back to article 2011: The year open source (really) goes capitalist

If 2010 was the year that taught open source "how to disappear completely," 2011 will be the year we're reminded that "anyone can play guitar"…or open source. At present, open source is de rigueur with the underdog class, those vendors seeking to challenge incumbents like Apple and Oracle. But open source will take center …


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  1. thecakeis(not)alie

    Good Article, Matt.

    I happen to agree with virtually all of it. Will be intresting to have a lock back this time next year and see if we were right. :D

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I would add a devilish "Mwaahahahaha!"

    after speaking of Microsoft in terms of "real support for true interoperability".

    I'm puzzled how Mr. Asay mistakenly takes Microsoft's effort for a Firefox plugin as a generous quest for openness. I'm far from being convinced of this, in fact if we look a little closer we can see how Microsoft is working desperately to prevent the replacement of the patent encumbered H.264 by real open standards VP8 recently open-sourced by Google. Mozilla could have very well decided to support H.264 but the license incompatibility and the threat to a free Internet represented by patent-encumbered standards made them respond thanks, but no thanks to MPEG License Authority offer of royalty free licensing the codec to end users.

    Come on, Mr. Asay, you can't pretend you've never heard of this story.

    1. westlake


      "Microsoft is working desperately to prevent the replacement of the patent encumbered H.264 by real open standards VP8 recently open-sourced by Google. Mozilla could have very well decided to support H.264 but the license incompatibility and the threat to a free Internet represented by patent-encumbered standards "

      The WebM video is almost exclusively a transcode for distribution through YouTube, while H.264 is deeply entrenched in the world beyond the web.

      Theatrical production. Home video. Industrial applications.

      The list is endless.

      Cannonical is an H.264 licensee and supports H.264 in its OEM distributions.

      It would be only a slight exaggeration to suggest that Ubuntu is the only Linux distribution with measurable OEM support as a mass-market alternative to OSX and Windows.

      The only Linux distribution that is more resposive to market forces than to ideological purity or political correctness.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Oh yawn......

      Evil h262 patent waffle waffle waffle.

      So how that skype connection? That AMD / Intel Processor? That CR / DVD drive? That MP3 player? The Cisco routers? The ethernet card? Your wireless connection? That photoshoped image you downloaded? That video you looked at?

      Yes because patents are so evil then internet would never exist if they were allowed to be used?

      1. Anonymous Coward


        No, my friend, it has nothing to do with ideological purity or political correctness. Using free and open standards for the web is the only way to avoid the dangerous road to what will be called "Linux Genuine Advantage" (brought to you courtesy of Ubuntu and sponsored by RIAss/MPAss of this world. Maybe you don't care about a future compulsory registration for your Linux distro but I do a lot and I'm willing to settle even for inferior standards as long as they don't try to enslave me.

        Remember, it's not the software that's free, it's you as the end-user of that software.

      2. JEDIDIAH

        Just wallow in the latrine...

        The fact that a dangerously encumbered standard is widely used is still no reason to ingore the potential dangers involved. It doesn't have to be that way. Perhaps if fewer people weren't so self-centered and short sighted then it wouldn't be that way.

        The fact that "video is everywhere", is the best argument possible for why the related standards should be free, open and vendor neutral from top to bottom.

        The American movie industry is located where it is because of this very sort of nonsense.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Take a closer look at your examples.

        While CPUs, Ethernet NIC, DVDs, routers etc. are physical products, H.264 is nothing but mathematics. While it is OK for Cisco, Intel, AMD, SONY, Philips protect the design of their products, however patents on maths are evil because those algorithms exist weather you discover them or not.

        You picked the right icon so let's stop this nonsense then.

      4. Anonymous Coward

        Patents aren't evil

        > Yes because patents are so evil then internet would never exist if they were allowed to be used?

        To be fair, you don't know what the world would be like without patents. It may well have easily gone the way of fashion - an industry which, believe it or not, has tremendous innovation.

