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Microsoft Joins the Open Invention Network (globenewswire.com)
809 points by MikusR 63 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 371 comments



So, if - microsoft de-debts every developer which got into financial trouble like perhaps with US 6041345 and

- i as an independent developer who only publishes code under bsd-2-clause-license or agpl3+ or Apache or MIT-license

- can reimplement

- (arbitrarily big parts of)

- Active Directory, VFAT, FAT, NTFS, MTP, RDP so my application can interact with it, not only from Windows, but from Linux or BSD also

- and i do not have to be in the OIN club, because i have no money for it or i even do not know about it

- then i will believe this move is sincere.

Is there already a complete free C#-Compiler available for posix systems, which can be recompiled without non-free parts from microsoft?

Will their office suite in the future really support an open data standard like ODF? because they kind of ditched their own standard.

With Active Directory and Windows, they keep people from really switching to open source on the desktop. and they know it. And of course, THAT part is exempted from their OIN-Initiave.

I would like to have meaningful examples what they opensourced, what they do not primarily need for cloud, but what benefits open source in general, like on the desktop or office applications.

But i have to admit, i am really starting to hope, microsoft is only a normal company, not especially opensource-hating-one anymore. could be. time will tell. would be nice. Really hereIsMeHoping


> Is there already a complete free C#-Compiler available for posix systems, which can be recompiled without non-free parts from microsoft

Is the Apache 2 licensed Roslyn compiler not free enough for you? https://github.com/dotnet/roslyn


I feel so much compassion for the developers of Roslyn, that were dictated to "re-implement the bugs from the proprietary version in the open source version".


Can you provide a source for that? I'm interested in learning what kind of bugs would need to be re-implemented.



further on, can be the z3 theorem prover built only with free software?


Of course.


There's still no OSS debugger.


mono has had debugging tools (including a graphical debugger in monodevelop) for like... a decade? more?



MS owns xamarin now, so I think also mono?


Mono is not .NET Core.


I know it isn't.


Mono is MS.


I am talking about the .NET Core debugger, see https://blog.jetbrains.com/dotnet/2017/02/15/rider-eap-17-nu...


cool, there really seem to be steps.

further: Can i reimplement server/client functions of the caldav stack and have my own push notifications for mail?


One of my major pain points with Microsoft is the (often needless) interdependence between their proprietary products. This has the effect of MS spreading like a cancer through any org that carelessly takes on any of their technology. So far, no part of their much lauded "openess" put even a chink into this. That makes me very skeptical of their sincerity.

I believe we should not get ahead of ourselves cheering Microsoft on. So far they have not shown that they improved their overall behaviour. They just have gotten better in marketing their moves to the likes of us developers.


Agree. They are still only after market dominance as any other corporate entity is. This is evident from them burning their own office UWP apps in favour of Android and iOS. Their own marketing vision sacrificed before you, and not the first time.


that's not true at all. the entire point of .net core is to address this very issue with the .net framework.


Point of order: the OIN club is free to join. It was founded to protect Linux related businesses from Microsoft patent trolls. The requirements are (IANAL) compatible with your existing policy of releasing everything under an open source license. you can (and should) join.


Office already supports ODF, it’s necessary to bid for government work in the UK.


The ODF support is lacking. There is no official seal of approval for ODF compliance.


Yes, but not very well.


It's a quite interesting move actually. It indicates undoubtedly that Microsoft's business model also radically shifted away from selling software to selling hardware, subscription services and user data & analytics. It's not surprising now that Microsoft doesn't plan to make money off patents. So they make that huge OIN move to promote themselves as a big OSS supporter. That's quite a PR move, I'd say, a nice one though.


Well while I mostly agree, I think it is important to note that it seems they are going for more of a SAAS approach. With Office and Azure, etc.

They are more into the service industry now than they've ever been in the past. This move was them realizing that OSS is just a really good way to improve software for cheap.

I doubt this will have lasting effects as I have yet to see them actually open source anything that I would consider special.


> I have yet to see them actually open source anything that I would consider special.

It looks like they have open sourced a number of .NET components: CoreFX - Core foundational libraries, CoreCLR - runtime, Roslyn - compiler.

As well as PowerShell, VS Code, Typescript, ASP.NET Core, MVC, Blazor, F#, Z3 Theorem Prover, etc.

And that's from just the first few pages of their Open Source page: https://opensource.microsoft.com/


If the companies in OIN really wanted to help stop misuse of software patents why not just donate the patents to the public domain? The OIN itself seems to be either a patent cartel or a distraction.

> “Microsoft’s participation in OIN adds to our strong community, which through its breadth and depth has reduced patent risk in core technologies, and unequivocally signals for all companies who are using OSS but have yet to join OIN that the litmus test for authentic behavior in the OSS community includes OIN participation.”

Companies are the ones creating patent risk by using the patent system to attack others. If you want to keep your secret sauce secret, then use trade secrets. They've basically signed non-agression pacts with themselves. Open Source has nothing to do with this outside of projects that dual license (which basically means that the code is not F/OSS).

> “Microsoft sees open source as a key innovation engine, and for the past several years we have increased our involvement in, and contributions to, the open source community,” said Erich Andersen, Corporate Vice President and Chief IP Counsel

Yeah, that sounds like "microsoft sees the value in leveraging the free time of thousands of developers as we can rope them in, now that many other companies have forged the way while directly trying not to be crushed by us".

> Funded by Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, Sony, SUSE, and Toyota, OIN has more than 2,650 community members and owns more than 1,300 global patents and applications.

Yeah, somehow none of those companies strike as companies that want patent wars to actually end.

More optimistically, maybe this is a step in the right direction, a few steps before software patents are abolished all together.


That's not a fair assessment, specifically towards open source in Microsoft. Big closed-source corps, such as Microsoft, are often the biggest contributors to the open source projects they use.

The free time of thousands of developers is not as efficient as a team of developers working full time under a PM. That's why I think it's really counter-productive when we call out those companies who are top contributors. We should recognize good when we see it and encourage more of it.


Cool, are we just ignoring all the anti-competitive things Microsoft and some of these other corps have done in the past? What about the time they sued TomTom[0]? What about the paper that was written detailing other such action[1]?

I'm all for forgiveness but I won't forget. Microsoft wanted Linux and any ostensibly open source dead, as you would expect from a corporation which has a horse in the software patents rat race and a moat to protect. If they want good will, they should release their patents into the public domain, even someone like me can't possibly ignore that kind of move.

I can recognize the fact that Microsoft has done a bunch for open source, but do you think that's proportional to how much they've gained from it? In the end a company is made of people, and maybe the people in Microsoft have changed and the culture is changing but Microsoft the entity/business isn't my friend/ally (as much of a corporation can be). It would be great if they've turned over a new leaf but I'm not going to hold my breath.

I might be too harsh, but that doesn't change the point -- if they wanted to get rid of patent wars, they'd just release the patents/start hunting patent trolls/lobby for abolishing software patents all together. I'll say it again, this is either a patent cartel, or a distraction -- I'd love to be proven wrong.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Corp._v._TomTom_Inc.

[1]: http://www.ecis.eu/documents/Finalversion_Consumerchoicepape...


TomTom is a member of the OIN, and it probably will not be required to pay the FAT32 IP licensing fees now that Microsoft has joined them.

It seems like Microsoft can do nothing to please you. But this is huge for the OIN and its members.


I'm willing to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, but the bar is higher.

At this point I can't tell who is being unreasonable anymore -- this is exactly how cartels work, join/cooperate or face consequences. TomTom paid licensing fees in 2009 -- they lost that fight with Microsoft... When Microsoft joined OIN, did it return the licensing money TomTom paid adjusted for inflation?

Again, I'm capable of looking at this optimistically -- this move is better than the status quo, but it is not enough to budge my skepticism given the damage done over the years by Microsoft.


They have full time employees working on VS Code who work remotely even. It's a pretty good gig. Even back in the mid to late 2000's Microsoft wasn't above hiring open source engineers to work for them. I remember IronPython's creator (or maintainer / both?) being hired by Microsoft for a full time gig. Funnily enough he tried to make IronPython to prove that the .NET Framework was an awful platform to make a language in and found out the opposite.


VS Code has business value for them in keeping them relevant. Visual Studio is one of their shining pearls, mostly because it's one of the only ways to use .NET Framework and C# coherently (assuming you're running microsoft to begin with since none of their stuff worked well on other OSes before mono and even after mono).

They "weren't above" hiring open source engineers so they're clearly a good company? They hired a guy that happened to try and make python run on windows so they're awesome? What kind of logic is that? You have to take both of those eventualities super optimistically for that to be a plus -- pessimistically it just looks like they tried to ingratiate themselves and make python run on windows better so that more people would use windows.

This is the company that put ads on user's login screens.

BTW, the mono effort's patent status[0] (receiving a broadened patent "promise" from MS). A group of open source hackers bore the brunt of bringing their platform to other operating systems and the best they can do is a "patent promise" and the OIN "swearing to protect" mono as a project? I honestly don't even know what secret sauce could possibly be inside C#/.NET that would make me choose it in this day and age. Honestly why would anyone choose C# unless they had no choice but to run windows (in development or deployment)?

[EDIT] I removed some of my comments on .NET Framework because I'm very biased against it.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_%28software%29#Mono_and_M...


Microsoft and others would be foolish to simply abandon their patents while today's patent system remains intact. That would probably also be a really good way to face a massive shareholder lawsuit.

There are many companies still that are not part of OIN so Microsoft is allowed to use those patents if it has to as part of a legal strategy if they are sued for patent infringement by another practicing entity that isn't part of oin.

The Microsoft of old certainly did a lot of harm to open source, or at least tried. However, companies are collections of people not monolithic entities that have a single consistent viewpoint forever. Its leadership has changed, and it has brought on many strong open-source proponents in positions of Authority or influence. I'm not saying that I "trust" Microsoft, but I do think that the company has evolved and can be a positive influence and contributor in open source.

You also say that none of the founders of oin want the patent Wars to stop. I really don't think that that's true particularly if you look at Red Hat or SUSE, though I may be biased because I do work for Red Hat and have worked with Novell / SUSE.

Microsoft is a corporation and it exists to make money. It does not and cannot operate on ideals alone.


Let's discuss Redhat. I haven't heard of any aggressive patent position. But I do get the feeling they wouldn't shy away from a fight.


RedHat is probably the least aggressive of the group patent wise given that the primarily support/innovate on top of F/OSS -- I actually considered making a note of that but didn't, and I should have.

I think they're basically along for the ride so they can be involved in anything that has to use Linux and exert their will on/network with /collaborate with others in OIN.


Red Hat was a founding member of OIN and were, along with IBM, the primary movers behind getting it off the ground. "Along for the ride" is somewhat reductive.

Disclaimer: Red Hat employee.


Though I did not know that they were the primary movers behind getting OIN off the ground, I didn't mean along for the ride as in they were last to get on, I simply meant "why they're participating at all".

The point stands, however, optimistically, OIN is a step in the direction, so RedHat is to be thanked. Pessimistically, this is a great business move for them, for the reasons I've already stated. Also, with Redhat's projects and cloud offering (betting heavy on OpenShift), I can certainly see how it would be great to not have to worry about the variety of parts of things they're about to dip their toes into (as OpenShift is basically data center in a box -- they can't afford to be tripped up by something as small as FAT32).

At this point, OIN is better than nothing, but no one has suggested to me why it isn't just a patent cartel. I don't disagree that it's beneficial to companies involved, but I'm not sure how much benefit it has to the community at large, or to companies that aren't inside OIN.

