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What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
Friday, June 15 2007 @ 01:21 AM EDT

I found a video on the Novell-Microsoft Interop Ability page that clears up for me at least part of what Microsoft wants from deals like the deal with Novell. The video is from Brainshare 2007, with Novell's Jeff Jaffe and Microsoft's Chief Research Strategy Officer Craig Mundie both onstage talking about the deal. Mundie said that Microsoft has traditionally innovated in two ways: primarily inhouse but also by bringing in research from academia. Microsoft wants a bridge, Mundie said, to the Open Source business community like the one it has traditionally had with academia.

Just what is that bridge Microsoft has had with academia, I wondered? What does Microsoft have in mind for Open Source businesses that sign up for that bridge?

Here's a transcript of his remarks, first, on this topic:

So for the last few years as we talked to the customer base and it became absolutely clear they were going to have a mixed environment, they really pushed on us a lot to work on resolving the interoperability question. But they also pushed on us a lot about the question of continuing the innovation. In particular, they want innovation not only on features and capability but increasingly around costs and cost containment manageability as well as security, privacy, and other things.

We've always done our innovation in two ways: primarily within the Microsoft research and development environment but also learning a lot and bringing a lot in from the research that happens in the university environment. The Open Source community of course is one that basically takes the university model and it brings the community environment forward. I think it's always been important to have the bridge between the university environment and the commercial environment. We've done that. What we've done in the last six months with Novell we're trying to build this similar kind of bridge between the community business environment around software that we've had in the academic environment for many years.

The ... innovation, I think, is going to be critical at all levels in software, especially within this platform environment. Today the industry is really behind where customers want us to be in terms of being able to allow them to reduce costs. As Ron said we're at the beginning of a cycle of rapid innovation within the hardware platform. As the capabilities grow in these systems, there is increasingly the opportunity to squeeze cost out of the system at a time when people are increasingly having large investments in data centers and online service components in their business. And this is really where they're pushing us. So I think going forward it's going to be important to allow this mix and match environment. We're fully committed to supporting that. And this arrangement, I think, is moving in the right direction.

That depends on where one wishes to end up, I'd say, as to whether this is the right direction. It also raises the question, the right direction for whom? I did a little digging, and here's some information on how Microsoft interacts with universities:

The External Research and University Relations groups within Microsoft Research are dedicated to building world-class relationships with leading universities, government agencies, professional organizations, and industry partners to advance research, enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, establish Microsoft as a valuable research and technology partner for higher education, and cultivate the next generation of thought leaders.

OK. I guess that means Microsoft picks their brains. Is that what it wants to do with FOSS? The Microsoft group for North and Latin America has a page explaining their work:

At External Research & Programs, we are focused on advancing the state of the art of computing. We collaborate with university researchers around the world, focusing on current real-world issues, cutting-edge research, challenges facing the academic ecosystem, and innovative approaches to education that prepare students for the challenges of the future. This is achieved through a variety of global and regional initiatives and programs — including funding university research projects in specific areas, working with faculty across the globe to develop curriculum, and making source code available through our Shared Source Program to support teaching and research. In addition, we offer PhD and faculty fellowships to cultivate the next generation of computer science leaders.

So, Microsoft sprinkles academia with some money, presumably less than Microsoft makes from picking their innovative brains, and it sells what they dream up. Sailesh Chutani, Director of External Research & Programs Group at Microsoft Research, explains how it works:

Academia is home to creative thinkers and the birthplace of much innovation.

Collaboration Opportunities

At External Research & Programs (ER&P), we understand the vital role academia plays in the future of our world. Our purpose is to collaborate with leading research universities, government agencies, professional organizations and industry partners to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and cultivate the next generation of thought leaders.

In support of this vision, we invest in innovative research. Every year we publish requests for proposals (RFPs) in specific subject areas and award software, technical resources and funding — $4 million (U.S.) in 2006 alone to the most promising researchers. We create joint research institutes and host academic summits, workshops and symposiums to bring together the leaders of academic communities. We also award annual fellowships and internships. Through the Microsoft® Research New Faculty Fellowship program, we award $1 million to five exceptionally talented academic researchers each year.

Through a variety of global and regional programs like these, we support groundbreaking research in areas as diverse as bioinformatics, environmental sciences and robotics — fields Microsoft is not typically associated with. We invite you to explore with us the vast range of disciplines in which, together, we can partner to improve the quality of people’s lives in every part of the world.

So when Microsoft needs a certain problem solved, it hires innovation from outside, as needed. That's undoubtedly cheaper than it would be to hire all those brainy people and have to pay for salaries and for their dental and medical care year after year and to set up retirement plans, etc. The research isn't whatever the universities feel like doing. It's whatever Microsoft needs doing. They are paying, after all. A current area of research is in search, which will not surprise you:

Our work includes an RFP for Accelerating Search in Academic Research, designed to improve Internet search technologies, as well as data mining, discovery and analysis. To enable research, 13 awardees have access to MSN® data logs. ER&P also provides ongoing support for the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland, where researchers are developing tools that enable users of mobile devices to be more effective. At Cornell University, we supported the 3D Journal Project, which focused on developing a sketch-based interface for computer-aided design. Other projects include a platform for robotics-enhanced computer-science instruction and a research platform for sensor networks using service-oriented architectures.

