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Microsoft speech

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).

10 Responses to “Microsoft speech”

  1. May 20th, 2005 at 1:12

    Raul Pesch says:

    Hello Martin,

    Thanks for the summary. It is nice to read how my speech about Microsoft’s opinion on Open Source is received by the audience. I am also happy to hear that you found it both worthwhile and also “surprisingâ€Â to hear someone of Microsoft being realistic :-)

    I like to comment on some of your observations. To start with our business model, Microsoft does have a professional support department and consultancy services. However, our business model is not primarily based on services revenue. We have a business model that is based on sales of software licenses, contrary to many open source vendor (such as Red Hat) which have adopted business models which are primarily based on services revenue (partly forced to by the restrictions of the GPL license). As I explained in the speech, in my opinion both business models are here to stay. You can probably best compare it to the pharmaceutical industry in which commercial companies (which have a business model comparable with Microsoft) coexist with academic companies (that can in some sense be compared with the Open Source model).

    With regard to Microsoft̢۪s XML format, which can be used in Office 2003 as an alternative document format, the Office 2003 XML reference schema̢۪s are indeed documented and published. More information can be found on: http://www.microsoft.com/office/xml/default.mspx

    On Java and .NET, what I specifically said was that .NET is fully based on open standards such as SOAP, UDDI, WSDL, XML and HTTP. Besides, the .NET Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) has been approved by the international standardization organization ECMA to become an open standard (ECMA-335) and in a later stadium even became an official ISO standard (ISO/IEC 23271). More detailed information can be found on: http://msdn.microsoft.com/net/ecma/

    On market share I explained that the adoption of Linux in the Dutch market is not a high as many people think. I made the claim that Linux, in the Dutch market, is not growing as fast as expected. These statements are based on statistics from market research firm MarketCap (http://www.marketcap.nl) and are not funded or endorsed by Microsoft in any way. MarketCap does market research for several consecutive years and their detailed reports can be acquired by everyone. A 2004 analysis by MarketCap showed a steep growth of Linux server penetration in The Netherlands from 4.6% in 2003 to 7.1% in 2004 (source: http://www.marketcap.nl/img/cms/doc/Persbericht%20MarketCap%20-%20Linux%20penetratie%20naar%2010%20procent%20per%20eind%202004%20-%2027%20juli%202004.pdf). MarketCap also estimated that by December 2004 the penetration would be 10%. In a recent update however it appears that Linux server growth in The Netherlands has been slowing down. April 2005 figures indicate an 8.5% penetration share, missing the 10% penetration estimate and indicating that the growth trend of the year before is declining (source: http://www.webwereld.nl/articles/31322/marketcap)

    On my comments on Apple. I said that Apple is a good example of a commercial company that uses open source software (in their case BSD licensed software) without donating the entire project (including GUI etc.) back to the community. This is not required by the BSD license and in my opinion, it makes business sense to keep certain parts closed. It’s not a “goodâ€Â or “badâ€Â discussion. It’s just to give an example of various open source licenses and their differences and potential implications (ie. what if Apple had adopted GPL licensed code instead of BSD licensed code?).

    With regards to software patents, I recall that we actually discussed that topic? At a certain point I did suggest to take it offline since it took the focus of the main message of the presentation. Anyway, since I did a number of these sessions, I may be confusing here. I am however happy to discuss this topic or any other topics in more detail if you like.

    As I said in the beginning of the speech, the topic “open sourceâ€Â is an interesting topic and food for some interesting discussions. Microsoft’s point-of-view on this subject is often much more balanced than many people initially expected. I hope my comment gave a little more insight in the meaning behind the words.

    Thanks,

    Raul Pesch
    Platform Strategy Manager
    Microsoft B.V.