While I don't agree with software patents, if a small company gets a few patents on truly new/innovative technology (the idealistic goal of the patent system) it seems if they try to enforce their patents on any company in OIN they might have to face down all of OIN. On the other hand if they join OIN they have less protection if Microsoft decides to copy their product.

Again, I'd love to be wrong -- if this kind of situation is mentioned in any legal documents simple enough for laymen to read I'm game.


If these companies lobbied instead to end software patents, they could be a thing of the past in a year or two.


For the last half-dozen years (give or take), I've been flabbergasted that MS has taken some of the steps it has toward being a better technology neighbor. Even so, it still engages in some very sketchy (even "evil") behavior, as all publicly traded corporations do, and some of that behavior is very reminiscent of the bad old days of Microsoft (though living up to the evils of the Ballmer age is probably not even visible from where MS is now).

Over the last couple years, I see people having completely ignored the fact that Microsoft still pulls a lot of bad shit. Because the change has been so drastic, people seem entirely willing to overlook the horrors still in play. Sure, Oracle seems more evil than Microsoft these days, but that's a pretty damned low bar for someone to suddenly forgive Microsoft and start singing its praises. I'm a bit more cynical than that. Show me an open source MS-DOS 5.0 at least; MS-DOS 2.0 is nothing but a mostly-pointless curiosity and PR stunt. Show me a covenant to never sue anyone for patent infringement, regardless of OIN membership, unless that other party sued MS for patent infringement first. Show me opt-in telemetry instead of opt-out; never opt-out instead of opt-in, for any software at all. We need more.

I've been disappointed that people were so ready to forgive MS not only for the perfidies of the past, but the ongoing bad behavior of the present, too. I'm happy to see there are still people skeptical of Microsoft's current state of reform here on HN. Yes, I am willing to believe MS is better than it was, and is better in some respects than Google and Apple now (which are just atrocious), but that doesn't mean I'm willing to give MS any support for anything that isn't completely free and clear in its licensing.

DOS 2.0? .NET Core? PowerShell? Sure, I am happy with the direction Microsoft has taken with those, but I'm not 100% sure I can legally trust them outside of a Linux context, given how the OIN somehow abandoned the pretense of just being about openness and doubled down on being about Linux specifically. What kind of insanity might creep into GitHub now? How dangerous would it still be to use Windows? No thanks, I'll put my time and trust elsewhere, same as with how I treat Apple, Facebook, Google, and Oracle. I can't trust any of them, and you shouldn't either.


> ... Microsoft still pulls a lot of bad shit.

Specific examples?


> Specific examples?

Microsoft should come clean, admit their wrongdoings and recant doing from the following unethical practices:

1. Bullying the competition with software patents

2. Hijacking the ISO standardization process when they pushed through their OOXML specification

3. Having a man sent to prison for making Windows Restore DVDs from ISO images that you could download freely from the Internet

4. Lobbying lawmakers to block laws which promote open standards and free software for use in the government

5. Preventing users from running their own software using draconian DRM on closed devices (Windows 10 Mobile and S)

6. Enacting restrictive Marketplace policies against GPL-3 software

7. Launching misinformation campaigns ("Get the facts" etc.), Astroturfing and other ways of spreading lies, especially against Linux

So now they basically stopped #1 after already having more or less stopped #7, and while technically still on sale, the market laughed them out of #5. But they have still not owned up on anything, so someone mistrusting might think they could start at any time again.


>3. Having a man sent to prison for making Windows Restore DVDs from ISO images that you could download freely from the Internet

Please stop parroting that non-sense. They didn't even bring the case against him, US Customs did. He was also warned more than once by Customs to stop, and he didn't.

https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2018/04/27/the-fac...


> Please stop parroting that non-sense.

Please stop the Microsoft apologism.

It is not nonsense. Microsoft testified against the man in court. They wanted him to go to prison.

And yes, what they did is lie to the court in order to achieve that goal. The sentencing is based on Microsoft testimony.

Louis Rossmann has some choice words for Microsoft:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaoJErxYLtM


>It is not nonsense. Microsoft testified against the man in court. They wanted him to go to prison.

He was selling counterfeit disks as genuine. Was warned to stop, and didn't. You either haven't bothered to read the link provided, any of the court rulings (it was upheld on appeal), or you're just such an MS hater you're going to deny reality.

Either way, when there are literally email threads of him trying to sell disks to computer refurbishers as "genuine" and being called out for them being counterfeit, you're not going to convince me he was the innocent victim he's claiming to be.

I'm just going to assume I'm correct in you not reading any of the links provided, and I'll leave this here: https://blogs.microsoft.com/uploads/prod/sites/5/2018/04/Ema...

And if you want to "prove" that MS is in the wrong, I'd suggest you link to a lawyer disputing the results of the case. Not a guy who fixes laptops for a living.


I have followed this case. I know Microsoft's position and have read their public statements.

I know that Microsoft told egregious untruths to the courts about the value of the recovery CDs. They claimed with a straight face that the value of such a recovery CD (burned from an ISO image that could be downloaded freely from the Internet) was identical to the value of a Windows OEM license. And the courts have believed their statements.

You haven't bothered to check any of the facts besides what Microsoft purports. Your distorted view of reality seems to be entirely shaped by Microsoft PR.

> I'd suggest you link to a lawyer disputing the results of the case. Not a guy who fixes laptops for a living.

The facts speak for themselves. There is even an hour+ long interview with Eric Lundgren where he clearly describes his actions and motives and what he expected to accomplish.

The "guy who fixes laptops for a living" has probably more insight into the reality of repair/refurbishing/reuse of computers and electronics than you will ever have.

> you're just such an MS hater you're going to deny reality.

Where do I deny reality? All the seven points that I listed are verified by independent observers and media.

No matter if you believe whether Eric Lundgren deserved punishment or not, it was Microsoft's testimony that was critical in convincing the court and sending him to prison for 15 months.


> He was selling counterfeit disks as genuine.

While this is technically an accurate statement, it sounds like he was selling counterfeit Windows CDs (that Microsoft sold). In fact, he sold bit-for-bit copies of Windows restore CDs that you can get from Microsoft or Dell for free online -- Microsoft claim in the blog you posted that they sold it for $25 but that is not true (they sold CDs with Windows licenses for that much, and you needed a Windows license to use the restore CD -- so you can arithmetically conclude they are worth $0). The court and court of appeal disagree with that point for two reasons:

1. Microsoft's expert witness claimed that you could use most of Windows with the restore CD image. This ignores the fact that you can download a trial image of Windows for free, or install Windows on many machines without a licence key and have it mostly work in the same way. It also ignores that such a system mostly working is entirely the fault of Microsoft, by their own admission, because they wrote earlier versions of Windows to only nag you for a licence -- and the 30-day free trial was actually perpetual (like WinZip, funnily enough).

2. It is difficult to believe that the defendants would spend tens of thousands of dollars to manufacture disks that are worthless -- though this is said as an aside. This ignores the fact they sold them because they knew there was a need for them, and so the value of the disks was the market value and not any intrinsic value that Microsoft claims they had. I don't buy his "just wanted to help people find the discs" comments, but I don't agree that he made them because he believed they had an objective worth of at least $25. Because he downloaded the images for free.

Obviously I disagree with their views, but more importantly the court claims their worth entirely on Microsoft's expert testimony. It's quite clear they wanted to

Microsoft claims that the software is counterfeit in their blog post you linked, which is not physically possible since it's a bit-for-bit copy. Not to mention that the court decision says that they distributed unauthorized copies of copyrighted software, which is not the same as what Microsoft said (the court effectively found that the disks were identical copies).

The key issue IMHO was that the CDs he sold had the Microsoft logo screen-printed on it in an attempt to make his customers' customers not think that the CDs were counterfeit (even though the software was not counterfeit -- it was an unauthorized copy). Obviously this was a stupid (and as the court case proved, illegal) thing to do, because it is obvious proof of him trying to to deceive people. That was obviously illegal and unethical, not to mention selling unauthorized copies of copyrighted software.

> Not a guy who fixes laptops for a living.

Bit of an odd stance from someone who is just posting links to Microsoft's view on the case, which is obviously going to be in favour of the decision (and as above possibly incorrect).

Louis has his biases, sure, but in his interview with the guy it was quite clear (to me at least) that he had an issue with the key point of the case -- that he actually sold discs with a Microsoft logo on them that were not made by Microsoft, and claimed they were genuine. He also admitted his initial video about the topic was not accurate because he wasn't aware of all the facts, and instead focused entirely on the valuation argument in the case.


>Bit of an odd stance from someone who is just posting links to Microsoft's view on the case, which is obviously going to be in favour of the decision (and as above possibly incorrect).

How so? I posted a link to Microsoft's legal counsel stating their case. I've yet to see any third party lawyer make a claim otherwise. If you want to dispute a lawyer and the justice department and their take on the law, the very least you (op) can do is provide a reference to an opinion from another lawyer.


Just as an aside, it isn't their case (you said so yourself). But I'll move on.

> If you want to dispute a lawyer and the justice department and their take on the law,

I'm not disputing the law, I'm disputing the facts presented and the conclusions drawn based on said facts. Given that you and I are technically inclined enough to understand what a Windows restore CD is and what restrictions it places, this means that we are in a position to be able to discuss the facts of the case and whether they pass muster.

In the previous comment, I explain in some detail what aspect of the facts I disagree with as well as referencing parts of both the decision and the appeal (from the link you posted). The conclusions made by the judges are clearly based on the facts presented by Microsoft, and so discussing whether those facts are actually true is a completely valid thing to do.

And finally, I don't disagree with the court that he broke the law nor do I disagree that he should be punished. I just disagree with several of the statements Microsoft made (in my opinion, in bad faith) related to the case -- and the valuation statement is particularly shady because it is simply and provably untrue. The reason why the judges explicitly decided that Microsoft's expert witness was more credible than the defendant's expert witness is not something I know -- but it doesn't mean that they were correct to do so.


> I've yet to see any third party lawyer make a claim otherwise.

You still don't get it. There is no disagreement in matters of law. Eric Lundgren even pleaded guilty to counterfeiting Dell restore discs. The only question that Microsoft was involved was how hard the punishment should be, because that is based on the value of the pirated goods.

Given that the restore disc images can be freely downloaded from the Internet and burned to disc by anyone, their value is negligible. Microsoft however lied to the court by saying that the value of the software on the restore discs is the same $25 as the value of the software and the refurbisher license. Nevermind that you need a valid license key to successfully install and activate Windows which didn't come with the restore disc.

And the court believed Microsoft's lies, and calculated the damages and prison term based on them. And this is why I stand by my original statement that Microsoft was "Having a man sent to prison for making Windows Restore DVDs from ISO images that you could download freely from the Internet"

And if you even in the face of the facts still claim that it is non-sense, then I am sorry to say: It is you who denies reality and parrots Microsoft apologism.


There's also all the FUD and scare tactics when you try to install another browser saying it might be "insecure, slow, etc".


Windows 10 definitely feels very user hostile with forced updates and data collection.


Much less than my Android devices.


I stopped using Android a month ago, and it was amazing all the emails from google wondering where I was, or suddenly getting invited to various beta programs and stuff.

They really do their best to lock you in.

I just hate that WeChat had their hissy fit with Microsoft, and it blocked WeChat on Windows Phones. (I have a Wo Mobile China OEM version of a Nokia 1520 and it refuses to let me logon with the Chinese version of the app in Hong Kong, China & Macau using local SIMs in each area).