I'm sure it is a lot of fun, for those researchers. But if I extrapolate to Novell, I see Microsoft getting Novell to code for them things like an OpenXML-ODF thingie that can fool some ISO committees and some PHBs into thinking it'll do. That doesn't help ODF, of course, but it's Microsoft's money, so they pay for what they want. Here's a bit more detail on the search initiative:

Microsoft Research has teams worldwide focusing on advancing the way users interact with computing devices. This includes search, access, and information management. Microsoft researchers are also investigating ways to advance Internet-scale searching, working on the core technologies for providing the most relevant and freshest search results possible.

Our goal in this initiative is to bring the current Web search to the next level by applying data mining, machine learning, computational semantic, and knowledge discovery techniques to information analysis, organization and retrieval while answering the following questions: What is the paradigm which will enable search to cope with the dynamic nature of the Web? How does one identify trends and bring the knowledge back to the user?

Ultimately we hope to advance research in desktop and Web information retrieval by understanding and advancing the scope, variety and quality of the knowledge exchange among individuals and communities on computing devices.

The 2007 research themes of the Internet Technologies and Cultures initiative (Search, Personalization, Voice) are summarized in the Call to Action on Information Finding via Discovery, Recovery, Delivery.

So, I understand this to mean that Microsoft pays these researchers to think and study and figure out ways to innovate in search so Microsoft can beat Google and Yahoo. Microsoft, I would guess, gets rights to the IP in some fashion. No wonder it has spent a fair amount of effort trying to get the community to drop the GPL and adopt the BSD license instead.

So. What does it mean for FOSS that Mundie says it wants a similar bridge with Open Source businesses? I think it means Microsoft would like to pick your brains and have you code for them for free, and it will sprinkle some money on vendors who sell your code, so they'll go along. The patent deals keep Microsoft in control, and thus, shazaam, it remains the dominant software world power, and you help them stay that way, not as compensated employees, but as free-as-in-beer worker bees. Linux companies get the money. You get to innovate your brains out, but only for fun or for the benefit of Microsoft, under their direction.

What if every Linux vendor in the world agreed to the plan? You would, then, I gather, have to work your brains in one of two places: locked inside Microsoft's iron embrace meeting its needs or in the noncommercial space, like an academic researcher.

I don't know if Microsoft sincerely believes that FOSS coders aren't interested in selling their solutions, but in any case, Microsoft is wrong. When Linus said it was all "Just for Fun," he didn't mean he wasn't intending to take over the world. He meant he was having fun doing it.

Of course, in Microsoft's plan, it would be the end of competition against Microsoft by the GPL or by anybody in any real way, because one misstep, and Microsoft reserves the right to sue your pants off.

Now I get the hobbyist part of the Novell deal, I think. Remember the Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Non-Compensated Developers?

Many software developers, often referred to as “hobbyists,” write code not with the expectation of making money, but because they enjoy solving technical challenges and participating in a community of enthusiasts who recognize and encourage one another’s talents. One such community of hobbyist developers participate in the development of open source software. To further encourage these efforts, this pledge provides non-compensated individual hobbyist developers royalty-free use of Microsoft patents as set forth below.

It is Microsoft’s intent that this pledge be legally binding and enforceable as to individual hobbyist developers according to the terms below.

Non-Assertion of Patents Pledge

Microsoft hereby covenants not to assert Microsoft Patents against each Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer (also referred to as “You”) for Your personal creation of an originally authored work (“Original Work”) and personal use of Your Original Work. This pledge is personal to You and does not apply to the use of Your Original Work by others or to the distribution of Your Original Work by You or others. A “Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer” is an individual software developer (i.e., a person and not any corporation, partnership or other legal entity), including a developer of open source software, who receives no monetary payment or any other forms of consideration that can be valued monetarily for their creation of their Original Works. The fact that You may be employed as a software developer by, and receive a salary from, a corporation, partnership or other legal entity, does not disqualify You from treatment as a “Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer” under this pledge, provided Your activities related to the creation of Your Original Work are performed during Your free time and outside the scope of Your employment. The Microsoft Patents subject to this pledge are all patents issued world-wide to the extent they are owned or controlled by Microsoft or its majority owned subsidiaries. For additional information on obtaining rights under Microsoft patents to contribute Your Original Work to an open source project, please see Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Hobbyist Contributors.

Microsoft reserves the right to terminate and revoke this pledge to You, as of the date granted, if You or an entity that You control asserts a patent infringement claim against a Microsoft product, service or technology.

Reservation of Rights

Microsoft further reserves the right to prospectively update and revise the terms of this pledge, for example to accommodate applicable laws, rules, orders or regulations. The rights provided under this pledge are personal to You and are not for the benefit of others. All rights not expressly granted in this pledge are reserved by Microsoft.

And here is that pledge to openSUSE contributors:

Microsoft’s Patent Pledge for Individual Contributors to openSUSE.org

From time to time, individual developers wish to contribute their authored code to openSUSE.org projects. It is Microsoft’s intent that this pledge be legally binding and enforceable as to such individual contributors according to the terms below.

Non-Assertion of Patents Pledge

Microsoft hereby covenants not to assert Microsoft Patents against each Individual Contributor (also referred to as “You”) for Your distribution of Your personally authored original work (“Original Work”) directly to openSUSE.org, but only if, and to the extent, (i) Your Original Work becomes part of SUSE Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and (ii) You ensure that as a result of Your contribution, openSUSE.org, and all further recipients of Your Original Work, do not receive any licenses, covenants or any other rights under any Microsoft intellectual property. This pledge is personal to You and does not apply to any use or distribution of Your Original Work by others.

