Free software is the problem for Microsoft

Free software is the problem for Microsoft

Free software, not just Linux, is a major problem for Microsoft. It’s a big mistake thinking they don’t understand free software, or its mechanics.

They understand it all too well, and they don’t like it - not one little bit!

The problem Microsoft has with free software is that it benefits the customer directly, not the software IP holders. The ways to make money from free software are:

  • to use it (Google, Amazon etc.);
  • to service the guys using it (RedHat, IBM, SuSE etc.);
  • to include it as part of your product (Linksys etc).

If you look at Microsoft, their two biggest cash cows are selling licenses for Windows and Office - there is no room for that model in a FLOSS world. Not only do Microsoft need to kill FOSS to expand, I believe they need to kill it to survive!

Looking at their marketing, the approach seems to be to attack Linux from all sides at every opportunity. Soon, we can expect patent attacks on FOSS, either directly from Microsoft or from surrogate companies, financed by Microsoft to do the dirty work; if past records are any indication, they won’t premeditate an attack through a surrogate company, they’ll just finance companies that do "have a go" and then unceremoniously drop them afterwards.

Microsoft don’t need to encourage analysts to write for them since there is already a long queue waiting to get a slice of the pie. There are lots of people like Enderle around. The figures published in their campaign entitled "Get The Facts" may well not have been pre-ordered by Microsoft (despite the funding questions surrounding them). Their so called "independent evaluators" could well have produced the figures all by themselves! (That campaign has been stopped in the UK by the way.)

Microsoft are also very powerful. I live in the UK’s university town of Cambridge, and not only has Microsoft got the University's IT department well and truly sewn up, they’ve also contributed several hundred million UKP to the "William Gates Building" there. The members of Parliament here are simply not interested in breaking the Microsoft monopoly - citing the large donations Billy makes to charity. (For those of you in the US who think you have the most unwise politicians - think again).

Software patents are not implemented here in Europe yet and it’s going to be very difficult to stop them. We, free software advocates, are trying hard, but it’s like trying to stop a runaway train. I am sure that in the long term the Microsoft model will be defeated, but a lot of damage can be caused in the meantime if we don’t stop the nonsense now.

Don’t think for a second that Microsoft are stupid, or that Microsoft don’t understand free software. They are clever, and devious. They are using every opportunity to stop the advancement of free software, planned or unplanned. They will make sure they are not directly involved in ruthless lawsuits, though they'll more than happily finance them. Any "cross platform" ventures are solely written to bring people into the Microsoft fold (like SFU). Civil servants are dined. Politicians are petitioned. Statistics are made up. Advertisements and FUD are proliferated. Microsoft will stop at nothing because they have nothing to lose.

One effect I’m beginning to see is that their behaviour is beginning to be noticed, and people (here in Europe) are beginning to look elsewhere rather than to Microsoft for solutions. Not because of TCO or any other acronym, but simply because people don’t like them.



w. noegroho's picture

In Capitalism paradigmatic, all benefit to be achiev is money, or mataerial things. But actually money and material is not the only thing to hunt to.
We may have or get a psichological satisfaction by launching free software or book. The twoo kinds of things can be our faith, hope, and charity.
The Prophet Mohamad (pbuh) said: "Mankind, After his/her death, the connection between him/her and this world is ended except three things: (1) our charity/fund to others, (2) our knowledge that's usefull for human life, and (3) sons/doughters that will pray for him/her. He/she will be always be able to take advantage of the three things....".
I think this is a universal value to be kept in mind and to be thinked over.
Soo keep launching free software and keep writing new books without copywriting at all. That is our faith, hope and charity...

jons's picture
Submitted by jons on

Hopefully, Microsoft will continue overlooking 'free software' until its too late. By "overlooking," I mean that Microsoft [Ms, hereafter] is really too busy trying to 'be all things to all people,' instead of focusing on their 'core competency.' In the case of Ms, B. Gates, et al, they're not as concerned as they should be, because they're continually trying to find something else to do, besides write code, upgrade & update programs, & improve the quality & security of their software. As long as they stay focused on some silly 'strawman' of their own making, fighting 'free software' will remain a relatively insignificant part of their collective day. So, let's all encourage Bill, Steve, & all the rest to stay focused on 'search,' the web, ANYTHING but free software! Send 'em emails about how much you appreciate their efforts to improve online searching, how concerned you about protecting innovation, or how unfair the legal system is. Hey, look at everything they've done in the past, then give 'em some ideas that will, hopefully, help them keep on being 'Ms'directed!

Ryan Cartwright's picture

I live in the UK’s university town of Cambridge, and not only has Microsoft got the University's IT department well and truly sewn up...

That may or may not be the case (the latter statement of course - I don't refute where you live :o) ) but it doesn't stop Open Source work going on at the University..

and Exim -

to name two applications being worked on there and I am sure there are more.

Hope for Cambridge yet?

David BL's picture
Submitted by David BL on

So expect a rabid fight against Free Software, Gnu/Linux and the community.
You can check it in their corporate risks and threats assesment report:

The penguin never sleeps. Fear the penguin.

maco's picture
Submitted by maco on

We know they understand and fear FOSS. The Halloween Documents are a nice loooong "oh crap...they're good at this software thing." Let's just keep making everyone aware that there no reason to ever pay a few hundred dollars for MS Office. There's OOo, and it's MS Office compatible. Every customer who asks "does this come with Word?" when buying a computer, I tell "no, but I can put a free office suite called Open Office on there. It does the same stuff Office does, and it can use the same files." When I see the overpriced office suites in stores, I sneer and say (not so quietly) "who'd pay for an office suite when you can get one free at" and I've told people in another computer store, right after the sales guy was telling them how they get a 30 day trial of Office and can come back and pay a few hundred dollars for the full version, about OOo, and, as anyone who cares about his/her wallet, they, liked hearing they could save money.

Author information

Edward Macnaghten's picture


Edward Macnaghten has been a professional programmer, analyst and consultant for in excess of 20 years. His experiences include manufacturing commercially based software for a number of industries in a variety of different technical environments in Europe, Asia and the USA. He is currently running an IT consultancy specialising in free software solutions based in Cambridge UK. He also maintains his own web site.