back to article Microsoft bigs up open source, then stuffs it under the sofa

Microsoft's new Open Technologies subsidiary may be many things, but one thing it's not is "further demonstration of Microsoft’s long-term commitment to interoperability, greater openness, and to working with open source communities", as Microsoft has positioned it. While it's true that Microsoft's self-interest has …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > While it's true that Microsoft's self-interest has increasingly aligned with open source and open standards like HTML5 over the years

    No it hasn't. It's adulterated every standard it's ever got involved with. OOXML anyone?

    > It's particularly troubling since the company seemed to be making so many positive strides. This

    Like wrecking Nokia.

    1. Bob Vistakin


    2. Stephen Channell

      next steps..

      Those with an eye for history will know that Microsoft got the PC-DOS gig from IBM because they’d already pitched another OS: Xenix (Unix ported to Microcomputers); got involved with Standards pushing far pointers (needed for 64k segmented x86) in C; and revolutionised Client/Server computing with ODBC (standardised in face of stiff opposition from Oracle & IBM).

      Let’s not get hung-up on whether they’re sincere, but ask where it is going to take us?

      The obvious next step is to open-source “.net” and let the common language runtime spread to big-data and cloud computing (Azure is a failure while the while it’s runtime is proprietary).. they’ve done it before with ROTAR and .NET Micro Framework.. they really have nothing to loose

      1. Figgus

        Re: next steps..

        .net would be nice, but I wish they'd open source DirectX!

        Never gonna happen, though, because gaming is one area where they have a nice solid stranglehold...

      2. Wunderbar1

        Re: next steps..

        ODBC and C standards - Yes, Microsoft was in favor of open standards when they were trying to take market share from other companies, IBM and DEC. As soon as they gained dominance, they locked everything down.

        Why would "open source" .NET be obvious? Microsoft makes all of their cash on .NET by using it as a hook to sell Windows Server, MS SQL, etc. If by "open source" you mean open, but only running on the Microsoft stack, that might be possible.

    3. Charles Manning

      Nokia was wrecking itself

      Microsoft is just being humane and doing it faster.

  2. jake Silver badge


    We've been Microsoft-free here at chez-jake for a couple years.

    The constant "upgrade" and "make certain I'm protected" cycle got old ...

    But if you like it ... follow your bliss. Who am I to argue?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Whatever.

      As opposed to the constant patching required in Linux... Or OS X...

      No platform is 100% safe, no platform is 100% bug free, they all need constant updating to keep them safe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Last time I used a Windows box the wretched thing assaulted me with countless upgrade messages from a lot of applications. Except in pretty big corporations, most users can install whatever they want on their machine and add to the mess. No wonder most of them end up clicking the infamous "stop bugging me I've got work to do" button.

        By contrast, all my software gets its daily upgrades using a single command, when I choose to, without being nagged constantly. And incidentally it doesn't take forever.

        So yeah, granted, every platform needs regular upgrades. But some platforms happen to make it painless and easy, while other ones make it so painful that it actually encourages people not to upgrade...

      2. DanDanDan

        Re: Whatever.

        While it's true that constant patches are required everywhere, Linux updates do seem better to me - generally, it's all in one place and it all seems faster and less faff - maybe that's just my rose-eyed glasses though. Can be done from several different interfaces and if you don't like one, you can find or create another - and to bring things back to the article - without open standards, this simply isn't possible! It's not like you can create your own update interface for Windows Updates (AFAIK - unless PowerScript has done something pretty good). Microsoft seem to be playing catchup a lot recently and this "open standards FTW" approach is evidence of that.

        P.S. A properly setup SELinux policy should help mitigate a lot of the problems with buggy unpatched software. I'm sure (well, I'm not, but I imagine) that a similar thing exists on Windows?

        1. eulampios

          Re: Whatever.

          >>A properly setup SELinux policy should help mitigate a lot of the problems with buggy unpatched software.

          As would AppArmor with easier set up and much easier from scratch profile generation procedures.

          As for MS Windows, not sure about the similarities of its MIC and Linux security modules or trustedbsd.

          I would seriously doubt it, why would Redmond officially recommends running AV on ANY of their OS? Or it is because the right hand (dragon's head) knows nothing about the left one?