There are a variety of ways to satisfy the requirement under section (ii) above. For example, one way to satisfy the requirement under US law is for openSUSE.org to include the following provision as is in its binding contribution agreement with You:

openSUSE.org agrees that as a condition of receiving the attached contribution of Your Original Work, openSUSE.org does not receive from You the contributor any licenses, covenants or any other rights under any Microsoft intellectual property with respect to that Original Work, and openSUSE.org will ensure that all further recipients of this Original Work will be subject to this same condition. “Original Work” has the meaning as set forth in Microsoft’s Patents Pledge for Individual Contributors to openSUSE.org.

An “Individual Contributor” is an individual open source software developer (and not any corporation, partnership or other legal entity). All Microsoft’s utility patents worldwide are subject to this pledge to the extent they are owned or controlled by Microsoft or its majority owned subsidiaries.

Reservation of Rights

Microsoft reserves the right to terminate and revoke this pledge to You, as of the date granted, if You or an entity that You control asserts a patent infringement claim against a Microsoft product, service or technology.

Microsoft further reserves the right to terminate this pledge and revoke this pledge to You upon the expiration or termination of that certain patent agreement entered into by and between Microsoft and Novell Inc., dated as of November 2, 2006.

In addition, Microsoft reserves the right to prospectively update and revise the terms of this pledge, for example to accommodate applicable laws, rules, orders or regulations. The rights provided under this pledge are personal to You and are not for the benefit of others. All rights not expressly granted in this pledge are reserved by Microsoft.

When Mundie said that Microsoft wants to build a bridge to Open Source businesses like the bridge it has to academia, then, have I misunderstood or is he saying he wants FOSS to become, instead of a competitor, more like a kind of cheap subsidiary that innovates principally for Microsoft's benefit? Microsoft gets innovation and code and makes money from it. Maybe some patents you didn't notice, too. Linux vendors on the bridge make some money. You get nothing.


  


What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale? | 404 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Way Off Topic but Interesting
Authored by: Bill The Cat on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 01:27 AM EDT
weapons of mass discovery in TorrentSpy case. The ruling (PDF) has huge implications for Legal, Technical and Social issues.

And we thought SCOs Discovery was insane!!!

---
Bill The Cat

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
Authored by: davcefai on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 01:37 AM EDT
What seems to be coming out is that MS have realised that they were not going to
manage to maintain a sole position.

They are therefore "accepting" a mixed environment in the expectation
that they will be able to control it.

"We can't keep Linux out so we'll let it in and keep it under
control"

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Bridge To Burn
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 01:42 AM EDT
Is the bridge I envision them building.

BG got the GUI from Xerox and Jobs got the knife, but alas the pipe fairy funds
the red ink, tortfeasor screaming, bad mouse trap "owner" of
yesterday.

Ironic? huh.

Live by the sword

I see the sand running out on Redmond and a whole lotta scrambling to bail
water.

Where Do You Want To Go Tomorrow?

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Does MS Want? -- Microsoft wants to share source code with AIDS researchers
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 01:58 AM EDT
I remember for instance, just as one of many examples of Microsoft building
bridges, that Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it has released to the AIDS
research community the source code for four analytical software tools, a move
intended to aid the development of a vaccine for the disease.

The source code, available as a free download from Microsoft's CodePlex Web
site, is designed to use the software giant's machine-learning technology to
sort through thousands of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) strains.
Researchers hope to use the technology to identify genetic patterns that could
help them train an infected person's immune system to combat the virus.

AIDs researchers will have the choice of either downloading the four tools and
using their preconfigured format or using the source code to develop their own
applications.

One tool, PhyloD, seeks correlations between a patient's human leukocyte antigen
(HLA)--a key component of the immune system--and the virus. A second tool,
Epitope Prediction, is designed for people with any type of HLA and aims to scan
proteins for the part of the antigen that elicits an immune response, or
epitope.

The HLA Assignment tool, meanwhile, aims to improve the accuracy in finding
epitopes, while the HLA Completion tool is designed to provide greater granular
detail about a person's genetic makeup by addressing the hierarchy of his or her
immune system's HLA types.

Microsoft began applying some of its technology to AIDS research in 2005, after
it discovered its machine-learning technology could be used for such purposes.
The research has included the efforts of roughly a dozen Microsoft researchers,
who worked with doctors and scientists in Microsoft labs.

"We apply technology to some of the world's toughest technical and societal
challenges," David Heckerman, lead researcher of Microsoft's Machine
Learning and Applied Statistics Group, said in a statement. "And with
10,000 people per day dying of AIDS, this world health crisis is certainly one
of those challenges."

I think it is a fantastic gesture and it deserves a lot of respect.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 02:09 AM EDT

I think academics would be hypocrites if they criticise this kind of behavior in commercial entities. Academics don't really seek money. They seek prestige - at least before they turn on their fellows and commercialise their ideas. Microsoft is certainly not alone in seeking to pick the brains of academics who are keen to have partners to develop their ideas with. So long as both are happy, I don't see that it does any harm. After all academics do the same thing all the time. They win research grants and then advertise for "research associates" who do all the work - their work - and partly in their name. In the end most of the prestige accrues to the group leader who only funded the research. The research associates go on and eventually win their own grants, so perpetating the system. E.O. Wilson once (in "Consilience") said that young academics have all the good ideas. They basically have more time as well as a fresher brain. It's a resource like water coming out of a tap, and can we really blame monster corporations for wanting a drink?

