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You Say Microsoft Isn’t Committed To Open Source

Last updated on December 6, 2013

The results are in. The votes have been counted. The outcome is no surprise.

Back on Halloween, when we ran our article on Ross Gardler’s presentation on “Microsoft and Open Source” at the All Things Open conference, we posted a poll that asked, “Is Microsoft committed to open source?” Guess what? You answered “no,” as in “nope,” “nadda” or “ain’t no way, baby.”

If you’ll remember, Mr. Gardler tried his best to convince us that Microsoft has changed and that they’re no longer the big, bad wolf when it comes to open source. In fact, he used the word “change” so often when referring to Microsoft that we began to think we’d passed through a rift in the time-space continuum and were back in 2007 at an Obama rally.

“Microsoft have changed significantly over the last fifteen years, twenty years, thirty years. They’re a much more open company. Microsoft is much more open.”

Yeah, right. And there will be peace in our times.

He gave us example after example of all the code Microsoft’s contributed to open source projects. The trouble was, all of this code was merely for the purpose of making sure that open source programs would run well on Windows. When asked about this, he said it wasn’t true.

“…while the majority of the work is to do things like make node.js run on Windows, we make sure in doing that we are not harming any running on other platforms…”

Thank goodness for that. We were getting a little worried that Microsoft’s contributions would break Linux so badly that it wouldn’t run anywhere but virtually on Azure.

[yop_poll id=”29″]

Anyway, back to our poll…

It turns out that you didn’t buy what Microsoft was selling any more than we did. When we asked our question — is Microsoft committed to open source? — 78% of you answered “Not committed at all” and 17% of you indicated that you thought the folks in Redmond are “A little committed.” Interestingly, twice as many of you didn’t know if Microsoft is committed to open source (4%) than thought they are “Totally committed (2%).

We’re left remembering the story where the wolf enters Riding Hood’s room in grandma drag. Now that would be an episode of Once Upon A Time we wouldn’t want to miss, with Ballmer playing Big Bad and RMS playing Little Red.


  1. W. Anderson W. Anderson December 5, 2013

    Those of us who “know” the real history of Microsoft and it’s relation to /attitude toward Free/Open Source Ross (FOSS) understand that Ross Gardler would be prevented by Microsoft corporate policy from saying anything negative about his employer.
    All the code contributed by Microsoft to Open Source had and has one imperative – to ensure that theses FOSS applications, which are demanded by Microsoft clients, do work well in a Microsoft environment.

    Sever technology experts have even tested Apache HTTP/Web server recently with better performance on Windows – aaagh!! – than on GNU/Linux. Could the substantial $$contributions of Microsoft to the Apache organization have had a part in this strange development?

    In some cases, it has been reported by senior software developer authorities in these FOSS projects that Microsoft actually attempted to “prevent” any improvements or fixes in the FOSS applications from being implemented as well on GNU/Linux and *BSD UNIX-like Operating Systems(OS). How sick is that?

    Even the company’s investment into advances for PHP via Zend, IronPython for .Net, Node.js and others are strictly Windows focused, and have significant compatibility issues with the these FOSS languages’ standards implementation.

    Those who say otherwise and make great effort to defend Microsoft are either employees like Ross Gardler and Jason Perlow of ZDNet, or fools who suffer a ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ with the company.

  2. GNUguy GNUguy December 6, 2013

    I’m puzzled as to why Gardler didn’t save his presentation until April 1st. Seems to me he missed the opportunity for the most epic April Fools joke ever.

    I worked in the electronic medical device industry almost my entire career. In the 80’s we always joked about how MS made innovative companies disappear by using the old extend, embrace, extinguish method. We’d read about some innovation from some small outfit and place bets re how long before MS took them out.

    Come on! It’s hilarious to even consider the possibility.

  3. Eddie G. Eddie G. December 6, 2013

    While it would be admirable for Microsoft to really MEAN what they say, the odds are, this is just a play to facilitate a way to ensure that any open source projects and initiatives are squashed under their big, multi-paned, square-heeled boot. I have no doubt that if there were a way for Microsoft to not only attack, but defeat the open source community, it would have been done decades ago. I don’t doubt that there might be a few people working in Redmond VA who earnestly DO want open source and MS to play nice together, but the odds are against them as well, they say if you want a teacher who NEVER changes their lesson: look to history…and history PROVES that Microsoft only lives, breathes, and operates for the betterment of Microsoft, and all others are either cannon fodder to be “used” to attain their ultimate goal, or else they’re “slaves” to M$’s drivers, programs, dependencies etc. Sorry, hate to sound like a basher, but if you’re in the jungle, and you see a tiger, you can call it whatever you WANT to call it..the FACT remains it will STILL be a tiger!

