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Microsoft's Code Contribution Due To GPL Violation

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the say-it-aint-so dept.

Microsoft 508

ozmanjusri writes "While Microsoft presented its recent embrace of the GPL as 'a break from the ordinary,' and the press spoke of them as going to great lengths to engage the open source community,' as is often the case with Microsoft, it turns out they had an ulterior motive. According to Stephen Hemminger, an engineer with Vyatta, Microsoft's Hyper-V used open-source components in a network driver and the company released the code to avoid legal action over a GPL violation. Microsoft's decision to embrace the GPL was welcomed by many in the open source community, but their failure to honestly explain the reason behind the release will have squandered this opportunity to build trust, something which is sadly lacking in most people's dealings with Microsoft."

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First Laugh (2, Funny)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795465)

It's hilarious.

Re:First Laugh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795541)

But who will be having the last laugh?

Will you be finding it so hilarious when you wake up next week and find your entire linux system is now being coded by Microsoft? It's already turning to shit pretty fast, but some genius will fix that soon, by getting another 50 MoronKit daemons running. Oh wait, that didn't help, lets just leave them to rot and start 50 more.

sooo... (1, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795493)

GPL is viral.

Re:sooo... (3, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795537)

As viral as any licence agreement that has any terms. You could argue that the GPL is a pretty mild one when setting terms, nothing unreasonable...

Re:sooo... (2, Informative)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795595)

I was just being a douche... (: get the facts!

Re:sooo... (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796007)

So it's a copyright license. The FSF website even says "the GPL assures copyright of the software." But I thought Slashdot was against copyrights?

Re:sooo... (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796163)

Not really. We just want things for free. The GPL gives us things for free. Lack of copyright provides the same effect.

Re:sooo... (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796173)

I think most people on Slashdot are for copyrights, but against getting FITAed by software that doesn't do what you need it to, and the vendor is the only one with the magic recipe that can fix it and doesn't care about your problem.

Re:sooo... (4, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795555)

Exactly. By doing this Microsoft have added weight to their argument that businesses shouldn't use GPL because it's viral nature is dangerous. Of course it's a poor argument, but perfectly good for them to spin to suit their agenda.

Perhaps they did it on purpose.

Re:sooo... (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795735)

By doing this Microsoft have added weight to their argument that businesses shouldn't use other people's code because copyright's viral nature is dangerous.

Fixed that for you.

Re:sooo... (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795815)

Or, more accurately, that you shouldn't use anyone else's code in your products unless you have carefully read the license and are happy to agree to all of the terms. If it's a complicated license, like the GPL or most proprietary software licenses, then you should probably run it past your company's legal department.

Mod parent up (5, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795939)

I'd do it myself (currently having mod points) but the following comment seems more important:

The typical Microsoft EULA is more complicated than the GPL, and contains a lot more points that seem designed to screw the customer over. So Microsoft is at least the pot calling the kettle black ;-)

Re:Mod parent up (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796099)

Agreed, it took me 3 hours to read the EULA on my xbox (or rather xbox live), I still don't understand some of it.

Re:sooo... (4, Insightful)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795843)

Microsoft have added weight to their argument that businesses shouldn't use GPL because it's viral nature

Actually it seems they have added weight to their argument that businesses should adhere to the licensing terms for the software they use. Microsoft puts massive resources into fighting violations of their licensing agreements [microsoft.com] with end users of their products and here they are caught violating the licensing terms for software they have licensed.

So in the end Microsoft should write their own code and refrain from stealing open source code if they have no intention of adhering to the licensing terms that made the open source code available. The GPL is not viral, otherwise they would be releasing ALL of their code under the GPL.

Thats stupid. They couldve recoded it if they want (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796051)

Microsoft is a big enough company that if they really felt that GPL was a problem, they could easily get 1 or 2 of their 50,000 odd developers to recode the little driver that was GPL'd.

