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Microsoft Redefines "Open Standards"

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the gpl-isn't-really-open-either-ya-know dept.

Microsoft 325

Glyn Moody writes "Microsoft is at it again: trying to redefine what 'open' means. This time it wants open standards to be 'balanced' — for them to include patent-encumbered technologies under RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms. Which just happens to be incompatible with free software licensed under the GNU GPL."

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Cue Microsoft bashing... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926373)

*sigh*

Re:Cue Microsoft bashing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926705)

You should be sighing at Microsoft. They are the ones that keep putting chalk on the tip.

Re:Cue Microsoft bashing... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926795)

Oh fuck off already. You're worse than MS bashers by instantly jumping to their rescue. Go fuck yourself, seriously.

Microsoft bashes itself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927361)

Microsoft is self-destructive.

Re:Cue Microsoft bashing... (5, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927377)

*sigh*

Yes sigh. And the astroturf starts right on cue as well.

Microsoft has finally started to understand the web, to recognise that opinions are being formed in the relatively informal arena of social and discussion websites. Their evangelists and reputation management teams are invading social web sites posing as ordinary participants.

There is pattern of saturating discussions with the same marketing points. This demand that Microsoft be given "fair treatment", criticism of the GPL as being "unfair", claims that anyone who criticises Microsoft is a zealot who would complain no matter what they do, the harassment, ridicule and abuse of people they perceive as representing competitors viewpoints, constant reiteration that, as much as they love [competing product], Microsoft's implementation is undeniably superior. Anyone who's participated in Slashdot discussions for any length of time will recognise these and the rest of their marketing checklist of memes they wish to propagate.

In the process they have come close to destroying Slashdot, and other tech discussion websites. We need at least a small element of trust that the people participating here really believe what they are posting, and are not simply reiterating from a script planned by some marketing team.

8==O=P=E=N==S=T=A=N=D=A=R=D=S==D ~~-_ (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926381)

thunk.

GPL is not the definition of open (5, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926409)

Which just happens to be incompatible with free software licensed under the GNU GPL."

Hate to break it to you, but the GPL is not the be-all end-all of openness, and the benchmark of "open" is not necessarily "compatible with the GPL".

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926461)

Yes, but Patent-encumbered definitely means NOT open.

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (3, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926881)

Some GPL software is patent encumbered. IBM, for example, donated some of their patents for Open Source projects. Postgresql, being BSD licensed, removed/rewrote their code so as not to infringe.

FOSS-type patent license != encumbered (4, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927335)

Some GPL software is patent encumbered. IBM, for example, donated some of their patents for Open Source projects.

So it's patented, but probably unencumbered, then.
Hint: "encumbered" means restricted or blocked or limited. If the patent license is consistent with the FOSS license requirements (for example the GPL requires no restrictions on right to distribute modified versions, etc.), then the fact that some part of it is patented does not mean it's encumbered from the FOSS point of view.
Proprietary software is usually copyright-encumbered - your license may not allow copying it, and may not even give access to the source code. Many FOSS licenses also make restrictions - when you modify, you may not remove the names of previous contributors, for instance. Does this mean we should refer to BSD or GPL code as being "copyright-encumbered"?

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927187)

Lots of open standards are patent-encumbered with RAND terms on patent licensing, including the MPEG family, and various hardware standards such as DDR. The term that people seem to be looking for is 'royalty free', which is orthogonal to 'open'. If a standard is open and royalty free then it can be implemented without problems by GPL'd software. If it is only one or the other, then there may be problems.

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927527)

The term that people seem to be looking for is 'royalty free', which is orthogonal to 'open'. If a standard is open and royalty free then it can be implemented without problems by GPL'd software

Open and royalty-free are necessary but not sufficient conditions for use by GPL software.

There could be additional encumbrances on a patent other than royalties. A common one is that each user has to obtain permission from the patent holder. Even if this permission is easy to obtain and costs nothing, that would still be encumbered from the GPL's perspective because it would impose restrictions on those who receive the software.

Contrary to the GGP's opinion, while the GPL may not be the "be-all end-all" of openness it's a pretty damned good yardstick. If a license (copyright or patent) is compatible with the GPL, you know that it's open.

