Microsoft Going After Open Source?

In the film, Patton, there is a scene where Patton is pushing his troops to extremes so that he can beat Montgomery in taking control of Sicily. When one of his commanders questions him, he quotes Frederick the Great as saying “L’audace. L’audace. Toujours l’audace” (though I think Danton is the true source and it was “de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace.”). Well, if this article is accurate about Microsoft claiming that free and open-source software violates at least 235 Microsoft patents, my guess is that in the future the quote will be attributed to Gates or Ballmer. Eben Moglen compares the conflict to Waterloo. Here are some key claims regarding infringement (and yes, the idea is to obtain royalties down the line):

that the Linux kernel – the deepest layer of the free operating system, which interacts most directly with the computer hardware – violates 42 Microsoft patents. The Linux graphical user interfaces – essentially, the way design elements like menus and toolbars are set up – run afoul of another 65, he claims. The Open Office suite of programs, which is analogous to Microsoft Office, infringes 45 more. E-mail programs infringe 15, while other assorted FOSS programs allegedly transgress 68.

As the article notes, the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding obviousness and patents (KSR v. Teleflex, sorry the link to the case is broken) will likely come into play. Indeed, the article details Microsoft’s push for patents growing from 1,411 applications in 2002 to 3,780 in 2004. Whether those are implicated in the open source software remains to be seen, but given all the patents in play I would predict that the rallying call against corporations, propertization of information, and misuse of power will go out and the battle will commence in courts, academia, and so on. If Moglen is correct that this is Waterloo, the question is for whom? Will many Microsoft patents be invalidated? Will free software be corralled? In addition, the article offers that “More than half the companies in the Fortune 500 are thought to be using the free operating system Linux in their data centers.” Whatever the number, corporations use the software at issue and may want Microsoft to lose but fear the rulings from such a result.

I am sure many of you follow this area more closely than I, so any thoughts are much appreciated.    

2 thoughts on “Microsoft Going After Open Source?

  1. Microsoft is merely attempting to squash products and services that beat their own, at a better price. The popularity of open source applications is competition at its finest, with consumers the benefactors.

    If Microsoft wishes to see an end to open source software and applications it needs to offer better products at a better price – something I think a company like Microsoft is capable of doing – if it stops trying to quash progress and accept the challenge before it.

    I mean, if the amateur/altruistic developers of Open Office are able to provide a product that beats out Word for free, why can’t the billion dollar Microsoft use its resources to make Open Office look like wordpad at a cost that allows consumers to ignore the free application?

  2. Ummm,and what about all the copying Microsoft did off Linux and Mac?…Thus the reason Vista took 5 years and 50 million lines of code and they still could not get it right.Bill Gates better watch his “tactics” as I remember the last endeavor he tried almost cost him his trademark name “Windows” because the Judge ruled it was a generic name.(insert opinion here) Bill Gates is an ass and he is just upset because Linux is on the rise and it is costing him precious dollars.Microsoft is going down…it may not be today or tomorrow or next year but it will.People are waking up and no longer want to sacrifice stability and security for simplicity and stupidity.Bill Gates this is your wake up call.And another thing…I am so Anti-Microsucks Winblows that if Gates gets his hands on Yahoo I will delete all my accounts and go strictly to Google and Gmail.Give me a break…he wants to sue over a taskbar and other entities he says “looks like his”,LMFAOROTF! Get in line right behind SCO Loser,who by the way still has not manufactured this mysterious “code” Linux copied which is in itself ironic since it is all OPEN SOURCE.I could go on all day about this.

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