          Plus, even though Windows does have a permissions system, it is not as tightly integrated into the OS as in a *nix. system. Say, why would the OS still go with extensions rather than permissions? No wonder why most app writers for MS Windows seem to actively sabotage all things ACL.

      3. eulampios


        No platform is 100% safe. However, some platforms offer secure centralized software repositories with secure installations and timely patching from bugs and vulnerabilities, some do not.

      4. jake Silver badge

        @big_D et al (was: Re: Whatever.)

        See my old post:


      5. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Whatever.

        But the patching with Linux (at least for Debian, Ubuntu, and RH/CentOS) amounts to a two line script that can optionally be crontabbed or pointing and clicking on Update Manager. Typically no reboot is needed except for a new kernel. With a recent full install of Windows 7 the updates available/patch install/reboot process went on for several days even after the several reboots associated with the install and application of the latest service pack. Last week I patched another Win7 laptop, based on the "updates available" notification. Immediately after the inevitable reboot, I received another notification of available updates; following that there was, of course, another reboot required. Although I have not conducted research on the question, I think Gnu/Linux security patches, at least for Debian, are made available quite a lot sooner than those for Windows.

        Yes, platforms have bugs and vulnerabilities, and need patching. The Gnu/Linux distributions I know make it easy. Microsoft makes it annoying.

      6. Wunderbar1

        Re: Whatever.

        No, they don't.... z/OS, for instance, rarely requires patching and bugs are treated as product defects (not tolerated). z/OS has never had a reported virus or security breach.

        Obviously z/OS, mainframe, is an extreme example, but AIX and Solaris are much more stable and require much less admin than Windows. Linux isn't great, but at least they don't make you pay for the privileged of being not great.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @z/OS, for instance, rarely requires patching [continues]

          Hmm, downvotes for that (and the rest), which seemed entirely fair, albeit unfashionable?

          Regardless, once upon a time you could also have put VMS in the class of OSes that didn't require routine patching for security reasons.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    The evil that permeated it at birth never can be expunged!

    "It's particularly troubling since the company seemed to be making so many positive strides"


    ...Still hoping Microsoft will make an actual positive stride, ever


  4. LDS Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    IBM was (is?) hugely unsuccessful at software - while MS software was hugely successful

    IBM had a problem. Its software was crap. Does someone remember VisualAge? The most kind comment I read about it was "it looks designed by a committee". They understood they could make others developing "good enough" software for them without having to invest too much as long as those developers needed that software as well and wasn't willingly to pay for it. Eclipse was born. And remember IBM does make money form hardware (and expensive, non open source software, still crapware) as well.

    MS has not the same problem. Most of MS software is hugely successful (ask IBM....) and people are willingly to pay for it (I don't care about paying for good software, getting lame software for free is far worse) - while MS has no hardware business. MS open source approach needs to be very different, and while standards and interoperability are in MS interests, but without giving too much away because that's not in their interest. But Linux guys are still there hoping MS will fail otherwise Linux goes nowhere...

    1. Roo

      Re: IBM was (is?) hugely unsuccessful at software - while MS software was hugely successful

      "But Linux guys are still there hoping MS will fail otherwise Linux goes nowhere..."

      Quite a lot of 'Linux guys' (myself included) are not remotely bothered whether MS 'fails' or otherwise, we are happy using Linux and in a fair few cases we even use MS stuff when required as well. The only thing of relevance to us with respect to MS is whether MS hires the local fuzz (that we pay for with our taxes) to kick down our doors for using software that they *claim* violates their copyrights & patents.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        hoping MS will fail otherwise Linux goes nowhere

        Linux has already gone almost everywhere.

        It dominates the super-computer world, and it dominates many devices from remote controls to broadband modems. The chances are that people who think that Linux will never go anywhere have simply failed to notice that it is in their own homes already.

        1. eulampios

          reminding what this site is running? addendum

          MS Windows-Shmindows +IIS? No

          From the header of

          Apache/2.2.22 (Debian) (With mod_perl/2.0.4 Perl/v5.10.1module on


          Seems to be similar to most of the web servers of the Internet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @LDS - Re: IBM was (is?) hugely unsuccessful at software - while MS software was hugely successful

      [quote] standards and interoperability are in MS interests [/quote]

      Are you sure about that ? When you are a (convicted) monopolist standards and interoperability are the last thing you need. It weakens your lock-in.

