Originally Published: Friday, 4 August 2000 Author: Mukund Iyer
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

Behind the Curtain

In the years of the rise of open software and the general open movement, I have noticed a sense of almost hate in people who support the open movement, towards companies which don't, like Microsoft, etc. A sort of an iron wall has formed between those who associate themselves with the open movement, and those who don't. Why has this wall formed? Why doesn't a geek want to be associated with products on the Windows platform? Why do people say, "Hey, I haven't booted Windows for the past 8 months!"? Let us take the example of Microsoft.

In the years of the rise of open software and the general open movement, I have noticed a sense of almost hate in people who support the open movement, towards companies which don't, like Microsoft, etc. A sort of an iron wall has formed between those who associate themselves with the open movement, and those who don't. Why has this wall formed? Why doesn't a geek want to be associated with products on the Windows platform? Why do people say, "Hey, I haven't booted Windows for the past 8 months!"? Let us take the example of Microsoft.

Take any geek website, the first thing to be trolled is Microsoft. I don't see a single story supporting Microsoft on Slashdot. Anyone submitting comments supporting Microsoft's approach is bait for trouble. Heck, I dislike Microsoft for it's approach. Yes, this is not always about their products, however superior or inferior they may be to various opensource offerings. It is the same with most other people too.

All the time, Microsoft and the Open Source movement have placed themselves on two sides of a wall. Both critizise the other side, are prompt to vehemently pursue any voilations of copyrights, etc. And both don't like each other. Microsoft is making a serious mistake in its approach. How much ever technically good Windows 2000 ever gets, just how many people are going to try and use it? How is Microsoft going to get people using Linux and other open software to convert back to Windows? Surely not by advertisement. Not by the technical excellence of their product. No. Maybe few will switch to Windows 2000, but not many will.

Microsoft has to change it's attitude towards people, and support the movement than taking the other side and compete with it. If you can't beat 'em, join them. Work towards a common goal of bettering the computing experience. And when Microsoft joins the community, they'll be a part of it. They'll be accepted.

The need to go open source is one way. Microsoft doesn't have to change anything about that at all. They just have to change their approach. They should try to win the confidence and support of people, not oppose them. That they'll do only by supporting the community. Not by staying away from it. Microsoft has some good programs such as their research department. A lot of people stay away from this stuff, because it's just the general feeling among people.. "Hey, it's Microsoft". or Microsl0th. Not Windows, but Windoze. Winblows.

Imagine how many times, people in the Open Source community might have helped Microsoft. Microsoft gets so many reports of bugs in their products. Many even give Microsoft time to fix the bug and release a patch before releasing details of the bug. Why all this? They care for the community. Do they get paid for this work? No. It is the sheer joy of helping the community. So many people build software tools and release them for free. How many of them get payment for this? This is not all about open source. It is about being a member and about co-operation and sharing. Take another example, just how much money does VA Linux make for providing SourceForge to the community? None of the member's pages have commercial banner ads. So why does VA provide SourceForge to the community? It knows that it gets so much from the same community. In ways of software, support (heck, everyone in #linuxhelp is a volunteer), and general public opinion.

I'll ask a simple question. Doesn't Microsoft use anything from the community in their products? Doesn't Microsoft's Internet Explorer use the Independent JPEG Library? Doesn't Microsoft use gzip to compress documents on their research website? Simple examples. They are getting from the community. So why not support it? Why take sides? Just this simple change in attitude and approach will bring them so much acceptence in our community. And I haven't said anything about going open source.

Give the world the best you have. And the best will come back to you.

The author is a steady supporter of the open movement and has been using Linux as his primary development environment since 1995. He believes in opensource and the power of knowledge. This article is not meant as a troll for Microsoft. It is the author's opinions as to what must change, and how the curtain between the two sides can come down.