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Do YOU Want?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 02:11 AM EDT
PJ says that Linux vendors on the bridge make some money. You get nothing.
Isn't that what the entire GPL ecosystem is about?
It's the soul and the spirit of our model.
OK, thousands of contributors get respect. And love. But no money.
Isn't that what we all wanted? Why we are doing it? To share our freedom?

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Does MS Want? -- MS does not want you to sue it
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 02:21 AM EDT
Microsoft reserves the right to terminate and revoke this pledge to You, as of
the date granted, if You or an entity that You control asserts a patent
infringement claim against a Microsoft product, service or technology.

That is a completely redundant sentence.
I didn't intend to assert a patent infringement claim against Microsoft or
anybody else anyway.
Because I hate patents. They are evil.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft has several objectives
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 02:28 AM EDT
Certainly a major part of it is Microsoft's desire to leverage open source for
their commercial benefit. In principle, this is no different than what IBM,
Sun, Novell and others have been doing for years. We are right, based on the
way Microsoft has historically done business, to be cautious. But caution does
not need to imply paranoia. There is the potential for improved
interoperability between the Windows and Linux worlds. In some cases, Microsoft
will even see this as being in their own interests. Microsoft's deals with Xen
and Novell show major interest in virtualization, and they are not just
interested in how to run Windows in virtual machines.

Insofar as they can maintain and extend monopolies in specific areas, we can
expect them to do so. That is why the fight for open standards, and insistence
on proper documentation of Windows and Office APIs is so important. Building
walls between the FOSS community and Microsoft will not be productive in winning
that fight.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google gets it
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 02:35 AM EDT
If Microsoft really wanted to partner with open source communities they need look no further than Google's summer of Code as an example. They've been doing this for several years now and the participation has grown every year.

Of course, Google might just be up to no good too since they are willing to sponsor projects that use a license other than the GPL...

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 02:41 AM EDT
I find it interesting to watch Microsoft regard themselves as an innovator. I would clearly see them as a consumer of innovation, not as a producer. Funny enough, Mr. Mundie seems to assume that the FOSS community only consumes from universities. The fact that people (like myself) enjoy writing software that others can use - without having to pay for the right to use this software - is still something that he does not take into account. It is simply a different economic system,which they fail to acknowledge.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
Authored by: moosie on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 02:47 AM EDT
Seriously???

At External Research & Programs, we are focused on advancing the state of the art of computing. We collaborate with university researchers around the world, focusing on current real-world issues, cutting-edge research, challenges facing the academic ecosystem, and innovative approaches to education that prepare students for the challenges of the future.

Am I reading this right?

So the really, really, really, best M$ can do with this collaboration (cutting-edge research, etc) is M$ live and Vista?!

I'll leave indignation as an exercise for the reader.

-Moosie

---
Every time a chair gets thrown in Redmond by Monkey Boy an FOSS angel gets their wings ;)

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 02:49 AM EDT
That 'building bridges' phrase is used all through MS's publicity about these
Linux-patent deals. I noticed that from the start as something new.

MS portrays itself as the one trying to build bridges (between islands
stockpiled with patents) and portrays naysayers in the FOSS community as trying
to tear down the bridges.

Clearly there was an explicit directive from MS's PR dept to use that 'bridge'
imagery and terminology. At least it's less offensive as their old 'Linux is a
cancer' imagery.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I can live with the interoperability I have now
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 03:17 AM EDT
I dual boot these days: My Windows install only runs games and it runs only
those few associated gaming utilities/apps. On my gaming PC, the Windows OS
doesn't even know there is a Linux HD in the system any more, in fact.

On the Linux side, I download anything I need for gaming there, and then
physically port it over to the Windows HD (My Linux install DOES know the
Windows disc and filesystem exists).

So it's something of a one way trip, "Hotel California" style--stuff
can check into my Windows HD, but it can never leave. Except via the Windows
recycle bin.

Windows browser now used ONLY for that *very limited* gaming. No surfing/web
crawling over there any more. No more email.

Moreover, since Vista apparently doesn't support OpenGL (the way 2000/XP did),
the entire "IL2" series of flight sims won't require me to do another
Windows upgrade to keep those apps running...so there won't be any new Windows
PC's purchased here for flightsimming purposes .

I'm pretty rapidly getting the point where I almost don't need Windows for
anything. And certainly for nothing I can't already run on XP.

At whatever point my interest in those few remaining apps dies out, I'll be
completely done with Redmond.

-----------

The lesson for MS?: The (limited level of) "interoperability" I
already have now suits me just fine. So don't spend a lot of money trying to
"win (people like me) back." You won't.

Just keep the cash your retirement fund.

----------

I'm sure there are MS drones who are aware of people like me, and I'm sure they
desperately want to make Windows "important" again for us.
Essential.

But every time they cut out another useful feature from the past, they give me
even less reason to want or need their OS in the future.

What they MUST finally realize about guys like me is: We're not adding any new
Windows apps any more. We're not adding any new utilities.

No more new Windows dependencies--no printers, no cameras, no appliances (this
pretty much means "no more HP" too...).

I'm no longer buying anything NEW that requires me to run Windows. Nothing.
I'm done with it.

--------

So if the lesson was ever finally learned up there in Redmond (and there is
still no real evidence of that...)?

It doesn't matter any more either way. It if it was learned, it was clearly
learned too late.


