Turbolinux, a Japanese seller of the open-source operating system, has bridged a philosophical divide by licensing Microsoft technology for playing digital music and video.
Pragmatism led the company to combine products from the ideologically opposed open-source and proprietary software camps, Turbolinux spokesman Michael Jennings said. The Windows Media format support comes as part of an add-on package with several proprietary software components that Turbolinux announced Tuesday.
"The rationale was that the majority of Japanese Web sites are using Windows Media format. We've had (manufacturing) partners and large customers who have requested us to move that into our product," Jennings said. The technology is available in a plug-in module to the open-source Xine software.
Historically, open-source advocates have tried to sidestep Microsoft technology or provide compatibility through reverse-engineering, or deducing, the inner workings of Microsoft's software. Providing compatibility with Microsoft technology is a double-edged sword for its rivals--it makes it easier to dovetail with the dominant force in desktop computer software, but it also reinforces its power.
"It obviously helps us for interoperability, (but) I still wish the standards were open," said Miguel de Icaza, a longtime desktop Linux developer and now a Novell technology executive. "That's the biggest the problem we have now for Linux adoption. Microsoft keeps coming up with new protocols and file formats and APIs (application programming interfaces)...and maybe they license the technology, maybe they don't."
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News source: ZDNet