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927543)

True, allowing something licensed under RAND terms to be an "open standard" is something the industry has been doing for a long time. Microsoft didn't start this, and this is a complete non-story.
OTOH, I wouldn't call something you weren't allowed to distribute yourself without paying license money "open source", even if it did use these "open standards".
Then again, I live in Europe, so neener-neener!

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926513)

Anyone know if it is BSD, Apache, MIT, LGPL, etc etc?

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (4, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926703)

It depends on what you want to be open.

If you want the source of all derived works to be available to all, and encourage more community development, then you want GPL.

If you want the source of the original work to be available to all, but allow the option of closed source for derived works (give more options to the authors of /direct/ derivatives, allow it to fit into more business and distribution models), MIT and BSD are "more open".

So, "it", is defined by what your primary goals are. I tend to prefer modified BSD/MIT style licenses myself, but the GPL certainly has a place for a lot of development models.

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (4, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926671)

That's absolutely true.

I'd say an "open" standard would mean that anyone could implement the standard without need to buy a license to implement all or part of it.

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926939)

implement for private use or implement for commercial use? devils is in the details...

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (5, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926735)

GPL is certainly not the end-all be-all of openness, but we need to define our terms somewhere. When defining static terms in a non-static world, the line is always going to be arbitrary and cases that are close to that line will always highlight this fact readily. Microsoft, however, does not even approach the line, no matter how one defines the term. If you are going to retain patents on your software, it is not open. Period. End of story. There is no legitimate argument that can be made here, the patent in and of itself proudly claims 100% ownership over the code in question, which is the antithesis of openness under any standard. The GPL has absolutely nothing to do with anything in this case.

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (4, Insightful)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927229)

the patent in and of itself proudly claims 100% ownership over the code in question, which is the antithesis of openness under any standard.

Copyright would be the claim of 100% ownership over the code. A patent is even less open, since you aren't even allowed to re-implement the software, even if you write it entirely yourself without ever seeing any of the source code of the original implementation.

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927451)

Copyright would be the claim of 100% ownership over the code. A patent is even less open, since you aren't even allowed to re-implement the software, even if you write it entirely yourself without ever seeing any of the source code of the original implementation.

Thank you for the distinction, that is an excellent point.

Re:GPL is not the definition of open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927483)

No, GPL is the non-end of openness

GPL is not the *only* open license (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926417)

And being incompatible with the GPL doesn't mean something isn't open.

Re:GPL is not the *only* open license (4, Informative)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926517)

No, but being patent encumbered does unless the patent holder declares the patent is free for anyone to implement under any terms they wish (ie they use the patent totally defensively and agree never to initiate any legal action against anyone over it).

Re:GPL is not the *only* open license (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926949)

And being incompatible with the GPL doesn't mean something isn't open.

I think a more reasonable thing to say is "being compatible with the GPL doesn't mean something is open". However, those two statements aren't quite the same. Being open means that it should be compatible with pretty much anything, including the GPL. If a standard had a clause making it incompatible with all commercial software, or making it only compatible with GPLed software it wouldn't be open either for the exact same reason.

Tell you what, then (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927217)

If the patent can be freely coded into a BSD license and can be operated FULLY under the BSD license, that is open.

Remember: BSD code can be included in GPL code and if you cannot implement in BSD and operate under the BSD which allows the code to be used for ANY purpose (even closing the source), then it isn't BSD compatible either.

Ya gotta love Microsoft (3, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926431)

They'll never miss a chance to try and bend you over the dining room table.

Re:Ya gotta love Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926661)

And they always complain about the ruined carpet when they're done.

Re:Ya gotta love Microsoft (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926943)

Yeah... and if they can't do that, they'll hump your leg. Bastards.

Re:Ya gotta love Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927001)

Or they'll hump chairs

Re:Ya gotta love Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927359)

Ya gotta love most software companies

They'll never miss a chance to try and bend you over the dining room table.

That above edit seems a bit more appropriate. MS, Apple, Adobe, Symantec, Red Hat, Oracle, I can think of a lot of non-exceptions to this rule, and so far, not serious exceptions.

Embrace, Extended, Extinguish (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927369)

Well yeah it's the same EEE philosophy they've followed over th last twenty years. Why abandon the philosophy when it works do brilliantly for them?

- EMBRACE the concept of open standards (previous phase).

- EXTEND these standards with Microsoft proprietary formats (the current ongoing phase).

- EXTINGUISH future competitors by claiming they violate these proprietary formats and may not use them, which means customers must buy Microsoft software to gain full functionality. Thus a once-open standards model becomes a closed MS-proprietary format. Again.