        Right now, we have a system that allows companies to initiate very expensive lawsuits based on patents for double-clicks (in a pay me or pay the lawyers, you lose-lose style):

    3. Anonymous Coward


      That was my first thought on that section. Especially considering the royalty free license only applied to non-commerical video, until it's clarified this could mean that even having ads on the same page as the vid could open you to liability (as the webmaster not the end user).

      (cue devilish laugh)

      Actually, as someone who's had to deal with MS's abortion of standards compliance endlessly in the past, I think a bitter laugh is more appropriate.

      Beer cos it's the first thing on the list when I get home

    4. stewski

      Smelling a rat?

      This is the second tech site I've read with this spin on Microsoft's clear effort to push H.264 (which it in part patent encumbers) into open source territory, whilst not offering clear support for WebM in its own browser. Somehow we're expected to read this as altruistic and embracing the web, please.

      Lucky this article wasn't authored by someone from the only major Linux vendor to buy into this (non web friendly) encumbered standard for their own distribution... oops...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    MS Modus Operandii - Step 1

    Embrace the Standards.

    Step 2 - Extend them and lock in all our products to said extension.

    Step 3 - Extisguish competition. Easy because the MS modified standard is now the defacto standard and MS is keeping the code to themselves and might very well patent it.

    We have seen all this before.

    Just be careful that they don't get to Step 2 before people realise it.

  4. Kobus Botes

    Don't you just love

    this comment on Oracle?

    " well as an acquisition hound that eats up many of the third-party vendors that contribute innovative products to the industry as a whole."

    But but...

    Oh, the irony!

    Pirates, as there is no hound/dog icon, and is closest in expressing MS attitude to innovation.

  5. Greg J Preece

    Great article, but..

    ...for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster...stop calling it the cloud! It's just the Internet, for Christ's sake! Web 2.0? Same as Web 1.0, just with more JavaScript and Tim O'Reilly.

    El Reg, can we put "Cloud" on the banned list with lappy, mobe, etc?

    1. Robert E A Harvey


      He said "Lappy" Miss! we aren't supposed to say "La..." Oh bugger.

    2. Fred Tourette
      Jobs Horns

      Sure Ya Can

      You'll be putting "cloud" on the banned list right after Microsoft trademarks it - Microsoft Cloud. Once upon a time they were just windows, too.

  6. Tom 13

    The money line:

    "It finally recognizes that the world no longer revolves around it, and that it must therefore embrace an unfettered web. At least for now."

    Actually, this isn't MS's first foray into standards and interoperability. Although it is true that most people believe they shafted the original copyright owner of DOS, in the early days of their existence they did to a large extent depend on standards an interoperability amongst different vendors. They couldn't produce all the software people needed, so they promoted standards and interoperability in areas where they didn't compete. As they grew larger and selected areas that they wanted to control, yeah they were ruthless in destroying standards and writing the software so only they could operate (STAC, QEMM). It was only really after the advent of Windows that they really got nasty. I expect more of the same in the future.

  7. Jordan Davenport

    What I find funny

    What I find funny about that Firefox extension is that when I opened its install.rdf to change the max version from 4.0b8pre, preventing it from being installed on 4.0b8 proper, I noticed that it used *nix line endings, not Windows line endings. Yeah, it's something small, but this is by Microsoft and supposedly requires Windows 7, yet Notepad can't even open it properly.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "...Microsoft, finally recognizing that it is a true underdog in everything but desktop operating systems..."

    Seriously? An underdog in server OSes? People who know stuff are laughing at you.

    1. Michael C

      guess you;re not laughing...

      I'm an IT consultant and systems architecture designer. I've been in more than a hundred data centers large and small in the last 5 years alone, and I can quickly tell you that if it wasn't for MS Exchange, SCCM, windows desktops, and AD, there's be little MS in data centers today at all. Every data center I've been inside of within the past 3 years that had more than 20 servers had a larger Linux and/or Unix footprint than MS. The major players today run almost entirely on Linux. The largest datacenter I've consulted on recently had more than 3600 servers 4 years ago, 80% Windows and now has less than 300 remaining Windows boxes in their data center.

