foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world


Microsoft to publish its APIs ... sort of

, posted: 23-Oct-2007 04:53

Just in case you haven't heard the news already: Microsoft has finally agreed with the terms imposed on it by the European Commission. Details can be had from the Wall Street Journal, and many other commentators today as well. Under the terms of the agreement, competitors can get access to Microsoft's various network and server APIs for a one-time fee of 10,000 Euros.
The court held that antitrust regulators were correct to condemn
Microsoft for holding back technical information that would allow
competitors' products to work with machines running Windows...

Obviously, these kinds of tactics would be employed by most enterprises. However, once you have reached quasi-monopoly status you will be held to higher standards, as those rulings show.
Under the agreement, Microsoft will license all of its intellectual
property, except patents, necessary for competitors to work with a
version of Windows used on business servers. Competitors will now pay
only a one-time fee for the license of 10,000 euros, rather than
royalties.
This will allow them to write software that integrates more seamlessly and correctly with Microsoft servers, a necessary requirement to be able to penetrate the enterprise market with its large number of Microsoft installations. Microsoft recognizes this thread as well, and therefore has fought this long and hard before giving in, even risking daily fines of up to 3 Million Euro.

This all sounds great, except for this one-time fee of 10,000 Euro. For larger companies this is a trivial amount, no problem. For smaller open source projects, however, this is a substantial hurdle. One of the main beneficiaries of Microsoft's agreement supposedly is the open source community, according to the article. I don't see this being the case as long as it is necessary to pay this fee, though. In the past, fantastic open source projects have been developed by motivated individuals, starting at zero. The innovation and possible competition from those projects is still stifled by that fee.

Of course, if 95% of the world would run an open system (such as Linux, for example) rather than a proprietary one we wouldn't have this problem to begin with. That's the nice thing about open platforms: Fair competition from the start, which can only be good for all of us.

Other related posts:
PC World: Move your business to Linux, not Vista
And you thought your computer would do what YOU wanted...
The great 'Windows collapse' of 2011?








Comment by freitasm, on 23-Oct-2007 07:37

Now, just because you believe open source = free source, it doesn't mean all companies should follow the example.

Some companies decided that their source code is their asset and do no want it distributed for free - and this is their right.

I would agree if Microsoft had a platform that only accepted their own software, but this is hardly the case. Developers can create native applications, or managed code applications (.Net) or even use Java if they rather do it in another company's platform with the aim of having a portable solution.

So your point is?


Author's note by foobar, on 23-Oct-2007 09:18

freitasm: For some reason, only one of your two comments is coming through. Whichever I approve last will be displayed, the other disappears. Very strange. I will quote what you wrote in your other comment here:

IF by a certain OS you refer to Microsoft Windows, then you are wrong. There's an e-mail client in the system (Outlook Express or Windows Mail), a browse, media player.

Yes, those are included. Some may argue with Outlook Express being any good, but that's a different point. But is Outlook (the non-express version) included? Or Office? Those are the pieces of software that are most needed by businesses. Microsoft does not include them. You can download OpenOffice for free, even for Windows, which is nice. So you are not forced to buy MS Office. And you can download good e-mail clients, even for Windows. Thunderbird for example, even though that's not really an Outlook replacement. I use the open Evolution e-mail client, which comes standard with my Linux distro, and which does a very good job as a complete Outlook replacement.

The nice thing about some of the Linux distros is that you have all of that ready to go and installed once you are done installing the distro. So, no additional steps need to be taken by the user: Nothing to buy, nothing additional to install, no EULAs to agree to, etc. It's just quite a bit easier, I would say.

You said: Now, just because you believe open source = free source, it doesn't mean all companies should follow the example.

Absolutely. If my business would depend on special algorithms that are incredibly special and valuable, I wouldn't make this available as open source either.

Some companies decided that their source code is their asset and do no want it distributed for free - and this is their right.

Sure, no disagreement there.

I would agree if Microsoft had a platform that only accepted their own software, but this is hardly the case. Developers can create native applications, or managed code applications (.Net) or even use Java if they rather do it in another company's platform with the aim of having a portable solution.

Have a look at the actual article. It talks about the APIs to talk to their server. Those are actually network APIs and protocols, so nothing to do with managed code or Java. How do you talk to that server over the network.

Microsoft didn't disclose the protocol specifications, making it either difficult or impossible to write software that works with their network server. And in a networked world, that's a pretty big deal.

And if Microsoft would not have a quasi-monopoly in the market, nobody would care. With their incompatibility they would quickly be delegated to being entirely meaningless. However, they DO have a quasi-monopoly, so they make sure that everyone else stays incompatible, with the above mentioned consequences.

