back to article Microsoft clutches open source to its corporate heart

Open source has moved into Microsoft's beating corporate heart. Redmond's new open source group reports to the company number two, chief operating officer and aggressive compete-to-win-type Kevin Turner. James Utzschneider has been named Microsoft's general manager of open source, a role that will see him and a team of 80 …

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  1. Mobius
    Thumb Down

    Boring

    April fools joke...

    1. Graham Wilson

      Hey, that should be "Rotten April Fool's Joke".!

      Hey, that should be "Rotten April Fool's Joke!"

  2. The Cube
    Jobs Horns

    Wouldn't want his job

    How is he going to explain how Microsoft are like so open source when they are lobbying the EU to remove open standards requirements from IT procurement policies?

    He may give with one hand but the rest of MS is going to keep taking away with many others.

  3. Goat Jam
    Gates Horns

    Spin, spin, spin

    "James Utzschneider has been named Microsoft's general manager of open source, a role that will see him and a team of 80 individuals lobby governments, Microsoft's army of systems integrators, and everyone else on how the company is working to make Windows inter-operate with Linux and open source."

    How creating a massive lobbying machine the equivalent of "clutching open source to it's heart"

    This is just MS doing what MS always does, spin enough bullshit until people believe that it's true.

    1. Doug 3
      Paris Hilton

      Linux now considered a disease

      and Microsoft executives start claiming it is causing corporate heart disease.

      in other news, who still believes what Microsoft says when internal memos and emails have shown that they are multi-faced liars?

      Paris because she'll say what gets her attention just like Microsoft does.

  4. Steve Roper

    Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

    We haven't forgotten this mantra. Microsoft have a LOT of work to do before they can hope to regain the OSS community's trust on this. Many people will simply see this as Microsoft Embracing open source prior to moving on to the Extend and Extinguish phases. It's all very well to toss around the "we've evolved" bonhomie but the OSS community is going to need to see these "actions and behaviours" that Utzschneider is talking about for quite some time before the hostilities of the past can start to be buried.

    If he's genuine about this, then good luck to Microsoft. It would certainly be very useful and constructive to improve interoperability between Linux and Windows applications. Just don't expect it to happen overnight - they've got a lot of burned bridges to rebuild.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Grenade

      @ Embrace, extend, entinguish

      It's an April Fool you freetards

    2. Eddie Edwards
      Happy

      It'll never happen

      The GPL is specifically designed for people who hate companies like Microsoft at a fundamental level. There is a built-in incompatibility here. Microsoft can try all they like to bridge the gap, but they'll only ever make it half way. There is nothing being built on the other side to meet them.

      The problem is not only that Microsoft likes to "extend" standards. Have you ever tried to get code written for gcc to compile on another compiler? This kind of extension can easily be done simply in order to confound Microsoft's attempts at compatibility. We're not out of the schoolyard yet.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Creepy!

    It is as scary as those Halloween memos.

    If someone really believes Microsoft voluntarily contributed that GPL code then that person should be warned that not even modern medical science can offer him a cure.

  6. oddjobz
    WTF?

    So "now" they want to play nice ...

    I'm reminded of the expression "keep your friends close ..."

    They seem now to think that they can make money from Open Source, I wonder what'll happen when they discover that they can't?!

    1. sandman

      Oh yes they can...

      Microsoft (and many other companies - us for example) make a lot of money from Open Source. Take one example. Let's say Company A likes the look of a Microsoft product but is an Open Source house. If MS can breezily say, "No problem, the product you like is entirely interoperable with your ecosystem", there's a much bigger chance of a sale. They or their partner integrators can then charge for integration, services, support and training. Somewhere between 30 and 70% of a software companies profits will often come from the bits that aren't licence sales.

      If MS can use Open Source code, methodologies, frameworks or whatever to improve their own products, that impacts the bottom line too.

      In the grown up world the better companies use whatever systems can give them a competitive advantage and making them all play nicely together benefits everybody.

      1. oddjobz
        Gates Horns

        Qualification needed ...

        Sorry, my comment was incomplete, when I said "can't make money", what I meant was "can't make the sort of money they need to make it pay the sort of salaries they're used to and pay their shareholders the level dividends they're used to ..."

        You are of course quite right in that many companies make money from Open Source, we do and have done for the best part of 20 years. We don't however have the same sort of financial appetite as M$ (!) and if M$ could make the sort of money off OS that it's making off it's own software, I'm pretty sure it would've spotted the angle previously (!)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    April 1 Already, eh?

    n/t

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Nothing about the Microsoft tax then?

