend what Blender is, or how it works. File formats? That's low on the list of Blender's issues with Windows. Never mind that OOXML's status as an ISO standard is debatable.

    If MS wants to support Blender (and lots of other FOSS software) on Windows, they need to put real effort into supporting OpenGL. FOSS developers don't generally bother with supporting DirectX and OpenGL, and most of the time supporting Windows at all is an afterthought.

    But, MS won't do it because that would make it easier for games to be developed for Windows and anything else.

    • by Shotgun ( 30919 )
      So that should be the reply. Plain. Simple. and Polite.

      "Sir, we could really use some help with beefing up the OpenGL support on Windows."

      If you say, "F-off", then they go back to the EU judges and say, "Gee, sir! We offered them help, but they gave us the back of their hand."

      But, if you publicly ask for help, and they turn you down after making an open offer....

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:36PM (#23393842)
    you can dress a pig up in fine clothes and jewelry but underneath it all is still a stinking filthy pig...
  • How about... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Marsala ( 4168 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @01:37PM (#23393854) Homepage
    Not making it a fscking mission to get your Blender work (sorry, "assets") into XNA's Content Pipeline?

    That seems like a good place to start. :)
  • by AlgorithMan ( 937244 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:00PM (#23394168) Homepage

    how they could help improve the experience of Blender users on Windows.
    by migrating them to linux...
  • by Captain Spam ( 66120 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @02:11PM (#23394334) Homepage
    Yes, I agree, going on their track record and recent statements by Ballmer himself, Microsoft is "reaching out" to Blender, much in the same way that step one to strangling someone is reaching out your hands...
  • by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:23PM (#23395272)
    Sheesh, who wrote the lead into this story? They sound the baboon taken by Microsoft's orgy of gorillas.

    Microsoft has never ever supported open standards and no amount of OOXML will ever support that fact.

    Microsoft's attempt is to subvert the true meaning of open source and to beguile and lie to those not smart enough to understand the real reason behind open source.

    Microsoft's offerings have been nothing but opened source and that is a universe away from Open Source concepts.

    Microsoft is run by a bunch of nuts if they think that we can't see that this is nothing more than their:

    embrace, extend, extinguish


    Their demise won't come soon enough.

    In the end open source will meet or exceed any closed source offering. This means that all features, concepts, capabilities will be equal to or better than in the closed source world. What this will relegate Windows to, and there's nothing wrong with it, is a gaming console type application. You'll only use it when and if you want to play games.

    The transition to open source is inevitable. The world is far too large and there are too many people that know about how Microsoft does business. Big named companies are now involved. They know how to diffuse the obfuscated veil that Microsoft is draping over the eyes of the average fanboy worshiping at the feet of the criminal monopolist.
  • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:27PM (#23395336) Homepage
    The answer is a list of rather simple things, but it is not what they want to hear or expect to hear (I think they expect to hear demands for open source):

    #1: Fix filenames and filesystem so they match Unix. This means you use the forward slash. Refuse to "microsoft certify" any software that will not accept a pasted or typed filename with a forward slash in it, and change all the OS api that returns filenames to return forward slashes (probably with a registry setting) and again refuse to "microsoft certify" software that fails when this setting is on. And get rid of the damn drive letters (just make "/A:/" be the same as "A:/") and support UTF-8 encoding of the filenames at all times (probably by changing the "a" version of the win32 api to be hard-coded to UTF-8).

    #2: Support OpenGL, meaning that by default you get at least what Mesa provides. Supporting OpenGL 1.4 only is not acceptable.

    #3: Support C99 standard functions and don't make your compiler spew a lot of bogus "warnings" that you put in there to try to encourage people to change to your windows-specific functions. Remove the underscores you stuck on lots of the functions so that portable useful code cannot be written.
  • Same old deva ju (Score:3, Informative)

    by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:34PM (#23395418)
    M$ "reached out" to JAVA developers way back when, look how well that turned out.
  • It's a trap (Score:3, Informative)

    by stox ( 131684 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:35PM (#23395446) Homepage
    Microsoft seems to be doing a lot of talking about open source these days, but outside of what they have been required to do by law, their efforts have a hollow ring to them. They don't really want to support open source, what they do want is to bring the productivity of open source products to the windows platform only.

On a clear disk you can seek forever.