Now who's redefining "open"? (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926435)

The GPL promotes one type of "open" source model.

Open source only means that the source is available to the users of the product.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (5, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926577)

Open source only means that the source is available to the users of the product.

Nope, OSI defines open source software as software that:

A. Free Redistribution
B. Includes Source
C. Allow Derived Works

And a lot of other stuff. See http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php [opensource.org] for more info.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (2, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926741)

The OSI are not a recognised standard body or industry authority - they are little more than recognised banner wavers and supporters of open source but they carry essentially no weight. Their definition is all very well and good, but its not *the* definition.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (1, Troll)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926745)

Nope, OSI defines open source software as software that:

Did you mean Open Systems Interconnection? Or International Organization for Standardization? Nope, you meant the Open Source Initiative? Surely they don't have an agenda!

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926751)

OSI's definition isn't necessarily the gold standard either. The GPL, BSD, and other licenses, as well as the whole concept of "open source" was around long before OSI existed.

I have always felt, and continue to do so, that "open source" merely indicates that the source code for a product is available. There are a ton of times where that's all that I wanted. I'd kill to have the source to some of my vendor purchased apps so I could fix some long standing bugs and send the patches back to them. Creating/distributing a derived work, or redistributing the code is not a priority in that case. Access to the code is.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (3, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927123)

Fixing a bug by changing the source code and then recompiling it is creating a derivative work. When you have access to the source code, it doesn't always mean you are allowed to make a 'better' version of it. A few years ago, we had access to the Windows (NT/2000) source code but it's still not legal for me to fix their bugs and then install it on my computer.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927265)

I have always felt, and continue to do so, that "open source" merely indicates that the source code for a product is available.

I don't think you really mean that...

I'd kill to have the source to some of my vendor purchased apps so I could fix some long standing bugs and send the patches back to them.

... because patching third-party software yourself already implies
1 - the freedom to modify said source, even if it is only for private use
2 - the freedom to recompile the source, modified with your patches
3 - the freedom to publish your changes, even if you only publish them to the vendor

Creating/distributing a derived work, or redistributing the code is not a priority in that case. Access to the code is.

There is a very fine line between a fix and a derived work. And I suspect that freedom 2) above would classify as a "derived work" already.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (3, Interesting)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926813)

I thought the same thing. Only after did I realize the word shift in the summary:
Also, Matusow didn't say they want all open standards to be able to include RAND, just that he considers some RAND standards as open to him. The article writer even seems to agree with most of his points, and then turns a 360 and brings up the OOXML to bash on them a bit.
On the side of openness, I think the article writer misunderstood Matusow's main point about patents and standards, which is that if a patentable idea could be used in more then one way (his two examples were protocols and an aphrodisiac) that the owner should be able to grant use of the patent for a protocol standard, but should not be required to give up rights to license separately use as an aphrodisiac. Doing so might make the contributor less likely to contribute, which make sense because if that were required, the cost of the contribution might outweigh the benefit.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927017)

... his two examples were protocols and an aphrodisiac...

Out of touch with reality much? The day a protocol will be an aphrodisiac is the day Hell freezes over, monkeys fly out my butt, and Slashdot readers get laid.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (1)

teg (97890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927067)

Open source only means that the source is available to the users of the product.

There are plenty of commercial products where you can have the source... but no other rights, and having to sign NDAs etc.

Re:Now who's redefining "open"? (4, Funny)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927221)

No kidding. Letting Microsoft define "open" is like a bunch of sheep letting the wolf define "vegetarian".

Refefine The OS (0)

wirah (707347) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926443)

I'd like to redefine the OS. I'll call it... Linux.

cotton niggers, sand niggers, rice niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926467)

kill all niggers

From the... (5, Informative)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926509)

From the gpl-isn't-really-open-either-ya-know dept.

What is up with that? The majority of people that go around saying this about the GPL complain that you can't include the GPL in proprietary software or other unfortunate obscure issues. The GPL is designed to keep software licensed under it Free (or open if you prefer). Sure sometimes that causes unfortunate problems with other Free Software licenses, but while there are those that would like to take away the freedom that users and developers get with the GPL, it's a cost I'm happy with.

Open is the wrong word (2, Insightful)

Benanov (583592) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926639)

The GPL isn't "open" and never claimed to be.