That's my point.

I think one of these days I have to post something about the history of open source to see how it all has been here before...


Comment by freitasm, on 23-Oct-2007 09:34

I think you will find out the comment you can't see is actually on another of your posts ;-0


Author's note by foobar, on 23-Oct-2007 09:42

You are right. Where is my head today?


Comment by barf, on 23-Oct-2007 12:25

this is good news for the Samba team! they have been hacking Windows' APIs for years and probably know more about the MSRPC, NetBIOS and CIFS protocols than many Microsoft engineers. Hopefully Samba will improve to include RPC with Windows boxes.


Comment by chakkaradeep, on 23-Oct-2007 15:11

foobar,

Yes, those are included. Some may argue with Outlook Express being any good, but that's a different point. But is Outlook (the non-express version) included? Or Office? Those are the pieces of software that are most needed by businesses. Microsoft does not include them. You can download OpenOffice for free, even for Windows, which is nice. So you are not forced to buy MS Office. And you can download good e-mail clients, even for Windows. Thunderbird for example, even though that's not really an Outlook replacement. I use the open Evolution e-mail client, which comes standard with my Linux distro, and which does a very good job as a complete Outlook replacement.

You have to understand that Microsoft Office is a very tightly coupled Office System to Windows Operating System which gives many many benefits that others fail to give. Its not the same as in Linux. Its starting to get that way in Linux. Want an example ? The Gnome Calendar and Evolution in the distros are now integrated.

And, also, people just dont choose Microsoft Office to do some word document, it has its choice.

People having Windows Mobile go with Microsoft Office Outlook because of various benefits that the both give unlike other email clients.

For me, things havent been simple with OO unlike in Microsoft Office, especially with Microsoft Powerpoint and I havent seen any tool that could be as good/strong as Microsoft Visio.

Nothing to buy, nothing additional to install, no EULAs to agree to, etc. It's just quite a bit easier, I would say.

Believe it or not, thats the most scariest part in Business as well for personal use. Can you come to a conclusion that using libdvdcss to view DVDs is legal or not ? And also, installing the MP3 plugin in Linux isnt legal unless you choose to install from Fluendo or some other source who provide them legally.

Microsoft is not the only one who is proprietay, heck, everyone forget that

This all sounds great, except for this one-time fee of 10,000 Euro.

What do you expect ? Give everything for free ! lol, this is not a good way to deal my dear friend.


Author's note by foobar, on 23-Oct-2007 16:05

chakkaradeep: Yes, I know about Evolution/Gnome and the calendar. I use it on a daily basis. However, I don't have to buy OpenOffice or Evolution.

In fact, how did we even get to that discussion? It's not about integration of apps and OS (that's a different topic). I mentioned those things because when I'm done installing Linux, I have all of those apps all there, ready to use. And with Windows, I don't have that.

I mean, it's simple for MS to change that: Just bundle OpenOffice with their OS and install it by default. Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen. So, unless they change that, I have to say that after you're done with a Linux install, you have more. Period.

What do you expect ? Give everything for free ! lol, this is not a good way to deal my dear friend.

Hm. RedHat, Canonical and the many other open source companies would disagree with that. Ok, let me correct myself. They don't give everything away for free. They give the open source software away for free, and then sell value added services and products on top of that. You know that though, my friend, so why do you ask?


Comment by chakkaradeep, on 23-Oct-2007 16:10

Hm. RedHat, Canonical and the many other open source companies would disagree with that. Ok, let me correct myself. They don't give everything away for free. They give the open source software away for free, and then sell value added services and products on top of that. You know that though, my friend, so why do you ask?

Understand that its their Company Policy and Microsoft's company policy isnt that and its not good to expect every company to follow the same !

So, as freitasm has written,

Now, just because you believe open source = free source, it doesn't mean all companies should follow the example.


Author's note by foobar, on 23-Oct-2007 16:32

chakkaradeep: If you would have read my response to freitasm's posting, you would not have had to write that. Besides, the European Commission explicitly did not require MS to open its source. All I said was that with an open system you never even get into that kind of problem. The specs are open by definition. But even closed source companies can document their APIs. Of course, they don't have to. Nobody can force them to do so. Except... and that is the crux of the whole argument here... except if they reach a quasi-monopoly status, in which them not opening up would be a disadvantage not only to competitors but to the public in general (because of limited competition). That's the situation that MS is in, and that's why they get all that attention.

And that part has nothing to do with open source, actually. The posting about the software available after a Linux install got here by accident, it was actually intended for a different discussion. :-)


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New Zealand


  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
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