Obviously they were fully aware of the implications of using it, and decided to instead of recoding the one driver, to publically release the entire thing under the GPL. That's hardly an "ulterior motive"

Re:Thats stupid. They couldve recoded it if they w (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796171)

Exactly. The only ones putting a spin on things are the counterculture media sites like Slashdot and the Register. They are so desperate to make out anything Microsoft does as evil that they have to invent this "ulterior motive".

Microsoft is a huge company with a lot of money. They create entire operating systems, productivity suites and video games. They could have easily written a damned network driver.

Re:sooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796123)

Perhaps they did it on purpose.

Exactly...Somebody (or a group of people) at Microsoft decided to use the GPL code. As such, Microsoft had no choice but to open their code. Having said that, Microsoft had the ability to go back and rewrite the code, but they didn't. Of course they opened their code to prevent a lawsuit. Perhaps this was the intention, all along. This is a complete non-story and it's no different than anybody else that uses code licensed under the GPL.

Re:sooo... (4, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795577)

Sure, in the same sense that all proprietary licenses are also viral. The difference is that the GPL "virus" doesn't generally kill its hosts.

Re:sooo... (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795941)

Sure, in the same sense that all proprietary licenses are also viral.

How are all proprietary licenses viral? If I use Visual Studio(or the command line compilers and linkers in .NET), Borland, whatever and compile statically against every possible Windows and .NET library, does my code/application become the property of MS to sell and distribute according to the terms of Visual Studio?

Re:sooo... (0)

frith01 (1118539) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796147)

No, but if you attempt to create any application similar to an existing microsoft app, they will block any attempt for you to sell your product.

Re:sooo... (1, Funny)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795581)

oh noez, I has teh GPL/AIDS.

Re:sooo... (2, Funny)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795677)

Don't give up hope — I hear they are working on a GNU vaccine.

Re:sooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795597)

Copyright is viral through the concept of derived work.

Re:sooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795783)

Doesn't that make sense then? Windows is like a virus, so....

Re:sooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796005)

It looks like Sam Ramji lied when he said "We considered other licenses ... ".

MS was __forced__ to use GPL as they used GPL code.

Re:sooo... (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796091)

GPL is viral.

You say that like if it were a bad thing

Re:sooo... (2, Insightful)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796097)

I have a hard time getting angry at Microsoft over this (plenty more things they do annoy / anger me though). They were in violation of the GPL, when they realised it they had a few options. Among those options were come into compliance, contact the copyright owner and try to make a deal or try to cover it up. Of those three options they chose the more ethical in my opinion. They almost certainly chose that option because it also made the most business sense but that is what they always do. It is what every other business does. Sun, Red Hat and IBM aren't releasing open source code for anyone else's benefit other than their own.

Viral (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796207)

Let me get this straight: if I create a derived work of someone else's code and obey a condition for getting permission to do that, then the person whose work I built on, gets tagged with the derogatory word "viral."

But if I try to create a derived work of someone else's code, but just can't get permission at all, because the original creator doesn't want to share or "promote the progress of the useful arts and sciences" then no derogatory term applies.

Right?

first nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795499)

the nigger is laughing too

Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (5, Interesting)

slack_justyb (862874) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795521)

I for one welcome this news.

It shows that Microsoft actually respects the GPL and believes it to be a license that can be held up in court. Or at least, they don't want to try to test the validity of the GPL.
At any rate, it gives us some insight as to Microsoft's view on Linux, since they've been silent for quite some time about the topic.

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (1)

zarthrag (650912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795613)

Agreed. And in other news: Hell is still hot. I repeat, it is NOT Christmas time in hell. You can now resume hating MS.

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795653)

After all this noise and bullshit about how many hundreds of MS patents that linux violates [cnn.com] , it would be rather ironic if Microsoft was found guilty of incorporating GPL code into their proprietary applications. I almost wish they would have been sued, because maybe then it would get Ballmer to STFU.

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795775)

...Sued by who? You see, the main problem with open source and people suing over the GPL is because a lot of the things that are GPL'd come from people like you and me. I know for a fact that if my code was taken by MS or any other large company the most I could probably do is write them a stern letter. Now granted, this was Novell in this case who could easily have sued MS, but for a simple programmer the fees and delays of a lawsuit against a huge company without assistance is nearly impossible.

