Show Us The Code
February 25, 2007 Leave a comment
Just stumbled across the Show Us Your Code site. I think it's well intentioned, but misses a few things. First and foremost (and take this as constructive feedback please), if you are going to publish an open letter that you want to get taken seriously, you really need to grammar check it. My grammar on this blog isn't always great, but that's because I write it in kind of a conversational style – ie. this is how I talk. When I hand in articles that will be published, you may notice the style and tone is quite different.
On to the content of the site. First, it's not really the code we need from the angle I see it. It's specifically the patents that they feel we have violated. That's a small but fairly important distinction. Also, looking at It lacks logic, especially when you consider that there are developers around the world who would be more than happy to work with Microsoft to resolve this issue. From the view point of Ballmer, it doesn't lack logic (although it may be lacking from an ethical standpoint). You see, he can bluster on about this topic without showing any actual code or naming any patents and in the Enterprise just that slight chance of being sued in the end makes a difference. In the past, it made a huge difference. The reality is that people are wising up to this and the impact now is substantially decreasing. In the near future, it should be negligible. Look at the SCO case. It didn't stop many people from adopting Linux (although I'm sure it did stop some). It did however stop many companies from talking about their Linux adoption. That should not be underestimated.
Now, I've said before that I doubt Microsoft will move forward seriously with any patent cases. It simply leaves them too open to a MAD-like patent war situation and they don't want that. I've always found it odd how Microsoft has been positioning themselves around IP and patents in the Open Source world anyway. Looking at past litigation, I'm not aware of any Open Source company that has been found guilty of infringing other peoples IP anywhere near as much as Microsoft. I'd like to be corrected on this if I am wrong, but the recent $1.5B (yes BILLION) judgment is just one of many against Microsoft. You think they'd realize just how broken the system is. You think they'd want to fix it. But the reality is, they have the money to lose. The long term threat of losing their advantageous monopoly like position is surely much more worrisome.