One of the issues this week that has had the FOSS press all atwitter — literally and figuratively — and has had a lot of smart FOSS people uncharacteristically swooning is the fact that Microsoft is “open sourcing” .NET and other software (For example, .NET is released under the MIT license, whatever that may be).
One subtext here, of course, regarding the misplaced euphoria by some begs the question, “Is Microsoft trustworthy?” The answer is clearly, “No. Absolutely not.” Despite the fact that Redmond has been playing nice with FOSS lately, we should not trust Microsoft any farther than former CEO and Stasi agent look-alike Steve Ballmer can throw a chair.
Despite saying such nice things, I’m certainly counting on cooler heads not swallowing the entire hook, line, and sinker. Let’s remember that Microsoft is a company that arguably still has a stranglehold on the wider tech industry, though not as strong as it once was — and if it was, they certainly wouldn’t be taking this position. To FOSS’s credit, the open-source paradigm has fought its way to a position where this monopolistic behemoth is weakened enough to “reach out” as a survival ploy to work within the technical ecosystem that those in the Free/Open Source Software realm have built.
Let’s not forget — let’s never forget — Microsoft has reveled in their role as digital brownshirts since one of their many ill-conceived, all-conquering goals was to strangle FOSS and Linux in its proverbial cradle. It continues to this day, and for the foreseeable future, in patent shakedowns and insistence on locked-in interfaces no one else can use, among other digital inconsistencies aimed at providing only one option: theirs.
So we’re just supposed to forget the fact that we were once considered a “cancer” by this company — letting bygones be bygones — solely because they say they “love Linux” and because they open-sourced some of their software under some obscure license?
To think, even remotely, that Microsoft has somehow “seen the light” and has come around to embrace FOSS and Linux is pants-wetting laughable. But for the sake of argument, let’s give them a minuscule portion of the benefit of the doubt and present this question.
So, you might ask — and even if you don’t — what can Microsoft do to earn the trust of FOSS/Linux advocates?
Three simple words: GPL or GTFO.