Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt: An Eternal Brown Triangle

Microsoft again using the almighty state to crush free software

By Ian Darwin on 2007-05-21 16:19 in Category: politics oss s/w industry

In the bad old days of computing - the mainframe era - it was common for IBM to try to prevent customers from using cost-effective third-party solutions in conjunction with expensive IBM mainframes by spreading "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt" about their smaller competitors. While it may have stopped some IBM users from going with more open solutions, it largely blackened IBM's reputation among the compuscenti of that era.

Ironically this year the shoe is on the other foot - Microsoft is spreading "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" about Linux and other cost-effective open source solutions which IBM is a leading user and promoter of. The latest round of this FUD is their assertion that "open source software violates 230 Microsoft patents" while refusing to state what the patents are or what they cover. This disgraceful conduct is yet another reason not to send a single penny in Microsoft's direction. Every time you buy Microsoft Word or Microsoft Windows, or even use a "free" product that displays banner ads - you are contributing to this highly immoral behavior. Please don't do that. Friends, in this day and age, do not let friends use Microsoft.

Let me further point out that even if part of Microsoft's claims ultimately are proven in court, this is not really a condemnation of open source software. It is first and foremost a condemnation of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which for decades has been allowing "software patents", which are illegal in some parts of the world such as the European Union. PTO has also awarded patents without reference to who actually invented the techniques, which is clearly not what the Founders intended. It is ironic, again, that the United States was once the bastion of innovation and free society but in our lifetimes has morphed into the bastion of mind-numbing bureaucracies and Big Government.

After I wrote this, CBR published an article that Novell is making amends for its patent deal with Microsoft by helping to discredit bogus patents.
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