Microsoft: 'We should learn from open source'

Microsoft has a soft spot for Linux, but it believes that recent developments in the open-source community have killed the free software model

The Microsoft attitude towards the competition du jour has taken a turn towards the distinctly tolerant. Speaking at the Microsoft IT Forum in Copenhagen, Bradley Tipp, the software company's UK national systems engineer, said: "We have nothing against open source, from Microsoft's point of view, it's not a religious thing, it's not them versus us... there are a lot of things we have learnt and there are a lot of things we should learn from open source." It seems that Microsoft may actually be quite keen on taking a leaf out of the open-source book, with an eye on putting its source code in the public domain. What some execs would like to see is a smart-card scheme -- an extension of the existing practice where selected trusted users can access source code in a secure environment.

But Microsoft remains adamant that commercial reasons prevent it from simply putting the source code -- its "crown jewels" -- in the public domain. That magpie attitude, according to Microsoft, is mutual. Red Hat's decision to end support for its free software and the Novell-SuSE link-up have put the last nail in the coffin of the free-software model, the Redmond behemoth believes -- even going so far as to speculate that the move from free to paid-for open-source software is a validation of Microsoft's way of doing business and the only way the open-source movement can survive. Despite the rivalry, Microsoft is keen to talk up its love for the competition, One Microsoft employee even went so far as to say Linux having a 50 percent market share would be good for Microsoft. "At least if Linux takes off, their viruses will propagate and we won't be seen as the bad guys any more," he said. Tipp equally sees advantages to Linux taking off. "We think Linux is great," he said, adding that competition from the penguin and associates keeps the Microsoft on its toes.

News source: ZDNet UK

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