When you look at the Xbox One where Google doesn't compete it has things like YouTube, and other popular media apps, and yet the Windows Phone was denied these apps as Google's primary target for Android was to dethrone the Microsoft Windows CE world, which they did brilliantly with the aquisiition of Android, and releasing it for zero dollars to any OEM for any formfactor, while Microsoft kept too far of a strict control over the platform.

Ironically Micosoft forgot the lession of MS-DOS, which is that the money isn't in the hardware, but the end users buying software.


That's debatable, but I find Apple iOS, Google Android, and Microsoft Win10 all user-hostile. One of them being "worse" than another, in some person's opinion, in no way excuses anyone from being bad.


- Data collection

- Forced installs

- Android shakedown


I will try to avoid rehashing things others already mentioned, but a few off the top of my head (without thinking about it any longer than it takes to type them) include:

* continuing to favor user interface philosophies that implicitly rely on undermining software security

* fostering vendor lock-in and exclusionary vertical integration

* using opt-out privacy violation where opt-in is the obvious ethical choice

* wielding power in the market to "compete" by preventing others from competing

edit: formatting


Microsoft's Android patent shakedown was the big thing that kept me from believing the company had really changed - I think I'm ready to consider that it really has changed now.


I'm still unconvinced, I think we'll need to see years of really good behavior for me to possibly believe they've changed. There have been decades of bad faith attacks on free/libre technology, I think I'm going to need to see at least 5 years of no fucking around from them before I consider this more than the embrace part of embrace, extend, extinguish. Up till now my biggest complaint has been the extortion racket they've been running with these patents, so this is certainly a move in the right direction, but that company is evil to the core and I don't believe for a second they're really trying to change for any reason other than marketing/public perception.


When does the timer start? Microsoft started open sourcing a lot of its core technology over four years ago (.NET Core being one example).


Well, I suppose now. Their last majorly problematic behavior (that I'm aware of) was the extortion racket against Android vendors with their FAT patent, which is presumably no longer going to occur.


Their core technology?

They haven't opensourced windows, MS Office, Skype, Visual Studio or Active Directory/Exchange.

So no, they haven't opensourced any of their core tech.


Guys, are they obligated to throw their business outside windows, give everything for free and quit or shrink, firing more than half of people doing job @ ms?

Why do people think they should opensource everything?


Noone is saying they should opensource everything. But people are saying they opensourced their "core tech", and that is bullshit.


It doesn't matter - just another person that jumped on the MS bash bandwagon because it's fun and it lets you score quick brownie points. Most people have crap articulations of why MS is evil or why it sucks besides "patents", and it's the same basic drivel I see repeated about any company. Never ceases to amaze me how critical thinking skills can cease so thoroughly on a subject.


I think you may be missing some historical perspective. Microsoft have quite the history of being extremely unpleasant toward free and open source software.

There's also this list of more recent issues with their software:

  https://www.gnu.org/proprietary/malware-microsoft.en.html


No, not missing anything. Most of the stuff on the GNU list is highly subjective, and I don't consider Richard Stallman a voice of reason.

Did Microsoft employ some aggressive business practices? Sure. Show me another modern-day company from any country that hasn't done the same.


> I don't consider Richard Stallman a voice of reason.

So what exactly has he been wrong about?


Not the parent but:

Technical details I cannot think of anything off the top of my head; my issues would be with his motivations. He ascribes things to malice that could be easily attributed (and rightfully should be) to incompetence or out of touch with the customer.


> He ascribes things to malice that could be easily attributed (and rightfully should be) to incompetence or out of touch with the customer.

So you're ascibing spying, tacking, inserting ads etc. all to "incompetence". Interesting. I'd definitely say it's malice. It's not "out of touch with the customer", it's making money at the expense of the customer.


It definitely wasn't malice, but feel free to believe in whatever makes you feel better. The way people like to throw around words like "malice" and "evil" without seeing the ridiculous hyperbole is beyond me.


You can say it wasn't malice, just 'business' or something like that. But in that sense, war also isn't awful, just 'business' etc.

I am on the other hand amazed at how much Slack people are willing to give multinational corporations that don't presumably even have them on payroll.


> I am on the other hand amazed at how much Slack people are willing to give multinational corporations that don't presumably even have them on payroll.

"The only thing worse than a paid shill is an unpaid shill; sellouts at least have greed as an excuse."


What has he been right about?

Our industry seems to be doing just fine despite all the Doomsday crap he says is always around the corner.


It's good you're doing fine, but some of us noticed Windows tracking us and pushing ads on us, NSA spying and backdoors, Amazon deleting books and spying on conversations, Google tracking our location even when we opt out etc.


> It doesn't matter - just another person that jumped on the MS bash bandwagon because it's fun and it lets you score quick brownie points.

Please stop doing this. With the same attitude, I could call you a naive starry eyed fanboy who has been duped by some benevolent looking little tricks and who is riding on the sugary wave of MS apologism that has been going on here for a while.

The actual money for MS comes from its strong foothold within corporations. And if you look at the picture here, you will see technical interdependencies and licensing models that are carefully crafted to make MS technology spread like a cancer through your org.

None of this is in danger of being changed by any of Microsoft's oh so benevolent moves. Those are merely to get people like us developers on their good side.

Microsoft opensources .NET core. But not those parts that are important to interoperate with other MS technologies. For that you are still stuck with Windows and closed source. This doesn't even slightly endanger MS's foothold here.

Microsoft embraces Linux. But as part of Windows and not to the benefit of Linux as an independent OS. Should MS Office ever run on Linux then the boat has turned wrt. Linux. What I see here is classic embrace, extend, extinguish.

Microsoft builds VS Code, an editor for web developers. VS Code does not compete with Visual Studio but with editors like Sublime. MS is trying to pull developers working on MacBooks and Linux to their side, to their technology stack. Get people to care for (in the form of making plugins etc.) technology under their control.

The current developer world revolves around open source and communities taking care of projects they need and use. MS wants control of this (cf. the acquisition of Github).

Keep this in mind when judging any new move of Microsoft.


They started changing for the better as soon as they got rid of Ballmer in my opinion. He was toxic for the company and for the industry as a whole. It's taken a few years, but I don't think there's much of the "old" MS left anymore in terms of business practices and ethics.


(Disclaimer: MS employee)

Yes and no. Credit to Satya Nadella, the culture really is changing towards openness and collaboration. However, Microsoft has a lot of "lifers," and you don't just roll back two decades of the old Microsoft in a couple years.

At the high level/PR level, I think the business practices and ethics are improving, but it'll take many years and possibly a good number of retirements (because the industry is actually old enough for that now) for the mindset change to propagate throughout management.


That's a great observation and reminder, thank you.

I agree Ballmer's strategic actions were problematic for the larger technological ecosystem and only benefited Microsoft in shortsighted ways though they did establish Microsoft as the most important technology company in the world for nearly 10 years (1995 - 2005).

It's been 4 years since Ballmer left Microsoft and it's taken some time for new management to effect change. Microsoft is a much more interesting, cooperative, and innovative company as a result.

EDIT: Change "Ballmer" to "Ballmer's" and number agreement.


Not just getting rid of Ballmer, but promoting Nadella to the job. That pick was the turning point.


Interesting... I don't know much about him.

Wikipedia mentions briefly that he worked at Sun. What did he do there, for how long, with whom, and how did that influence his time at Microsoft?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satya_Nadella


I haven't read it but apparently he published an autobiographical book last year:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30835567-hit-refresh

https://medium.com/@xaviergeerinck/my-key-take-aways-from-re...


That's a great article by Xavier Geerinck.

The part about leaders generating energy is interesting.

I wonder what he thought about Scott McNealy's attempts at generating energy by trying to make Microsoft out to be the great enemy of humanity that Sun was going to vanquish, which I though fell flat because you should never let yourself be defined simply in terms of opposition to someone else. When Sun Microsystems fell apart into several different companies, he even named one of them "SunSoft" in opposition to "Microsoft".

You've got to have something of your own to be energetic about, without needing an enemy to fight against. For so many years, Java was first and foremost simply a weapon in Sun's arsenal for their much bigger purpose, the raging war against Microsoft. They actually weaponized a programming language, and that was a higher priority than any other consideration. They wasted all that energy they generated around Java in a war overseas, instead of building infrastructure at home.


i would also recommend his interview with freakonomics podcast http://freakonomics.com/podcast/satya-nadella/


I'm not sure they've really changed, but I judge them from an enterprise viewpoint. I think their strategy has certainly changed, but I think their core ideals have remained the same, and I think they are really just honing in on their primary market.

Their tech still doesn't play well with others, only in the areas where they absolutely have to.

I think Sharepoint in the cloud is a good example. It's really great if you let it handle most things, maybe you buy a theme or maybe something bigger to put on top, but generally you let Sharepoint handle most things on your intranet. You'll include a few non-Microsoft systems through Sharepoint apps or widgets, and that still works well enough. That's the great use case. The terrible use case, is using it alongside 500 other IT systems and trying to include those, the way you'd like a modern enterprise intranet to do.

We have a system to report our driving to get it refunded. Another system to get vacation time accepted and validated, and a third system for sick leave. All with their own web-interfaces, mobile apps and open APIs. They rely on AD and ADFS for authentication, but they're their own things. Sure you can build a Sharepoint specific plugin for each of them, but a modern intranet should really support stuff like VUE stand alone widgets/apps so that you can share those widgets between systems and you really can't do that with a Sharepoint plugin.

We use Azure a lot, like I said, and it I think it's great, but it's very clear that .NET is very first class in Azure. You can argue that stuff like Node.js is up there, and maybe the few python frameworks that Microsoft support with visual studio, but JAVA, Go, Flutter or whatever you can think of certainly isn't smooth in Azure.

And just try using non-outlook, libra office or something other than one drive for business in your Microsoft enterprise setup, you can, but it's not very nice.

I'm sounding negative, but I actually really like Microsoft. I think they're great at what they do, and I think they're one of the best partners you can have in enterprise, along as you embrace their tech. But that's the catch, and that's why I think they haven't really changed their core values. I do think it's perfectly reasonable, for them to want you to use their technologies, from a business point of view, but when I look at the options for stuff like cloud, I think it's very clear that Azure wants you to also build your backbone in .NET with maybe Node.js + a JS framework on the front, where as with AWS I feel like Amazon doesn't really care what your stack is.


All the more reason to move from Oracle's Java to MS's .NET Core. They're not the big bad evil company they once were (they can't afford to be today.)


They're slightly less evil than they were, but they're still a company. To quote Brian Cantrill, they're still a lawnmower and will chop your arm off if you put it in the wrong place, without any hard feelings.

I agree with you that they can't afford to be super evil, because they're not the only big fish anymore. They're actually not even the biggest one.

I think it's a bit too early to decide if Java or .Net Core is better placed for the future, though.


Oracle's not the biggest fish either, but that hasn't improved their behavior.

If Microsoft is a lawnmower that will chop your arm off if you put it in the wrong place, Oracle is a self-driving lawnmower that will hunt you down.


>Oracle is a self-driving lawnmower that will hunt you down.

That will then litigate unless you already have a multi-year severed limb support contract.


In neither case should you decide to take a nap on the lawn.


Your post makes me think you read that statement backwards. (The lawnmower comment is from an oracle talk, etc) It's proposing to move to .net from Java.

With recent licensing changes to Java and microsoft's recent good behavior I have considered it myself.


