Feeds

Microsoft redefines ‘open source’ – look, don't touch

Redmond recalls light bulb gag for tweaking

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Remember the gag about how many Microsoft programmers it takes to change a light bulb? The answer's none: Redmond simply redefines darkness.

As a variation, try this one - how does Microsoft make Windows open source? It doesn't: it redefines free software - software that gives the user the right to change the source code, as software that doesn't give the user the right to change the source code.

In a slightly whimsical interview with ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft's Doug Miller says the company has been opening up its Windows source code, with the intention to"make this (source code) available to many hundreds of customers" Mary Jo puts the number at less than a hundred.

But it turns out, this isn't software libre at all. End users can't modify the source code, giving the statement the air of something that was dreamt up in a hurry. Microsoft has like most other major OS vendors, provided Windows source code to academic institutions for years: taking its cue from Sun Microsystems which worked academic modifications back into the old, Berkeley based SunOS successfully. But enthusiasm has waned more recently, as it did for Sun, because Microsoft increasingly viewed the exercise as a free bug fix. And lo, here's Miller expressing the hope that Microsoft customers "who find a bug... would contact Microsoft for tweaks".

Miller admits that very few customers want to see the source code - shock! - and so presumably even fewer want to find Windows bugs and pay for the privilege twice over: once for the source code license, and secondly for the company time.

And remember that not even Microsoft's biggest OEM customers and OS rivals wanted the responsibility of picking their way through the Windows source code. That suggestion was touted around the industry last spring by the AntiTrust Department as a suggested remedy against Microsoft. They received no takers. So if HP, IBM and Compaq don't want to fix Microsoft's Windows bugs, why would Marks and Spencer? ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'
Admits to 'a metric ****load' of mistakes during work with Linux collaborators
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.