The Decades Negatives for Open Source
Some of the less stellar events over the past decade were the SCO lawsuit and Microsoft's apparent belief that software patents were the Achilles heel of free software, he said. "SCO is toast. Good riddance. However, many in our community have been damaged by SCO's allegations and will never be compensated," Perens said. Last May, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, claimed that free and open-source technologies violated 235 Microsoft patents, with the Linux kernel running afoul of 42, the Linux GUIs infringing another 65, the Open Office suite of programs infringing 45 more, e-mail programs infringing 15, and other assorted free and open-source programs allegedly infringing 68.Perens said Microsoft's current strategy is "to poison us with money, most recently by making patent agreements with a number of Linux distributions, which go against the spirit of the software licenses used by our developers, and were perhaps intended to dissuade developers from contributing their work." He noted that these attempts at patent-based FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) did not seem to be working. While Microsoft's potential acquisition of Yahoo for $44.6 billion could curtail or corrupt some of Yahoo's involvements in open-source communities and in partially open-source products like Zimbra, the "buy-the-loser strategy could potentially suck up a large part of its ample cash while leaving it with the loser," Perens said. "So, you can see that the future will present its challenges for open source. We could never have forecast how big we would become during Decade Zero, but we've built tremendous strength, to the point that we can consider much larger tasks. Join us now as we enter Decade One," he said. The coming decade will see big rule changes regarding software patenting, with open source, proprietary software and content providers all taking the same side together to make the world a bit safer, Perens said, noting that he also expects Microsoft to buy a movie studio and a music company and move more into content. There will also be a lot of blur between the desktop of today and the embedded systems of tomorrow, with Linux a big player on those embedded systems, he told eWEEK. "Also, expect to see the rise of a next-generation kernel that is open source, but not based on any of the things around today," Perens said.
As such, Microsoft remains problematic, a bastion of the old way of thinking about software and the epitome of the old school of dirty corporate fighting, Perens said.