Sunday, April 13, 2008

Microsoft Threatens FREE Linux

Having browsed the Linux forums and news items, it's quite disturbing that Microsoft is threatening the free Linux community ... with patent infringements!

How absurd! Microsoft claims to have something like 250+ patents on things in Windows that it claims that Linux is violating. Microsoft's claim is that the similarities between Windows and Linux infringe on those patents and Microsoft's "intellectual property rights." Never mind that Microsoft, themselves, has stolen many of it's "ideas" from Apple.

Imagine if Henry Ford had applied for, and was granted, a patent on a round steering wheel. Would that mean that no other car manufacturer could have a round steering wheel? What if he applied for, and was granted, a patent based on the layout of the dashboard and instrument panel? Would that mean that no other car maker could have similar arrangements? I think you can see what I mean when I say that Microsoft's assertions are absurd.

Just because you have an "idea" on how to do something, that doesn't mean that you are the ONLY person to have ever had that idea ... although that idea may be new to you. But that in no way doesn't, and shouldn't, stifle the creative expressionism of others who have a similar idea. And that "idea" should be no more protected by "patents" than the other guy's, just because you have the money and the army of lawyers to throw at it and the other guy does not. Should you expect to have to pay royalties/licensing fees to the first guy (or his heirs) who came up with the basic design of a chair every time you buy a new chair? What if someone who had never seen a chair comes up with a similar and functional design?

The reason Microsoft is coming out with these assertions is because it feels threatened by the current Linux offerings. Their release of Vista has been a TOTAL flop, as in not even coming close to living up to initial expectations. That has sent a hoard of users unhappy with the latest Redmond offering out to seek other alternatives. Linux is one such alternative for those users. And Microsoft, who must certainly be feeling the pinch, is looking for a way to still profit from the mass exodus of users from the Windows camp by attacking the FOSS (free operating system and software) community, to which those disenchanted Windows users are heading.

Here's my advice to Microsoft ... put out a product that actually works, without all the security holes, without all the malware, without all the virus attacks ... and people will beat a path to your door. Right now, those people are beating a path to Linux's door, because it offers all of that and more. Use the market place, in a fair and competitive manner (hey, new concept for you guys in Redmond!), to offer a better product that meets the needs and expectations of your customer. Do NOT, however, use slimy lawyers and hide behind absurd "patents" and other legal maneuvering to maintain your market share. Come up with an operating system that works on the vast amount of computer hardware already out there, instead of forcing computer users to purchase new systems, printers, accessories, and the such. Linux offers this! Get out of bed with the hardware manufacturers and focus on what you should be doing ... and that is offering a stable, safe computer operating system.

Competition should exist on a level playing field, not on a field made slippery with slimy lawyers and all their legal wrangling. He with the better product wins!

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