Feeds

No code or body fluids exchanged in MS Lavender Wedding

'Shared Source' initiative fails first big test

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
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
Ploppr: The #VultureTRENDING App of the Now
This organic crowd sourced viro- social fertiliser just got REAL
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.