More Microsoft FUD.. sigh!

So, Microsoft is now claiming that Open Source software and Linux infringe 253 of their patents. But it isn't saying which ones [UPDATE - it has described some broad areas, but not named specific patents]! Here in Europe we fortunately don't generally allow software patents (thanks to a spirited campaign in which I am proud to have taken part). In the US, however, surreal patents exist like Amazon having a patent on "1-click purchasing". Complete lunacy, but true.

Microsoft knows that it can't really pursue Open Source projects for patent infringements - mainly because it is itself infringing many patents owned by Open-Source-friendly companies like Novell and IBM (or at least we guess that it is - hard to be sure when the source code is a secret!).

Remember the bit in Austin Powers when Dr Evil, exasperated at the fact that all his evil plots have already taken place whilst he was frozen, says "sod it, let's do what we always do: steal a nuclear warhead and hold the world to ransom"? Can't you picture a similar scene at Microsoft, when it was made clear to the executives that taking Open Source to court for patent infringement was a non-starter? "Sod it, let's do what we always do: issue some vague and unsubstantiated threats and spread some fear, uncertainty and doubt."

The Open Source community has responded, by and large, with a sigh and a shrug of the shoulders, but Linus Torvalds has commented, and so too has Jonathan Schwartz from Sun in his blog.

This whole things saddens me, because you can be sure that at least some people will have been fooled by this latest move from Microsoft. Some people will have read the news reports and will now believe that Open Source is really stealing something that belongs to Microsoft. Open Source is a remarkable ray of hope in our cynical, market-driven times, and it deserves better. Please don't fall for Microsoft's big lie.


  1. I remember being similarly saddened at some point in the last year when I read about Blackboard 'patenting' the LMS in the US - long live open source!

  2. Absolutely! Microsoft can only lose here - its customers now have choices, and they are making a big mistake by feeding the perception that Microsoft are the bad guys. Who wants to run a computer with an OS owned by bad guys?

  3. Good post, Robert - FUD is what it is all about. I hope no one out there chooses to take it too seriously.


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