It may feel like an April Fools’ Day joke, but for those of us who have been watching Microsoft’s attitude toward open source over the years, it’s just more of the same-old, same-old.
Somehow, after the company has done everything in its power for years and years to thwart open source software, Microsoft interoperability general manager Jean Paoli recently uttered the words, “We love open source.”
Not only that, but “we have worked with open source for a long time now,” Paoli recently told NetworkWorld, apparently in all earnestness.
Ha–good one! So where are the hidden cameras?
‘Linux Is a Cancer’
For those without the benefit of experience, Microsoft has taken great pains to be everything but a friend to open source over the years. From calling open source software a “cancer” to asserting repeated patent claims against Linux and other open source software, Microsoft has made it patently clear that it does not take kindly to open source’s challenge to its market dominance.
Like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown to kick, Microsoft has told the open source community again and again that it cares, only to snatch the football away at the last minute.
‘We Understand Our Mistake’
Yet, according to Paoli, that’s all changed now.
The company made the mistake of equating all open source technology with Linux “very early on,” he said. “We understand our mistake.”
Isn’t that nice?
One can’t help but wonder, however, how much of a mistake the company would think it was if it weren’t for Linux and open source’s growing market credentials.
A Market Threat
Might it have something to do with the superior security, affordability, flexibility, and business acumen of open source software, perchance?
Might it have anything to do with the fact that Windows’ market share has been fairly steadily slipping over time?
Might it be related to Microsoft’s current position at the bottom of the heap in the mobile arena, as contrasted with Android’s ongoing success?
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
It is, of course, theoretically possible that Microsoft might have changed its stance.
Maybe it’s finally realized, after all, that a collaborative, community, open approach to software is superior for everyone to the closed-door, restrictive, proprietary one.
As long as Steve Ballmer is CEO, however, and as long as open source is visibly threatening Microsoft’s longstanding dominance, that’s hard to believe.
For my part, until further evidence emerges, I’m going to assume it’s just another feeble attempt to pass the wolf off in sheep’s clothing.
Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.