  2. May 20th, 2005 at 11:02

    Administrator says:

    Thanks for your comment. I’m surprised you’ve found my weblog and even took the time to comment on my post.
    Regarding the XML-format used in the latest version of MS Office, I indeed made a mistake saying that the specification is not freely available. However, it is (in my opinion) not as free (or open) as it should be. For most open source software (especially if it is licensed under the GPL) it is not possible to use standards or specifications which are patented. At first there was no patent granted on the XML format of Office, but as you probably know, Microsoft is trying hard to obtain a patent on it. In order to use the format in open source software, you have to agree to a RAND and free license, but this does not prevent MS from eventually enforce its rights and start charging for the patent use. Additionally, it is still not clear to me why MS doesn’t use the OpenOffice.org XML-format which is actually a REAL standard (i.e. accepted by the OASIS). Probably this is due to the habit MS had (which you also mentioned in your speech) that the company should try to own the standard instead of depending on a standard created by someone else. While I resepct this choice, it is ofcourse not the best way to use standards. If every company should behave like that there would be no interoperability, which is an important thing in the current ICT bussiness (as you also pointed out in your speech). While XML is an open standard, this doesn’t make the Office XML-format a standard also. In comparisation with PDF, I don’t see any reason to consider PDF more ‘closed’ than the XML-format of Office. (unfortunately the documentation on the format is only readable from Windows because it is an .MSI installation. I only have an Apple and Linux machines, so I am not able to read it – and probably this holds for most open source developers :( )

    Regarding to the .Net framework, it is indeed a standard (I didn’t say it isn’t). But unfortunately MS has several patents on the part which is covered under the ECMA standard. While MS has obviously the right to do so, it prevents a full acceptance of Mono in the open source community. Some companies, especially Red Hat (Novell is an exception, but that is mainly because the founder of Mono (Miguel deIcaza) is due the take over of Ximian by Novell a Novell employee) cannot ship Mono which its distributions because of the uncertainty regarding Microsoft future actions. MS requires people who ship an implementation of the .Net framework to accompany it with license terms and additionally agree with it. This license agreement grants a royalty-free use of the patents which covor .Net, but this isn’t a patent grant. While this seems a detail, it makes a rather big difference, because it doesn’t prevent MS eventually to ask a royalty fee for use of the patents. For open source projects, this is an unacceptable risk.

    I have to add that this topic is under a big discussion in the Free and Open Source Softwaar (FOSS) community, because some people think (and are maybe right) that MS never will take action against Mono, because it makes the .Net platform cross platform, which is a nice marketing argument. I also have to mention the fact that not the complete .Net framework is covered by the ECMA standard. It only covers the CLI (as you say correctly in your comment), but not the class libraries (a part of it is a standard, but not everything). Also, it seems (I don’t have checked this for myself) that in the latest versions of the .Net framework there are changes to some part covered by the ECMA standard, but are not updated in the standard. This causes incompatibilities which difficults the development of an open source implementation of the .Net framework.

    Regarding the Linux marketshare, it is probably true that this doesn’t grow as fast as some expected. But, as you also mentioned in your speech (but strangly keep mentioning statistics and numbers) this doesn’t say much. Microsoft does maybe used in this case numbers of an independent market research company. However, it is a fact that MS sometimes also come with research results from ‘sponsored’ researchs. A famous example is the Alexis de Toqueville (http://www.tweakers.net/nieuws/32473 and http://www.linuxworld.com/story/44851.htm) and more recently a research about the security of Windows in comparisation with Linux (http://www.tweakers.net/nieuws/36728/) where a lot of question marks can be placed. The point with such numbers is that one can get a lot of things ‘proven by numbers’ if you take enough effort – especially when you’re speaking about security or TCO. As a disclaimer I have to say that I don’t say that Linux is more secure that Windows or that the TCO of Linux is lower than Windows, because I simply don’t know. The market share of Windows is obviously much higher than Linux, and I don’t think that it will change in the nearby future – at least not on the desktop.

    Apple is (in my opinion) not an ‘open source’ company. Recently the company was in the news regarding their Safari browser (http://apple.slashdot.org/apple/05/05/12/1555240.shtml?tid=95), which is not good for the reputation of Apple in the open source community (but probably Apple doesn’t care very much, because this community is rather small.. on the other hand, since this came into the news, Apple start talking to the KDE KHTML developers in order to come to an agreement). However, I think, even if the FreeBSD-kernel was licensed under the GPL, I don’t think Apple should have contributed their graphical interface to the open source community, because that would only be required when it actually used the kernel code. The XFree86/X.org X11-server isn’t also not licenced under the GPL (but the X11 license) while it does use for example the FreeBSD or Linux kernel to run on. There are also several closed source X11 servers for Linux. Apple wouldn’t have to release their graphical system if the kernel was GPL.