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (5, Informative)

gigabites2 (1484115) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796057)

Well, there is the Free Software Foundation [fsf.org] . Perhaps you've heard of them?

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796079)

This is why the Free Software Foundation requires copyright assignment for all GNU projects. If GNU code is incorporated into a proprietary project then they have both the standing and the means to sue.

Of course, they also grant the original author a non-exclusive, transferable, license to do whatever they want with the code, and I make any contributions I've made to GNU projects available under the MIT license too, so it's not always clear-cut as to whether something is really copied from a [L]GPL'd source...

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (2, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796169)

...Sued by who? You see, the main problem with open source and people suing over the GPL is because a lot of the things that are GPL'd come from people like you and me. I know for a fact that if my code was taken by MS or any other large company the most I could probably do is write them a stern letter.

You have more options than that. The FSF will in many cases step in to help, with their resources. You may want to consider assigning your copyrights to the FSF so that they have legal standing to intervene directly. They won't always be interested in helping, because their resources are limited, but I guarantee that if a high-profile company like MS was violating the GPL, they'd be all over it.

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795715)

Well, you have a point, but it's not a new one. MS has always feared the GPL [getthefacts.org] and they are merely doing what is in their best interest AKA licensing before they get sued. The folks who created the software could easily still sue for the time from when it was being used -> when it was licensed for damages.

Everyone has had to respect the GPL because it has already been held up in court as far back as germany in 2004 [tinyurl.com] and redhat in 2006. [tinyurl.com]

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795777)

The enumeration of the damages would be interesting.

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795727)

Microsoft might not like the GPL, but its business relies on copyright protection. The last thing that Microsoft wants is weaker copyright protection for software.

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795793)

The GPL isn't getting tested because nobody's dumb enough to do so.

The GPL is the only thing that gives anybody the right to redistribute the code. So if for whatever reason the GPL was found not to apply, the code is still copyrighted, and that doesn't give them the right to redistribute somebody else's code. So at that point it turns into a very standard copyright infringement lawsuit.

Re:Makes the GPL real in their eyes. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796065)

It shows Microsoft's PR department is as good as ever at taking a nasty situation where they've done something jacked up and spinning it 5,000 MPH to look like something else.

Well.. (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795523)

The damage would have been much more severe if they had been caught/forced to turn it over to open source.

Re:Well.. (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795565)

They were caught and asked to turn it over to open source. Someone pointed out that the drivers mixed GPL and closed-source code and that they would have to release the closed-source components.

Re:Well.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795703)

I take issue with the "they would have to release" part of your post as there is always the option to stop distributing their code altogether until the GPL parts had been removed.

Re:Well.. (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795999)

That is very true. And the court can order fines or restitution for lost sales/opportunity if the code is not to be released under GPL.

Cue FUDSpinning (5, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795533)

about viral GPL in 5... 4... 3...

No, seriously, someone in the militantly proprietary SW camp is going to latch onto this and turn it into some kind of morality tale. "Poor Microsoft, they took the tempting bait of Open Source code and LOST THEIR PRODUCT! Don't let this HAPPEN TO YOU! ph33r teh Open Source!"

Mark my words. Expect a flood of "independent studies" dissecting this story with the intent of making Free Software look like hidden poison.

Re:Cue FUDSpinning (2, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795651)

Mark my words. Expect a flood of "independent studies" dissecting this story with the intent of making Free Software look like hidden poison.

Right. This is simply another case of slamming the corporate dick in the dresser drawer. It's common enough we should expect it.

Re:Cue FUDSpinning (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795709)

Poor Microsoft, they took the tempting bait of Open Source code and LOST THEIR PRODUCT! Don't let this HAPPEN TO YOU!!! ph33r teh Open Source!

