Is Microsoft engaging in digital imperialism?

In today's open source roundup: Microsoft may be using cloak and dagger tactics to attack open source and protect Windows. Plus: John Dvorak smacks the Linux beehive for page views, and don't forget developer stability when choosing a Linux distro

Microsoft has a history of playing hardball to promote and protect its Windows franchise, and it has never liked the open source software movement. Linux has been a particular concern of the Redmond giant over the years, and now Techrights is reporting that Microsoft may have engaged in some devious shenanigans to try and stop adoption of open source software around the world.

According to Techrights:

Windows, the common carrier of Microsoft, is such a sordid mess that it suffers regular glitches and conducts mass surveillance on users. Microsoft knows that without Windows it cannot survive, so dirty tricks resume in a very big way. This is not a beep on the radar but somewhat of a surge.

Nothing is going to change in Munich, but Microsoft is trying to maintain an international/universal perception that the migration to GNU/Linux was a disaster. Numerous anonymous blogs were created to attack Munich over this and provocateurs of Microsoft loved citing them, only to be repeatedly proven wrong. Microsoft is trying to make an example out of Munich in all sorts of nefarious ways. We need to defend Munich from this malicious assault by the convicted monopolist and corrupt enterprise that’s acting as though it fights for its very survival (while indeed laying off tens of thousands of employees).

More at Techrights
Microsoft's digital imperialism
Image credit: ZDNet
Hat tip: Reddit

The allegations in the article are quite disturbing, to say the least. Alas, they do not surprise me as this seems to be the real Microsoft. It's the Microsoft that I remember from the nineties when it used every dirty trick it could against Netscape and anyone else that stood in the way of Windows. Trying to destroy any company that threatened its Windows monopoly was par for the course for Microsoft in those days.

I have seen some articles recently that asked if Microsoft has become a friend to open source over the last few years, and I think the behavior detailed in this article puts the lie to that idea. Microsoft was never a friend to the open source movement and it certainly isn't now. But such press coverage is probably useful to the company as a cloak to hide behind while it tries to slip a dagger into the back of open source software.

I also noted in an earlier article this week my skepticism of some of the articles about Munich supposedly dumping open source. If Techrights is correct then it looks like Microsoft may have had a hand in promoting some of the negative press coverage of open source in Munich. Sometimes it's easy to smell a rat when you see a story like that suddenly cascading through technology media.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, none of its hardball shenanigans are going to work. Windows is on its way out, one way or another. And it's not just Linux or other open source software that is hurting Windows, it's Android and iOS and mobile in general. The shift to mobile has released many people from the shackles of Windows and it has shown them that they don't need Microsoft's software.

In the short term I think Microsoft's dirty tricks will no doubt continue, but over the long haul they'll slowly fade away as the company's power to influence people weakens. It's a sad thing to see a company like Microsoft reduced to this kind of behavior, but I think it's a mark of how desperate they've become to survive in a world that is slowly and inevitably leaving them behind.

John Dvorak smacks the Linux beehive for page views

Speaking of Munich, John Dvorak uses it as the opening to a diatribe about how Linux on the desktop has run out of time or something like that. Think carefully before you click through to read the article, I'll explain why below.

According to PC Magazine:

I like Linux and would love to just go all-in with it as the mavens tell me I can do. But I cannot. I use these computers to make a living by writing and podcasting. I also produce photographic art as a hobby. I can't accomplish any of this with Linux.

Time has run out for there to be a must-have killer software package on Linux. Anyone writing such an application writes it for Mac or Windows, because that's where the customers are. All the super applications for Linux are on the server side and that ends the discussion. Yes, this could change someday. But that someday is not on the horizon.

Right now Linux on the desktop remains a cheap curiosity, that is kind of fun to play with when you are bored.

More at PC Magazine
John Dvorak Linux
Image credit: Master of 500 Hats

John Dvorak is one of the best in the business at taking a stick and beating the beehive of a particular group to get them to swarm to his articles and generate tons of page views. He knows exactly who is target is and his arrows rarely miss the bullseye. In this case it is Linux users, but Dvorak actually explained in an interview how he regularly targets Apple users to generate enormous amounts of page views for his articles:

You have to admire his honesty, he didn't try to hide what he was doing, and he explained his formula well. In that sense he reminds me of the band KISS. Remember them? Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were always quite up front about their desire to take as much money from KISS fans as possible.

They even went so far to sell a KISS casket for fans to be buried in after they die. The caskets sold for around $4000 and featured KISS logos and images. Sometimes sheer, naked greed - for page views or money - is truly awesome to behold.

Now that John has written the first article designed to smack the Linux nest, watch for the follow up later on where he pretends to be surprised by the angry reactions he gets from Linux users. He's truly an artist when it comes to this sort of thing, I can't help but admire his sheer gall.

Developer stability and Linux distributions

Ken Starks at Foss Force notes the importance of developer stability when choosing a Linux distribution.

Note to Ken: Thanks for the kind words about my article from earlier this week.

According to Foss Force:

One of the biggest advantages, and an often-perceived disadvantage, is the overwhelming number of choices in the Linuxsphere. I could give a good argument either way if I were pushed into it, but what it comes down to is stability.

I don’t mean system stability, that is a given with Linux, but developer stability. Can I depend on this distro to be around in two years…in five years? How is the project funded? Does this innovative project have a large development community that can step in should the lead developer become ill or takes a lengthy sabbatical?

More at Foss Force

Ken actually raises a good point about developer stability. It can be very frustrating when you find a distribution you like and suddenly it's gone. Remember when Pear OS was discontinued? A lot of people really enjoyed it and then had to move to something else after the developer sold the rights to a company. Thankfully, we have so many Linux distros to choose from that finding something else is never a problem even if it is a bit of an aggravation.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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