Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Microsoft's Claims on Open Source
Somewhat recently Microsoft came forth to claim that Linux infringed on 235 patents that Microsoft owns. The validity of these claims depends on whether its willing to disclose those claims. According to Microsoft they do not wish to sue but to make licensing for the infringing patents. Anyone who doesn't see that its like blackmail without proof of the offensive behavior that someone is claiming to have seen you do. Granted when is IBM and others going to start a licensing program to have Microsoft pay up for that its infringing on. Microsoft can't be the only one who doesn't infringe on patents. Linus Torlvolds stated something to that fact in the last few days about how Microsoft needs to publicly disclose its claims for any amount of validity. further more they need to open their source to show that they themselves haven't infringed on age old patents. This is the only way that Microsoft's claims will be taken seriously. It should be pointed out that patents usually have a few requirements two of which I will get into for the purpose of this post. One requirement is that the patent in question not be obvious. For example a patent for jumping, people have been doing that for years and its a natural thought to jump. Second requirement I will mention is that there not be an occasion of prior art. Which basically means that if someone did it before and its published or there is proof then you can't patent it. Of course jumping is a good example of this as well because of all the people that jump and have proof in some way. Double click patent is one of the most infamous of such patents that should never have been granted. On both of those requirements I mentioned it fails miserably but its still a patent, owned by Microsoft in case you didn't know. Microsoft has been bullying people in this fashion for quite sometime and frankly people are tired of it. This is such a transparent attempt at keeping it's stake as a industry leader. Which is starting to fail before it began. For once in the history of Microsoft they are running scared. No more are they the sole leader that sets all the trends. Its become a more fair environment. There are those now willing to oppose Microsoft in its dealing without fear of repercussion. Dell is one who has started to oppose but needs to get off the ground by not bowing to the will of Microsoft. Recently they announced that they were going to offer Ubuntu pre-loaded PC's and not but a week or so later Microsoft was announcing at a Dell press conference that Dell and Microsoft were offering Linux Certificates for Suse Server environment in a partnership. Dell needed to just say no and start the trend of bucking the system so that maybe people will get their choice of environment they run specific to their needs. Maybe its time for Microsoft to become competitive in markets it doesn't dominate like every other company. If Steve Ballmer doesn't take Microsoft back to the basics of making good software they will flounder and die. If they don't stop with the ridiculous claims so as to try to get a strangle hold on the industry Companies will grow tired, drop Microsoft all together and call their bluff. One last thing I will say to Ballmer and Gutierrez is to put up or shut up, be open about the claims or stop making them not one is amused any longer.