    3. Bill Neal

      Re: IBM was (is?) hugely unsuccessful at software - while MS software was hugely successful

      I pity anyone still using Lotus

      1. Bill Neal

        Re: IBM was (is?) hugely unsuccessful at software - while MS software was hugely successful

        really? just downvote me and don't bother to tell what is so great about it

      2. Wunderbar1

        Re: IBM was (is?) hugely unsuccessful at software - while MS software was hugely successful

        "I pity anyone still using Lotus"

        Domino is far superior to Exchange from an admin perspective. Also, e-mail is e-mail. Why would you pay twice as much for Microsoft look and feel?

  5. MS Rocks

    matt assay - another fail

    Does this guy not realise that IBM make money from services rather than software? It is a different business model...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: matt assay - another fail

      I'd given up reading his articles, but somehow, I wondered how wrong he was going to be in this one, and gave it a glance.

      Whilst he might have a valid point of view on possible or potential changes in Microsoft's business model, there is absolutely no chance whatsoever of MS embracing any of it. They will die first. And who knows? They might!

      Take one example: IBM's range of Unix servers, which, when I worked with them, was called RS/6000s. Not loved by all, but, as I an administrator, rather than a developer, I was very attached to them. IBM subsequently adopted Linux. You then had a choice: server with AIX or server with Linux. Either way, IBM sold the machine and as much service-industry stuff as they and their partners could get out of the deal. Where's the microsoft machine? Well, they make keyboards and mice, I suppose, but I don't know how that compares.

      Then there's big machines. I never moved in those circles, and I don't know to what extent Linux competes with IBM's own software on its own mainframes --- but I could hardly have failed to notice, even from reading El Reg over the past few years, that big machines is where Linux is making it. Big. Microsoft is not even in this business.

      Nor is it there at the very opposite end of the market. Gates may have dreamt about the washing machine, the fridge, the TV remote and all running Windows, but what actually happened is all those devices in the house that are computers with embedded software run ...Linux.

      If my media-server remote ran something from GatesCo, what chance would there be of being able to telnet to it? what chance of being greeted by a message saying, hey, change whatever you like, you can always do a factory reset? Not the microsoft way.

    2. Bruno Girin

      Re: matt assay - another fail

      The price of licenses for the suite of Rational tools, LotusNotes, AIX, the multiple WebSphere products, etc suggests otherwise.

      IBM makes money from service, hardware and software sales. Each of those is used as a channel for the other two: you got in the door selling services? Sell them hardware and software too! You go in the door selling a single license of WebSphere App Server? Sell them services to learn how to use it, some hardware to run it on and a few copies of Rational Software Architect to build stuff on it!

      IBM is a complex beast and has a business model that is a lot more complex than "oh they just sell services". Software may not make up the biggest part of their revenue but it is still essential to the way they operate: a lot of smaller companies and individuals deal with IBM for the first time through software either directly or indirectly. And in that space open source is essential to them: the vast majority of Java / JEE developers get their first view of IBM by using Eclipse. Some will stay on the open source product, others will move to the Rational suite and become bona fide customers.

      So the comparison with IBM is not that far fetched.

    3. Wunderbar1

      Re: matt assay - another fail

      "Does this guy not realise that IBM make money from services rather than software? It is a different business model..."

      IBM is the second largest software company in the world. They make around $24 billion a year in software. WebSphere alone is one of the largest software companies in the world.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    They got to start /somewhere/

    I'm getting a little tired of people criticizing companies like this. They made some effort in the right direction and immediately people start squeaking how "its not good enough".

    Those people I'd like to advice to stop looking at the 'now' but /also/ pay some attention to the past. Sometimes things can't simply go as fast as you might like, because with big(ger) companies such as Microsoft there is a whole lot of extra's involved. Bureaucracy being one of those and legacy to follow quickly after.

