How much does it cost to buy you? Do you have a price? Can you be paid off?
I’m sure many of the CEO’s and CTO’s of various Linux companies are now asking themselves this very question this week (or should be asking themselves) as Microsoft announced yet another “patent deal”…this time, with LG Electronics.
With this, the Xandros deal, the Novell Deal, and anything else Microsoft has up its sleeve (I look for several other distros to “indemnify” themselves in the next few months…for example, Linspire and Mandriva are two prime targets for MS…the bullseye is probably painted) I think that Microsoft has created it’s own “Linux Distribution” so to speak. Let me share with you why I think they have…
The New Distro is Microsoft
These companies are now paying Microsoft. Sure, Microsoft is paying them as well…but the kicker is this: These companies are paying Microsoft for Linux.
Oh, but ask the CEO who made the deal if they think Linux infringes patents and they’ll say “No way! We don’t think Linux violates any patents…we’re just paying in case Microsoft tries to sue us”. Well, let’s put this into perspective shall we?
If I was a store owner in Anycity, USA and paid the mob to not rob my store blind…you know, not because they were robbing it…but just in case. Does that mean that I’m not part of the money that the mob uses to do their dirty deeds? Does that make the cash I’m sending back to them clean? Should my conscience be clear?
Now, I’m not saying Microsoft is the mob…I’m just using that as an example. But they do have a good racket going on here. They get many highly publicized deals where Linux appears to be ‘giving in’ to Microsoft. Microsoft looks to be reasonable with these deals as well saying “hey, we won’t sue you…see, we’re the good guys”. The bottom line is though that Microsoft has no claims on Linux at all…if they did, they would have revealed it already. The reason they don’t reveal anything is because they don’t have anything to reveal. It’s all talk and no walk.
What about the Community?
These companies forgot one thing…the power is with the consumer. The power is in the community. Ubuntu realizes that…they’ve embraced the community and look what’s happened! The community holds the power to make or break…the power of spoken word cannot be underestimated. These companies have either forgotten that or don’t care. My guess is that they don’t care…they worry about making money and not about the tread marks they’re leaving up the back of the community. The community isn’t part of their formula even though it should be the common denominator.
The open source business model hasn’t been around for very long and many are still learning about it. The one no-no that these companies have completely ignored is that they have alienated their own PR system; their own word of mouth. In the end, they didn’t look at what it could cost them to do this deal or they didn’t care. One thing is certain by looking at many examples in the last 20 years…the community doesn’t forget.
MS Now Makes Money from Linux
Microsoft has carved a niche way for itself to make money off of Linux. Are you one of those that are paying Microsoft to use Linux? Are you helping them establish an umbrella Linux distribution made up of all the Linux distros signing up to be a part of their ‘protection’? If so, congratulations on buying your new Microsoft Linux. Have fun over there with Novell, Xandros, LG, and whoever else believes the vaporous and non existing threats from a callow company trying to keep itself meaningful. For myself, my family, my friends, and my distribution…we shall never pay any company that brokers this patent protection deal with Microsoft…you can take that to the bank.
Looks like I was right! Linspire has also signed a patent racket er…protection agreement with Microsoft. Up next, the other two big hitters in Linux…Mandriva and Ubuntu. 1 down, three to go Microsoft.