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April 5th, 2016

Maybe It’s Time to Trust Microsoft — Maybe Not

The Heart of Linux

In this story, Microsoft is the cunning spider and Linux the intended victim, the fly. Everyone knows how the story begins. ‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.

The punishment needs to fit the crime, but in Microsoft’s case, it never has. The punishments that have been meted out to Redmond for their civil and criminal asshattery over the years have been almost laughable. From the ridiculously small punishment for obvious antitrust violations at the turn of the century when the company was convicted as a monopolist, to the law seemingly turning it’s blind eyes away from Microsoft for their blatant patent-slinging abuses.

What it all boils down to is Microsoft being fined millions while making billions.

If Penfield Jackson, the initial judge in the Microsoft antitrust case, hadn’t gotten himself thrown off the case for discussing it with the press, the Microsoft of today would look much different. The pieces of it anyway. Personally, I think I would like that Microsoft much better than the one today.

Freedom from MicrosoftThe EU, on the other hand, has taken Microsoft to the woodshed for more suitable punishment than the pampered and powdered treatment they’ve received in the U.S. Some of the fines the EU has leveled against MS have been nothing less than corporation wrecking balls, although the biggest and the baddest of those are still being negotiated.

You may freely read that last as Uncle Sam taking the crown of the EU to the corner and saying, “You don’t really want to push these fines against Microsoft, do you? It would be a shame if your favorable trade partner status got knocked off into the dirt, now wouldn’t it?”

The U.S. has a long history of wielding international trade status threats all around the globe. When the US threatened Australia a number of years ago with the same sanctions for not enforcing US copyright law, the Land Down Under toed the line right away. Now that the TPP is on the threshold of making U.S. copyright law universal for all nations, those individual threats are not as necessary now. Of the countries signing off on this aberration of a law, it’s interesting that Australia was the second to sign, right after the U.S.

And what, you may ask, does all of this have to do with Microsoft?

Really? You have to ask?

Microsoft has all but written the TPP. And what they didn’t write, they “suggested.” None of this can be proven, of course, because the U.S. has forbidden any nation or entity to disclose the contents of the TPP.

Unfortunately, the punishments or threats of punishments handed down by the EU do not seem to have much impact on the way Microsoft conducts its business here in the states. It’s business as usual.

“So Ken”, you say, “It looks like you’ve returned to your old Redmond-bashing ways. I’m surprised you haven’t already exchanged the “s” in Microsoft for the dollar sign yet.”

Well, now that you bring it up, I have been sorely tempted, but it’s not in me to put that in print any longer.

The larger picture doesn’t have anything to do with how I might feel about Microsoft. It’s more to do with the open arms that have been slung wide to embrace the “New Microsoft.” The Microsoft that “loves Linux.”

Loves Linux my…er, behind.

Linux might wanna pay attention to the hand that’s reaching around to its back pocket. Redmond is in it for the money. What publicly traded corporation isn’t? So, just recently Microsoft proclaims that it is open sourcing a number programs “in good faith.” Good faith has nothing to do with it.

The new boss isn’t the same as the old boss. Not even close. Satya Nadella, the new boss at Microsoft, knows where the money is to be made now. Microsoft has made noises that sound much like Windows is on life support. There will be no more Windows after Windows 10. Why? Nadella knows the future of Microsoft lives in the cloud, and he’s on a one man campaign to make sure that the company is as successful as possible there. After all, he ran the cloud division at Microsoft.

Developers are bringing their own tools to work these days, and most of those tools are Linux or Linux based. Don’t believe me? Here’s what MakeUseOf had to say in February:

“These days, Microsoft has begun to utilize Linux itself. In September 2015, Microsoft released Azure Cloud Switch, a Linux distribution aimed at data centers. This was no secretive thing, as you can read about it in a post on the company’s blog. Its existence is an acknowledgment of the pervasiveness of open source software in the online world. The likes of Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter aren’t using Windows on their servers. The Internet runs on Linux.”