I am to please. You aim too, please. ;P

Re:Cue FUDSpinning (1)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796015)

I think the message that companies need to understand is that GPL != Public Domain. There are a lot of advantages for using GPL'ed code, but companies need to measure the risks/rewards of using GPL'ed software and how it might impact their product goals for the good or the bad because they are required to fulfill the requirements of the license, no matter how few and and inoccuous the license requirements might be. I don't think exploring that distinction is FUD, but an intellegent discourse that helps protect the vendors who utilize GPL code, their users (in the form of future releases not being interupted by legal issues) and the original developers who released their code as GPL and not public domain for a reason.

There are situations where it might be better for a company to reinvent the wheel than use GPL licensed code when you consider the long term implications of the license and the cost of compliance with the license and the risk of exposing proprietary code that interfaces with the GPL code.

I'm just glad companies are understanding they can't just copy and paste GPL code and be done with it like a fat kid in a candy store and not open themselves up to legal risks the could have avoided by not using the licensed code or using the code while respecting the term(s) of it's license.

Re:Cue FUDSpinning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796153)

Why would anyone bother FUDing this? MS had no need to take another person's code. They have a fair number of developers to hand, and even should they lack skills, they a few pennies in the bank to hire freelancers.

MS and Legitimacy (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795535)

They could have just stripped the GPL'ed code out completely, its a small part of the total code dump...

Rather, it really is legitimate but for a different sort of evil. Microsoft wants to rule the virtualization world over VMWare and Xen, and one of the things they need to support is Linux well for this market. By getting the necessary support into the kernel, even under the dreaded GPL, this furthers Microsoft's own objectives.

Re:MS and Legitimacy (5, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795827)

My first thought once I navigated through the maze of links to the source of this info was that people were jumping to conclusions:

"Microsoft released code that would otherwise violate GPL" = Microsoft were caught out and forced to release the code.

When this could be just as true:
Microsoft always intended to release the code so used GPL'ed code in it.

Re:MS and Legitimacy (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796135)

When this could be just as true:
Microsoft always intended to release the code so used GPL'ed code in it.

Interesting, but why would they want to?

That Was Close! (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795547)

Whew, for a second there, everyone was scratching their heads wondering if Microsoft had something up their sleeve. Not so, apparently.

Personally I'm glad they can go back to making themselves obsolete and unneeded. We would forever be stuck with them if they slowly open sourced parts parts of their operating system like Adobe's doing with its Flash SDK [arstechnica.com] . Really the situation is win-win in my mind: If Microsoft doesn't open source code and work with developers, the developers are just going to roll their own or go elsewhere. Conversely, if Microsoft open sources some of its stuff (like, truly opens it up with GPLv3) then we get to meet them halfway and maybe they'll be a valuable part of the community (supress laughter, it may happen yet). Granted, they've been very creative with things like the MsPL but people see through those ruses pretty quickly.

They're faking their embrace of open source now but open source is actually affecting them. This seems to be tacit acknowledgment that they need to support this on open source; no more "la la la I can't hear you!" It's a choice Microsoft can make soon now: relevance or extinction. Marketing can only keep them in the game for so long.

Re:That Was Close! (2, Insightful)

cbrocious (764766) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795607)

"Granted, they've been very creative with things like the MsPL but people see through those ruses pretty quickly." Yes, total ruse. Except that the MSPL is an OSI-approved open source license. There's plenty to bash MS on, the MSPL isn't one of those things.

Re:That Was Close! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795885)

When I slowly die, I want it to be in the way where I slowly get healthier.

While Microsoft has about the lowest relative share of the market they have ever had (since they became dominant anyway), they also have the largest absolute market that they have ever had (especially if Windows 7 shows the launch of Vista to be a hiccup and you hand wave a little for the poor economic climate).

The people who don't trust MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795549)

Will NEVER trust MS.

MS can never build bridges with many of the software red loons who frequent this site.

Re:The people who don't trust MS (1)

Iberian (533067) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795637)

I trust Microsoft to make money. Knowing that makes it easy to know where they are going. Google makes money too but only on adwords so the rest of their offerings are a bit harder to decipher.

Re:The people who don't trust MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796043)

When everyone trusts their Google overlords those Google ads seem much more appealing. This is charity marketing. Ie, Google only has one focus, making money, and they do that by building trust with the public by making themselves look like children who care about everything and everyone.

Re:The people who don't trust MS (1, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795687)

Well, that whole nonsense about VFAT is nothing to take lightly.

If Microsoft could, they would gladly sabotage my ability to use
Linux. They would gladly sabotage my ability to easily use my
digital camera, my video camera and my personal media player.

I should be free to completely ignore Microsoft if I want to.

This is what seperates them from Ford, or McDonalds, or Campbells
and generates a lot of the ill will that some people like to
demonize others for.

Re:The people who don't trust MS (1, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795935)

I should be free to completely ignore Microsoft if I want to.

How exactly are you not "free to ignore Microsoft if you want to"? I haven't bought a Microsoft product in about 3 years now, and haven't once felt like I was missing out on something. I have a perfectly capable computer system, digital camera, video camera, and personal media player at home with absolutely no Microsoft software on it and no Microsoft hardware in it. What exactly are you unable to ignore about them?

This is what seperates them from Ford, or McDonalds, or Campbells.

You're as free to ignore Microsoft as you are to ignore Ford, McDonald's, or Campbells. Buy a Honda. Eat at Burger King. Buy Progresso soup. Buy a Mac. Assemble a Linux system.

You're investing way too much of yourself in worrying about Microsoft. There is no nefarious secret plan in Redmond to destroy Jedidiah's computer.

Re:The people who don't trust MS (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796195)

The whole point is that if MS started suing people over the VFAT filesystem you would not be able to use a digital camera, MP3 player, etc. in Linux

Re:The people who don't trust MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795831)

Would you drive your car across a Microsoft-built bridge?

Re:The people who don't trust MS (2, Funny)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795887)

As a contributor to many GPL projects I would welcome any open source patches by Microsoft. They're a big company that could contribute a lot to Linux or its applications. Unfortunately there are many linux users who contribute nothing but hate which is why the public image of open source and free software has been ruined.

It doesn't matter if you're white, black, rich, poor or even Microsoft. All that matters is the code and the fact that Microsoft is using the GNU GPL license. Since they have contributed a plugin to moodle and this patch to the linux kernel they can no longer claim some of the things they previously did about the GNU GPL. It's also a selling point to anyone trying to convince higher ups to use open source software "even Microsoft contributes code to GPL software".

The doom and gloom in not only this article, but in the other two about when Microsoft first made the contributions are imaginary. I can't understand why people would want Microsoft to stop making open source contributions. The reasons for those contributions are unimportant as EVERYONE has a motive for contributing code to a GPL project.

Re:The people who don't trust MS (0, Flamebait)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795949)

WTF? you think microsoft deserves respect because they produce software? fuck that noise, respect is something that is earned - not given away like candy on halloween, just look at the history of microsft abusing its position as a monopoly and slandering Linux & FOSS/GNU/GPL in the past, and thats not counting how badly they treat their business parters. fuck microsoft! if Torvalds had any sense i would not let one stinking line of microsoft's code anywhere near the kernel or anything else he is in charge of...

Re:The people who don't trust MS (3, Insightful)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796179)

MS can never build bridges with many of the software red loons who frequent this site.

Once bitten twice shy.

And the irony, you consider a multi sourced market where the actual producers of the licensed source code retain their copyrigths versus handing it over to a single corporation to be communist, "red", and a single sourced monopoly controlled market to be free market capitalism. And copyright holders protecting their licensed source code are insane, "loons", while a fat ageing corporate officer jumping around on a stage in front of subordinates to the point of causing bodily harm and proceeding to limp around the stage is sanity.

Yeah, there are loons here its just not who you think it is.

More proof (-1, Troll)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795573)

Microsoft is inherently evil. Like kicking puppies.

Re:More proof (2, Insightful)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795811)

Depends on the puppy.

