Feeds

No code or body fluids exchanged in MS Lavender Wedding

'Shared Source' initiative fails first big test

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Microsoft's much-ballyhooed 'Shared Source' initiative appears to have failed its first big test. With a great deal of swagger, Microsoft announced a partnership with defense contractor Lockheed Martin yesterday to target US government contracts.

A perfect deal for Redmond, for who could be better than the veteran pork barrel beneficiary to grease these government deals? The two aren't exactly strangers, and what Lockheed Martin doesn't know about corporate welfare could be summarised on the back of a bus ticket. Or as the company helpfully enumerated for us in its press release yesterday:- "nearly $18 billion of Lockheed Martin's $25.3 billion in 2000 sales were to the U.S. government."

Basically, Lockheed Martin promises to read some of the latest Microsoft white papers, and gets Microsoft to pay for training its engineers up to MCSE level. With this aim, Lockheed Martin's Robert B Coutts, tells us:-

"Given the desire of federal agencies to rapidly move toward an e-commerce model, Lockheed Martin and Microsoft together can provide advanced solutions that enable multiple systems to operate seamlessly in a highly secure fashion."

Now one of the pesky side-effects of raising the issue of open source in such a dramatic way, as Craig Mundie has done recently on behalf of the Evil Empire, is that the worker bees of the news wires, whose job depends on double checking the figures in the press release before scooting off to the next assignment, now include the subject on their list of standard questions.

And so Associated Press duly reported:-

"The agreement does not give Lockheed Martin access to Microsoft's source code, the blueprint for its popular software programs. The software giant is notoriously secretive about its source code, although company executives recently said Microsoft would make its code available to some business partners."

Eek. Now who would have ever dreamed of asking such an impertinent question, if it hadn't been for Mundie's great Shared Source adventure? Not the kind of reporters who are usually ushered in to report on such routine financial deals, we suspect.

And so by raising the very issue of software "openness", Microsoft has created a kind of honesty test for its own code licensing practices, and it's going to be dogged by this until it announces that source code licenses don't matter.

Reporters are now primed - by Microsoft's own PR effort - to ask if source code has been "shared". If it hasn't, then the deal is going to be reported as a kind of Lavender Wedding (that's a staged affair where one of the partners is a homosexual) in which no body fluids (or source code) have been exchanged.

Alas we can't help reminding ourselves of our first reaction when Mundie took the stage, which is that Microsoft simply took aim at the wrong end of the Linux phenomenon. There's plenty to criticise about the limitations of the bazaar development model, and plenty of situations that Microsoft can reasonably argue that having one company calling the shots makes for a smoother relationship. But by raising means, not ends, Microsoft has picked the weakest possible position from which to make its case. And it has to be said, even our friends who depend on the company for their livelihoods, don't particularly want it to be likeable or even ethical. Just so long as it works. Source licenses, for Microsoft, are proving to be an itch it shouldn't but couldn't help scratching. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.