Is There a Method to Mundies Madness?

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2001-05-21 Print this article Print

What the heck was he doing? That's what everyone wanted to know when Craig Mundie, Microsoft's vice president of advanced technologies, challenged the open-source license earlier this month.

What the heck was he doing? Thats what everyone wanted to know when Craig Mundie, Microsofts vice president of advanced technologies, challenged the open-source license earlier this month (go to to see what Mundie had to say). Not much good can possibly come from such a presentation. Then again, nothing good can come of Linus Torvalds ripping into Mundie, proving that Torvalds is really no different from the people hes criticizing.

But my focus is on Mundies presentation, which was on innovation in the industry. Microsoft is frequently attacked for not being innovative. Some give Microsoft credit for stealing ideas, paying cash to avoid lawsuits and then marketing the ideas as its own. No one knows what innovation is anymore because its obvious that everything borrows from something else. Thats how we build things—one piece at a time, based on things that already exist.

Microsoft makes some loose assumptions about innovation, however. Two weeks ago, on a whim, I checked out, a page describing Microsofts ability to integrate computing concepts. Clearly, Microsoft views innovation and integration as interchangeable notions. (Microsoft has since removed the link.)

Ironically, one of Mundies points was about the creation of standards, which are necessary for integration. Mundie said that open-source coders will have a tougher time reaching a standard because of fragmentation and code-forking. The reality is that open-source advocates in the past couldnt get enough cash to pay the standards committees to push many standards through. Now that big companies are behind open source, its advocates can push standards all they want, although with the caveat that big vendors that need to make a lot of money are in fact behind them. Code-forking is never an issue.

This brings me to the GPL, a license that only the idealistic can think will work in our imperialistic, capitalistic world. Somewhere between this capitalistic proprietary world and the GPL is a peaceful coexistence.

So what was Mundie doing? He was trying to galvanize the market, making sure that Microsoft is covering the bases, slowly announcing the opening up of the Windows code base while reassuring the public that Microsoft has been right all along. I also think he was trying to irritate Torvalds.

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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