I wrote on this topic earlier this week, but my post is lost in the ether(net) somewhere. I can’t help but notice that Microsoft is working hard of late to shroud itself in protectionist robes of the holiest color.
First it was a battle for the sanctity of its patents. Now it’s a self-righteous tirade against Google for not being protective enough of others’ intellectual property. “Let me lead you into the Promised Land of IP Safety!” seems to be Microsoft’s latest rallying cry.
Isn’t this the same company that needed masses of US federal judges to stop it from trampling on others’ rights? The same company that flaunted antitrust laws to build and maintain monopoly power so that it could tax billions of dollars into its coffers? I’m as willing to forgive and forget as the next person, but it’s a bit galling to have Microsoft preaching morality and ethics to the world.
It would probably sound slightly more credible if its sanctimonious bile weren’t directed at its chief competitors, open source and the Internet (Google being the ‘Net’s chief representative in this case). Even more so if the rocks being thrown weren’t being thrown in apparent desperation.
Some of us, perhaps best put forth by Tim O’Reilly, feel that the more Microsoft seeks to “protect” the more Neanderthal it looks. It’s not that respecting others’ property is not important - it is. It’s just that the more Microsoft and others cling to the old ways of protecting that property, the more they lock themselves out of future prosperity. I understand that it must be hard to see this when the company continues to generate money like Niagara Falls gushes water, but this is precisely the time when the company needs to be most prudent on how to manage the future.
Microsoft’s way forward is to move forward, and not to greedily horde its past. It must do that to a certain extent to preserve shareholder value, but if it doesn’t change, that’s all it will own: shareholder interests of the past, which will drag it down to prevent it from embracing the future.