Anon

[ Reply to This | # ]

Distribution!!!!
Authored by: crs17 on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 03:22 AM EDT
This pledge is garbage. It totally misses what the Open Source Community is
about. The relevant section:

"This pledge is personal to You and does not apply to the use of Your
Original Work by others or to the distribution of Your Original Work by You or
others"

No! Freelance Open Source developers don't always work for the fun of the task.
Many also work for any and all of the following:

1) The good of the community.
2) Their ego
3) The chance to become known as your software becomes used and appreciated.
Often a goal might be to parlay that engineering reputation into paying gigs,
either in open-source or proprietary, if that is appropriate. (Afterall - it
might not have been his goal, but that's what Linus did, not that he doesn't
deserve it)

None of these three outcomes come about if you don't try and distribute your
program (which this pledge won't let you!). In reality, if I as a hobbyist
follow the guidelines provided, there is almost zero chance the Microsoft would
have ever caught me if they didn't make this pledge since my work would be like
a tree falling in a forest that no one heard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM DOes This Too
Authored by: hbo on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 03:30 AM EDT
Actually, I'd be shocked if any technology company with the resources didn't support academic research on its pet projects.
So, I understand this to mean that Microsoft pays these researchers to think and study and figure out ways to innovate in search so Microsoft can beat Google and Yahoo. Microsoft, I would guess, gets rights to the IP in some fashion.
In theory, the research gets published, and Microsoft has just as much right as anyone to the results. In practice, it can get sticky. I don't know about Microsoft, but the 1990s saw many academic research groups take their research private, sometimes with the support of the institution the original research was done from. It strikes me as a perversion of academic values. It's nothing new, of course. Stallman was reacting to just such an arrangement when he created GNU. But private funding of public research doesn't have to be unethical or against the public interest. If results are published, as they frequently are, then anyone can benefit from them.

There are lots of private dollars going into academia now. The government has pulled way back in its support for research over the last two decades. So a researcher who is searching for a grant to do science and further his or her academic career must welcome the opportunities that private funding can offer. The companies get to define what topics will be studied, although I'm guessing there can be negotiation on that point. The researcher gets to conduct research, buy equipment , hire postdocs, and can reasonably expect to get publications out of the process. (Publication in a peer reviewed journal is the "coin of the realm" in academia.) The company may even collaborate by sending a senior researcher or two to help out with the work. (I know IBM did that back in the late 80's. I'm pretty sure they still do.)

But when we talk about the "same sort of bridge" to Open Source businesses, there's no guarantee the work will ever see the light of day. It would depend a lot on the company, I think. Novell sells lots of proprietary software alongside the FOSS stuff, so it could end up that results never get published. That's nothing new, either. companies do joint research all the time, and hold the results private. The proof may be in the pudding. Obviously, something like an OOXML to ODF translator benefits Microsoft. That will no doubt be published under some sort of FOSS license. (Gee, I wonder which one? Interesting question.) But there will be other products of arrangements like this. We'll just have to wait and see, Like you, I'm highly suspicious of where the balance lies in the value derived from this stuff.

Regards,
Howard

---
"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Research is not Microsoft product development
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 03:47 AM EDT
The commenters and PJ don't know a bit about Microsoft Research, obviously.

It is currently the most important non-academic research institutions in
Computer Science, even surpassing IBM's TJ Watson center. The researchers are
independent from product development. They may very well be compared to Bell
Labs of its high time -- if there would be people old enough here around, they
would remember that AT&T as a company at this time deserved rightfully the
same scorn that MS gets today. After all, they *were* broken up after found
guilty to be a monopoly that misused its power.

The article also denigrates the researches as MS Research; where currently some
of the best CS researchers of the world work. Those folks have other objectives
than playing games in product development, improving their scientific reputation
even further is their main goal. E.g., people like Leslie Lamport, in OSS
circles known as father of LaTeX, but actually the creator of a whole theory
about reasoning on parallel programs without common time.

To back the text above with facts that go beyond opinion: Count the affilations
of non-academic authors in almost any important ACM or IEEE CS-related
proceeding. (I.e., those who are archival and get indexed.) The majority of
these authors are from Microsoft Research. The competition to get such papers
excepted are very fierce and the program commitees look at the final papers
thoroughly, you can't place corporate shill articles there.

To denigrate Microsoft Research in the manner as the article did, is a knee-jerk
reflex. And, since astroturfing reproaches are rempant here, I'd like to
emphasize that I have no connection to Microsoft, neither the company nor the
research -- but I follow CS research and read conference proceedings.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I don't know which is more scary
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 04:51 AM EDT
Every single time a Microsoft droid delivers a pre-recorded speech that touches
on FOSS it paints the community as a bunch hobbyists, academics, students,
hackers - far removed from the "real" commercial world as M$ sees it.

So which is scarier:

Billy and Stevie are so far removed from reality that they really believe this
garbage; or

They think that everyone else on the planet is stupid enough to believe it?

I can't figure out which is worse!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Translation from Microsoft-speak
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 04:59 AM EDT

Our goal in this initiative is to bring the current Web search to the next level

Translation:

Our goal is to bring our outdated Web search up to today's level as developed by Google.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS & Academia -- an exemple from Brazil
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 05:05 AM EDT
A recent (dec. 2006) agreement between the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP: a public institution, similar to the US National Science Foundation) and MS can be found here (announcement) and here (full text). Brazilian commentors (e.g. here and h ere*, both through Google translation) have interpreted the deal as either an attempt to enforce sofware patents down there or, at least, to create a favorable environment for future laws in this sense (software patents are not enforceable in Brazil right now).