    The plan is simply to push patent encumbered proprietary formats (mono/silverlight), contribute patent encumbered code and repaint correcting GPL violations as altruistic code contributions (Linux network interface driver for Hyper-V). 'Get the facts' was well past its shelf life and was stinking out their shop. It is certainly well past time they hid it from the public and restricted it to their targeted lobbying efforts.

  9. David McMahon
    Badgers

    Cancer :(

    Does Steve Ballmer still think Linux is a Cancer?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/06/02/ballmer_linux_is_a_cancer/

    Badgers because they are cute (ish) and because whilst trying to help a dying one day the RSPCA van crashed into my parked car, I'd love to say the badger got up and laughed but he died :(

  10. Big-nosed Pengie
    Gates Horns

    Come into my parlour

    Said the spider to the fly.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, much the same as IBM, Oracle, etc.

    A 'for profit' mega software vendor wants to leverage the market appeal of free/open source software, while still making a healthy profit on thier own closed source software.

    Sheesh. *Every* closed source software vendor is trying for that. Including Microsoft.

    No big deal.

  12. sam bo
    FAIL

    Ecosystem

    "There's a growing Microsoft ecosystem that we are going to encourage."

    I think that says it all...the ecosystem includes Microsoft, it is not Microsoft's ecosystem.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Microsoft:"You don't have to trust us"

    Just as long as you cough up the cash.

  14. Chemist

    Should title be :

    Microsoft clutches open source to its BLACK heart

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Grenade

    Armed and Dangerous is in AI a Perfect Match for Almed and Decidedly Dedicated ...

    ....who Attack the Money Supply Chain through ITs Evil Vain Jugular for the Relief from Leeches, with some Virtually SMARTer Bad Bloodletting.

    "Microsoft clutches open source to its corporate heart" ..... Is Steve Ballmer then dead, or is his heart transplanted into a useless dead cabbage?

    I'm with Creepy! Anonymous Coward [Posted Thursday 1st April 2010 02:58 GMT] on this one.

    And in the context of the above, this has an Ongoing Relativity and HyperRadioProActive PreScience ........ "In other words, to understand how to compete against OSS, we must target a process rather than a company. .

    { This is a very important insight, one I wish Microsoft had missed. The real battle isn't NT vs. Linux, or Microsoft vs. Red Hat/Caldera/S.u.S.E. -- it's closed-source development versus open-source. The cathedral versus the bazaar. } ".... http://www.catb.org/~esr/halloween/halloween1.html

    Err .....It may very well be that Decrepit Old Age and Pure Madness rules the MS Fields with its Hydra Heads surely perversely and subversively morphed and defaulted to server Vile Bile to the Secretive Enclave Host and Dodgy Masonic Brothers in the Hood, pitting them against their Own and Insiders of their Global Runaway Church and Wwworshipping Congregation.

    And as Dick Turpin would have said, now is the Time and Space ...... To Stand and Deliver, Surrender or Die.

    1. Jim T
      WTF?

      Is this a markov chain?

      n/t

  16. Myopic Aardvark
    Joke

    It's an April Fool's joke!

    Why have so many commentators not got that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because...

      ...it's not remotely funny? Unlike the LHC one.

      ...it's exactly the kind of insidious rhetoric you'd expect from the Redmond Devil?

      ...many people speak (type in this case) then think?

  17. The Flying Dutchman

    I'll be willing to believe that...

    ...When I'll be able to access (r/w) my ext4 home partition from windows on my dual boot machines...

  18. Steven Raith
    Paris Hilton

    Credulity....

    ..you has it.

    Happy April 1st.

    Either that or the LHC really *did* open a portal to an alternate universe, where Lewis Page loves everything the MOD does, and Andrew Orlowski loves comments on his articles.

    Steven R

  19. copsewood
    Welcome

    And then you win

    This probably isn't an April fools joke: if Microsoft don't do what this article says they are toast, because their customers won't want desktops that can only talk to the same as much as more open and flexible desktops. Microsoft must also be aware that they are losing large chunks of the browser market to Firefox and the Office market to OO, and as far as Internet hosted servers and embedded systems including mobiles are concerned they are way behind.

    Microsoft learned that they couldn't replace the open source Internet with a proprietary network of their own devising by the mid nineties, and their embrace and extend strategy towards the Internet then didn't stop the latter being open source. IBM before them knew the mainframe monopoly was going to become a declining share of the total industry, so IBM had to become primarily a services and support company in order to defend their position and grow in the longer term. As Internet and embedded applications increase in value, desktops are also set to become a declining share. The real question is whether Microsoft can shake off enough of their monopoly product-driven culture to become a successful services and support company.

