Weblog:   The Human Face of Microsoft
Subject:   demonized?
Date:   2003-03-01 12:08:21
From:   timoreilly
Response to: demonized?

Listen, I'm the first to call Microsoft on their shenanigans. I've been doing it for years. And like a lot of other folks, I gave them sh*t for their inflammatory comments about Linux and open source. But they've come a long way since then, they've tried to retract or apologize for those comments. I'm not saying that they are uniformly nice guys, nor that they aren't fierce competitors, but I am saying that there are a lot of people in the OSS community that wants Microsoft to die -- so why shouldn't they fight back? The best way to encourage them to be less hostile themselves is to be less hostile to them. That doesn't mean letting them get away with stuff, any more than Gandhi let the British get away with stuff in his fight for Indian independence. But he didn't fight back on their terms. He won by calling out the humanity in the British, not by fighting fire with fire. Make your enemy better, not worse, and you eventually win.
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  • demonized?
    2003-07-06 19:50:39  anonymous2 [View]

    Tim, you own and run a business that gets significant revenue from the Microsoft world. Of course you want to soften perception of Microsoft's true nature because the upside for you is increased cross-over sales. You want to be seen by Microsoft as a positive force, helping the Microsoft spin machine, so they will help you get more business.

    And trying to take something from history and totally distort it for your own ends won't work either.

    Why did Gandhi fight the Brits in the first place? Because British ruled India -- the land of his people -- by brute force.

    This is no different than the way Microsoft rules the world of personal computer operating systems, programming tools, office suites, and browsers. By monopoly -- i.e. brute force.

    Gandhi fought the British by extreme civil disobedience (this is not warm and fuzzy meetings and talks). Why?

    Because Gandhi could not meet the British fire vs. fire because the British had all the weapons. So Gandhi used all the avenues of resistance and dissent available to him.

    In the end, Gandhi won because he exhausted the spririt of the enemy to fight. This is nothing that is not in Sun Tzu.

    With free software and open source, the struggle may be similar. The more on the ground resistance there is to Microsoft, the more Microsoft will have to change their ways. It is not "the more nice talk we give to Microsoft, the more they will change". Microsoft is not your little infant that needs sweet talking.

    Microsoft is a vicious beast of a company that doesn't play by the rules. The only thing they understand and respect is pure force. And myself, having worked with them on and off over the past 13 years, attest to this. You bargain with Microsoft strength vs. strength. There is not one humanitarian bone in the Microsoft body.

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