* "burrada" means: something very stupid ;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think I have a comparison
Authored by: skip on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 05:25 AM EDT
Eveer read the Ann Rice Vampire series?

Older vampires would gradually become hopelessly disconnected from the world and
would recruit younger vampires to give them a 'bridge' into the modern world.

This keep occuring to me every time I hear about Microsofts efforts. I cannot
help but think its too late. Not because of being Anti Microsoft or anything. I
just think they are too large, too set in their ways.

Even if, for the sake of argument, they changed management overnight, became
good guys and got involved in open source properly, they would still be in huge
trouble.

That's because Google and others have proved that the efforts of a small,
enthusiastic and fast working team can out acheive any larger organisation in
innovation and exploitation/creation of new markets.

[ Reply to This | # ]

For Sale? They own them already.
Authored by: jplatt39 on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 05:56 AM EDT
Or they behave as if they think so, and always have. Most of the people I've
known over the years who've gone there have said at one point or another
"But they do." As they have gotten this apparent monopoly power, I
don't know anyone who's gone there lately. This doesn't sound new to me. At
all. People with the best computer knowledge should serve M$ because they are
the best company. Or so I've been told. They own our files, our data, and our
brains. The only thing which has affected this is the size of their egos and
the size of their wallets.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ODF OOOPSXML compared
Authored by: MadTom1999 on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 06:11 AM EDT
http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2007/06/14/achieving-openness-a-closer-loo k-at-odf-and-ooxml.html It looks at first like a FLOSS evangelist rant but then it becomes apparent thats the only honest conclusion it could come to.. So to answer the most stupid question ever asked - what do microsoft want - they want your money and they cant be bothered to earn it so they'll take it off you any way they can!

[ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 06:15 AM EDT
    > Microsoft gets innovation and code and makes money from
    > Linux vendors on the bridge make some. You get nothing.

    Its funny isn't it.

    At the moment on GL we have a mix between what appears to me to be brilliant
    legal analysis of the cases on one hand, and on the other hand we have all this
    wildly overgrown paranoid FUD. I guess it just proves that we're all amateurs
    when we're off our own subject.

    Whilst no-one really trusts Microsoft, and rightly so IMHO it doesn't stop you
    working with them, and it doesn't prevent there being some mutual benefit...
    No-one used to trust IBM either, but now they're being held up as a paragon...
    They're just people, same as us folks...

    If at some time in the future they found, in the same way as Novell and IBM etc
    have, mutual advantages to them and the community in releasing code to the
    community under the GPL without the patent nonsense why on earth wouldn't the
    community accept it in the same way it has accepted IBM and Novell (at least
    until this FUD started) code?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The law is a donkey!
    Authored by: MadTom1999 on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 06:25 AM EDT
    http://www.theinqui rer.net/default.aspx?article=40353

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    how many times does he say innovation ..
    Authored by: emacsuser on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 06:59 AM EDT
    Look Mundi, you've got a menu driven GUI, some menu driven apps and msOffice.
    The rest are a combination of certain features of the above embedded into
    Windows so as to squeeze your competitors out of the market. That's all you've
    ever done in the area of 'innovation'. For instance embedding search into
    msOffice so as to kill Google and making msDesktop search impossible to remove
    and disabling real player and so on ..

    The server apps being so bloated and interlocking that it would be impossible
    for any third party to write client apps. Not to mention having to write to MS
    proprietary protocols, which you so kindly license royalty free, for now that
    is. But it does make the precedent that MS own the protocols, which is the whole
    point of reinventing them.

    I figure your understanding of innovation is different than the rest. Take a
    common standard, extend it and 'license' it back to the community under a
    royalty free license.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- To Beat Google!
    Authored by: gbl on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 07:03 AM EDT
    MS has only one real threat and that is Google. Now that Google is filling out their web services it is becoming possible to work anywhere and anytime with just a browser and Google web apps. You will soon be able to work offline and sync with google whenever you can network.

    Google may just steal Microsofts business software market by restarting the thin client market.

    It's notable that Google have registered googlepad.com. I wonder what for?

    ---
    If you love some code, set it free.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Fellowships and other contributions...
    Authored by: mtew on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 08:04 AM EDT
    Let's see...

    4,000,000 Funding from MS.
    -------------
    ._60,000_ -- Minimum cost of salary and benifits per person.

    Supports 66 people. Wow thats a LOT of people </sarcasm>.

    1,000,000 for 5 felowships. Is that each or for all 5?
    Given University overhead, 200,000 per fellowship is about right. Again, that
    is a LOT of people </sarcasm> given the 10s (maybbe 100s) of thousands of
    FOSS developers...

    ---
    MTEW

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 08:05 AM EDT
    "Money for nothing and the source code for free" ...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 08:54 AM EDT
    Microsoft doesn't build bridges, they build platform upon which they can haul up
    their siege weapons, break down your walls and burn your cities.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Poison the well
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 09:03 AM EDT
    By letting students see their code, and learn their methods they not only get
    them thnking in a windows way, they plant seeds of potentially patented code. A
    few years latter they can then point to new FLOSS code and claim that it is in
    violation of prevoius agreements between MS and the university that let the
    student see the code.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
    Authored by: phrostie on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 09:33 AM EDT
    it's like tabbed browsing.

    if MS had seen that coming they would have patented it before there was prior
    art.

    they just want to work more closely with us. ;-)

    ---
    =====
    you can fool some of the people all of the time.
    you can fool all of the people some of the time.
    it's setting them straight that is %&#$@

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 10:42 AM EDT

    Nothing for us? Not exactly. We get better Microsoft products with third- hand features filtered by commericial demand and mangled for business model preservation. These improvements, of course, are found in the super premium ultimate you-pay-the-piper-and-we-call-the-tune edition.

