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2005-06-15

Open Minds, Yes Let's Have Some Open Minds -- and Facts, Open Facts, that would be really good.

Interesting Illuminata post on open source and Microsoft[2005 June 16, 02:11Z OK, a couple of reasons for an update:

  • The panel discussion Bob is referring to apparently happened in the late afternoon on June 14, in Barcelona.  I don’t know where there is a transcript or other context.  There’s a PDF that I don’t think is publicly accessible, and I’m not sure what it represents.  The likely suspects are: Yefim V. Natis, Gartner; Nikos Drakos, Gartner; Bob Sutor, IBM; Bib Bickel, JBoss; Ashim Pal, Microsoft; David Ulrich, Winterthur Versicherungen. I suppose it would be very good to be briefed on the Open Source Definition before stepping into any of these venues.  Dan Bricklin has an excellent DVD that all executives should view.  It’s very clean and management-friendly.  And I wonder who got themselves mousetrapped, or at least were heard that way?  Hmm?
  • Why am I juxtaposing what I am juxtaposing here?  It just seemed to me that there is a lot that is business as usual practiced by all of the great powers in IT and that it’s actually unremarkable.  Until we start talking about the other guy’s doing it meaning they’re not really open as well as that there are serious false claims about someone’s use of “open-source,” or creation of open standards or whatnot.  I find that careless, and here I am juxtaposing too.  But that’s what got me up out of my chair.  Heh. [;<)]
  • [2005 June 16, 18:00Z.  Bob Sutor demonstrates the graciousness that others remark on and adds this clarification in a comment on his original blog entry: “At the Barcelona Gartner open source panel, the Microsoft rep used their putting source code on MSDN as an example of Microsoft's participation in "open source." I later pointed out that "open source" had a very specific meaning and that I really thought that very few people who have been making source code available through developer programs (sometimes for one or two decades) would use that as proof of their involvement in open source.”  I wholeheartedly agree with Bob’s response.  The licenses, if any, that come with most of those sources are not characterizable as open-source licenses by any stretch.  So there’s more education needed here to keep what is now a term of art from being corrupted by careless usage.  I definitely recommend the Dan Bricklin DVD.]

Bob Sutor, on his Open standards, open source, open minds, open opportunities blog, tosses in the following comment in reference to an article that isn’t talking about open-source offerings from Microsoft at all:

In this vein, I don't think anyone really buys that having code on MSDN means Microsoft is a big open source participant (per the conversation at the Barcelona Gartner open source panel). Maybe I'm mistaken: is it now available via an Open Source Initiative-approved license?

I find that Bob links to others having a kindred interest in interoperability, open systems, and yes, open-source distributions. I am curious how IBM deals with licensing its pot of patents to the good guys, and I’ve been looking for the facts of the matter via information that Bob provides.

Along with enjoying those linkages, there are also some occasional juxtapositions that are weird for me.  I can’t figure out what correlation I’m expected to infer from those. I don’t know if this is some conventional rhetorical device or what, but the one above really threw me.  So I had to comment. I really did.  Here’s a slight edit of my comment on his blog.

Bob, what are you talking about?  Who says MSDN downloads (some of which are quite free to use under EULA, just like ones from [IBM’s] developer works) are open-source or even include source code? 

There might be some, just like the ones that are being done by at least one Microsoft team on SourceForge (where using an OSI-approved license is a strong requirement).

I just don't get the juxtaposition with the Illuminata post, which isn't about Microsoft open-source software at all (and I've given up breaking the code about the title), but about counter-claims against Linux performance, dependability, TCO, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Like Oracle vs. DB2 vs. SQL server, seems to me.

Heck, neither the OASIS OpenDocument specifications (and schemas) nor the Microsoft Office XML Reference Schemas (and specifications) qualify as open-source anything either.  But the openness of one is asserted without any critical examination when the reality is that the licensing terms are almost indistinguishable

And I dare say that some of those joint proposals from Microsoft and IBM for Web Service specifications are similar (see the [royalty-free license] definition in W3C Current Patent Practice and how that applies to the specifications and implementation of SOAP, for example).  I don't understand how this is any mystery for someone professionally engaged in standards.  

So what's the real beef here and what are the actual facts at issue? [odd phrasing Dennis: how about “disputed assertions of fact?”]

It would be good to know who actually says these things (like Microsoft being a big open-source participant) so they could be fact-checked. 

It’s really easy to find out what license conditions prevail for available software from most public sources, and certainly for the products of consortia, trade organizations, so-called “standards bodies,” and organizations that officially promulgate standards in their communities of influence (like the U.S. Federal Information Processing Standards, known and loved as FIPS, for the information systems acquired, created and used in the Federal establishment).

 
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