Open-Source Model Here to Stay
With regard to the open-source model, Ballmer acknowledged that it is here to stay, as is the commercial model. Microsoft "encouraged, invited and wanted" as much open-source innovation as possible on top of the Windows and .Net platforms. "We are excited to have it. Look at all the work we have done to really make sure that PHP is well-integrated and runs well on IIS," he said."Open-source developers can write software that uses those patents without having to get a license. But their customers who use those products must then get a license, directly from us or through Novell and maybe one day from Red Hat," he said. Microsoft knows most open-source developers are not in that business, but open-source distributors are, or at least could be. "We have set up vehicles for people to license those patents, at least in the case of Linux, quite simply, through the work we have done with Novell and SUSE," Ballmer said. For his part, Muglia said the interoperability move allows them to build products that interoperate with the large ecosystem around Windows in standards-based ways. "We are just trying to make it very transparent how we use standards and, if we do provide enhancements to standards, to be able to define what those things are. And, in some cases, there are a set of proprietary protocols that are part of Windows, and we've published all of those and developers have access to all of them," he said. But Muglia acknowledged that those developers really have to be committed to doing this as it is "deep-level stuff. This is not light bedtime reading," he said.
Asked what the new interoperability and openness principles announced Feb. 21 mean for open-source developers, Ballmer said they mean that they no longer need to get patent licenses for commercial or noncommercial works.