    I could be wrong.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Innovator? Ha.
    Authored by: dwheeler on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 10:53 AM EDT
    Microsoft? An innovator?

    A list of The Most Important Software Innovations shows Microsoft hasn't created any key software innovations. Indeed, as noted in Microsoft, the Innovator?, Microsoft is not a substantial innovator - for example, all of its successful products are copies of others' products. In contrast, there's lots of evidence of FLOSS innovation. Not being an innovator is no crime; many companies do well simply by making good products, selling them at a reasonable price, and obeying the law. But let's not pretend false is true.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 11:13 AM EDT
    And that is what I have been thinking , and said here all along. M$ wanted to
    find a way to get free coders for their software.

    -wb-

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I'm reminded of the story of the Scorpion and the turtle...
    Authored by: rsi on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 11:53 AM EDT
    A turtle was happily swimming along a river when a scorpion hailed it from the shore. "Dear friend turtle!" called the scorpion. "Please let me climb upon your back and swim me to the other side of the river!" "No," replied the turtle, "for if I do, you shall sting me, and I shall die." "Nonsense!" replied the scorpion. "If I kill you in the middle of the river, you shall sink, and I shall drown and die with you." The turtle thought this over, and saw the truth of the scorpion's statement. He let it upon his back and began swimming towards the other side of the river. Halfway across, he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck. "Why have you stung me?!" cried the turtle as his body began to stiffen. "Now you shall die as well!" "Because it is in my nature," replied the scorpion as the turtle sank beneath the waters.

    Do you really want to trust Micro$orpion??? I sure don't!!!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Building Bridges ==> Establishing Bridgeheads
    Authored by: Ted Powell on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 11:53 AM EDT
    Think about it...

    ---
    This is *my* computer, not Microsoft's!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Reading Between Microsoft's Lines is Fun!
    Authored by: Simon G Best on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 12:17 PM EDT

    I've just read the first quoted paragraph of Craig Mundie, and it's brilliant!

    So for the last few years as we talked to the customer base and it became absolutely clear they were going to have a mixed environment,

    Microsoft failed to persuade them otherwise. Thoroughly failed, after a lot of effort, by the sound of it.

    they really pushed on us a lot to work on resolving the interoperability question.

    Microsoft's own customers are fed up, to the back teeth and beyond, with Microsoft's incompatibilities with the rest of the world, and have been insisting that Microsoft change their ways.

    But they also pushed on us a lot about the question of continuing the innovation.

    "Continuing the innovation"?

    In particular, they want innovation not only on features and capability

    Microsoft's software has the wrong features sets and capabilities, and lacks necessary features and capabilities.

    but increasingly around costs

    Microsoft's software costs too much.

    and cost containment manageability

    When you use Microsoft software, it'll end up costing you more than you thought. Costs will spiral, due to the hidden costs of using Microsoft software. The "TCO" of Microsoft software is too high.

    as well as security, privacy, and other things.

    Microsoft software is insecure, endangers your privacy, and has other problems, too.

    It's also nice to have it confirmed, from Microsoft, that Microsoft "innovation" really means that Microsoft's software is woefully deficient in various ways.

    :-)

    ---
    "Public relations" is a public relations term for propaganda.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Completely Missed Point
    Authored by: sproggit on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 05:13 PM EDT
    With respect, I think there is a much simpler - and potentially much more
    serious motive at work here.

    Microsoft are trying to win "hearts and minds" by any means they can.

    As someone with a few years' experience working with technology, I have
    interviewed and recruited my fair share of specialists to work in Teams I have
    run. I've also worked with Microsoft people - both sales and technical support.

    The reason Microsoft is so keen to get involved with education is simple - they
    want students to go through our education systems without learning about any
    other software. It's that simple.

    University students are by definition typically running on a tight budget.
    [Everything except the beer budget that is]. So when Microsoft step up and say,
    "We'd like to sponsor you to do this piece of research, and here's a laptop
    and a second PC and all the software you could possibly want to do the work. Oh,
    and by the way you can keep the software when you're done - and the laptop
    too." how do you expect the students will react?

    Microsoft have the financial resurces to go to education departments and
    "help" put together the syllabus to be taught to students. Obviously,
    if Microsoft understand what is to be taught, they can make sure that they
    provide all the best tools to get the best from young people.


    So what happens is that, over a period of time, you get successive generations
    of students [of all ages] growing up believing that every PC the world over
    comes with Microsoft Windows, Office and IE.

    As someone who recruits staff, I see "MS Windows, MS Office, MS Project, MS
    Powerpoint, etc" now listed as "IT skills". To quote PJ:
    ppuuhhhlease... They're not skills, they're liabilities.

    I've also watched Microsoft offer "free consultancy" to help my
    previous employer deploy SMS; the same to replace a Lotus Notes Infrastructure
    with Exchange and so on.