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Microsoft clutches open source to its chest.

    Like some 400lb lifer clutches a know snitch to smother him to death.

    Mine's the one with "Dirty white boys" in the side pocket.

  21. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    Good move

    Assuming it's not an April fool's joke, this looks like an excellent move on Microsoft's part. Put together a propaganda arm to crow about how interoperable they are, and combat the FUD begin spread about them. This will allow them to actually stand a chance at competing against open source for certain government contracts where they were previously banned for being too proprietary.

    Microsoft have slowly started to chang over the past decade. Dragged into that change kicking and screaming by regulators; but they have nonetheless begun to change. I think it is because the company is now so large that Ballmer can't ****up^h^h^h^h^h^h personally direct every branch of the company.

    It seems like a logical business decision to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Governments and open source

      "This will allow them to actually stand a chance at competing against open source for certain government contracts where they were previously banned for being too proprietary."

      yes I believe this too. "Software market" does not mean all software everywhere. And for certain software users like the government, using proprietary software does not make sense at all.

      Governments should operate transparently, proprietary software which executes government tasks is not transparent, therefore don't use proprietary software as a government. Same goes for open standards that make sure we can still read our laws in a hundred years from now.

      Microsoft realizes that this way of thinking is getting more spread in governments around the world. And they know that they can never win this arms race, since they can't counter that argument. So they need to confuse the decision makers. Give those people the marketing that they need to say : "but hey Parliament look MS is also more open. Here ... you see?" without them having to figure out how it all really works technically.

      The basic fact for this government software market is still the same. As long as Microsoft is proprietary, it has no place to serve governments with software.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        You will never know ..... is the Name of the Great Game

        "The basic fact for this government software market is still the same. As long as Microsoft is proprietary, it has no place to serve governments with software." .... Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 1st April 2010 15:18 GMT

        AC,

        If Microsoft were Really SMART and Virtually SMARTer than any contemporaries/competitors/opposition, ..... and the trick of course is to be so, but with nobody having any idea that it be so ..... then they would have IT organised that governments server Microsoft ....for those who are elected to represent the people are not the sharpest tools in the box, are they, with some even saying that they are positively corrupt.

        Do you think Microsoft have that organised for themselves yet?

      2. The BigYin

        The UK supports MS and only MS

        The UK supports, nay, forces MS on users. It makes sure that MS products are given to schools (either free or at heavy discount). Laptops given to schools carry the MS infection with them.

        People are taught how to make MS products do this or that, not how to use a computer.

        Exams are set that can only be passed by using MS products.

        So, in the UK at least, the government does not support F/OSS, has never supported F/OSS and probably never will.

        That will explain why all their major IT projects have been such successes. Hmm.....

  22. Peter Simpson 1
    Linux

    Ahh! So no more funding

    of companies that claim Linux is full of "stolen IP", then?

    And, of course, they'll be granting an irrevocable blanket waiver to Linux for those 250+ patents it allegedly infringes.

    I very much doubt that Microsoft has any love for Linux. Linux is serious competition for Microsoft on almost all fronts. That's why IBM is putting so much effort into Linux.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    traslation from microspeak

    Microsoft's army of systems integrators, and everyone else on how the company is working to make Windows inter-operate with Novells' SuSE Linux, that Microsoft claims it holds intelelctual property rights in ..

  24. BlueGreen

    Isn't that the purest irony (help needed)

    I recently had to install MS' latest & greatest and it was the last bloody straw. There's only a couple of work related things I really need from windows and these can be virtualised so I'm planning a serious move to linux, pref Centos. I'm not mad on linux but anything's better than being MS's cash-rattling pinyata / dog-chew / pwned bitch.

    Only problem is, I have a matrox g550 and matrox aren't particularly interested in supporting it on linux from my experience with them. Not after games, just reasonable hi-res 2d desktop (single monitor, nothing fancy). Any other *solid* 64-bit linuxes, support of this card, or any advice... please!

    1. Tim K
      Thumb Up

      yes

      Those cards have worked fine forever, without any support from the vendor, as have almost all 2d cards.

      1. BlueGreen

        @Tim K

        I could not get more than 800X600 or 1024X768 res out of it using linux drivers. I need at least 1600X1200 - are you saying that's definitely possible out of the box?

