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.
The 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.
Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue