Microsoft have an image problem. You know they have. They know they have. Almost every time you see a Microsoft employee get up to speak they invariably start by meekly, almost apologetically, admitting they are from Microsoft.
Why do they have an image problem? It dates back to the browser wars of the 90s when they used their market dominance to squash competitors. They were bully’s.
Over the last number of years they have been fighting hard to combat that image. They have tried to appear all warm and fuzzy. They have made clever hires like Jon Udell and even contracted Hugh MacLeod to help improve their brand.
Then what does Microsoft go and do? In an article in Fortune
Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users.
Update: Wow, this one is really exploding on Techmeme
Good God, are they really serious? Many people use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) precisely because they don’t want to be giving money to Microsoft and now Microsoft are saying “You know all that Free and open Source Software you are using, yeah well, you are going to have to pay us for using that now too, thanks!”
It really is quite an incredible situation. What if the oil industry started saying, “All you solar energy, wind energy and renewable energy users will have to pay us for not using our products”
Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t!
As Simon Hibbs said:
It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that so many Microsoft products are based on patentable innovations contributed freely. I’m thinking of Kerberos and LDAP that are the guts of Active Directory. Where would we all be if Tim Berners-Lee had patented key elements of HTTP, or if the TCP/IP stack were proprietary? Microsoft has done very well embracing and extending the innovations of others.