Feeds

Leaked Microsoft memo outlines anti-Linux strategy

An internal discussion document tries to figure out how Redmond could steal open source software's clothes

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

An internal Microsoft document leaked over the weekend confirms that the company view Open Source Software (OSS) in general, and Linux in particular, as real threats. The document, which Microsoft confirmed as genuine yesterday, sees the "primary threat" as being to NT Server, but has little to offer in defence apart from the old Microsoft "proprietary protocols" gag. Author Vinod Valloppillil puts forward "some specific attacks on Linux" which Microsoft can employ. All of the "standard product issues for NT vs Sun apply to Linux", he says. It's not entirely clear what he means here, as the Linux attack on NT will at least initially come at the commodity x86 server end, and Microsoft at least publicly denies that it sees Linux as a threat in the enterprise. By 'promoting' Linux in this way, Microsoft could accidentally give credence to the efforts various developers are making to push it into the enterprise space. Microsoft should also "fold extended functionality into commodity protocols/services and create new protocols". Linux developer Eric Raymond, who has posted an annotated version of the document here, comments that "what the author is driving at is nothing less than trying to subvert the entire 'commodity network and server' infrastructure (featuring TCP/IP, SMTP, HTTP, POP3, IMAP, NFS and other open standards) into using protocols which, though they might have the same names, have actually been subverted into customer- and market-control devices for Microsoft". This seems a fair interpretation. Microsoft habitually attempts to pull standards out of the public domain by 'enhancing' them for Windows, and thus breaking everybody else's versions. It is, however, remarkable that this should be proposed within a discussion document which appears to have been widely circulated within Microsoft. In addition to recommending moving the goalposts, the author considers how Microsoft could capture some of the mindshare of the OSS community, and here he's obviously on shaky ground. "The ability of the OSS process to collect and harness the collective IQ of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing. More importantly, OSS evangelisation scales with the size of the Internet much faster than our own evangelisation efforts appear to scale." (our italics) His suggestions totter on the brink of breaking the Microsoft business model. "Be more liberal in handing out source code licences to NT to organisations such as universities and certain partners," provide free tools, "put out parts of the source code to generate hacker interest in adding value to MS-sponsored code bases… provide more extensibility [by] documenting/publishing some internal APIs as unsupported... Monitor OSS news groups. Learn new ideas and hire the best/brightest." So Microsoft should try to turn NT into a sort of Microsoft-owned Linux, and it should also adopt the Linux OSS development environment internally, and use its bucks to buy up OSS talent. If Microsoft tried this, it quite obviously wouldn't work -- OSS developers work the way they do because it is open source, and opening little bits of NT isn't going to convince them. At this very moment, they're no doubt rolling in the aisles of the Linux List. But Microsoft can't try it anyway. The traditional Microsoft model the author touched on earlier requires ownership and leverages market share from closed systems. Opening the model to any extent undermines it. So what the document really tells us is that Microsoft is figuring, but hasn't figured it out yet. ® Click for more stories Click for story index

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.