Re:Open is the wrong word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927107)

It's open source...

Re:Open is the wrong word (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927201)

By design, it's "free software". The FSF is very clear on the matter. [gnu.org]

Re:Open is the wrong word (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927609)

I find this odd, but my view is the exact opposite. As far as I can see, the GPL IS open, but not free.

Didn't we have a discussion about this a few days ago ?

Re:From the... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927255)

The majority of people that go around saying this about the GPL complain that you can't include the GPL in proprietary software or other unfortunate obscure issues

No, a lot of us complain that we can't include GPL'd code in projects incorporating code with other (FSF-designated Free Software, OSI-approved) open source licenses like the ASL, APSL, CDDL, and so on. And that the conditions of the GPL make it trivial for someone to accidentally infringe (compile some GPL'd software that's only available in source form, give a copy to your friend, forget to include an offer in writing to provide the source - oops, you've just infringed the GPL). We also object to the banner-waving it's-not-really-free-unless-it's-GPL'd attitude that we get from a lot of GPL advocates, the most vocal of whom haven't read the GPL and wouldn't get more than half marks on the FSF's GPL quiz.

You guys would bitch if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926515)

You guys would bitch if MS was giving out free blowjobs. Seriously, cut them some slack. They're making an effort here.

 

Re:You guys would bitch if (5, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926591)

You guys would bitch if MS was giving out free blowjobs.

Knowing Microsoft, the free blowjobs would come with a free dose of the clap.

Re:You guys would bitch if (4, Funny)

stonefoz (901011) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927119)

And, for 29.95 they'll sell you the penicillin, $100 for penicillin that works, and 200 for "Penicillin Ultimate Edition"

Re:You guys would bitch if (4, Funny)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927301)

And even if you go for the $200 "ultimate edition", there's still a 5% chance that it won't do any good and Microsoft's advice would be "shoot yourself, reincarnate and try again".

Re:You guys would bitch if (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926635)

Gee, thanks for ruining my day man. When I read your post, I immediately pictured Steve Balmers on his knees undoing my belt. Eew.

Re:You guys would bitch if (2, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926651)

Intentionally tying patent encumbered software into open source would be one of the worst things you could do. The patent system in the US seems exceptionally broken, and this at best would start dragging open source companies into courts to define 'reasonable' on a case by case basis. It would get rid of the 'free' part of FOSS in two ways, not just one.

Re:You guys would bitch if (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927245)

You guys would bitch if MS was giving out free blowjobs. Seriously, cut them some slack. They're making an effort here.

If they were giving out free blowjobs, they would be an "express edition", and you would have to shell out another $500 to get a satisfying product.

Re:You guys would bitch if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927475)

If the whore still has teeth, yes. I don't trust anything Microsoft, that still has teeth, near my private parts.

If the whore does not have teeth it is just the usual Microsoft cheap trick in which case I am not interested. I do have standards.

I found that this philosophy also translates really well to my computing needs.

Re:You guys would bitch if (5, Funny)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927583)

You guys would bitch if MS was giving out free blowjobs.

I'm sure they'd fail at that too. In fact, it might be the first time in history that they didn't suck.

Can't evolve? Change your environment. (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926527)

How is this surprising? TFA explains it best:

The idea behind truly open standards is to create a level playing field so that everyone can compete on an equal and fair basis. The benefits are obvious: it ensures a true Darwinian selection process is possible

Microsoft, just like tha *AAs, find themselves in the same position as the dinosaurs after the comet strike winter: their surroundings (markets) are changing and they are unable to adapt. So they try to adapt their environment to themselves. In the case of companies, this is done by "educating" (think "don't copy that floppy"), threatening and cajoling their customers. But in the end, they'll meet the same fate as the dinos.

Re:Can't evolve? Change your environment. (4, Interesting)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926715)

"But in the end, they'll meet the same fate as the dinos."

Don't be so sure: dinos didn't have corporate lawyers.

Re:Can't evolve? Change your environment. (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926857)

Microsoft are adapting quite well. They are making a ton of money by screwing everybody else.

They may not have many friends, but they are surviving.

Re:Can't evolve? Change your environment. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926903)

Dinosaurs became birds, fail at analogizing.

Re:Can't evolve? Change your environment. (4, Funny)

thereimns (1110955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926927)

"But in the end, they'll meet the same fate as the dinos."