Re:More proof (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796061)

How about this puppy? [nocookie.net]

Trusting MS (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795587)

will have squandered this opportunity to build trust, something which is sadly lacking in most people's dealings with Microsoft

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... umm... you won't get fooled again, or something like that.

Trust is hard gained and easily lost. MS has shown no sign that they deserve to be trusted. They may be a business partner, but make sure you treat them like you would a business partner in renaissance Italy: Buy from them, exchange money and goods, but never hug them or a dagger will be in your back, never join them for lunch for the chance to be poisoned is far too great.

Before someone goes "business is not friendship". Indeed it's not. But there are various grades. I deal with companies where I don't need a contract because I know them and I know they will honor the contract we agreed on. I believe them if they say the check's in the mail. I grant them a delay in payment if they need to pay a few days later for tax reasons. Likewise, I get the same if necessary.

MS won't make it on that list. When they invite you to dinner, it's not because they want to show you how much they value you as a parner. They usually bring along a dagger or the more modern version, an adhesion contract.

Re:Trusting MS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796055)

An adhesion contract? Sounds like a sticky situation.

Most /.'ers.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795589)

will, sadly, not be surprised by this.

Doing the right thing, but stupid publicity stunt (1)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795593)

Microsoft did the right thing. They made a mistake in using GPL code, but were proactive in solving the problem and meeting their legal obligations by releasing all of the source. Other companies in similar situations, such as (if memory serves) Cisco with the Linksys router GPL code fiasco, needed to be prompted by actual legal action by the FSF to release their source code.

What gets me is how Microsoft tried to exploit the situation by using it as a marketing opportunity. They should have been honest and stated the real reason they released the source under GPL to begin with.

Re:Doing the right thing, but stupid publicity stu (1, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796157)

What gets me is how Microsoft tried to exploit the situation by using it as a marketing opportunity. They should have been honest and stated the real reason they released the source under GPL to begin with.

What you (and pretty much everybody else in this thread) is hoping for is for Microsoft to self-flagellate - something along the lines of: "We're so bad, we suck, we fucked up beyond comprehension, we hope the GPL community can somehow find it in their hearts to not destroy us to the 10th generation. We're stupid-bad-wicked-naughty-horrible-ugly-halitosis-having troglodytes, we're going to commit mass suicide in the hopes that someday history will forget what terrible people we were." This is not going to happen.

No matter how you slice it, it's good for the GPL & open source. Either Microsoft has conceded that the GPL is legally enforceable and thus must be taken seriously, OR they have decided that they want to play ball with the open source kids, and are using this as the first step in a new direction towards working with open source developers & projects. You can win thoroughly while still allowing the loser to retain some shred of their dignity. Attempting to back Microsoft into a corner over this in an attempt for some silly "PR victory" would be counterproductive.

But of course, current_year++ always seems to be the year of the Linux Desktop... so perhaps counterproductive strategy is just the way open source rolls...

Huh? (2, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795601)

I'm shocked, I tell you! Shocked!

How is it an Ulterior Motive? (1)

Stu1706 (1392693) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795661)

How is it an Ulterior Motive? Microsoft is a corporation driven by money and profits. They will not do anything to help any one they see as potential competition. We have seen this time and time again. How could anyone not living under a rock, not see this coming. It would be like putting a Nike symbol on a car. It does not make it a shoe and you should know better too. If you believe anything Microsoft has ever done has been for the good of anyone except Microsoft you...... It would not matter what I say there, you would have to be living in your own crazy little world anyway.

Just when I considered... (1)

Cur8or (1220818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795667)

paying for my copy of windows this time round they seriously piss me off again. At this rate I'll be installing Ubuntu within 3 generations of windows.

Good business (4, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795675)

Frankly, I'm pleased at this explanation. I'd very much rather MSFT accept the GPL and OpenSource as a sound business concept than merely out of some arbitrary corporate policy decision. Which could easily be reversed in the continuous "Change" ego-stroking.

