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[ossig] The Microsoft Apologist Trilogy, Part III : The Importance Of Microsoft Apologists

I love Microsoft apologists, especially the abusive and arrogant ones. They kick and scream and try to discredit all "perceived enemies of Microsoft". The number one foe of Microsoft right now is Free and Open Source Software, namely Linux : the OS that threatens the monopoly. Back in the day, Microsoft would resort to a lot of strong-arm tactics to make sure rival technologies disappear. One of their favourite ways was simply sending the competition into financial ruin. Businesses that really innovated such as Netscape Inc. are no more. The technology would have died with the company, but for the open sourcing of their products. Mozilla and Firefox are the result of open source.

Can "free" software coexist with business? Sure. Can business profit from it? Absolutely. Look at Novell, IBM, Red Hat and countless others. However open code isn't bound to the fate of business. Companies may die, but the code never does. Microsoft now faces a foe that is unkillable. So Microsoft resorts to the only thing it can do against a rival it cannot destroy : say bad things about it in the form of FUD, which can also be translated as "lies". FUD is basically that, lies (half-truths, distorted facts, whatever). Microsoft loves harping on the ills of "communist", "thieving", "viral", "carcinogenic" and what-have-you about F/OSS. It's buddy SCO seems to be jumping on the bandwagon too. FUD all around.

There is only one other problem with that strategy though : FUD doesn't work against F/OSS either. Lies are a dangerous thing : once you're found out your credibility goes down the drain. It may have worked in the past to destroy companies. Consider this: Company X makes a product Microsoft deems as dangerous as it threatens their market share. Microsoft drops some FUD about it, thus putting potential customers off the product. The product thus fails in the marketplace, incurring heavy losses to Company X. Company X thus kills off the product line, or simply folds. The technology itself is lost. With F/OSS, Microsoft may be able to kill individual companies (not that it'd be successful against huge ones such as IBM), but never the technology. Linus Torvalds isn't going to stop working on Linux because some marketing imbecile from Microsoft said something bad about it. In fact, there are many people who work on F/OSS with no (direct) financial gain. Who's going to stop them from doing so? The code is free, the technology is free.

Back to the topic of Microsoft apologists. They love Microsoft so much, they're willing to spread lies on their behalf about F/OSS. My observation is that they tend to be unpleasant, obnoxious and greedy people. They are actually doing Microsoft a disservice by being such idiotic ambassadors. All it does is it drives rational people away from them, and they crazy rants (and it also makes people curious about F/OSS). So there you go. Microsoft apologists are actually a good thing.