Everlasting fame and the undying love of children everywhere?

Re:Can't evolve? Change your environment. (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926997)

Feel free to continue bashing Microsoft for whatever reason, but the quote you took was not from Microsoft, but an article writer writing about a blog post made here [msdn.com] .

in which Matusow does nothing of the sort of "educating" you mention.

Instead he points out the difference between what he meant by 'balance' and by what Rick Jelliffe meant by 'balance'.

Hint:
Rick meant balance on standards committee's representation
Matusow meant balance in demands from contributors to standards.

Re:Can't evolve? Change your environment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927151)

Right, software juggernaut microsoft goes the way of the Dinosaurs because their products are proprietary ... tell that to the millions of SysAdmins who are scrambling to patch their copies of BIND9 against this new wave of DoS attacks. Microsoft can do whatever it wants and I would still pin the chance of them every going under as "entirely unlikely". Also, if you're suggesting that dinosaurs all went exctinct take a good hard look at a chicken and tell me where you think it came from. If you ask me I think proprietary and closed source is just as good as free-to-use open source simply because diversity is king and always has been. I think Darwin would agree.

Re:Can't evolve? Change your environment. (1)

RoccamOccam (953524) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927273)

But in the end, they'll meet the same fate as the dinos.

Evolve into birds?

Reasonable ? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926545)

Corporate entities are not at all alike Human entities, and therefore its very likely that the definitions of "reasonable" that are used by both are quite incompatible.

Giving MS track-record that chance is probably near a 100% ...

I will be the first to defend MS (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926571)

I will be the first one to defend MS and their right to make money on the product they work so hard on. It is also true that the GPL is not the only licence you will ever need. But I really can only think of one thing that open can mean, if MS wants to do open source I welcome it but if want to move into the neighborhood and ask that the rules change because they are here now, I find that just plain silly.

It reminds me of the vacationers that have a summer house on the lake and can't figure out why the laws are not the same here as they are in the big city. If you want to move in please do but don't ask us to change to meet just because you are here now.

Re:I will be the first to defend MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926993)

Anyone who modded this as flamebait needs a slap on the wrists and their mod points taken away. Looks like reading comprehension is hard to come by these days.

Re:I will be the first to defend MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927439)

Can't be helped. Any idiot can get mod points. Just post a few Pro-Linux comments, receive positive moderation, then wait to collect your points. It's that simple and it's really why the mod system is a terrible joke.

Sounds familiar (3, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926595)

Microsoft reminds me of the RIAA here, whining about the need to prop up their business model. Their license to print money is in danger, as the online world is moving on.

losing contracts (5, Interesting)

stine2469 (1349335) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926601)

Does this have anything to do with losing the ability to get government contracts because of FOSS requirements? Remember the stink ?last year? when M$ got their proprietary document format declared a standard so they could bid on contracts that required open document standards? They must have another contract coming up for renewal.

Re:losing contracts (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927325)

This is the issue precisely - 100%.

Various governments are specifying that vendors support Open Standards so that they are not locked in to vendors. Governments want a solution not a provider. Future proof, vendor neutral, interoperable with other solutions, unencumbered by intellectual property limitations.

They're still at this? (3, Informative)

rnturn (11092) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926619)

Sometime back in the late '80s, Digital Review (or a similar industry newletter) ran an article in which Bill Gates was quoted as saying something to the effect that Microsoft's operating system was an "open system" because you could buy a computer from a large number of vendors that it would run on. (So long as you were talking about computers based on Intel chips, I suppose he could could sort of get away with saying that, as self-serving as it was.) Claiming that whatever that Microsoft does is in any way "open" is sort of old hat with those guys.

Re:They're still at this? (2, Informative)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926739)

"Claiming that whatever that Microsoft does is in any way "open" is sort of old hat with those guys."

Gates claiming whatever he feels will strengh his bussiness is an old story (not that any other company owner wouldn't do the same): remember when Gates was strongly against patents? He didn't own a large patent portfolio back then.

Re:They're still at this? (2, Interesting)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926771)

Yeah, that makes things so easy!

1 - Define 'open' as 'made by your freaking money-grabbing company'

2 - Impose your definition to everyone else

3 - Profit!!!

Re:They're still at this? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926777)

Windows NT was available for Alpha, PPC and MIPS as well as Intel chips. Not sure if that ties up with your alleged quote, but its still a nice example.

