Microsofts poison pill

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-03-08 Print this article Print

Then what about Microsoft and its Shared Source Initiative? [Laughs.] OK, the thing I like to point out about that is that shared source is a poison pill. Its a way for Microsoft to contaminate the minds of your programmers so that they can never compete with Microsoft again. Because they like to make out like its some sort of open-source offering, but in fact they retain … they dont give up any of the IP rights and the control over methods that is associated with that source code. So if you read it, and its known that you read it, and at any time later in the future you go into competition with Microsoft, theyve still got the option to sue you. So thats why I say Shared Source is a poison pill. Well, theyve got some fine legal talent.
Yeah, and if I were any software development house in the world, I would be absolutely, freakin terrified of ever looking at that code. Because I would be seeing legions of Microsoft lawyers lined up on the hills, ready to sweep down in this vast, pillaging wave the moment I did anything they didnt like.
But given all that, and the position that Suns in. Suns pretty beaten down at this point. And it doesnt want to cede control. So if Sun did [cede control], by open-sourcing Java, do you see that helping business? Look, I dont see how it could hurt. It isnt a net revenue stream for them. And if you look at their 10-Qs, they aint making any money on it. Now theres the argument that theyre using the revenue from their Java licensing to support their development costs on the language. But theres a couple ways you can slice that. One is, do we know that that revenues going to go away if they open-source? I mean, people are still going to want to buy the Java brand. Next page: A commercially viable way for Sun to open-source.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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