When Open-Source Claims Fall Flat

Opinion: Microsoft's offer to "open-source" Office 2003 for European governments, along with Sun's Solaris talk, boil down to pure marketing hype.

Ive got the open-source blues.

Im really, really tired of hearing about open-source initiatives that are really just marketing hype having little to do with open source.

For example, take Microsofts shared-source nonsense. Shared source is not open source. When Microsoft gave European governments the opportunity to open-source Office 2003 but no other version of its Office suite, its motive was to let government customers tick off an open-source box on their IT requests and then get them to buy Office 2003.

Jason Matusow, director of Microsofts Shared Source Initiative, told eWEEK.com that Microsoft is not using the program as a sales tool and that there is no revenue associated with it. What nonsense!

Of course its not a sales tool! Its a marketing tool.

Some of us do know a bit about business as well as technology. If Microsoft couldnt make money off of sharing the source, it wouldnt be doing it.

Microsoft has been having trouble hanging onto government customers who are beginning to go toward Linux and open-source office suites. So, last year, Microsoft started offering shared source for Windows to some of those same customers.

Coincidence? I think not. This move with Office 2003s code is just more of the same.

Im also sick and tired of hearing Sun Microsystems say it will open-source Solaris. Sun has been saying it for months now, and were still not much closer than we ever were. Plus, since the company paid SCO for its Unix intellectual property goodness, I still dont see how Sun can possibly do it.

Unless … now, heres a wild idea: Sun actually buys Unix, lock, stock and copyright barrel. With that, it could open-source Solaris, or anything else Unix, that its little heart wanted.

I cant see it myself, but hey, stranger things have happened.

Still, what Id really like to see is for Sun to either fish or cut bait with open-sourcing Solaris. Come on, at least decide on a license already!

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsofts campaign to battle the Linux platform.

Speaking of licenses, please, oh please, dont give us another open-source license.

There are—boy, do I wish I were making this up—more than 50 open-source licenses out there today. Sun, in fact, already has two of its own, SISSL (Sun Industry Standards Source License) and Sun Public License, that the Open Source Initiative has approved as being truly open source.

Sun also has another license, SCSL (Sun Community Source Licensing), that covers Java. No matter what anyone may tell you, SCSL isnt open source.

Dont believe me? Ask the American Bar Association.

But, back to the point: Sun, do you—do we—really need another open-source license? Please say no.

Please just do whatever youre going to do with open-source Solaris already. Or, heres a thought, how about open-sourcing Java??

eWEEK.com Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.

/zimages/4/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at http://linux.eweek.com for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.


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