  4. Any Mouse Any Mouse December 6, 2013

    “The trouble was, all of this code was merely for the purpose of making sure that open source programs would run well on Linux. When asked about this, he said it wasn’t true.”

    This paragraph doesn’t make sense.

    Isn’t this what a good corporate citizen would do — make sure FOSS software would work well on a FOSS OS?

  5. Christine Hall Christine Hall December 6, 2013

    @Any Mouse Sorry if I confused you. He didn’t say that Microsoft’s contributions to open source wasn’t primarily to make FOSS run well on Windows. He said that wasn’t ALL their contributions did. In addition, he said, they keep their other contributions from breaking whatever it is they’re trying to get to work and play well with Windows.

    Here’s from the transcript:

    FOSS Force: There’s a perception that I was wondering if you’d like to address that most of Microsoft’s work in open source, contributing code and so forth, is primarily to make open source projects work and play better with Microsoft products. Would you like to address that?

    Gardler: Well, Microsoft’s a company and it invests in areas that benefit the company. If we just invest in areas that didn’t generate further revenue we wouldn’t be able to continue to invest, so that’s true. But our focus is interoperability. It’s not to make these open source projects work on Windows exclusively, it’s about making them work on whatever platform people want them to work on. So while the majority of the work is to do things like make node.js run on Windows, we make sure in doing that we are not harming any running on other platforms at the same time.

    FOSS Force: Which you have to do anyway…

    Gardler: Which we have to do else the community wouldn’t accept the contributions. Precisely, that’s the beauty of open source.

  6. CFWhitman CFWhitman December 6, 2013

    I think you missed Any Mouse’s point. In the article it says “Linux” in a place where it’s supposed to say “Windows.” It’s the mental equivalent of a typo, accidentally typing one word instead of another.

  7. W. Anderson W. Anderson December 6, 2013

    Ross Gardler may insult the intelligence of FOSSFORCE in the interview, but he unfortunately did not account for those “knowledgeable” and technically astute professionals that know better.

    It is unlikely and improbable that the Apache Organization would “turn down” tens of millions of $$$dollars hand-over from Microsoft to “supposedly” make Apache HTTP Servers run better on Windows “AND” Linux or BSD, when those in the organization like Ross Gardler maybe willing to shaft parallel Linux development “and” get a cushy, well paying – $$$$$$ – position with the company as a bonus.

    Even the IronPython project had results that improved Python programming language performance on Windows but broke many of the Python programming standards and interfaces for working in/with any other OS environment. Anyone can witness this on

    A Money grab and a power play with one of the world’s largest technology corporations unfortunately make many people lie through their teeth, even to their own FOSS communities.

  8. Christine Hall Christine Hall December 6, 2013

    @CFWhitman Aha! You’re right. Thanks.

  9. Mike Mike December 7, 2013

    Either fork and remove the Windows specific crap, or just revert their changes. Problem solved.

    Definitely don’t let them get a foothold where you have to race to keep up with undocumented changes they make to their crap in the name of ‘compatibility’…or you already caught in their “embrace, extend, extinguish” trap.

    No one needs Microsoft’s garbage clogging up good software.

  10. Eddie G. Eddie G. December 7, 2013

    As far as I am concerned, there is nothing coming out of Microsoft’s camp that I “need” per se. I would rather “struggle” with an incompatible issue in open source land, than to have the ease of “point-and-click” from Windows. And I’m not “flaming” or bashing on them, but you have to understand my perspective, you’re looking at someone who lost ALL their data in the blink of an eye, when he was un-wise and un-educated in the ways of making backups, and that COST ME MY JOB! (back iun the Windows 2000 era..) so I don’t place any faith in anything they say ever, and not for nothing, but ever since adopting Linux and open source as my “main” technological landscape, I’ve been happier then ever! I hope the developers, maintainers, promoters, and others who are involved in open source projects continue to make it so much more better than anything else out there!


  11. Matias Matias December 8, 2013

    Microsoft is committed to open source but committed to kill it. Because FLOSS and Linux is great danger for Redmond.

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