Microsoft Cuddles up to Open Source

Nov 29, 2008

Once considered by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer as a plague on all software and the work of the devil, open source software is now accepted with open arms by Microsoft, even evoking their active support.

One major factor in Microsoft's sidling up to open source is the PHP script language, according to Andreas Urban, their manager of open source strategy in Germany. PHP is becoming increasingly more prevalent in Microsoft products. So the Redmond giant put Pierre Joye as head of PHP development in an interface role with the community.

Evidence seems to show that Redmond is putting all its effort into being as transparent as possible with its in-house products. It currently provides more than 50,000 white papers free of charge describing the interfaces to some of their products, notably the Exchange Server and MS SQL. Licensing is required only for patent-protected interfaces in commercial products.

Andreas Urban, manager of open source strategy, and Sandra Schaefer, manager of interoperability strategy, at Microsoft.

Opening up their interfaces wasn't so much inspired by a commitment to interoperability in the software universe, as Microsoft likes to claim, than to fulfill the obligations of a European Union lawsuit. Microsoft was to fork over 1.6 billion dollars in an antitrust settlement, but ended up paying $899 million.

Another model of transparency that Microsoft likes to present is OOXML, the open documentation standard, according to Sandra Schaefer, manager of interoperability strategy at Microsoft. When asked why a certain specification ran over 6,500 pages with some facts still missing, she remained contrite. The reason for Microsoft's working its own standard, she claims, is that not all functions of the Office suite can be displayed using the ODF format. That's only half the truth, say the European Union and other government agencies who have held Microsoft responsible for license infractions that could have cost them some market share in favor of OpenOffice. Nonetheless, Schaefer reiterated that MS Office 2007 SP2 will include a native implementation of ODF 1.1 that should allow users to open and save documents in that format.

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  • MS Perfidy

    As usual, the MS marketing machine is ready to stomp on a new victim. The are "embracing" open standards by releasing descriptions of the interface in Exchange Server and MS SQL? That means for only two elderly products that are due for replacement. What value is that. In reality, these have long ago been reverse-engineered by anyone that cares.

    If anyone trusts Microsoft, I have some nice beach property in New Mexico for them.
  • Wolf in sheep's clothing

    PHP, ODF. Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

    1) All Microsoft has to do is to use their old tactic and mess up the Open Source stuff they pretend to be "helping". They do have the manpower and money to create so much crap, and so much distraction, that what works today will not work tomorrow. There is a saying that goes: "if you can't convince them, baffle them with bullshit". Well, it's something like that.

    2) The best way for the world to get rid of M$ is to make them irrelevant, by embracing open standards and open source, and not going for the "needs" their marketing machine creates. Open source already provides *everything* M$ provides and, therefore, already makes them technically irrelevant. It's time for the commercial step, now.

    Be free!
  • ODF and OOXML

    Also, ODF is extensible. They reinvented the entire wheel, when all they needed to do is add white walls and use different tread. No, what they were attempting is to legitimise proprietary as standard in the eyes of government procurement rules.
  • ODF and OOXML

    From what I understand from warious posts about ODF on Rob Weir blog, ODF has mechanism for visual and implementation dependent cues, so saying that OOXML was needed because not everything could be encoded in ODF (the visual reproduction argument) doesn't wash...
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