A Fortune article announced that Microsoft says open source software, like Linux – which much of corporate America runs on – violates 235 of its patents. Microsoft wants royalties, and if it gets its way, free software stops being free. But, asks Fortune, royalties from whom?
Sun president Jonathan Schwartz hits back on his blog, suggesting that Microsoft innovate, not litigate. And, he warns the behemoth:
You would be wise to listen to the customers you’re threatening to sue – they can leave you, especially if you give them motivation. Remember, they wouldn’t be motivated unless your products were somehow missing the mark.
All of which is to say – no amount of fear can stop the rise of free media, or free software (they are the same, after all). … Open standards and open source software are literally changing the face of the planet – creating opportunity wherever the network can reach.
That’s not a genie any litigator I know can put back in a bottle.”
“Microsoft must really be threatened. … I urge everyone to see this for what it is: a FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) campaign. Don’t let Microsoft or anyone else get away with it.”
I’m not a lawyer, or a software developer, so I don’t know enough about Microsoft’s legal issues to comment on them. But I do know Microsoft’s products and their “you’ll have to wipe out your hard drive and re-install Windows” customer service from an ex-consumer who switched to Mac point of view, and I don’t think fondly of them on either count.
My friend, the fabulously talented Hugh Macleod, who is working for Microsoft on a rather mysterious campaign he calls The Blue Monster, says this week’s news is “kinda giving me conflicting emotions.” He says “People will use the news to re-affirm what they already believe.”
And maybe he’s right, but I don’t think Microsoft is creating a lot of new supporters at the moment.