Open source advocates are gloating following the leak of a Microsoft memo. It details the results of a Microsoft-conducted survey which shows that IT professionals are not nearly as wary of open source software as the company would like.
This embarrassing revelation has buoyed up open source supporters who believe it shows that Microsoft is losing the PR battle. Open source software fans see it as just a matter of time before they win out against the software giant.
The memo was posted this week at Opensource.org, a website run by the OSI (Open Source Initiative).
"The overall tone of the memorandum is very defensive," said Eric Raymond, president of OSI, in advising open source advocates on his conclusions to the survey. "It's not quite panicky, but the researchers are not able to name any argument with the open source community that their own figures show them to be winning. In fact, their figures indicate that we are winning. It looks like all we have to do is stay the course."
In an interview Thursday, Raymond said the memo was given to him by a source, but he declined to provide any further description of its origin. He said he was satisfied that the document is genuine. Microsoft spokesman Jon Murchison declined to comment on the memo, citing company policy not to comment on leaked or speculative reports.
The memo describes the results of a telephone survey of a range of IT professionals. The project was developed to provide a greater understanding of how key "audiences" perceive open source. The survey was conducted in the US, Brazil, France, Germany, Sweden and Japan.
The researchers who conducted the survey found that familiarity and favourability for OSS (open source software) and Linux was high across the board. They also found that respondents cited OSS's "low total cost of ownership" as one of the best reasons to support it, but "because it is an alternative to Microsoft" was second.
"I saw a lot of admission that [Microsoft's] PR tactics haven't been working," Raymond said.
OSI also believes the survey shows that Microsoft's "fear, uncertainty and doubt" attacks on open source have not only failed but also backfired, and the open source community needs to "keep Microsoft's feet to the fire" on the total cost of ownership issue.
"Their figures indicate that we're winning that battle," Raymond wrote. "Microsoft will attempt to reverse this with all the money and marketing clout it can muster. One effective counter would be to point out the time and money overhead of keeping track of all your Microsoft licenses — forever — lest Microsoft send its jackbooted BSA (Business Software Alliance) thugs to shake you down."