I've edited my comment to clarify that I'm not backing any migration option (Java -> .Net, .Net -> Java). In my opinion both ecosystems are very solid :)


Now if only they had kept J# alive there would be all that 'easy to move' momentium.


While this is a step in the right direction, MS still seem to be "all in" on telemetry.

Until the telemetry and data sent by MS software can realistically be turned off completely, they shouldn't get any kind of positive treatment.


<disclaimer, MS employee>

MS adheres to GDPR regulations and has applied those protections to all users. You can opt out of telemetry, you can view what they've collected on you and delete it.

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/microsoft-extending-gdp...


The article you linked points to an online Microsoft Account Privacy dashboard.

I have Windows 10 installed with a local login. I don't have or want an online Microsoft account. It doesn't seem to be possible to disable telemetry in this case, or at least I haven't found out an (officially supported) way to do it.


^ I'm genuinely curious about this as well. Can anyone at MS clarify?


Bottom line, if MS is going to show you telemetry data that's been gathered, they've got to know its you that they've gathered it from, so authentication has to occur. Without going into details, it's hard enough to do this with an online account, and quite impossible for local logon scenarios, and getting it wrong opens up possibilities for malicious actors. So, that's why the privacy dashboard requires a Microsoft account.

Best information I can provide on limiting telemetry for the local logon scenario is here:

https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-10-feedback-diag...

I realize that setting it to 'basic' isn't going to satisfy the conspiratorial minded among us, but I will say that I, personally, have no qualms setting my machine to 'basic'.

More details, and instructions to disable via regedit following the instructions here:

https://www.windowscentral.com/how-opt-out-customer-experien...


Hang on, are you seriously saying people need to create a MS online account just in order to tell their own computer to NOT send data to MS?

That's ridiculous. There should be an obvious friggin question during install "Enable telemetry and data collection?" and if the answer is no... that's it. No telemetry or data collection gets done. Ever. End of story and question doesn't get asked again. Ever.

Any other approach is literally just weasel words trying to deceive people. "Just manually change this RegKey setting" is a good example.


No, I'm saying that if you want to view or delete the data that MS has collected, you need an MSA.

If you want to downgrade/disable it, you follow the instructions in the links provided.


> Bottom line, if MS is going to show you telemetry data that's been gathered, they've got to know its you that they've gathered it from, so authentication has to occur.

I understand that. I just want to stop sending data from now on.

> I realize that setting it to 'basic' isn't going to satisfy the conspiratorial minded among us

I want no private or personal data to be sent. Calling me "conspiratorial-minded' is simply wrong. There isn't a conspiracy that Microsoft is collecting data about Windows 10 machines; it's an admitted fact, it was never secret. And I would prefer not to send such data, but Microsoft doesn't want to give me that option.

There is no official information on what data is gathered under the Basic setting. The page you linked to has just one sentence, and it's very vague:

> information about your device, its settings and capabilities, and whether it is performing properly

"Information about your device" could cover a lot indeed. What information does this collect that's covered under GDPR? How has it changed, and will change, over time? Who has access to it? I don't know. That doesn't make me a conspiracy theorist.

I don't buy the Microsoft claim from the same page that "This is the minimum level of diagnostic data needed to help keep your device reliable, secure, and operating normally.". It can't be impossible for Windows 10 to be reliable or secure without sending data home. It's evidently not impossible for the Enterprise edition. I accept that this data helps Microsoft do these things, but it should still be my choice as to whether to send it or not, and my right to know what's included in it. And now the law says so too, at least in the EU.

The Dutch DPA already determined Microsoft to be in violation of the GDPR a year ago (https://autoriteitpersoonsgegevens.nl/en/news/dutch-dpa-micr...). I don't know about more recent developments there. But this isn't just a few private individuals' opinion.

> More details, and instructions to disable via regedit

Those are not official Microsoft instructions or documented settings. Windows updates have been known to revert them, and (separately) to require changes to the instructions. Messing with the Registry and disabling system services might have other effects beyond the desired. This is not a satisfactory solution, exactly because I do care about "keep[ing] your device reliable, secure, and operating normally".


Ok, I'll admit mistakes on my original post. The regedit method clearly isn't seen as a suitable fix for the broad population, and 'basic' telemetry isn't the same as 'no' telemetry.

Some other points:

> I want no private or personal data to be sent

I would say that none is sent on basic, but the definition of 'private or personal' is overloaded enough that we might disagree.

> Calling me "conspiratorial-minded' is simply wrong

Sorry, I didn't call you that, just a hypothetical broader population. Probably bad wording on my part either way.

> There is no official information on what data is gathered under the Basic setting.

There is. Lots more info here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/privacy/configure-w...

The best way to see what's gathered would be to sign up for an MSA, enable basic telemetry, and then go to the privacy account page and view it yourself.

> The Dutch DPA already determined Microsoft to be in violation of the GDPR a year ago

Not sure what to make of this since most US companies targeted compliance for May 2018, nor does that article mention the GDPR.

> Those are not official Microsoft instructions or documented settings.

Point taken, you're right :)


Thanks. I'm glad you're able to see my point of view.

> I would say that none is sent on basic, but the definition of 'private or personal' is overloaded enough that we might disagree.

It's less about definitions, and more that I just can't be sure what exactly is sent.

> Lots more info here:

Thanks, that was informative. It seems they gather as complete a profile as they can of all my hardware and of the software they deem relevant (drivers, Microsoft apps) and its configuration. This is clearly enough for a globally unique fingerprint, many times over. (I don't know that they're building one, but they clearly can.)

The part that most worries me here is that at every point this doc says the list is inclusive, not exclusive. "The data gathered at this level includes". "Examples include". "Device attributes such as". There's no wording that I can see that would exclude anything at all that Microsoft might choose to collect now or later.

This holds for the Basic level, unlike the Enterprise-only Security level that explicitly says "No user content, such as user files or communications, is gathered" and "we take steps to avoid gathering any information that directly identifies a company or use". It's pretty clear that this doesn't hold for the Basic level. (Even if the purpose of gathering the data isn't to identify anyone.)

> nor does that article mention the GDPR.

You're right, it predates the GDPR and refers to a Dutch law. I was wrong to reference it and I'm sorry for muddying the discussion.

I read the Microsoft Privacy Statement (https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-US/privacystatement). It says:

> Many of our products require some personal data to provide you with a service. If you choose not to provide data necessary to provide you with a product or feature, you cannot use that product or feature

And then in the section on Windows:

> Rather than residing as a static software program on your device, key components of Windows are cloud-based [...] In order to provide this computing experience, we collect data about you [...]

It seems Windows is included in the statement that collecting personal information is mandatory and without it you "cannot use that product or feature". Although it's not explicit and so that may not be the intent for Windows - but it's not clearly disclaimed either.

Of course, any claim that collecting "Basic" data is truly required for Windows to work well is highly suspect because the Enterprise edition doesn't do it.

But OK, there's a "Learn More" link at the end of the Windows section that shows much more text. Unfortunately, while it includes many details, it also contains lots of inclusive statements. E.g., Activation is said to send "data about the software and your device" with no further explanation.

Bottom line: I would like to trust Microsoft (in this particular regard, at least). I think it's more likely than not that nothing terrible is going on. I think so because collecting data about me is not really part of Microsoft's business model, does not benefit them in any obvious way, and might harm them if it became known. But it would help a lot if Microsoft made a clear public statement (and put it in their contracts and EULAs), instead of all this "for example" wording.


> You can opt out of telemetry, you can view what they've collected on you and delete it.

Until the next update automatically re-enables it (and re-installs MS Paint and Candy Crush).


Am I the only one that doesn't get apps auto installed? I wonder if it's because my locale is Hong Kong - English which seems to have basically cut me off from the world when it comes to media, and other recognized options...


Does this include data collected from activity on Windows 10 endpoints? Previously, this could only be disabled on Windows 10 Enterprise. Can all on-device data collection and telemetry be disabled on Windows 10 Pro or Home, including "Customer Improvement" data collection, crash logs, keystrokes, screen grabs?


Doesn't the GDPR require freely given informed consent?

Forgetting to set DOTNET_CLI_TELEMETRY_OPTOUT=1 (or being unaware that you must set it) does not constitute consent.


It requires informed consent for any personal data being processed. It's entirely plausible to have a useful telemetry system without any personal data. (I have no knowledge of what MS does store.)


> I have no knowledge of what MS does store.

Nor does anyone outside MS.


The GDPR only requires consent if it's personal data that is not necessary for doing business.

You don't need consent to store the shipping address of a customer and you don't need to consent to run basic analytics on your database to see what products are popular and how many customers you have. You also don't need consent to process the IP address in the TCP connection from the customer browser so you can show a website (though you do need consent if you log the entire IP for analytics purposes).


Telemetry is not like storing your shipping address, though. It's more like the delivery guy delivering to your shipping address, waiting for you to turn your back and then rummaging through the stuff in your house – unless you happen to shout the magic phrase "Simon says no telemetry!" as soon as you open the door.


Not really. It's more like the delivery guy noting how long on average you take to get to the door and the average size of packages with the intention of being able to optimize the delivery route and pick the correct delivery vehicle.


Since we're just talking telemetry, wouldn't it be more like the delivery guy turning up and taking note of all the contents in your house - including make and model numbers where available - their exact position in each room, which container(s) they're in, the size and position of the nearest windows, and also the make & model number of the alarm system you have.

All "to provide you the best delivery service possible".

Yeah, right. That's completely above board. Suuuuuuure.


That depends on your delivery service. There are some that do what you describe, analog.

However, not all telemetry is like that, some telemetry does not inspect the inside of your house at all.


> While this is a step in the right direction, MS still seem to be "all in" on telemetry.

In the latest release of VSCode getting to see the exact telemetry data sent got even easier and they even pointed it out in the release notes. (It is also easy to turn it off (see below). I haven't done it since the data I see are OK with me and I want to help the devs improve VSCode for me.)

> Until the telemetry and data sent by MS software can realistically be turned off completely, they shouldn't get any kind of positive treatment.

Another instance of this "all or nothing" attitude that we have here on HN (I guess it is legacy from Slashdot and Usenet).

Steps in the right direction should be praised. This holds true for pets, kids and grown ups and I think companies too.

You might not get a chance to reward the results you want if you cannot reward the steps to get there.

Edited to add the first quote and comment.

Edit 2: Turns out it is easy to turn off telemetry.


It's extremely easy to turn off VSCode telemetry, it's just a setting https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/supporting/faq#_how-to-di...


Ok, my mistake. My only excuse is I just heard the other day about how hard it was. Shouldn't have listened :-/


I agree that all-or-nothing isn't a good policy.

But I'd like Microsoft's reputation to be proportional to how objectionable it's behavior is.

For example, I don't want Microsoft's reputation to go from a C- to an A- because of this patent issue, when they continue to require telemetry in Windows.


> For example, I don't want Microsoft's reputation to go from a C- to an A- because of this patent issue, when they continue to require telemetry in Windows.

We can agree on that.

GP however wrote (emphasis mine):

> they shouldn't get any kind of positive treatment.


I dont quite understand your point. You dont have to be on Oracle Java -- you could be on OpenJDK which is supported by RedHat among others.


There's an Oracle lawsuit about the Java API, which is common among all implementations.


All the more reason to move to Rust/Golang/Python.


Right! I read that comment and was like “uhhhh what?” But not all engineering teams have the flexibility of moving to platforms that are not as battle-tested as Java/.NET.


Python is older than Java and now has optional type-checking. Golang is ten years old and runs at Google. Rust is on its way and a safe language by design. And there are other floss options.