Re:They're still at this? (2, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926825)

Fun fact of the day: Open has multiple meanings. Tomorrow's fun fact: Free has multiple meanings.

Re:They're still at this? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927135)

This latest effort starts with the rise of open source software, to the point where the lay public often thinks of open source software as a Good Thing (thanks in particular to Mozilla's work, which is probably the most consumer-visible OSS project out there). This leads to such convoluted efforts as Office Open XML, which conveniently sounds like a format that just might have come out of, say, the OpenOffice project.

Re:They're still at this? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927345)

Terms change. OpenVMS was released in 1991, the same year as Linux 0.1. The Open prefix was used to indicate that it complied with the POSIX standard, and had nothing to do with open source. The POSIX standard was open in that anyone could implement it, but copies of it were quite expensive. Now, when you see a piece of software with Open in its name, you probably assume it's open source, but 20 years ago no one even knew what this term meant. Back then, an open standard just meant one that wasn't controlled by a single company - you still might have to pay money to obtain the standard and more if you wanted to implement it. If you want to be unambiguous, say 'open, royalty-free, standard' and then it's clear what you mean.

Re:They're still at this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927405)

Claiming that whatever that Microsoft does is in any way "open" is sort of old hat with those guys.

I don't see how anyone can claim that the OS's (and programs) produced by Microsoft are not "open". Heck, microsoft-based zombies offer the highest amount of compute cycles for free, to everyone around the world!

balanced in favour of microsoft (3, Insightful)

hiddenharmony (1610897) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926623)

Someone ask these idiots when you are willing to allow the usage without royalty why on this earth you want a patent on it ? Why cant we modify the law to ensure that any patented technology can be used without royalty when it becomes part of an open standard ? Infact the US patent law allows government to use any technology without paying patent fees to anyone, so why cant the same be applied to open standards which are going to be useful for a wider number of humans on this earth ? This seems to be the Exterminate phase of standard microsoft policy of 'Embrace extend exterminate'.

Re:balanced in favour of microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926699)

You're right. Let's disregard the thousands of man hours put into making software, and give it all away for nothing to everyone. It's not like developers need to be paid for their work, nor can we allow them to take any credit for it. It's not like there's an industry based around selling software to people or anything.

Whoops, forgot my sarcasm. Stop living in a fucking fairytale.

Re:balanced in favour of microsoft (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927169)

This seems to be the Exterminate phase of standard microsoft policy of 'Embrace extend exterminate'.

No, this is the "Extend" phase. If they can get people to accept patent encumbered software as "open", then they can move into the Exterminate phase.

Is anyone suprised? (4, Insightful)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926769)

This is the company that basically redefined an "operating system" to no longer just mean the basic power plant that manages the computer's operations...the "operating system" now takes care of antivirus/firewall, digital media, as well as internet browsing and more.

Almost like the MCP in Tron - may Ram R.I.P. (Rest in Pixels)

GPL is great, but not for everyone. (3, Insightful)

judolphin (1158895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926837)

The GPL promotes one type of "open" source model.

Exactly. I love the idea of GPL and am glad it exists. I use GPL software whenever possible. This post however, is not about the merits of GPL, but to drive home this point: it's difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to make a living by relying on GPL software. Finding a "balance" between the GPL model and complete closure is something worth pursuing. It's not like GPL couldn't still be used by those who wanted to use it.

The GPL is simply not for every developer. It does not allow for trade sectrets, and trade secrets are legally protected for a legitimate reason: the opportunity to be rewarded for innovation. Without it, there would be *less* incentive to invent and innovate.

Clearly, some are willing to invent and develop technology without this protection, but many such as Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, the average person with a Computer Science degree, will demand some of this protection when they really want to earn a living from their software.

As someone who's worked for software companies, it's hard to imagine those companies GPLing their products, and easy to imagine the company losing half its profits or going under altogether if any company with an IT department could legally recompile the source code and use the software without payment.

After all, companies do have the right to act in their own self-interest, even if you feel they are misguided.