    IMO this is the same kind of bs we got when Sun started taking some very drastic steps to make Java fully open sourced. The first thing some people commented on? "Its not fully open sourced!", because what do you know... A small part of the JRE was indeed still closed. So because, say, 15 - 10% wasn't open sourced yet the whole project was basically "no good" according to those.

    Welcome to the real world, where some companies decide to take one step at a time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They got to start /somewhere/

      Some things are binary - it's the way of the world.

      "News Headlines: Kony made a move in the right direction today by killing less civilians and using less girls as sex slaves. The world welcomes this news."

      See what I mean?

      1. dogged

        Re: They got to start /somewhere/

        Kony did nothing since 2005 when he moved out of Uganda entirely but hey, if you fell for that line of bullshit, why wouldn't you buy Assay's too?

  7. The BigYin

    MS blocked the use of Open Stanards... proposed by the UK government ("FRAND" is not open in any sense of the word).

    MS lobbies against open standards across Europe.

    MS attempted to destroy web interoperability (IE6 et al).

    MS forced the ISO to allow a standard that is not open and infected with patents (OOXML).

    MS constantly attacks open projects (namely Linux).

    MS is not open in any shape or form nor does it support free/open standards/projects except when forced to do so by rule of law (i.e. they breach the GPL or the EU regulator kicks them in the ass).

    This new venture is simply part of Operation Extend.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MS blocked the use of Open Stanards...

      List something - anything - that happened within the last five years and maybe you'll be more relevant and less boring.

      Me, I don't so much mind paying for software. I hate "services" where I am the payment model. I'll complain about MS when Google are dead, not before. "Operation Extend" these days comes straight from the Chocolate Factory.

      Priorities, sunshine.

      1. Bruno Girin

        @AC 11:13 Re: MS blocked the use of Open Stanards...

        "List something - anything - that happened within the last five years"

        UK gov policy on open standards. The consultation is happening right now and MS are one of the proprietary companies lobbying to have it changed to terms that would exclude open source. The online consultation is here:

        If you have any interest in the matter, please go and reply to the consultation, whether you are an open source advocate or a proprietary evangelist. UK gov needs to hear all voices, not just the voices of a few large companies.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MS blocked the use of Open Stanards...

        > List something - anything - that happened within the last five years and maybe you'll be more relevant and less boring.

        How about the Microsoft Android/Chrome tax for one ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MS blocked the use of Open Stanards...

          Yeah, FAT32 is protected by patents. Google don't like paying for things.

          Java is also protected. Let's see how that works out for them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so much a Trojan Horse...

    ... as a Pantomime Horse.

  9. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Open source does permeate Microsoft

    The open source FreeBSD network stack has supplied the network code for Windows for donkey's years. :-)

  10. lokanadam
    Thumb Down

    opensource cannot sustain real corps.

    simple open source rules corps follow [including famed open-Google and others]

    1. software that is bread and butter to my company - keep it locked in

    [ google search engine, google gmail , etc]

    2. software that will kill my competitors - make it open source

    [ google docs, etc]

    3. software that will make my proprietary s/w more popular / deeply routed - make it open source

    [ google android, etc]

    - freemium is the other face of open source.

    - also I hope the commentators here have a clarity about being open and providing open source code.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: opensource cannot sustain real corps.

      I agree with your points but open source is a way of operation, not a business model. It isn't "designed" to support a software company, its designed to help share the benefits solving common problems.

      While IBM and Red Hat has managed to make a business out of selling linux, the idea is that people who need an OS or web-server cooperate and share their expertise and add to the common good. Then you don't need to pay for your software and you can spend the money on something a bit more useful.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @lokanadam - Re: opensource cannot sustain real corps.

      You mean freemium is the other farce of open source. That's more likely.

  11. Steve Stites

    Microsoft is driven by internal politics

    From the article:

    "This, in turn, lets Microsoft "respond to the inevitability of open source in their market without constant push-back from cautious and reactionary corporate process."

    Microsoft is very insular. Most of their actions are the result of internal political fights. The winner is the best politician, not the best idea. So the explanation of why Microsoft is creating a wholly owned subsidiary to deal with open source is hidden somewhere in the labyrinth of Microsoft political infighting. If the action makes sense to people outside of Microsoft that is entirely coincidental.


    Steve Stites

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