Government


Their open source work in past few years is commendable and I'll give them kudos for it, even if it frequently gives off an air of feelgood lip service. .NET is cool, but otherwise it doesn't really feel like they're contributing anything particularly valuable or tangible. Not to discourage them from it, but I don't think the extent of praise being sung at them for their open source is a little more than warranted.

But in no way am I going to refrain from calling Microsoft a big bad evil company even today, after all these years. My comfort zone issues with Windows aside, their relentless vice grip on corporate and organizational IT with Office suite and especially 365, exchange email, Azure and especially Azure AD, traditional on-prem active directory and such is showing no signs of loosening.

Sure, they aren't Oracle but that's about the lowest bar you can clear in IT corporate ethics [insert cantrillian rant here]. I'd even be fine with letting go of the memories of 90s Microsoft's iron fist (easy for me, I'm too young to remember first hand) but MS of today is still too evil to deserve all the credit they're getting for being oh-so-wonderful nowadays. They absolutely can afford to be evil, just ask your sysadmin.


".NET is cool, but otherwise it doesn't really feel like they're contributing anything particularly valuable or tangible"

Not to be snark, but .Net is one of the most used development eco-systems [1]. Making the tech open-source and actively helping it run on other OS-es than Windows seems pretty valuable to me :). At least to me its very valuable.

[1] https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2017#technology


All the more reason to move from Oracle's Java to openJDK and also stay the fuck away from .NET.


> By joining the Open Invention Network, Microsoft is offering its entire patent portfolio -- with the legacy exception of its Windows and desktop application code -- to all of the open-source patent consortium's members.

Is this sentence a meaningless tautology (application code is not the same thing as patents) or are there some older patents that Microsoft isn't donating? For example the VFAT patents?


This sentence seems to have been inserted by the ZDNet editor. The GlobeNewsWire article (to which this post has been redirected), and the original OIN PR (https://www.openinventionnetwork.com/pressrelease_details/?i...), don't have anything like it.

It's not in the ZDNet article body either, just in the small lede under the header. The body instead says,

> You see, Microsoft, with the major legacy exception of its Windows desktop and desktop application code, is an open-source company.

It seems like an editing mistake or a badly worded statement.


That's some close reading! Good catch.


If a MSFT patent has any relevant to open-source programs, such as VFAT, they're now open to other OIN members.


What if someone writes some free software code to intentionally use one of their patents so it can be liberated?


That's not quite how patent licenses work.

Even if you got a license for a patent for yourself and wrote free software for it, if someone else gets it they might need a patent license too, regardless of your project being free software.

Your FOSS/FLOSS license might include a patent clause but that means you'd first need the right to issue licenses for the patent, in case you don't, the clause is void.


If the OIN patent agreemnent doesn't allow licensing patents to downstream users (Apache or GPLv3 style) then it would be completely useless wouldn't it? RedHat's users could still be sued even though RedHat is a member of the OIN.


AFAICT the OIN patent agreement does allow sublicensing, but you shouldn't assume that because a free implementation exists, the patent is now "liberated".


I think that's kind of the entire idea. Microsoft is expecting people to use the IP in the patents to write code for Linux now without fear of being sued.

When they donated the IP to OIN, for all intensive purposes the patents were liberated given OIN's wide coverage.


This is astonishing. Are there upcoming US/EU court cases on software patents or specific Microsoft patents?

Which other large companies could now sue vendors of devices (e.g. ereaders) which use Linux? Is Oracle in OIN?

Is OIN's Linux patent pool now large enough to deter other large companies?

Has Microsoft published a definitive list of their Linux-related patents which were previously subject to royalty payment? Is the FAT patent covered, https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalD...


Microsoft android revenue was already going down: https://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-android-patent-lic...

I am sure most of the FAT patents must be expired at this point since patents last 20 years and FAT32 came out 22 years ago. The Chinese manufacturers didn't have much of incentive to pay Microsoft.


(2013) https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-fat-patent-loss-enda...

> A patent loss in a German court may lead to trouble for Microsoft's Android strategy ... one of Microsoft main Android patent weapons has been rendered harmless for now in the EU. This may sound like a minor patent. It's not. Microsoft has been using this patent since 2003 to pressure Linux and Android companies that use the popular FAT file system for compatibility with other operating systems ... combined with the recent judgment that the US version of this patent, "Common name space for long and short filenames," Patent No. 5,758,352 "invalid for obviousness," may finally blunt this patent's usefulness for Microsoft.


We could cutpaste a snippet like this for almost every major tech company on the planet, what's your point?


At some point it was arguable whether Microsoft was making more money from Android than Google [1].

That it's even possible shows the entire corruptness of the broken patent system and Microsoft's active abuse of it.

They're not just "one of the kids who benefit for misbehavior" they're the poster child.

[1] https://www.quora.com/How-does-Microsoft-make-more-money-fro...


Exactly.

I think people are too eager to claim Microsoft as one of the "good" guys. Microsoft has been around since the 70's and has not been "good" through almost that entire period. So, Microsoft releases a (nice) text editor, releases a Linux subsystem, partially open sources .NET, releases an open source JavaScript framework, has an active GitHub account (filled mostly with nonsense by the way), and we're supposed to forget the 40 years prior? ExxonMobil has been investing heavily in renewable energy lately; would you tell an environmentalist that they're wrong to dislike Exxon now?

Microsoft changed because they had to. That must be the context in which they are evaluated in. Joining a couple organizations, and open sourcing a couple projects doesn't negate the fact that they were forced into this position because they were losing mindshare, developer prestige, and can no longer force everyone into their playground.


I'm sorry but you inadvertantly made me laugh out loud. I read:

> So, Microsoft releases a (nice) text editor, releases a Linux subsystem, partially open sources .NET, releases an open source JavaScript framework, has an active GitHub account (filled mostly with nonsense by the way), and we're supposed to forget the 40 years prior?

And what I heard was, "What have the Romans ever done for us?"

> Microsoft changed because they had to

That's most humans, and just about every corporation ever. The alternative is to die. In the case of Microsoft what it indicates is that the environment has changed sufficiently such that companies that don't start "playing nice with OS" lose out. That's a good thing right?

I also believe that the "cult of personality" era of IT companies is dying - for good or ill. In Microsoft's case, that fact that Gates and Ballmer are gone has ended up net-improving the company. In Oracle's case, the fact that Ellison is still around is like a huge millstone around their corporate neck.

Finally - people can be "good guys" or "evildoers", not companies. Companies are machines akin to ouija boards. Lot's of humans have a hand, yet somehow they act as if they have a mind of their own. BTW, that's why directors of companies should be criminally liable for the actions of their companies IMHO. You wanna direct? Start directing!


Right? As I was getting ear the end of that paragraph I was expecting some sort of punchline


Exactly to the point, Microsoft did it because it has absolutely no other choice, it was forced to embrace OSS these days. After so many years there is no way I can trust Microsoft in any way. And yes I use Linux as my Desktop since 10+ years ago, and did my best to have nothing to do with Microsoft's ecosystem(.Net, C#, Azure, whatever).

The only exception is vscode, in which case I also have geany, vim and pycharm etc in parallel for daily coding, just in case.


> it was forced to embrace OSS these days

And they're still not really doing it.

Skype for Business on Linux? Not happening. Good luck trying to install Linux on Surface Books/Laptops and the like without lots of screwing around as well -- and it probably still won't properly work.


When it comes to collaboration tools used in business, especially the enterprise space, that is open source and used widely?

I personally think Skype* is amongst the worst tools in the particular space. (Which is my personal opinion). I find that for messaging, Telegram and Slack work incredibly well. For conferencing, Zoom has a much better experience.

Teams is a confused product where messaging similar to slack is a goal, but it is confused with poor search and a UX based more around posts than conversations.


> When it comes to collaboration tools used in business, especially the enterprise space, that is open source and used widely?

I'm having trouble parsing that, but am worried you may be suggesting parent's point - that Microsoft isn't releasing tools to run on GNU/Linux operating systems - is because not many enterprises run those OS's on the desktop?


Typo in there, the question is - name one widely used collaboration tool that is open sourced specifically in enterprise customers? I’d follow that up with, of the major enterprise collaboration tools, which have support for Linux natively? Teams and others work within Browesers.


Okay, so parent's point was that Microsoft isn't releasing binaries / non free versions of their products for GNU/Linux platforms.

Not that there's fewer free software options.


How does MS Teams work on Linux... I'm using osx and windows with UIs and Linux mostly without a UI, so not sure.

Also, the web version of Skype is relatively good now... not really excusing what MS has done, however may be better options.


Skype for Business is different than the normal Skype.


I'm well aware of that... I also know that the MS Teams client uses the same connection channels (you can answer calls on either skype for business or in teams, for example)... I was suggesting that MS Teams (electron app) might be a useful alternative.


Teams is still not up to snuff with the capabilities of Skype for Business. As of today I cannot handle incoming instant messages originating from another Office 365 Skype user in Teams, and presence information has only been syncing between the two since the Ignite event last month. It feels like the implementation must be similar to what was done with the newer Mac Skype for Business client, because there are many of the same limitations and bugs.

The story has been for about 18 months that Teams is going to eat all the things, but the execution is slow coming.


To be fair that is not unique to surface books depending on which distro you are referring to


FWIW I hadn't intended to suggest Microsoft was somehow 'good', just not 'particularly bad' compared to any other company. The readers of this thread are polarized into two camps, neither of which match reality, and Microsoft discussions always end up like this. People have no problem with nuance and "on balance" regarding other huge companies (perhaps except Oracle), but when it comes to Redmond, the same tired old noise is regurgitated every single time.


In addition, Apple, Amazon, and even Google aren't completely open source friendly. In the case of Google, pretty much all their webservices are closed source, and they make more and more components of Android become part of the closed source Google Play Framework. I realize Google is the best major corp for open source. But somewhat cynically, I view the ultimate purpose of their open tools to be for running proprietary code.


> I realize Google is the best major corp for open source.

It's not. I'd say Red Hat is the friendliest open source company. They truly embrace the open source ethos.


Microsoft and Oracle are both deservedly hated for the same reasons.


They recently open sourced a component of Minecraft which was less than 1% of the total source code.

Wintel was successful because it was affordable. The alternatives (e.g. our lovely UNIX) were very expensive, fractured, and lacked a good GUI (the fact IRIX was known for its user-friendly GUI says a lot).

That Wintel dominance is coming to an end for a myriad of reasons (the desktop is far less relevant these days because its 'finished' and the innovation lies in other fields such as mobile). Microsoft had market adoption in mobile with Windows Mobile; but it lost that marketshare and its successors (Windows Phone or whatever) didn't catch on. So Microsoft ends up using Android as their target development platform, they end up cloud (Office 365, Azure) and made Xbox cross-platform. Now Microsoft needs goodwill due to what I mentioned above; they hired a bunch of Linux developers, open sourced a bunch of stuff.

It is OK to applaud the actions of your (former) opponent when you agree with these actions as long as you also still hold them accountable for the actions you don't agree with.


> has an active GitHub account (filled mostly with nonsense by the way)

Can you elaborate on this - specially your 'nonsense' claim?


I'd say this refers to stuff that's just thrown over the wall, without much explaining of how to build it, why would you use it etc.


Yeah but thats how most of the projects look inside of microsoft as well.


lmao


So which company is one of the "good guys"?


RedHat :-)


Right, well, apart from "a (nice) text editor, releases a Linux subsystem, partially open sources .NET, releases an open source JavaScript framework, has an active GitHub account (filled mostly with nonsense by the way)" -- what have the Romans done for us?!