        1. Tony Smith 1

          @BlueGreen

          Try a live disc from one of the more modern distributions such as Mint/Ubuntu/Fedora and see what results you get

          Centos is fantasically stable on my servers but tends to be behind the curve on things like high resolution monitors etc.

          1. Chemist

            @BlueGreen

            Try this link for a review of g550 under Linux

            http://www.linux.com/archive/feed/48429

            1. BlueGreen

              @Tim K, @Tony Smith 1, @Chemist

              Thanks all. I'll be a slow migration but it will be done

  25. Glen Turner 666

    Wake me when they prove it...

    We had similar PR when Ramji was appointed. Didn't stop Microsoft from slipping SCO some millions to fund SCO's anti-Linux litigation and its zombie-like stumbling about. Didn't stop the extraordinary undermining of the international standards process Microsoft undertook to get OOXML stamped "international standard".

    The only examples of openness have been forced upon Microsoft by the EU.

    Implementing popular languages commonly used on Linux isn't openness, that's a response to competition.

    As for "working nicely with others". That has long been a complaint of directors of large IT installations. Microsoft have long provided lip service to that, and then deliberately undermined interworking with subtle tweaks of Kerberos and the like.

    Maybe things have changed at Microsoft. But Microsoft's history after media interviews reading remarkably like this interview suggests not.

  26. Christian Berger

    Microsoft has such phases

    Microsoft has such phases . Remimber the very early 1990s when they promised to be compatible with everyone with their new product "Windows-NT"? They even designed features into it's NTFS which only Mac network clients could benefit from.

    In the end, they might release some software which would be incredible usefull if they fixed a few easy to fix bugs and abandon them.

    In the end Microsoft will not have learned anything. Their whole business model is currently based on offering what many people percieve to be the best WINE out there. Their current OS product only sells because they ship it with a copy of the product people actually want.

  27. nematoad Silver badge
    FAIL

    Yes, when this happens

    Air Traffic Control to Gloucester Old Spot: "You are cleared for takeoff on runway 27L"

  28. Tim K
    Gates Halo

    I love how ...

    I love how all these business types first have to rationalize an idea as "good business sense" for it to be acceptable to them. I almost get the feeling that the only reason they also don't do things like eat children, engage in wanton murder and rape is because it's 'good business sense" not to.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge
      Pint

      It isn't!

      Eating children would destroy potential future revenue streams, and so would murder. You could make a marginal case for rape because it might produce future consumers, but in all likelihood they'll be a net drain on company resources over time because they'll be more likely to engage in criminal behaviour and therefore more likely to steal your product rather than purchase it. The potential benefit of seeing this subset of consumer using your product is outweighed by the negative image promoted by the use of your product in gang/criminal culture.

      Thus no valid business case can be made for rape, murder or eating babies.

      Cheers!

      1. Steve Roper
        Pint

        Actually...

        ...a valid business case could be made for rape, it just depends on your business. If you think about it, abortion clinics, security and alarm companies, and gun, mace and Taser manufacturers are all examples of companies who would experience an increase of business from having more raped women and their putative criminal offspring!

        As for murder, well, I suppose offing a competitor's board members would certainly go some way towards increasing your own market share, no? ;)

  29. D. M
    Gates Horns

    Seen this already

    South Park has a song, by "Sadam" - I can change.

    Oh, I forgot the date, it is April fool joke. So LHC really opened portal to other universe. I know I should have a big metal stick ready.

  30. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge
    Jobs Horns

    Microsoft ecosystem

    "There's a growing Microsoft ecosystem that we are going to encourage."

    I think this sums it up. Microsoft wants people to view open source products as just another part of the "Microsoft ecosystem", and to just buy Windows without thinking about it even if they are running a completely open stack otherwise.

    If it's not an April fools joke, and they are serious about it, then fine by me. I think Linux will kick Windows to the curb in the long run on it's own merits, but if Microsoft wants to at least have a fair fight now that'll be a refreshing change from the monopolistic tactics, strongarming, manipulations (forcing OOXML to be considered a "standard" by filling the seats with their own supporters?), and the FUD FUD and more FUD of the past.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @Henry Wertz 1

      "but if Microsoft wants to at least have a fair fight now that'll be a refreshing change from the monopolistic tactics, strongarming, manipulations (forcing OOXML to be considered a "standard" by filling the seats with their own supporters?), and the FUD FUD and more FUD of the past"

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

      Microsoft, fair fight.

      But what would be the *point* of being a monopoly if you can't avoid such things.

  31. M Gale
    Badgers

    I vote April Fools

    "..the release by Microsoft of 20,000 lines of Windows kernel code under GPLv2 to improve performance and manageability of Linux running insider the company's Hyper-V.."