Is this truly a changed Microsoft? Personally, I don’t believe it is. The day they stop this silly 235 patent BS, then we might talk about it. But you know as well as I do, if they pull the covers back on their lie-of-the-century, then they may stand to lose billions in paying back those companies they extorted in the past.

“Oh those patents. Yeah, that was silly wasn’t it. Well, we’re sorry your company lost shareholder value due to having to pay us all that money. But let’s just let bygones be bygones…whaddaya say?

Stick it all up in your bygones Microsoft. You’re a liar and a thief and the only reason most of your higher execs aren’t in prison is that U.S. law and your good ol’ boy network protected you. You aren’t fooling anyone. You don’t love Linux any more than I love liver and onions. You have merely realized that the only way you are going to survive into the next decade is to integrate Linux into your strategies…and integrate it deeply.

Let’s face it. You need us. More than we need you.

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Ken Starks writes and publishes The Blog of Helios, a finalist in our Best FOSS or Linux Blog competition. In addition, he's the person behind the Reglue project, which refurbishes older computers and gives them to disadvantaged school kids in the Austin, Texas area. Follow him on Twitter @Reglue

13 comments to Maybe It’s Time to Trust Microsoft — Maybe Not

  • tracyanne

    “Microsoft has all but written the TPP. And what they didn’t write, they “suggested.” None of this can be proven, of course, because the U.S. has forbidden any nation or entity to disclose the contents of the TPP.”

    After your last article, where you as much as said your friend was a prize jerk, who to anyone reading the article would easily assume was some one who you didn’t know well, and visa versa, I’m more than prepared to take pretty much any claims you make with a grain of salt.

    Fortunately, with regard to your claim that Microsoft pretty much wrote the TTP, I don’t even need to do that. It’s quite clear to me, and anyone else who has spent any time following the progress of the TPP, that you simply pulled that one out of your arse.

    All of the leaked documents (Available on Wkileaks and other places) related to the TPP, most of which were discussed on Techdirt and The Intercept (to a lesser extent), at great length, show that the orgnisations that had the most input into the TPP were The Copyright Industries,.. The American Motion Picture Industry and The American recorded Music Industry and The Pharmecutical Industries, and to a very much lesser extent other American Corporate interests. Microsoft, along with many other Proprietary Corporate Software companies, may well have contributed to the TPP, but Microsoft most assuredly did not write most of the TPP, nor did they even write a substantial part of it.

    Any reading of the final document shows also shows this to be the case.

    If you are going to bash Microsoft, and there is much they deserve to be bashed for, at least make it something they actually did, not some made up failing on their part.

  • Andrew McGlashan

    There is nothing new here anyway.

    You don’t need Windows 10 to have a set of Win32 tools that are GNU. GetGNUWin32 ?

    The only problem with it is that it might be an update nightmare.

    NEVER 10, there’s even a freeware tool from grc.com to help make that more possible. You still want to be careful with the updates though, too much nagware if you aren’t.

  • OVVYYYXXXX

    In my country there is a thing called>

    …wolf inside sheep fur…

    The Time will tell!

  • Roland

    This is part of the War on General-purpose computing: http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/lockdown.html
    If you buy a computer, you should be able to fully control what runs on it, right? Not anymore. Both Intel & AMD have added coprocessors to their chips to enforce code signing & DRM. Just try to get rid of it, your new system will become a brick. Where did they get that idea? Take a guess. So TracyAnn, who did write TPP? MS is innocent until convicted, right? Too late by a decade.

  • Mike

    @Roland,

    You are right of course. Cory Doctorow’s prediction is fast becoming a reality. Anyone who cares about computing and software freedom should read that article, twice.

    Microsoft’s Secure Boot, their influence on UEFI, and Intel’s AMT are currently among the worst direct threats to computing freedom in existence.