MICROSOFTES EVNT DOMVS


I guess Microsoft is are showing the right signs of being one of the "good" guys. If the signs get stronger, bigger and more of it for the next 15 to 20 years, they can officially be a good guy.

Can we look into the history and observed companies with similar behavioral trend? For example, many German companies worked with Nazi party, helping them and facilitating the war. This is evil. Today, those companies are now considered as not evil any longer (exception might be VW and their dieselgate saga). Perhaps Microsoft could follow a similar trend.


Either the patent system is broken, or Microsoft is abusing it. Both cannot be true.

To put that another way: the old arcade-game Street Fighter 2, much beloved for tournament play, has certain glitches that everyone takes advantage of in said tournaments. Exploiting those glitches is just what high-level play of the game looks like. The players aren’t “abusing” the game—the rules of a system are defined by what the system allows you to do.

When someone complains that it’s ridiculous that everyone needs to learn how to exploit the game to play in tournaments, you know what they’re told? “You could theoretically fix the game. In fact, the company that made the game fixed the game, and re-released the fixed version. Nobody plays it. People like this version. If you don’t like it, go play the other one—but don’t come over to us enjoying ourselves over here and try to get us to stop playing the game optimally, just because it makes you unhappy.”

Of course, unlike a game, the ethics of a legal system often favor forcing people to play a game they don’t like, if the game they do like harms people. But I think the professional gamer’s refrain holds: don’t blame them for playing a broken game optimally. Just fix the damn game if you want them to play it differently.


Doesn't them joining OIN change that?


I usually use these kind of links instead:

https://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-earns-2-billion-pe...

https://www.wired.com/2014/01/huawei/

Microsoft stay's draining billions out of the Android market in particular with patent trolling for products they didn't support one bit. Their own products were big losers. Thanks to corrupt patent law, they can still suck money out of the winners. I don't trust anything Microsoft says about open-source and patents. If there's money to be made, they might weasel into something good for them and bad for others.


This, as opposed to all the holy virgins elsewhere in the tech industry that did not, say, stifle 2 decades worth of search engine innovation with their patents, patent novel compression techniques belonging to others, completely wipe out a rich and varied mobile telephone industry by coupling a bunch of open source code alongside JAVA to access to the only search engine worth its salt and easy access to third party applications, ...

I'm just picking on Google here, but you could make a list like this for any large tech company, which is my point. But somehow this always comes up in the context of Microsoft, as if somehow they are are particularly more evil than just about anyone else.


> stifle 2 decades worth of search engine innovation with their patents

Did that company use those patents offensively?

> patent novel compression techniques belonging to others

Same question. Also https://xiphmont.dreamwidth.org/84214.html

> completely wipe out a rich and varied mobile telephone industry

Huh?

Your examples aren't very good. The biggest evil thing Google has done is join Jobs's no-poach agreement. It remains to be seen whether their China project will surpass that. On patents in particular, Google has thus far been very reasonable.


Depends on whether there have been subsequent court rulings on the FAT patent. If the value of the FAT patent was reduced by court rulings, it may have factored into the donation of the patent to OIN. If the patent was upheld in recent court rulings and revenue from the patent has been increasing, that would put the OIN patent donation in a different light.


Maybe that Microsoft was a patent aggressor prior to joining this agreement.


Two wrongs don't make a right?


So a patent license is granted when

a) you are a member of OIN

b) the infringing software is core to the Linux system

Is that correct? What about other OSS projects that are unrelated to Linux?


I think it only highlighted Linux specifically because of the prior tug-of-war there, it mentions right afterward " and other important OSS technologies".


https://www.openinventionnetwork.com/joining-oin/

This specifically talks about "the Linux System".


Got it, didn't realize OIN was so specific to Linux.


I’d just like to interject for a moment. What you’re refering to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/LInux, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux.


No where in the literature does it mention GNU outside of the GPL.

https://www.openinventionnetwork.com/joining-oin/linux-syste...


It's a Stallman copypasta, but in this case I think it's justified. The definition of "Linux System" appears to refer to a Linux distribution which would include GNU and countless other projects than just the kernel. Seems like really strange wording since it'll likely just cause confusion and lawsuits down the track.


Want to take this opportunity to describe my positive experience with the Open Invention Network (OIN):

I called the OIN many years ago to talk about what they do and how it works. I ended up speaking with Tom Tyson for a good 15-30 minutes and he was very helpful in answering my questions.

My questions were around open sourcing inventions so that other companies could not claim IP on them and prevent others from using them. I am fine with companies taking the idea and making money from them, just not okay with them taking the idea, claiming it is theirs, and creating a proprietary product.

So, I spoke with Tom and the gist of it that I remember is that OIN will work to create a "defensive patent" for your invention. Now, the idea doesn't actually have to be software, they may be software based but are open to all inventions (this may have changed since then). So if we have ideas (we all do right!) that we know we won't have time to implement/execute but just want the product made so we and society can use it, while having multiple companies offering it to compete and improve the idea, then OIN passes the smell test!

Feel free to give Tom a call if you are curious, he was very patient with my questions.


This seems like an extension of what large tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have been doing among themselves all along. Over the last two decades they amassed huge patent portfolios and then mutually agreed to only use them defensively.

The difference here is that anyone who joins OIN can play along too.

I feel like this a natural evolution of their policies over the last decade.

https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2018/04/04/a-new-ip-strateg...


It's hard to let past Ballmer / Gates era sins go, and I'll probably take a lot of heat here, but moves like this continue to reinforce the Nadella era is truly serious about advancing OSS both within Microsoft and within the broader community.


I really think the Open Source Community has been to focused on Microsoft for way to long. Even during the Ballmer ERA we had very Open Source Friendly People at Microsoft.

I think our focus needs to be on what is happening in the other areas.

1) Apple's Counterfeit Lawsuit for refurbished screens and Apple's Diagnostic Software requirement for basic repairs. If that mindset gets turned towards software we all will be in big trouble.

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/evk4wk/dhs-seizes...

2) John Deer and the very idea of ownership being taken away.

https://www.wired.com/2015/04/dmca-ownership-john-deere/

I think Linux has won the OS War, minus desktop. Now it is moving to the hardware that is running it.


In what way is what Apple did to Henrik Huseby worse than than what Microsoft did to Eric Lundgren?

I mean, Apple sued a business and wanted property confiscated. But Microsoft actually had someone sent to prison.

Louis Rossmann who became famous with his Apple repair videos, and is otherwise very critical of Apple repair policies, had some choice words for Microsoft in this case.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaoJErxYLtM


Can't watch videos at the moment but found this article about this case:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2018/04/24...


Eric Lundgren should have had people install Linux on the computers or some other Open OS. The issue was Microsoft made $25 a disc for selling to refurbisher shops.

100% agree its stupid but once Eric was caught he was in the hands of federal prosecutors and MS Lawyers that needed to "defend" the value of their property. This is why we encourage people to stray away from closed OS.


I get irritated every time Louis and others bang on about those damn "refurbished" iPhone screen assemblies. Refurbished is a term that is frequently used to describe a used product that has been returned to near-new condition by replacing worn or faulty components with genuine parts or parts of equal specification.

These screen assemblies are NOT refurbished, they are not of equal or comparable specification. The replacement glass used on these refurbished assemblies is cheap fragile junk, not Gorilla glass or a comparable substitute. It's a greatly inferior product, so describing these assemblies as refurbished is at minimum misleading; personally I'd call it a scam.

If someone sold you an entire iPhone as "refurbished" where it's mostly genuine but an essential component was replaced with a third-rate fake—let's say the motherboard is a cheap Android equivalent running Android with an iPhone theme—everyone would agree that was a scam. The only difference between a fake motherboard and fake glass is most consumers will be unaware they've been scammed... until it breaks. (And even then, most consumers will just consider it bad luck and blame themselves.)

I know multiple people who have had their cracked iPhones independently repaired only to have the screen break again after a matter of days or weeks, under the most innocuous of circumstances. We are being scammed, and Louis Rossman defends the scammers.


Your misusing terms. You are using the term refurbished but you really mean remanufactured.

Remanufacturing is the rebuilding of a product to specifications of the original manufactured product using a combination of reused, repaired and new parts. It requires the repair or replacement of worn out or obsolete components and modules.

Remanufacturing is a form of a product recovery process that differs from other recovery processes in its completeness: a remanufactured part should match the same customer expectation as new machines.


You might be right from an industry wonk's perspective, but what matters is consumer expectation.

For example: Apple themselves uses the term refurbished to describe an iPhone that—but for the packaging—appears identical to a brand new item as far as any regular consumer could tell.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refurbishment_(electronics)


Actually if Wikipedia is anything to go by, the term remanufacturing doesn't apply here.

The term "remanufacture", however, is a distinct term used for products that are returned to the identical-to-new condition in industrial closed-loop processes, and which often possess the same warranties and guarantees as a new product.

I am definitely not talking about remanufacturing.


Well what term are you using for a repair? If your using parts that are not under warranties nor is it the same as it was when it was manufactured?

When I buy parts off of ebay I don't expect them to be the same, no matter what the label is on the part. Just like buying "OEM" batteries on Amazon. You better know you have close to zero chance of having the same battery as you bought before.


I'm not the one defending the use of the term refurbished. The fake-glass chop shops are the ones who are using it, and I think they should stop doing so.


Linux has won the server and HPC room war, there are many other kinds of deployments.

On mobile there is iOS and regarding ChromeOS and Android it is only an implementation detail, lets see where it goes if Google is serious about Fuchsia.

On game consoles we have a modified BSD on PS, Windows variant on XBox and Nintendo's own microkernel.

Then on IoT space BSD licensed OSes like mbed, Zephyr and RTOS are on the rise.

And then there is the whole mainframe and high integrity computing domains.


Android it is only an implementation detail, lets see where it goes if Google is serious about Fuchsia.

I think you got it backwards. Android was a serious thing. Fuchsia is an implementation detail.


Not really, you missed the point that the Linux kernel is actually irrelevant for app developers on Android, to the point that ART might in the future run on top of Fuchsia and no one would notice.

There are no Linux kernel specific APIs in the list of stable NDK APIs.

https://developer.android.com/ndk/guides/stable_apis

As of Android 7 using non-stable APIs will kill the APK on launch.

https://developer.android.com/about/versions/nougat/android-...

https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2016/06/improving-...

https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2016/06/android-ch...

Only OEMs get to deal directly with Linux kernel.

You might naturally create an NDK application and do a bunch of syscalls, just it doesn't mean that the APK is guaranteed to work across all Android devices.


Of course Linux is an implementation detail. When did I claim otherwise? That actually proves my point: Fuschia is another implementation detail as well.


Linux = a kernel and if it uses the Linux kernel well that is what defines something as Linux.


Sure if it makes you happy, even if the userspace is completely different.


Not happy, but how would you define Linux?


It isn't about Ballmer vs. Nadella. It is about the scale and importance of Azure and Linux/OSS usage there that made the MS hugely vulnerable to the same style patent attack that MS has been doing all these years against Android and the likes. Joining OIN they almost completely mitigate that risk. MS does that it has been always doing - milking and protecting its cash cow as much as possible.


Can this move (WRT patents) be revoked if MS decides that it is not in their best interest to share freely?

At present it looks like they really have changed. Could they change again?


You won't take heat from me. I think this is a very rational response to all the steps they've been taking.


The WSL stuff has me seriously considering a Windows laptop next, which I would have told you was pants-on-head crazy a couple years ago.


