Bridging the Divide

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-03-26 Print this article Print

That being said, the company also believes in a bridge that scales the divide, which is workable and scalable. But that is a bridge that needs to be built, even if it is hard, and that process started with Novell through the deal struck in late 2006, Smith said.

"Is the bridge finished? Is it perfect? No, there is a lot of room for more dialogue between us," Smith said, adding that compromises were made on both sides. "We all believe in the magic of software, and there is a lot we can achieve together if we look one another in the eye and talk honestly about what we can achieve together."

During the hourlong question-and-answer session, Smith said interoperability is not a one-size-fits-all matter, and even said that Microsoft loves open-source software running on Windows.

However, he dismissed what he sees as suggestions that the company should either make its patent licensing agreements expensive or give them away for free. "I don't believe that or buy into it," he said.

Asked when Microsoft had stopped viewing Linux and open source as a cancer and un-American-sentiments previously expressed by its top executives-Smith said one of the challenges with the world today is that while we live with caricatures, people are not caricatures.

"The world and people evolve, you get better informed, and you want that. You do not want people to stay within those caricatures. I don't think you have heard anyone at Microsoft talking in those terms of late. We are trying to have a constructive dialogue and take steps to sort out some of our differences, as we all benefit from that," he said.

While Microsoft is unafraid to speak out, Smith said he hopes it will also become a better listener.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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