      Microsoft lost the server war. They remain the king in messaging, monitoring, desktop deployment and management (only because windows is still the king in desktops but even that's shifting), as well as some key systems like CRM, finance, and some legacy apps. SQL is losing to the competition, File servers are now almost exclusively linux, same for print systems, even authentication has moved more to LDAP on UNIX with AD simply hung off of it. If it's a generic server, its Linux now. If its a new server, the question becomes "is their a linux app available or in development I can use instead" when offered an app that runs on Windows only. Only the mom-n-pop farms continue to deploy MS servers by default, the enterprises deploy MS when apps require it, with rare exception.

      Exchange is the only real anchor keeping them in the server business. Share-point as well has an impact, but usually only if Exchange is also deployed, everything else is to support desktops, users, and file security. If a realistic competitor to Exchange and SharePoint came around, MS could loose the servers entirely...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Michael, where to start?

        1) You say MS isn't that popular in server OSes, except for all the stuff they're popular in.

        2) Your experience of Consultancy/Architecture is at odds with mine, I see UNIX loosing out to Linux/Windows/Mainframe, mainly due to the cost of RISC based hardware.

        3) 3600 servers is not really that big.

        4) Architects/Consultants don't go into datacentres, there are other people paid to do that work.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Linux Is A Unix Variant And It Dominates

          Frankfurt Stock Exchange: Still Solaris/VMS, but soon Linux-Only. All in C++.

          Tokio Stock Exchange: Linux.

          Google: All servers Linux. This is the biggest IT system ever built.

          Facebook: All servers Linux. Biggest internet system measured by user count.

          Scientific Numbercrunching: 98% Linux as measured by computing power.

          Leader in German Market Data Distribution: 100% Linux servers.

          Android: Scaring Nokia to hell and eating their business at a fast rate. Linux variant. Forced Nokia into using Linux for the high end.

          And all people who make a distinction between "Unix" and "Linux" should realize that Linux is one form of Unix. It's not a Commercial Unix, but still a Unix like MacOS X, AIX, Solaris, HPUX or OpenBSD.

          Linux is developed mainly in the spirit of Unix, which is A) being as simple as possible B) extendable C) open for modifications by the user D) an excellent system for developers E) configured by text file F) administrable over a 9600 baud modem on the command line/TTY G) based on a small number of concepts which are reused often H) uses a simple permissions concept (User/Group/Other - with read, write,execute each) that is not a fscked-up hairball like the one on Windows.

          Yes, you can inspect and change all of Linux and the free BSDs, which is impossible with the commercial systems. That means maximum security as compared to "Security By Obscurity" and "Viruses Created By Governments Who Can Exclusively Inspect Source Code".

          Stuxnet possible on Linux ? I don't think so.


      Silly Lemmings...

      > Seriously? An underdog in server OSes? People who know stuff are laughing at you.

      Then they must not do anything very serious or very large then.

      Unix still rules the roost for anything that's not a glorified desktop.

  9. LDS Silver badge

    Open source, or "open privacy"?

    Well, as long as Google is the flagship of open source adoption, I prefer to use proprietary software and keep my data proprietary as well.

    And no, anybody can't play a guitar. People believe it, but really playing a guitar is hard. As writing good software, not any product can be open sourced and stay alive.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Embrace And Extend Microsoft Approaches

    Microsoft on "Usability":

    Compared to that, the GNOME project:

    I find it important to add that every aspect of the Microsoft domain should be analyzed for weaknesses which should not be copied. The KDE people, for example, adopted the opaque-configuration file approach of the windows world. This is not in the Unix spirit and it shows - if the config utilities are broken, all you can do is to restore the old state. No way to simply edit using vim or gedit.

    Another weak point of the Microsoft domain is their use of the Registry. The old *.ini file concept was much stronger,as it was quite similar to the Unix config file approach. All the proven text-based utilities (vim, gedit, grep, sed, SVN, diff and many more) can be used to analyze, manage and control text-based config files. One can't even efficiently query in the Registry. If they had a slight clue, they would have used something like SQLite instead of what they have at the moment. Or just sticked with the *ini concept.

  11. wayward4now

    God knows

    God knows I luv me some Linux!! Lawd! :) Ric

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