    Is this the code that Microsoft was compelled to release after someone found out that they were using GPL-licensed code? Yeah, I figure April Fool. Better luck next year, Gavin.

    1. M Gale
      Badgers

      Or maybe not.

      Well. Frankly I'd have believed Malcom Bertruger was in charge of the LHC and that hell knights had already started invading, before believing that Microsoft had 'embraced' open source with anything other than a desire to kill it.

      That is still the case. This smells fishy, even if it's not an April Fool.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    If Microsoft can get good ...

    productivity integration with open-source OSs then this greatly diminishes the ability of open-source projects to push their projects of similar functionality.

    Of course, there will always be the specter of any closed-source company deciding that their propriety bits will be charged for or the withdrawal of those after significant take-up.

    Triple E - Embrace, Extend, Extinguish; as previous stated.

    Paris - she can look after the needs of the triple E and far more enjoyably than Microsoft

  33. Stephen Bungay

    BAH!

    "Utzschneider will also meet with representatives of the open-source community to funnel their

    into the company and - hopefully - into the plans of Microsoft's large and diverse business units and product groups".

    Why would the open source community need to give feedback to Microsoft? Surely such a professional group of software engineers can implement Open Source Standards in order to improve interoperability. I smell something rotten.

    "The thinking is that by being in a senior, central position, Microsoft's work on open source won't get bogged down in the petty product-group politics of "we've got a better widget than they have". In theory, Microsoft can now develop a broader strategic approach to open source".

    M$ has their own "petty product group politics", the grass is no greener on their side of the fence. Have no doubt, Microsoft's "strategic goal" to open source is to eradicate it from the landscape.

    "In an exclusive interview, Utzschneider told The Reg: "When we work on product strategy it involves marketing, engineering, and management. "

    He speaks and says nothing. All product strategy, be it automobiles, aircraft, or software, involves "marketing, engineering and management", so he is saying nothing here.

    "So it's not just driving open-source marketing and outreach to customers, but also listening to the community and synthesizing that and feeding it back into the product groups in Microsoft."

    Open source marketing to "customers".. pony up the dough and they can leave you in the lurch by abandoning the products (remember Flight Sim?). That does NOT happen with GPLd open source. And what does he mean by "synthesizing that"? Synthethizing what exactly? Sincerety? Community "outreach"? Customer care? BAH! M$ is a corporate psychopath, have nothing to do with them.

    Bottom line? Is is easy for Microsoft products to interoperate with Open Source, what is difficult is for Open Source to interoperate with Microsoft products, and no they are not the same thing. Microsoft's formats are a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, my apologies to Mr. Churchill.

    Rules to survive by

    #1. Don't do business with Microsoft

    #2. See rule #1

  34. Randall Shimizu
    Happy

    What MS do to prove it is a friend of OSS

    Give up any and all IP claims to OSS and Linux forever. End the Linux and OSS licenses. Donate any IP related patents to Linux and OSS to the Linux foundation Cease any legal actions to OSS. Perhaps then we will begin to believe MS is OSS friendly.

  35. elreg subscriber
    FAIL

    Enough talk, start the walk

    Agree with @Randall.

    I've lost count of Microsoft friendly declarations towards open source.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft credibility in this area is well below zero.

    Instead of bombastic declarations about becoming open-source friendly and "this time is different", start gaining credibility by walking the walk. Declare the FAT patents public, give MS fonts to public domain. Stop funding anti-linux proxy IP-trolls (SCO) etc. etc.

    Do it for a few years, and remain consistent. Only then, the public sentiment and trust will come around, otherwise, it is a total waste of air.

  36. John O'Hare
    Stop

    Interoperability?

    TFA mentions: "to make Windows inter-operate with Linux and open source."

    Don't think that making Windows interoperable with FOSS is a big issue. The hard work is usually making FOSS work with Windows. Not because of a problem with FOSS projects themselves, but because MS does everything in its power to make it difficult and file formats and protocols need to be reverse-engineered.

    So now MS want to actually be able to use FOSS, but still not make it easier for others to use their stuff.

    Most likely they'll use FOSS projects that operate under an OpenBSD licence, so they can make changes to 'their' versions of the software to ensure that MS's version of a piece of FOSS will work on their OS, but not (properly) on any other OS.

    Look Windows is running Apache fine, only thing is we bastardised it to such an extent that you can only browse webpages served by it through Internet Explorer. It's still OPEN SOURCE software...

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