  • Bob W

    I used to be a HUGE Microsoft fan. Not so much anymore. I really don’t trust them like I once did. However, my opinion of MS means zero, zip, nada. However, one thing I do agree with in this article is that MS needs Linux much more than Linux needs MS. Actually, Linux doesn’t need MS at all. As for all the other stuff in the article like MS wrote the TPP, etc, is just plain 100% conjecture. Personally I am starting to not trust Ken Starks either with this type of blogging/writing etc. Just sayin.

  • AC

    Maybe it’s time to trust Microsoft? Maybe when Hannibal Lecter invites you to dinner he isn’t planning to eat you, either?

    Microsoft is evil. If you believe otherwise, you are a casualty of their marketing department.

  • tracyanne

    @Roland

    “So TracyAnn, who did write TPP? MS is innocent until convicted, right? Too late by a decade.”

    Did you actually read my post? Obviously not. So for you I will repeat myself.

    “All of the leaked documents (Available on Wkileaks and other places) related to the TPP, most of which were discussed on Techdirt and The Intercept (to a lesser extent), at great length, show that the orgnisations that had the most input into the TPP were The Copyright Industries,.. The American Motion Picture Industry and The American recorded Music Industry and The Pharmecutical Industries, and to a very much lesser extent other American Corporate interests. Microsoft, along with many other Proprietary Corporate Software companies, may well have contributed to the TPP, but Microsoft most assuredly did not write most of the TPP, nor did they even write a substantial part of it.”

  • There is one question that every Microsoft advocate and/or pundit does not answer, nor has Microsoft itself in regard the “supposed” full acceptance of the company for Linux and Free/Open Source Software (FOSS).

    If Microsoft now “loves Linux”, why has the company “NOT withdrawn it’s public legal threats against Linux of infringing Microsoft software patents, and publicly published the “exact” Linux code that infringes it’s Software Patents, Copyright or Trademarks. This would allow and/or force FOSS developers – if true- to redesign Linux infringing code.

    Every executive from that company has refused to answer these questions or requests for details, which should nullify – once and for all time – any notion that Microsoft is genuine and accepts Linux and FOSS.

    Any other position of Linux and FOSS community and commercial organizations amounts to total naivete and ignorance, which is sure to destroy their vision.

    I personally think the “accepters” would be grossly stupid.

  • DDS

    Trust Microsoft at your own peril. Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. It will be a long, long time before Microsoft obtains the trust of the community at large. Not ‘regains’, because it never really had it.

  • AlanP

    When words and actions disagree, believe the actions

  • adair

    Companies threatened by MS patent claims have been craven. They should simply have said: publish your patent infringement claims against us, and we’ll look into it; but while you’re keeping secrets, don’t waste your time or ours.

  • Eddie G.

    As far as Microsoft “loving” Linux? I don’t think that’ possible. I mean, don’t get me wrong…I’m sure there are people working for Microsoft right now who happen to love using Linux. But the CORPORATION called Microsoft? Is no friend to ANYTHING that poses a threat to its existence. And do not be fooled. Linux and open source have been a threat to Microsoft from it’s inception. It was only a matter of time before open source overtook the proprietary licensing schemes of others. And now Microsoft claims its love for Linux? And they offer us their SQL…and other apps from their core?
    Thats a wonderful thing right?….oh no…..wait…I forgot…they’re offering us an SQL database…..but don’t we HAVE ONE ALREADY?….matter fact we have MORE than one! The same could be said for anything else it might want to “give” the open source community, the time for you to offer us an olive branch has come and gone. Now?…you’re on your own. We can survive without you, as we’ve proven from the start. It just took the rest of the world a bit of time to catch up to common sense! I guess those who are willing to give MS a try and HOPE they don’t screw things up, well….good luck! AS for the rest of the “faithful”…just mind yourselves now…..I mean I know it probably might not happen, but wouldn’t it just suck TYRANNOSAURUS eggs if one day you fired up your Linux machine and got an error message telling you you needed Microsoft “Package XYZ” in order to proceed further? or (even WORSE!) being told in order to continue you need to purchase a fully licensed version?…Hey. with Microsoft “dancing” so close? It Could Happen.