    In a chatty lunch conversation with a pre-sales technical consultant, I listened
    while it was explained to me that Microsoft knew and accepted that their
    software was widely copied and ripped off. They accepted this not because they
    wanted to give away their product for free, but because that they knew people
    who ran pirate copies at home would become skilled in Windows and Office and
    then legitimate employers would by full licenses for those people when they went
    to work. [I will concede that this largesse may have changed in recent years].

    In short, I've personally witnessed Microsoft employ a range of tactics which,
    in different circumstances, we might find odd or unusual. But take them in
    context with what is going on today, with the patent deals and the distribution
    deals and the huge push-back from the corporate world who grow weary of paying
    their Microsoft Tax and you can see that this is nothing more than an attempt to
    shore up the monopoly and preserve the sacred cash-cow that is Windows.


    What amazes and delights me is that the FOSS software world - and suites such as
    OpenOffice and KOffice and FireFox in particular, continue to thrive and grow in
    the face of that all-out offensive from one of the largest and most powerful
    corporations on the planet.

    MS might have financial and political clout, but in the last couple of years
    what we have seen is a groundswell of reaction from people who know what freedom
    really is...

    Going forward, it's my belief that the generous and giving nature of the FOSS
    community will win the hearts and minds, not just of students, but of the
    academic establishment too. For the sake of our children, it's something we
    should all care deeply about.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I am facing exactly that problem right now....
    Authored by: bigbert on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 05:43 PM EDT
    I teach CS at a small college which is totally MS. Our department has fought
    very hard to get control of our own computer labs (not rooms, real labs) and we
    are running Ubuntu clients with WinXP as virtual guests using VMPlayer. This way
    our students get to see the power of Linux while still being able to be
    "exposed" (in the sinister sense of the word!) to MS.

    Last week the CEO called me in to discuss this MS "research
    initiative". He made it VERY clear that we are to work closely with MS and
    get involved with this stuff. When I pointed out to him that MS will end up
    owning the "IP", he said that I shouldn't worry, because anything I
    innovate belongs to the college in any case. He just couldn't see the difference
    between MS owning the "IP" and us owning it.

    This is a bit of a crises for us. However, my first action was to ask MS to
    supply us with a list of the patents that Linux is supposedly infracting, so as
    to ensure that our labs are clean. For some strange reason I haven't heard
    anything yet... :-)

    But far more serious is the mindset that CS==MS and that any CS research
    automatically means MS orientated.

    Watch this space. The war has just started and we are fighting an enemy with a
    LOT of resources. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

    ---
    --------------------------
    Surfo, ergo sum.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OT: "PJ's Motion" Dies
    Authored by: Steve Martin on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 08:10 PM EDT

    Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Hot off PACER, IBM filing # 1069, "SCO’S REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION TO DEEM A PROSPECTIVE THIRD-PARTY DEPOSITION IN RELATED LITIGATION TO BE A DEPOSITION TAKEN IN THIS CASE AS WELL":

    SCO respectfully submits that the motion has been mooted given that the referenced date of April 30, 2007 referred to in the opening memorandum has passed. DATED this 15th day of June, 2007.

    And that is the entire text of the Reply Memorandum.

    ---
    "When I say something, I put my name next to it." -- Isaac Jaffee, "Sports Night"

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    PJ's Depo is Moot?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 08:13 PM EDT
    So did it or didn't it happen?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Free?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 08:34 PM EDT
    Government agencies and Universities are publicly funded
    and therefore anything they develop are free.
    BSD is a good example.

    I think it's simple, MS wants everthing for free
    and it wants to charge us for it.
    It doesn't matter to them were they get the code.

    I know of 2 groups in Utah County trying to duplicate
    Samba to sell to MS. Why? To bypass the Samba license.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Thought Leaders
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 15 2007 @ 11:51 PM EDT
    What on earth is a "thought leader".
    is it something to do with leveraging interoperability around cost containment
    manageability innovation?.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Empires - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 12:24 PM EDT
    Wet behind the ears, or is there more to it?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 07:52 AM EDT
    I started to think this was [OT] but then again... "The ... innovation, I think, is going to be critical at all levels in software, especially within this platform environment. Today the industry is really behind where customers want us to be in terms of being able to allow them to reduce costs." Sorry Mr Mundie and MS, but you know naught of what you speak, and are detached from the reality of accounting & business here. is behind, as in supporting, permitting and encouraging in allowing (giving permission for) to reduce costs? Whence doth cede to the authority to determine cost reductions? I remind readers of the Biblical question: (Matt 20:15) Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Either has the ability to make its own cost decisions or (the unspeakable), has surrendered sovereignty to . If the latter, has Microsoft come to the conclusion that it has won already, or does it merely believe it to be so?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Does MS Want? -- Brains for Sale?
    Authored by: gtall on Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 02:02 PM EDT
    In the arena closest to me, theoretical computer science, M$ has been buying up
    the researchers. It is difficult to figure out an overall gameplan unless it is
    simply Borging everyone in sight to make sure no one else gets them and to be
    sure there is a warm fuzzy place for M$ in the hearts and minds of the Borgees
    and influenced students. The research being done by these guys is fairly narrow
    and geeky, I don't think anything earth-shattering will come from them alone.
    However, if it is put together tinkertoy like into a larger scheme, M$ might get
    an edge on the competition. I do sometimes worry that FOSS is somewhat still
    leading the charge for 1990's systems.

    Gerry

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Hitting walls - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 16 2007 @ 06:23 PM EDT
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