The fact that Windows 10 updates bundle shit like candy crush[1] and use my computer as an advertising platform means my current and future laptops run GNU/Linux.

[1]: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2015/05/humanity-weeps-as-can...


Removed at build 1803 good sir.


See, that's funny. Because when I woke my windows gaming machine from its long slumber, it updated and dumped "Bubble Witch 3 Saga", "Candy Crush Soda Saga", "Disney Magic Kingdoms" and "March of Empires: War of Lords" into my start menu.


The positive experience of Microsoft with OSS hasn't yet translated in a positive experience with Windows.

Windows is still a closed platform, with several issues, like wasting disk space, degrading performance over months, frequent reboots interrupting work in progress and forcing software to be reopened, losing state, too much information on the screen, UI inconsistencies e.g. control panel and 3 different consoles (PowerShell, MSDOS, Bash), forced UI patterns, etc.


Can confirm that despite my best efforts I just can't abide using Windows long-term. I have lots of games that are Windows-only, and after accidentally hosing my dual-boot Linux partition I've been honestly trying to use Windows alone for over a year, and the experience is increasingly frustrating, so pardon the following rant:

The Windows Antimalware service consistently pegs my CPU at 35%, and the service cannot be stopped. Trying to kill it in task manager gives you "permission denied", even if you run task manager as admin. There's an entry for it in the service manager interface, but any settings that would effectively disable it are apparently ignored; there is no evident effect. Registry hacking has been fruitless. The only thing that almost works is to go into the Windows Defender interface and flip the "realtime protection" switch, at which point the service will eventually stop itself up to half an hour later, and then undo the switch and turn itself back on again the next day; I can tell when this has happened because I can hear my fans spinning up from across the room. There's really no better way for Microsoft to drive home how little control I have over my own computer.

And this isn't the only thing. The Windows store is AFAICT pointless; even trying to install Microsoft software like Skype installs some weird limited version that tells you to manually install actual Skype if you want all the program's features. The fact that it keeps reinstalling Candy Crush shovelware lumps Microsoft in with scummy OEMs. You can't disable Cortana without also disabling the OS's search features. Disabling the ads in the start menu, lock screen, notifications pane, search interface, and god knows where else all require digging through different menus to flip different preferences. It endlessly pesters you to use Edge over any other browser and has the gall to reset your browser preference to Edge randomly after updates.

So I can applaud Microsoft for their OSS work, but Windows really is just thoroughly aggravating. Desktop Linux is also thoroughly aggravating, but at least when it is, I know it's usually my fault, and I know it can be fixed.


Ouch, thank you for writing that all out. I've been using MacOS for decades now and really just want to change it up. Still don't think the Linux desktop is quite there, but maybe I'll just buy a used Thinkpad and give it a real shot as my full-time work machine.


I regularly turn the realtime protection off, it cuts off instantly. I suspect you've got something else going on if yours doesn't work correctly.


I dropped Linux for Windows with WSL a while ago and I've had no regrets. Just about everything that I use day-to-day works great, and even things that require a graphical display work fine with Xming [1]. For the rare occasions that WSL isn't compatible with something I can just boot up a VM, but I haven't needed to do so in a long time.

Also, with Windows 10 Pro you get access to group policy which gives decent control over updates. I haven't had an unwanted restart since I sorted out my settings, and extra features I don't want are not on my computer (like Candy Crush...). You also generally don't have to worry about incompatibility of your tools with Windows which is a great pleasure - unlike Linux where I often had to deal with Wine, weird UI bugs, and screen display issues. And chocolatey [2] exists, which handles updates very smoothly.

The main thing I miss from Linux is hotkey configurations. I used i3 with polybar and rofi and as a result rarely needed to touch my mouse. You can't do quite the same with Windows, but I've thrown together some code that emulates most of what I want (media hotkeys and rofi window switching) so it hasn't been a big pain point.

I don't know if it's some setting I did a while ago, but I use the full-screen start menu (with no tiles - I just use it to search with a pretty background) and I have never seen an ad.

[1] https://sourceforge.net/projects/xming/

[2] https://chocolatey.org/


They're releasing their own linux distro (however half-baked it is). They need to join the OIN so the other Linux Patent holders don't sue them for infringement.


Do not trust a for profit company, ever to provide free or open anything. They are there to make money off of the work they do or that others do as contributions to their open source products.


There are also some long term employees like Scott Guthrie who have nudged the corporation in a better direction for many years.


I will never forget and I will never forgive.


I'm wondering if the portfolio include most filesystems Microsoft made (NTFS, VFAT, ExFAT, etc).


Here is a link to the source post from MS - https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/microsoft-joins-open-...


I'm still a little skeptical since this applies to "Microsoft" and not any of its holding or investment companies. A great move to earn trust is to "Open Source" almost expired or useless patents.


Remember now Linux is part of Windows via Windows Subsystem for Linux (Ubuntu). This is very important for me as developer and I am using it every day.

By joining ONI MS is strengthening parts of its offerings (Linux), and maybe is using (or will be using) existing ONI Linux patents to defend that part.


Why not just use Linux directly? It's much better than using a paid OS with ads and spyware.


It's simple, the last attempts at getting Windows into the new computing spaces failed. Windows RT & Windows Phone (Windows on ARM) have all failed.

Microsoft is being left behind, and their only hope is to pick up the "open-ish" platform and run with it. SQL Server has always been portable, and it running on Linux is no surprise. Expect more and more of this, culinating with a Microsoft branded Android devices.

By this time Google will have abandonded Linux & Android to have moved onwards to Fushia.


I'm uncertain about OIN's membership and its benefits to the larger public. Is it just an exclusive club that benefits its members, or a means to provide everyone with IP safety regarding Linux and maybe other FOSS? One sentence in the press release suggests that only members benefit:

> The OIN patent license and member cross-licenses are available royalty-free to any party that joins the OIN community.

Still, their About page says membership is free:[0]

> Any company, project or developer that is working on Linux, GNU, Android or any other Linux-related software is welcome to join OIN, free of charge or royalties.

On the other hand, there are only ~2,600 members [1] - that sounds like a big number, but I would expect almost everyone to join. Are you protected if you are not a member? Why haven't more joined? I suspect that the answer may have something to do with the IP needs of software developers compared to those of users, and the latter don't need membership for some reason; but even then, 2,600 seems like a small portion of FOSS developers.

[0] https://www.openinventionnetwork.com/about-us/

[1] https://www.openinventionnetwork.com/community-of-licensees/


> Why haven't more joined?

My guess:

1. Most devs don't know about it.

2. Most devs don't need it, if they contribute to projects that are themselves members.


Not OP, but I think it is important to see a company as a whole.

Untill Microsoft has truly changed its entire company and the culture ruling it, to be supportive of Open Source, it is safe to say "There are just some parts supporting OSS". Just like one can safely say "but there are just some parts of the company opposing FLOSS".

In order to truly help OSS, joining some initiative, group or foundation is the easy thing to do. Opening the patent portfolio, is the difficult thing to do. The latter helps FLOSS a lot more.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18185547.


Why did you choose to draw the line there?


The 90s called, they want their tired old meme back. If you want to know if Microsoft has truly changed, please take your fingers out of your ears for just 10 minutes and review some of what's been happening in the past half decade:

- They're now, or soon will be, the largest supporter of free infrastructure for open source projects on the planet (GitHub)

- They've open sourced a massive chunk of their (IMHO) best-in-class language runtimes and language implementations (C#, F#, VB.net) and design and develop new features in the open

- They've contributed more than 1700 changes to the Linux kernel that can easily be identified with a quick 'git log --grep'

- They're the first company to make a real attempt at an industrial strength alternative implementation of the Linux kernel. Linux was supposed to be about choice, remember?

- They've open sourced the core chunks of the evaluation engine used in Bing (BitFunnel)

- They're a platinum member of the Linux Foundation. In other words, they pay Torvalds salary

- They support Linux as a first class OS on Azure and make it cheaper than Windows

- They have one of the largest and most active GitHub organizations

- They've joined OIN and, ignoring the actual patents involved, have thus in the process made an implicit promise never to attack any core part of the Linux infrastructure in the future

What more do you want?


Big-fat "So what?" to all of that.

Their primary product is still proprietary, and if that's not bad enough, it's essentially completely spyware at this point.

I don't want to use their crap open source products so I can integrate with their crap proprietary SaaS ecosystem.

Just because they're finally deciding to release some token software with some level of open source, and buying political influence via the linux foundation, doesn't make them a friend of free software. There is more to free software than just the license: their strategy of vendor-lockin via Terms of Service instead of EULA, they are merely seeking to 'vendorize' free software projects to integrate with their paid products.


Their primary product is still proprietary, and if that's not bad enough, it's essentially completely spyware at this point.

You could say the same about Google......


I don't disagree. I have started using Firefox as my primary browser again.


And you don't have any social media accounts, don't use Google/Bing or any other Google/Microsoft service, no social media (Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, etc), right?


So you have to be 100% clean of all google/microsoft tools/services in order to criticize them? Give me a break.


Their motivations don't make their work bad. OP is pointing out that MS is much less an enemy of OSS than they used to be, not that you should use their software and services.

I hate MS, but please, don't make the case that no progress is better than some progress. They aren't perfect, and of course they are motivated to make money, but none of that means their work isn't good for OSS.


> but none of that means their work isn't good for OSS.

I disagree. They are losing developer mind share, that's the only reason they have any open source initiatives. None of what MS does is good for open source IMO, and they can keep their money.

There seems to be quite the concerted effort to make MS 'cool and hip' here and elsewhere. I'm not buying it, I'm not using their software, and it's still perfectly valid to dislike MS for aforementioned reasons. I view their work on free software as only a mechanism to co-opt.


I view VS Code as an excellent editor and Unix Subsystem for Windows making Windows a first-class citizen (almost) for dev work. But hey, opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.


Right, you've reminded me of the time they tried to take over Java on Windows by embracing it.


Microsoft tries to claim they love and support open source for the greater good, but what they really love is money. If they offer you a job, try running Linux as the primary OS on your work computer and see what they say (even if you want to run Windows using KVM). It's a broken toxic culture there. If you have good intentions, you'll likely be fired.


I've known multiple Microsoft developers who use a MBP at work, and who aren't fired. And now that MS has bought companies like Xamarin, need to support Linux and Mac.


They wouldn't allow it 2 years ago. Yeah, you can run Linux in a VM but not as your main desktop connecting to their corporate network.


I assume GP meant "MBP" means "MacBook Pro" so, not Linux either.


> Their primary product is still proprietary, and if that's not bad enough, it's essentially completely spyware at this point.

Interested Observer here. What is Microsoft's primary product you are referring to? Windows or Office. From a quick Google search, it seems like Office (based on revenue).


That may be true, but perception may be otherwise.


Microsoft also:

- Forcibly upgraded as many Windows 7 and 8 machines to Windows 10 as possible without really asking permission, so that some manager could make their adoption metrics look better. - Implemented extremely-invasive data collection in Windows 10. - Migrated to a "Windows is a service! Better hope you like not being able to decline updates!" model with Windows 10, where the user no longer has control of their own machine.

I'm a huge fan of C# and Visual Studio, and I think MS SQL Server is arguably the best overall[1] relational database software, but I certainly don't trust them to have any motivations other than "whatever makes us the most money as possible".

[1] I like Postgres a lot and use it myself most frequently for personal projects, but if one has at least a small budget, SQL Server (IMO) has by far the best administration tools of any database and is very reliable.


