Cry Wolf

Posted on 28th February 2008

In a recent BBC news article, Microsoft set to open up software, it is reported that Microsoft plan to release the technology to some of their software in order to provide better interoperability with other rival products. It also states that they promise "not to sue open source developers for making that software available for non-commercial use."

Now some may be extremely dubious, as that just doesn't seem to fit Microsoft's business model. There has to be something unusual here for them to feel they can release something to the world for free. It wouldn't surprise me if they released their back catalogue of software that is now 10 years+ out of date. As this software is now end of life, it does make sense to release restrictions on the old file formats, so that those who have to support Win95 and Win98 machines have a chance of getting some support from the Open Source community. It benefits Microsoft in that they will likely still require credit for any software that uses their file formats, but also allows them to virtually forget about support for older formats in their newer products.

If the second statement holds true, then it will hopefully mean less of the table thumbing and general smoke clouds of threats, which never amounted to anything anyway. It might also mean older Microsoft products might get their own special Open Source security release with all the holes repaired ;)

I'll be intrigued to hear what software/technology they are releasing, but I suspect that there will be an overwhelming wave of derision from some of the more out-spoken Open Source protagonists. Pity really, as to my mind, it may well add value to the many Open Source projects. Open Source is no longer a hobby. Serious investment is made by the likes of Sun, Red Hat, Novell and many others. The future for Linux as a reliable alternative desktop is getting better and better. No doubt there will still be plenty of FUD about, but consumers are becoming more and more educated about the choices they have available to them, and Microsoft is slowly waking up to the fact that they can use the Open Source community to their advantage, and still keep their name on every desktop, just not necessarily in one of their own product releases.


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