"Standard" incompatible with "software patent" (4, Insightful)

dwheeler (321049) | more than 5 years ago | (#28926861)

It's true that "GPL" is not the same as "open". But a good test for openness of a standard is "can you implement it using the GPL?". In short, if a standard CANNOT be implemented by GPL'ed software, then it CANNOT be an open standard. Why? That's because the GPL is by far the most popular open source software license [dwheeler.com] ; nothing else even comes close. And increasingly, major market niches have an open source software implementation as the #1 or #2 implementation. A standard that locks out major implementations cannot possibly be an open standard. The whole point of a software patent is the power to exclude implementation (without paying royalties, etc.), while the whole point of a standard is to allow arbitrary use - they are fundamentally incompatible. Digistan has a more reasonable definition of open standard - and why you would want one [digistan.org] .

Re:"Standard" incompatible with "software patent" (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927139)

But I cannot use external GPL'ed software in my product and NOT release that same code. So if wanted to not release the code then I cannot implement my product using GPL'ed code. So by your standards GPL is not an open standard. However I don't have a problem if I use BSD'ed code.

Oh yes you can! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927287)

You can still make your product. Just don't sell or give it to someone else unless.

Or you can buy a license (same way you get to include Microsoft code in your application: try skipping on paying a license and sell your code with their code in it that needs a license...).

Re:"Standard" incompatible with "software patent" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927477)

Wait a moment... if you have to open up your code that's somehow less open than if you are allowed to leave your code closed?!

Re:"Standard" incompatible with "software patent" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927173)

You're wrong that something Opened can't have patent associated with it, because most ISO, ANSI and other standards do. For example. The MPEG 4 standard is all about documenting this group of patents.

Open Standards just means that cards are on the table: the specs and the list of patents that go with it are published. Open, the company that owns the patents licenses them for free.

Whether someone can code it with GPL has nothing to with whether something is an acceptable ISO, EMCA or ANSI standard, the FSF isn't an open standard authority.

Re:"Standard" incompatible with "software patent" (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927523)

In short, if a standard CANNOT be implemented by GPL'ed software, then it CANNOT be an open standard. Why? That's because the GPL is by far the most popular open source software license; nothing else even comes close.

You're somewhat begging the question:

1. The GPL is an "open" software license.
2. So if a program is compatible with GPL, the program is "open".

But you don't explain why the GPL's definition of "open" is the one we should accept. So I think you're begging the question regarding what "open" means.

"open" is just a word and doesn't imply a license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28926931)

"The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from." -Andrew S. Tanenbaum (author of Minix)

Honestly, how did this make it to the front page of Slashdot? GPL sucks anyway, who cares if it's incompatible? To anyone considering developing a project under the GPL license ... don't. Opt instead of a license that allows you to retain some of your rights. You can always give away the source to your product for free later if you choose a better license. The GPL userbase is just as rabid, vicious and power hungery as Microsoft's IP lawyers. You would be wise to avoid both entirely if at all possible.

So.... woah (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28927081)

In other words they just wanna, "stick it in, but only a little bit".

Let's redefine "free" to mean "less than $10" (2, Funny)

lcrocker (144720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927111)

Seems "reasonable and non-discriminatory" to me.

Open standards != open source (2, Interesting)

RomulusNR (29439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927125)

Open standards and open source are two completely different things and always has been.

Open Source means allowing people to see how programs work and be free to change them as they see fit and promote sharing and interoperability.

Open Standards means allowing software companies to ignore standards and change them as they see fit in order to generate greater lock-in (under the guise of competitiveness). See also: MS Visual Java.

Re:Open standards != open source (2, Interesting)

sdiz (224607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927337)

really? X11 / POSIX and their friends was considered "open standard".

Open systems vs standards vs open source (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28927427)

Open systems: systems based on unencumbered specifications for interfaces and protocols, usually with multiple interoperating implementations.

Closed systems: systems that are restricted in who can interoperate with and implement them, for example they may require commercial licensing.

Standards: Specifications for interfaces and protocols.

Open source systems: systems for which a freely redistributable implementation exists.

Not all systems fall clearly into the "open" or "closed" camp... these are really extremes along a continuum.

An open source system is usually not a closed system, but it may be if it is encumbered by patents or licensing that limits its use. An open source system may or may not be an open system... for example, a system with a single implementation where the specification for the interfaces and protocols is defined by that implementation should probably not be considered an open system, even if it's open source.

Open standards: I would assume this means standards that are unencumbered by licensing issues, anyone can implement them. Standards by definition are "open" to some degree simply by being standards, so qualifying the term with "open" means you're making a stronger statement than just "it's a standard".

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