This afternoon a Microsoft employee from the Dutch division of the company came to the university to speech about Microsofts vision on open source and open standards. Because open source and Microsoft is an interesting combination, I decided to give it a try. To my surprise I must say the person from Microsoft (Raul Pesch) was rather relastic. He admits that Microsoft does not have the intention to become an open source company, and that this doesn’t give users the freedom which open source software give their users. The main reason why MS stick to their closed source software business model is, at least according to Pesch), the fact that MS doesn’t have a support department.
Of course there was also the usual FUD from the company. Pesch brought up an example about a list made by the Dutch government, which described open standards which should be used by the government. On that list was the MS .doc-format used by Word not allowed and should PDF be used insteat. When MS said that PDF isn’t an open format, but MS XML-format used by MS Office is, the government changed the entry. MS say that PDF is controlled by Adobe and hence not an open format. He forget the fact that the PDF-specifications are open and (as far as I konw) there are no patents which apply to the PDF format. The Microsoft XML format used by Office, however, isn’t documented (at least not in public available documents) and I doubt that there isn’t any MS patent which applies to this format. Another example Pesch gave was Java, which isn’t an open standard he says while .Net is (which is obviously not the case).
Also there was a lot of so-called ‘facts’ about market share, TCO and so on, but as we know, MS is very good (as every company) in manipulating such statistics. Pesch could also not resist to flame on some companies. According to Pesch, Red Hat does not provide the sources of their Red Hat Enterprise Linux product, which is not the case witnessing White Box Linux and aother products. He say that Apple took BSD and didn’t return anything. When one listener point to the OpenDarwin project, he said that this was only the ‘infrastructure’ of the OS.
I asked him about his opinion on Sun’s effort with OpenSolaris. Apart from some defaul statements such as ‘Sun is in big problems and tries to solve it this way’ and ‘Solaris is rapidly lousing market share, and Sun tries to change it with this effort’. I also asked about software patents and his opinion about that. At first he said that he would come on that topic in the second part of his speech, but when the speech ended, he quickly packed his stuff without speaking about this topic. I also asked him about Mono (and why he says .Net is open and Java is not, while both standards aren’t), open source implementations of Java and IBM, but he didn’t say anything new or interesting about that. All in all it was an amusing speech, but he didn’t say anything new (which I could expect of course).
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