NOTE: ComputerWorld Senior Online Projects Editor, Ian Lamont, has contacted me and asked that I provide a correction to the information contained in this post. The original article by Neil McAllister did not originally appear at Computerworld. It was first published by InfoWorld…however, there was no originating link published with the Computerworld posting of the article linking back to this original posting…so assumption was justified but wrong. Thus, Computerworld is not the employer of ignorance, rather, InfoWorld is It is important to note that Compturworld is a subsidiary (is that the right word?) of http://idg.net of which InforWorld is as well. Unfortunately, due to syndication, the title of this article is the URL and has been passed around at many, many different places.
So, I’ll be retitling and editing the article accordingly to provide seamless redirection. I apologize to Computerworld if in any way, shape, or form for my mistake did any character damage or incurred the rath senior editors and/or caused anyone to lose face or get made fun of (unless they’re dressed in horrible attire or didn’t brush their teeth this morning, in which case, they should apologize to everyone else). The original Computerworld syndication of Mr. McAllister’s article is located here. A copy of the original article I penned is available upon request via the comments section of this article. Thanks!
Articles like this one are so misguided. Giving you a brief overview what the article from InfoWorld says: Open Source supporters build fortresses around them that make them unapproachable and have infinite animosity toward Microsoft. Yep, that about sums it up. I’ll show you below how this article was written by an ignorant journalist…one that probably is too prideful to ask for help when writing his garbage. Next time you go to write something, why don’t you ask someone? Heck, ask me…I’d help you not to make a fool of yourself and stay accurate with the facts. Instead, InfoWorld shows mud on its face while pretending they’re subject matter experts.
I’d expect it from say…a standard blog discussing technology or perhaps a publication site that only has a technology section with a writer or two that pens just enough to wet the appetite of the computer savvy portion of its demographic. But InfoWorld? Come on! These guys should do a bit more research…afterall, they’re part of IDG which is the leading distributor of computer and technology based magazines and newspapers on the entire planet…you’d think that they might hire someone with a bit more knowledge in the arena of open source. They lead off the entire article with the following:
“If you support open source, one of the initial things you learn is that you must bash Microsoft.”
Well, I missed that memo. Last I checked on Sourceforge, there were around 6,000 pieces of open source software available for Windows and the Microsoft platform. Perhaps the author is confusing the term Open Source with Linux as many people do. They sit there and think that Linux and Open Source are synonymous. That just isn’t so. Linux is just one of many Open Source programs available…and one of many that can be said contain a philosophy biased against Microsoft Software. I always take note that some of the best programs out there that have a GPL License make my job eaiser on the Microsoft Platform at work. When you generalize things like this, you should at least get the generalization correct. In this instance, he didn’t.
Now…perhaps the author just opened up with the wrong sentence right? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and take a look at the second sentence:
“It’s understandable; of all the
proprietary software companies in the world the one in Redmond takes
the cake for ill-will towards the open-source community. Just look at
the famed “Halloween documents” to see the extent of the bad blood”
Uh…last I checked the Halloween Documents were penned by Microsoft which was why they were so damning. So, the benefit of the doubt was given but shouldn’t have been. The author is implying that the Halloween Documents were somehow written by Open Source supporters in an attempt to bring ‘ill-will’ toward Microsoft. Funny isn’t it? This means that the author didn’t even read the Halloween Documents enough to know this simple fact. The author probably didn’t even read the Halloween Documents FAQ. Does it get any better later in the article?
Nope. Read on for the full digression.
“Through the years, this atmosphere of mutual animosity has inspired a number of people to try to get their shots in. Case in point: recently blogger Jason Cowan submitted the text of Microsoft’s community shared source software licence to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) for consideration as an approved open-source licence. He did it without Microsoft’s knowledge. When OSI representatives inquired whether Microsoft would like OSI to go ahead with the evaluation, the software giant politely declined.”
So a publicly available license was given to the OSI to see how ‘open’ the license really was. If Microsoft didn’t want the license to be duplicated, they should have copyrighted it like they do so well with all other documents and software. This is rather silly…how do you go about saying that this action holds ‘animosity’ toward Microsoft? Submitting a publicly available license to the OSI means you’ve got it out for Microsoft? This is horrible, sloppy journalism. Just a few paragraphs later the author drops even lower:
“Even as Cowan was busy with his stunt, Microsoft was reaching out in the other direction. Recently Sam Ramji, the director of Microsoft’s Open Source Software Lab, extended a unique invitation to coders from the Mozilla group. For four days in December, Firefox and Thunderbird developers will have the chance to work side by side with Microsoft employees to ensure that their code runs its best on the upcoming Windows Vista OS.”
So, now its a stunt eh? Last time I checked, stunts were when you lit a hoop on fire and jumped through it or perhaps ramped a vehicle over a bunch of barrels. And another thing, 4 days in December hardly amount to a drop in the water if you look at it logically…21 years of guarded and closed ideals on one side and then 4 days of openness.
The author digresses even further a few more paragraphs later:
“I, for one, am glad the Mozilla team didn’t reject Microsoft’s offer. That would be just one more example of the fortress mentality of many in the open-source community towards a company that, quite frankly, is a fact of life in the IT industry.”
So, rejecting the further proliferation of Open Source software is something Open Source projects are in the habit of doing? That sounds counterproductive doesn’t it? Is this guy for real? Who is he trying to fool? He’s making himself look much like an idiot. Now there’s a ‘fortress of mentality’ that is prevalent in open source. This is a real piece of work…to be filed in the fiction section.
The icing on the cake comes in the final paragraphs:
“From here on out, companies will use open-source software to power their businesses.”
Gee and I thought they’d been using it to power their business for the last 20 years. It’s a good thing you assume they haven’t by saying ‘From here on out’. This just goes to show you that even someone who works for a huge media conglomerate can make mistakes…huge ones…and can come off looking totally ignorant. Too bad too. The author could have consulted with someone on the article and nailed down the facts to give him more credibility.
“It’s time for open-source advocates to set aside their pride, recognise their place in the larger software market and start working to build bridges, rather than fortresses. The pranks and the name-calling might be good for a chuckle, but they’re not really helpful.“
I can’t believe he had the audacity to print this. Pride? Let’s put things into perspective…it’s pride that keeps businesses from admitting when they’re wrong and it’s pride that kept the author from seeking a subject matter expert on Open Source instead of relying on his own faulty logic. It’s pride that makes HP not admit their mistakes in privacy violations and point the finger at the sub-sub-contractor they hired to do the investigation. It’s pride that keeps Microsoft from admitting when they’ve installed a ‘phone home’ piece of spyware on all their users’ computers without their knowledge. Sure, they eventually admit it…but only after their caught. That defeats the purpose. Too bad this author couldn’t realize how contradictive he sounds and how far he’s missed the mark.
In closing, I just thought the article wasn’t even worth the pixels used to display it…but I’m sure its been seen by a wide variety of people. So, instead of giving them one side of the story, perhaps my little rant will give them the other side of things. Sure we can all get along…as long as we speak the truth to one another. And that’s something both journalists and Microsoft have historically   had trouble doing.
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