Ballmer on Linux Hot Seat (Again)

What, exactly, did Microsoft's CEO say about Linux and patents? Here's the transcript.

A published report claiming that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Asian government leaders that Microsoft believes that Linux violates more than 200 software patents has put the outspoken Microsoft executive on the Linux hot seat, yet again.

Microsoft officials said Ballmers remarks were taken out of context, and are offering a transcript of his statement to make their case.

"In short, the reporter got it wrong. This was not a Microsoft report nor is this a Microsoft warning," a Microsoft spokesperson reiterated on Thursday afternoon.

Ballmer was not claiming that Microsoft itself has discovered that Linux violates more than 228 established software patents, the spokesperson said. Instead, Ballmer was citing findings from a controversial study done earlier this summer by OSRM (Open Source Risk Management), a risk-mitigation consultancy that claimed that Linux has been found to violate more than 200 software patents.

Here is the transcript of Ballmers remarks regarding Linux and patents, supplied by Microsoft. Ballmer was addressing government representatives at the Microsoft-sponsored Asian Government Leaders summit in Singapore.

QUESTION: In Asia were seeing a lot of support from government for open source. (Off mike.) To deal with just open source software development, because they feel that, one, national security is at stake if they cant see the source code and, secondly, because of licensing costs.

BALLMER: Let me talk a little bit about that. First, I think the most important—if I was to leave you with one sort of top level, most important suggestion, is we recommend to all governments that they not get emotionally involved in preferring either software that comes from commercial companies or open source software. We think the most sensible policy for most governments to take is a policy of neutrality, picking the software for a given application that actually makes most sense relative to the governments needs.

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