Right now it’s too soon to tell what kind of CEO Satya Nadella will be for Microsoft. He may be a good guy who understands just how much his company has erred ethically, almost since day one, and who has plans to realign the company he now guides to a position where it can become a positive force in the tech arena. I’m not expecting that. I’ve learned over the years to not expect anything sane or ethical from the Redmond company, no matter who’s in charge or doing the talking.
As a FOSS proponent, there are a few questions I’d like to ask Mr. Nadella if I had the chance. His answers would tell me much of what I’d like to know about the new boss at Microsoft and his plans for the company.
What are you going to do about the 235 patents that Microsoft claims are violated by Linux?
Since at least 2007, Microsoft has claimed that 235 of its patents are infringed by Linux. The trouble is, nobody knows what patents are being infringed because Redmond has been keeping that a secret, leaving us to assume that these are imaginary patents. Linux developers only want to see the patents, if they exist, so they can create workarounds to bring Linux into compliance. So far, Microsoft has refused.
With Ross Gardler, current president of the Apache Foundation and paid spokesperson for Microsoft, running around telling everyone who will listen that “Microsoft is a changed company” and “Microsoft is much more open,” now would be the time to prove it. Show us the patents or promise not to use them against Linux.
The time has come for Microsoft to make such a move. Too many of Microsoft’s big enterprise customers also depend on Linux and open source for Redmond to follow through on their threats. Co-operation with Linux on this issue would be an intelligent move.
Is Microsoft committed to open source enough to start contributing code that goes beyond merely getting Windows to work and play well with Linux and open source applications?
Again, Ross Gardler keeps telling us that Microsoft is now committed to open source while bragging about the code contributions the company has made to projects such as Linux. The trouble is, all contributions are simply for the purpose of making sure that Windows will work with the open source applications used by its enterprise clients. How about helping in ways that will improve Linux and other open source projects in other ways or perhaps by making some sizable donations to open source projects?
Will you make ODF the default format for Office?
DocX or whatever format Office is currently using needs to go out the window–no pun intended. It’s past time for Microsoft to get with the program so that it’s products work seamlessly with other office suites such as OpenOffice.
Are you willing to work with the Open Document project to give LibreOffice the capability to flawlessly open any Office document?
If Microsoft isn’t yet ready to get rid of their proprietary Office format, they could work with the Document Foundation to assure that LibreOffice and other open source office productivity suites can faithfully open and save in the Microsoft format, no matter how complex the document.
Would you be willing to contribute a meaningful number of pertinent patents and contribute financially to the Open Invention Network to help protect Linux and other open source projects from patent lawsuits?
Here’s another way that the new CEO could demonstrate a commitment to openness. Instead of going the patent troll route, why not join the more than 600 other companies who’ve become champions of open source by donating patents to the Open Invention Network’s patent pool to be used to defend Linux and other open source projects from the trolls.
For the time being, I’m reserving judgement on the new chief of the Windows world. It wouldn’t be fair to begin taking pot shots when we really don’t know anything about him other than the fact he’s spent 22 years at Microsoft–which can’t be good. It won’t take much patience or waiting before we’ll what he’s about. He’ll let us know by his actions.
I’m hoping he turns out to be a good guy, simply because the world could really use some more good guys right now and Microsoft has the potential to do much good with it’s influence and money if it ever learns to quit being selfish, self-centered and power mad. Maybe Satya Nadella is just the man to bring that about. Or maybe not. Time will tell.
Pretty soon he’ll have to do something. And then something else. And something else again. By then we should be able to see where things are going.