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Is Microsoft losing the open source battle?

MS gives with one hand and takes with the other

In terms of open source, we're never sure if Microsoft is friend or foe. We look at just whether Microsoft is winning its battle against open source.

When it comes to open source, we're never sure if Microsoft is a friend or a foe? On one hand, it has extended an olive branch to the open source community, donating code to projects and backing big-name open source organisations such as the Apache Software Foundation as part of an effort to do more than ever to acknowledge that it must work alongside open source, not fight it.

On the other, it has continued to seek payments for patents it holds that are found in open source technologies and in general uphold its proprietary intellectual property licensing strategy - the opposite of the philosophy behind open source. Microsoft has long held patent-infringement and possible litigation over the heads of open source vendors, at one time claiming that Linux infringed on more than 230 of its patents.

Whatever dastardly plans Microsoft may have in reserve, open source companies, developers, and proponents say it doesn't really matter. With open source a powerful business model and force in its own right, they are more secure than ever that the software giant poses no real threat to their movement.

It will take more than Microsoft to stop the momentum that open source - in particular Linux, which powers some of the largest networks in the world, including Google's - has in the market, they say.

"Is its future threatened? No. Open source isn't going anywhere," says Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with RedMonk.

Even if Microsoft were to assert all of the patents the company claims to hold in Linux and other open source projects - which it would have a hard time doing - it still could not stop developers from using open source tools and software nor stop companies from adopting open source business models, he adds.

"[Open source] is a style and an approach and a model that is here to stay."

NEXT PAGE: Real change at Microsoft in accepting open source

  1. The software company gives with one hand and takes with the other
  2. Real change at Microsoft in accepting open source
  3. Microsoft's mixed messages may hurt itself more than open source
  4. Why Microsoft may remain conflicted about open source


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