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Microsoft vs. Google – the open source shame

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Google has those darling colored balls, and DiBona seems like a really nice guy. But I keep thinking the search giant has just as serious open source questions to answer as Microsoft.

Google consumes vast amounts of open source code. The company funds DiBona as an active, outspoken member of the open source "community." Google also pays for various open source-related events. And it's a fun-loving paradise where evil goes to die over a bed of Bibb lettuce topped with cumin-crusted lamb, lime juice and cilantro.

Microsoft describes Linux as a cancer. It also makes unsubstantiated claims about open source software potentially violating its patents. And, well, it talks about knifing the baby instead of tossing around colored balls.

But which company is open source's biggest threat in 2007? The one clinging to an operating system and productivity suite monopoly? Or the one that controls your search queries, e-mails, instant messages, photos, documents and soon phone calls without ever discussing an open standard that will let you manipulate all that data or let you move it to a new service provider?

If we're talking about ideals, then I think Google is the bigger threat these days.

The erosion of Microsoft's monopolies is inevitable. All we need is time.

I fail, however, to hear Google telling us much of anything about how it will open its data piles, how it will open its code or how it will do any of these things without pumping an ad down our throats every chance it gets.

In short, Google's motives deserve as much attention as Microsoft's in the "open" wars.

Where Microsoft has turned to the OSI for approval, Google has vowed to engineer around it. So, I fail to see how Google has much of a right to beat on Microsoft's past.

Let's all put on our Che Guevara T-Shirts and celebrate the inauthentic until some real open source vendor is ready to take on this discussion. ®

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