> Forcibly upgraded as many Windows 7 and 8 machines to Windows 10.

This was a terrible decision, I agree.

> to have any motivations other than "whatever makes us the most money as possible".

Well they are a corporation. That's the end goal of any corporation.

> Implemented extremely-invasive data collection in Windows 10

This I don't agree with though. Yes, they collected data, and that is wrong. I was pissed off too. However, it was not as invasive as made it out to be. They did not track the websites we browse. They did not track who we communicate with like Google, Facebook and other such companies do. I would trust Microsoft with my data and privacy over Google and Facebook. And yet most of us use Google services without a second thought.

Another thing I dislike about Windows is the bloatware and ads in Start.

However, this does not negate their recent contributions. Is the end goal for these contributions to make more money? Absolutely. But that does not mean we should not welcome the good stuff from Microsoft just because its Microsoft.


Once the data starts flowing, it is trivial for the "terrible decision" making manager above (endemic to such corporations) to decide to gather just "a little more."


>Forcibly upgraded as many Windows 7 and 8 machines to Windows 10

Does this have any bearing on Microsoft's support for Open Source?


It motivated some people to switch to Linux. Those people may be sceptical when Microsoft offers to help them with Linux.


This is a perfect illustration of the difference between Open Source and Free Software and why Microsoft are happy to be seen as a champion of the former.


It does say a lot about their respect for their users.


> - They're now, or soon will be, the largest supporter of free infrastructure for open source projects on the planet (GitHub)

They bought GitHub, a profitable proprietary product, that also hosts open source code as a marketing project.

By that logic you could say that MS supports open source because some other people develop OSS on Windows. (And MS has tried to do this!)

> - They've open sourced a massive chunk of their (IMHO) best-in-class language runtimes and language implementations (C#, F#, VB.net) and design and develop new features in the open

Is .NET Framework (the real thing, not the vapourware rewrite) open? Didn't think so.

> - They've contributed more than 1700 changes to the Linux kernel that can easily be identified with a quick 'git log --grep'

And how many of those are just about Hyper-V/Azure? When is Windows going to support Ext4 and KVM VirtIO?

> - They're the first company to make a real attempt at an industrial strength alternative implementation of the Linux kernel. Linux was supposed to be about choice, remember?

So that they can execute another round of EEE. No thanks.

Then again, I guess we're fairly safe from that this time, since they haven't even managed to get SQLite to run properly.

> - They've open sourced the core chunks of the evaluation engine used in Bing (BitFunnel)

From the top of their README: "It doesn't work (yet)."

> - They're a platinum member of the Linux Foundation. In other words, they pay Torvalds salary

So when are they going to start acting like it?

> - They support Linux as a first class OS on Azure and make it cheaper than Windows

Just like all the other cloud providers? Meh.

> - They have one of the largest and most active GitHub organizations

How many of those projects are useful outside of Azure/Windows?

> - They've joined OIN and, ignoring the actual patents involved, have thus in the process made an implicit promise never to attack any core part of the Linux infrastructure in the future

Too little, too late.


>How many of those projects are useful outside of Azure/Windows?

VSCode alone is one of it not the most active projects on github (depending on the metric), and is a general purpose code editor equally stable on Windows/Linux/Mac. Yes, they have plugins you can install for Azure/VSTS/etc, but you can also install plugins for BitBucket, GitHub, AWS, GCE, or ~whatever you want. It's pretty generically useful. I think.

I read this list as, 'Yea, they're helping OSS.. but they make a profit also!' OSS does not mean you can't make a profit.


I read it as they are acting like they support OSS because lots of people like OSS. And its kind of sad IMO that their biggest open source product is a text editor (a good one, but still a text editor). Let me know when they make word and excel open source and then we might be able to have a conversation about them supporting open source. Right now they are supporting the tools people want to use on their hosting platform because most people dont want windows in the cloud (except to handle current enterprise systems that are slowly being migrated to other platforms).


GitHub is not profitable.

.net core is not vaporware. It's out and just shipped 2.1. The non-core one is not open source as it is very tied to Windows and they want the future effort to be the cross platform .net core.


Well, for one, they could stop threatening patent infringement over the length of file names.


- Open source GitHub like GitLab has

  - GitLab SaaS actually provides CI as well and doesn't limit Pages to just Jekyll
- Open source their web browser like Chromium & Firefox

- Provide virtio support for KVM/Linux, especially for graphics acceleration

- Open source DirectX 12 like Vulkan

- The list goes on and on


> Open source GitHub like GitLab has

They can't do that yet, since the acquisition is still in progress.


Let me know when they provider a descent Docker container for GitHub like they do for GitLab:

https://hub.docker.com/r/gitlab/gitlab-ce/

Or a Helm chart:

https://docs.gitlab.com/ce/install/kubernetes/gitlab_chart.h...


> What more do you want?

Not extorting 10$ (average) for each Android device sold.

Considering a few billions Android devices sold, that amounts to an astronomical amount of money that could fund all the points above.

(even if the above calculations are wrong, the amount is surely still astronomical)


Isn't that what they just did by joining the OIN?

> Keith Bergelt, OIN's CEO, commented on Microsoft's announcement in an interview: "This is everything Microsoft has, and it covers everything related to older open-source technologies such as Android, the Linux kernel, and OpenStack; newer technologies such as LF Energy and HyperLedger, and their predecessor and successor versions."

Quote from https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-open-sources-its-ent...


It's a good start, that I agree with.

But the telemetry (that you can't trust is actually off) it a complete non-starter. Snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

I recently installed an eval of Win10 in a VM. While nice in some respects, it soon became clear that you will work the way Microsoft wants. Telemetry, ads, Edge, activation, white backgrounds even in dark mode, all forced down your throat, etc. Windows 2000 was better in most respects.

Wait, I did think of something. Public support of ReactOS would be a big feather in their cap.


> Linux was supposed to be about choice, remember?

Free software was never supposed to be about choice, not sure where that idea came from. It's about freedom.


> - They've contributed more than 1700 changes to the Linux kernel that can easily be identified with a quick 'git log --grep'

They're forced to. People want to use Linux. If a cloud provider decides they don't want to support Linux, it's business suicide. Microsoft's contributions to the Linux kernel, when I last checked, were almost exclusively related to Hyper-V. They're just doing what's good for them. If Linux was proprietary and enjoyed similar popularity, they would pay the owner to include these features.


> What more do you want?

Many people (not parent in particular, just in general) need something to be angry about, so they feel like they are taking a stand of some sort. Microsoft is a soft target, and this creates a bandwagon.


Some of us have worked with their software for many years and don't trust anything they say / do because they can change their minds tomorrow. I sometimes think of MS as a abusing partner that keep beating us up when they feel for it, but then buy us some flowers and chocolate to make up for it.

Edit: spelling


I like this analogy a lot.

An important addition is that they not only buy flowers and chocolate to make up for it, but that they let all your friends know about this. In such a way that when you tell your friends "well, he's really nice now, but last month, when he missed the deadline, it wasn't that good to be home" and they simply don't believe you.


You work for them, and dismiss all the valid arguments as people needing something to be angry about, in spite of their multidecade fuckery. What a slimy shitheel you are.


> The 90s called, they want their tired old meme back.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/06/02/ballmer_linux_is_a_... (2001)

https://youtu.be/86j8zOsmNFE?t=62 (2003)

> - They're now, or soon will be, the largest supporter of free infrastructure for open source projects on the planet (GitHub)

That's actually a bad thing. Open source needs resiliency and decentralization.

> - They've contributed more than 1700 changes to the Linux kernel that can easily be identified with a quick 'git log --grep'

A lot of that is so it can run better on Azure.

> - They're a platinum member of the Linux Foundation. In other words, they pay Torvalds salary

Torvalds' work provides them with more revenue than whatever they are paying the Linux foundation.

Not only revenue on Azure, but they also collect billions of dollars from phone manufacturers using Linux.

> What more do you want?

We want people on Microsoft's payroll to stop making noise on Hacker News.

We don't trust you. Cheap gifts won't make up for decades of bullshit. Bullshit that comes back each time someone suggests me to use MS Office, the ultimate embodiment of software monopolism.


> We want people on Microsoft's payroll to stop making noise on Hacker News.

In other words, you're saying it doesn't matter what they do, you've already made up your mind. And just to be sure, you don't want to hear anything that would contradict your opinion. Did I get that right?


> you don't want to hear anything that would contradict your opinion

Yes, because they don't garner any trust as an organization. They are merely courting today's developers which have voted wholesale to adopt other platforms instead of MS.

If MS releases their operating system under the GPL, I'll change my tune. Until then, it's all marketing and PR hype.


That is right. It does not matter what they do because they made their wealth in quasilegal ways and they should not exist in 2018.

Their PR stunts are just a distraction, and all the happy foundation shit is likely all tax deductible anyways.

It does not matter that happy guy Satya is CEO, Bill Gates is still on the board and got away with all.

If a guy robs a bank then donates 1% of the money to charity, it doesn't change the fact that guy robbed a bank.


I love people like this, and there are so many on this thread. They have survived for so long on communal aphorisms without ever doing any homework of their own, that they cannot comprehend anyone would ever write something positive about Microsoft without having been paid by them.

Ignoring the personal attack (the second I've received on this thread - no greater indicator of the quality of 'discourse' when it regresses to ad hominem), you almost managed to make one good point - the Linux commits are indeed mostly related to Azure and SMB.


Putting the ineffective sarcasm and nonsense aside, let me ask you one thing:

Why do you act against your own self-interest?


I suppose you think they're doing all of these things out of the goodness of their heart and not because their previous strategy with the FOSS community turned out to be a catastrophic failure.


Please point to any company that does anything out of the goodness of its heart. Companies don't have hearts, they have employees and shareholders that need to be kept happy and paid.


Never claimed any other company did that, what I am suggesting is your post reads like a PR fluff piece, and gives more or less the same rhetoric Microsoft gives as well.

Honestly, most of the FAANG companies are guilty, but I will give Facebook kudos for being fairly honest about the mutual benefits that came from open sourcing React.


Thanks for calling out FOSS. Microsoft's open source contributions absolutely do not enhance our freedom to compute how we wish. Nothing they are doing will help you compute ethically, or prevent someone else from imposing their ethics on you. They are just trying to capture a market of developers that happen to code in the open.


I'm confused.

Let's say I like C# and I also like Linux. Doesn't them making C# (and .Net) open source and cross-platform enhance my freedom to compute how I wish?

Or is that somehow different from other open source languages, like Python or Rust? How do those help with computing ethically?


Your preference indicates that you have been captured. They will use it to move you to a platform they control eventually. Maybe you'll like it, but it won't be more free. It will have a ToS.


> Doesn't them making C# (and .Net) open source and cross-platform enhance my freedom to compute how I wish?

Why do you need this on Linux? Only to integrate with MS proprietary products, that's why.


I don't need it. I want it, because C# is my favorite programming language. Isn't that what freedom is about?

This means that when I'm writing a website or a Docker microservice, I want to use C#. And since the best OS to run those is Linux, there are no proprietary MS products in sight.

When I'm writing a cross-platform desktop application, I want to use C# too, but I can't, so I'll use another language.


Embrace, extend, extinguish. Don't blindly trust anyone backed by shareholders.


> In order to truly help OSS, joining some initiative, group or foundation is the easy thing to do. Opening the patent portfolio, is the difficult thing to do.

What's the difference between the two? In order to join OIN, MS had to agree to let other members of OIN freely use their patents.

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