    Software patents weren’t discussed during the speech, but that is because nobody asked about it (everyone would to go and drink beer ;) ).

    I think Microsofts point-of-view regarding open source software has changed the last years. A few years ago MS didn’t comment on open source (and Linux) because it didn’t consider it as a threat. Later MS came with big statements such as ‘Linux is a cancer” (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/06/02/ballmer_linux_is_a_cancer/). Now, the company sees Linux as its main competitor and hence treats it a lot more objective. I think this is good.

    I should have asked one thing during your speech, and that is why MS is offering software for MacOS X (i.e. Office, Media Player, Virtual PC) while it doesn’t offer any software for Linux. The marketshare of Linux is much higher than MacOS X…

  3. June 9th, 2005 at 9:54

    Martin Sturm » Blog Archive » Microsoft speecifically targets Samba says:

    [...] information Microsoft speecifically targets Samba A while ago I visited a speech of a Microsoft employee about Microsofts opinion about open source and open standards. Raul Pesch to [...]

  4. March 27th, 2008 at 19:37

    Winter says:

    “When MS said that PDF isn’t an open format, but MS XML-format used by MS Office is, the government changed the entry.”

    Couldn’t be more wrong.

    Pdf 1.7 krijgt ISO 32000-certificaat opgeplakt
    http://pro.tweakers.net/nieuws/50711/pdf-17-krijgt-iso-32000-certificaat-opgeplakt.html

    ISO Approves PDF/A
    http://www.pdfzone.com/c/a/Authoring/ISO-Approves-PDFA/

    The ISO PDF standards are managed in an open way. Adobe has reliquished all patent claims related to PDF completely.

    I am sorry to says, but I must point out that this is exemplary of the quality of the information you tend to get from MS speakers.

    Winter

  5. March 27th, 2008 at 20:14

    Stephan Wehner says:

    I found your article through a link from groklaw.net, where PJ wrote,

    “The funny part, to me, is that Pesch responded to the blog article in a comment, and he obviously used Microsoft software to copy and paste his comment in, because it’s almost unreadable in spots, due to Microsoft’s habit of extending standards.”

    I verified there are characters that are not coming out properly; not so sure it is due to Microsoft software however.

    Cheers,

    Stephan

  6. March 28th, 2008 at 0:07

    Scott Bower says:

    Hey Stephan,

    I did the same clicky through Groklaw and a quick check with Microsoft’s MSDN reveals these very same non-standard codes have been pushed through Microsoft’s own version of everything HTML (mainly IE).

    You can find it at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms537499(VS.85).aspx

    Not sure why this is the case, surely it wouldn’t be because Microsoft aren’t any good at reading open specifications or writing implementations that use them correctly… If they can’t get that right then what possible hope could they have to do anything like write their own major specification for approval or something, that’d be a complete disaster…. wait a second….

  7. March 28th, 2008 at 2:31

    Eric Schmenk says:

    Scott,

    Actually, those codes on the msdn page match the HTML standard. They are well defined. They are also not at all what Raul Pesch wanted.

    What probably happened is that he wrote it in Word, which automatically converts regular double quotes (“) into right and left double quotes (” and “). It also converts apostrophes (‘) into right single quotes (’). Those didn’t get handled properly somehow when he pasted them here and then posted his comment to the web server.

    I don’t understand the specific conversion issues. Those quote characters were represented in Word in two bytes using the proprietary Windows: Western character set. However, their representation in Unicode requires 4 bytes and they can’t be represented directly in HTML; they have to be encoded, instead. Somehow that conversion didn’t happen correctly, and what was once 1 quote character became 3 nonsensical ones on the server. This does emphasize the need to comply with the same standard — that’s the bottom line, I guess. I also don’t understand why the first apostrophe worked.

    I, too, came from Groklaw.

  8. March 30th, 2008 at 13:50

    Catharina says:

    Wow, you made it to Groklaw :)

  9. April 1st, 2008 at 11:21

    Mark Harris says:

    @Eric
    This is usually the point in a support call where I say” Meh! Bloody Microsoft!!” and head off for a beer ;-)

    Another Groklaw visitor

  10. July 8th, 2014 at 0:19

    soup.io says:

    Je peux dire que ce n’est guère faux ..

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