Here, it appears that in spite of their best efforts and doubtless strong admonishments that GPL code found its' way into a key product. Good. They've learned they can't be completely leakproof. So will have to comply. Underforce is fine, because it is the most certain and sincere.

As for "trust", what a load of BS! Shareholders generally cannot even trust their Boards nor employees who by law and custom are supposed to look out for their interests. Why should the rest of us expect any better?

Trust is only a precursor to betrayal like Google. Trust is neither required nor desired in business. Much more reliable to trust persuit of self-interest. Business is not family life. There are no bonds of affection. Delusional to pretend there are. And stupid to lean on these bonds too hard anyways.

unlike other companies? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795681)

Unlike almost every major consumer electrocnics company which freely uses OS and:

Fails to disclose
Failes to release
When confronted, does not release everything
releases everything but then goes on to the next product where it fails to release

Seriously, what is so surprising about a company (any company) trying to turn a situation to their advantage. I mean, seriously, who really cares

MS: Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (3, Insightful)

KW802 (764675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795685)

If Microsoft had disclosed that they released the code to avoid a violation then the anti-Microsoft crowd would have proclaimed that Microsoft was only releasing the code because they had to, not because they wanted to. No matter the course of action Microsoft could have taken, they still would have been criticized.

Re:MS: Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795875)

It would be at least a little better than having everyone think that AFTER developing a bunch of conspiracy theories to explain Microsoft's ulterior motive. Also along this line of thinking: Microsoft did, at least, a lot more good by releasing their code via GPL than simply re-writing their proprietary versions of the same code... It save them money and contributed to the open source community. Whatever their motives, everyone wins.

Well, what kind of high-ground did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795981)

When you use other people's code in violation of their license, what kind of high-ground non-"damned if they do" position could you possibly expect to find yourself in? None.

Glad I saved making any comment 'til now (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795707)

I had question about what would drive Microsoft to doing that. After all, they did borrow quite liberally from BSD code for various things including the TCP/IP stack. But the stuff that was contributed back wasn't "huge" by any measure that I could tell. Now if they open sourced MS Office or Windows XP, THAT would have gotten my attention.

But I'll offer this. Let's give Microsoft credit for owning up to and respecting the terms of the GPL even if they weren't completely honest about their motives. They did the right thing which is also somewhat unusual for Microsoft. It may have been a baby step instead of a leap in the right directions, but it was still a move in the right direction.

HERPES (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795717)

HERPES

When it happens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795747)

When the world truly embraces open source there will be no more paid developing jobs. It won't be long after that open source will eat its own tail as people stop contributing due to the lack of economic motivation and all that is left is crappy code from people that have emotional motivation. When that happens, software production of the entire human race will grind to a halt and eventually people will realise they need to pay to get their software needs satisfied. The same thing will also happen with musicians and movie productions. :)

In the mean time, I hope that my country implements some more severe copyright law and makes irresponsible economics and needs fulfillment illegal. If we can just do that then we may very well come out in the lead when society finally breaks from its 'free mentality' and stops stealing material from the rights holders.

Shouldn't this be seen as a good thing? (1)

brennanw (5761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795755)

If they really did release the code to avoid litigation, then Microsoft is not contesting the validity of the GPL. Wasn't one of their previous tactics to attempt to portray the GPL as an invalid license? I suspect this argument will be harder to support when they release code in order to stay in compliance with its terms.

"Built trust???" (4, Interesting)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795757)

Trust must be earned. IBM, the Microsoft of an earlier era, has abandoned many of the anticompetitive and fraudulent actions of its past, and thereby helped to earn trust and respect. Microsoft could do the same, at very little cost or risk to itself, in various ways. For instance, it could agree not to sue reimplementers of .NET (Mono, etc.) and SMBFS/CIFS (Samba, etc.), or list the alleged "patent problems" with Linux that it has claimed in the past. But half-hearted measures such as releasing software under the GPL when it legally was required to do so, or the very limited promises it has made surrounding .NET, don't quite cut it for me.

Vital information not given (4, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795763)

All the information about this story is in 3 pages, all of which seem to link to each other as a source. There's a very fuzzy picture about what went on. Big questions I have about the story:

The issue appears to be that there were drivers linked to open source code. Which exact binaries, which GPL'ed code?

What are the timescales? Was the discovery of GPL'ed code made before or after MS released the code? If before, how long before? It's not clear on any of the pages.

Was the GPL'ed code able to be licensed through other means? Is there a possibility they decided to make this GPL'ed code a while ago and decided to link to other GPL'ed code because of this?

I don't mind doing a bit of my own research to get the full facts of a story but having to read 3 vague blog posts and still coming out non the wiser is irritating.

Re:Vital information not given (1, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796049)

Answers:

Q: Which exact binaries, which GPL'ed code?
A: They previously released kernel modules that were half and half. Half GPL'd Microsoft code, half binary blob.

Q:Was the discovery of GPL'ed code made before or after MS released the code?
A: Before. They were approached silently and with out fan fare by Novell and correct the situation by releasing all of the code for the driver.

Q:Was the GPL'ed code able to be licensed through other means?
A:Well, you only have so many choices when you write a driver for Linux. I'm sure they could have argued like others have that their driver was not a derivative work of Linux, and just submitted a binary blob. The fact that they tried to have it both ways indicates that they didn't think this was the case.

Q:Is there a possibility they decided to make this GPL'ed code a while ago and decided to link to other GPL'ed code because of this?
A: Probably not. The driver was all their code, they specifically chose to put the GPL on only part of it.

Windows Services for Unix (1)

kervin (64171) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795773)

So what exactly is the problem?

Microsoft has released software under the GPL because they had to before. For years now actually, since they distribute the Windows Services for Unix [microsoft.com] .

Do you think other companies that comply with the GPL do so because they like the license?

Not "sadly" or surprisingly (4, Insightful)

Idaho (12907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795801)

Trust in dealing with Microsoft is not sadly lacking.

It is understandably lacking for anyone who has been paying any attention at all to Microsofts history.

Microsoft eats poop (0, Offtopic)

eatspoop (1604225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795819)

http://microsoft.eatspoop.com/ [eatspoop.com] it's been proven again and again.

But it's Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795877)

You know, I really thought Microsoft respected copyrights and intellectual property. Aren't they always parading these as fundamental? Such a shame to see how hypocritical they have become.

Fishy... (1)

mhkohne (3854) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795893)

I'm supposed to believe that Microsoft couldn't replace a couple of drivers with code of their own, and thus ended up open-sourcing a large codebase to comply with the GPL? Sorry, no.

Everything Microsoft does is about making money. They open sourced this code because they believe they can use that in some way to make a buck. End of story.

umm (5, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796013)

So their ulterior motive was complying with GPL? Those sinister mofos!

Lack of Trust (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796021)

squandered this opportunity to build trust, something which is sadly lacking in most people's dealings with Microsoft.

This sentence could have been much broader and still been accurate. Something like:

squandered this opportunity to build trust, something which is sadly lacking in most people's dealings.

Extraoridnary lengths (5, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796063)

For Microsoft, complying with the law *is* going to extraordinary lengths to engage with the open source community.

The admitted this... (1)

entrigant (233266) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796067)

... in the press release. Did anyone actually read it? There was a little faq, and one of the questions was why. The answer was cause the GPL says so. That this is shocking to anyone is amazing. Who cares? They provided GPL'd code so linux can run in their hypervisor. Good for them.

bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796111)

microsoft used some gpl code, and then released their own code... they must have been doing something untoward. it couldnt possibly be what everyone who normally develops and contributes to open source code and they actually WANTED to do it.

typical slashdot story

Open Source Isn't The Only Way To Break Copyright? (1)

TwinkieStix (571736) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796181)

Microsoft claims that the creators of open source software are at risk of a lawsuit due to copyright violations, yet here they seem to be indicating that commercial software creators are at the same risk if they choose to violate those same copyright laws.
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