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Bill Gates Says GPL Is Like Pac-Man

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the the-original-or-the-pinball-version? dept.

Microsoft 576

wrinkledshirt writes: "Bill Gates has finally spoken his mind on the GPL here. Interesting that he calls the GPL a PacMan-like entity considering that's how many of us view him and his company, but I digress ..." According to Gates, GPLd software "makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work. So what you saw with TCP/IP or Sendmail or the browser could never happen." Or the development of a full Free operating system either, I guess. Perhaps he should issue a company memo to the folks running Microsoft's stats.zone.com, who seem to be using GNU/Linux and Apache happily without donating MS Office to the FSF. Wacka wacka.

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So he likes open source then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#138084)


If the GPL is Pacman... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#138085)

... then the BSD license is a Lemming.

Bill should check his own product line (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#138086)

According to this page [microsoft.com] Microsoft is selling Free Software as part of their Interix 2.2 product. These packages include gcc.

good press, bad press (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#138093)

I'm working as an Unix editor in one Croatian computer magazine. I do write columns as well. It just happened that Microsoft gave me some stuff to write about recently, such as Windows and Office XP, X-box and now the debate of Open Source/Shared Source.

I can't say I adore Microsoft, and I did made some Redmond bashing in my columns - I'm Linux guy after all, and as a columnist, I can write of whatever I want.

Today, I've been phoned from my marketing director who told me that I have to stop writing bad about Microsoft (or anything about Microsoft) because "I'm doing it all the time and people are getting bored reading my columns because I'm not writing of anything else but how bad Microsoft is" and that they will stop publishing my columns if I don't start writing about something else.

Indeed, I see that writing how bad the new licencing model is, how bad X-box might be, how wrong the Shared Source is - might annoy some people. I was devilish enough to cut "Shared Source licence" to simply "SS licence" :-) and was accused of presenting Microsoft as Nazi organisation. Of course, the short version of Open Source - "OS licence" which I compared to "SS licence" was Ok. :-)

I might just be paranoid, but it seems that MS needs lots of great reviews of their new products, so they can sell them as much as possible, which is the only way they can enforce new licencing model, and everyone who is showing the people the other side of the story has to be pushed away if possible.

However, this is not the question if I'm right or wrong. I just dislike the idea that Microsoft can put pressure to marketing people or directors of the magazine to avoid expressing any bad opinion about the company.

Right now, I'm seriously thinking of quitting my job as a journalist/columnist. I have another job (much better paid than writing for a magazine) so it won't hurt my pocket. I was doing it for the fun anyway. ;-)

But if we go one after another, what will you read in the magazines? Who is going to write about Open Source, GNU and Linux? Do we really want to read in all magazines that Microsoft rocks, and Open Source/GNU/Linux sucks?

Apache isn't GPL (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#138096)

Apache isn't GPL, It's released under the Apache License

Business and the GPL (1)

Prop (4645) | more than 12 years ago | (#138126)

Frankly, I'm getting tired of hearing about "business" this and "business" that.

Who cares.

The GPL, Linux et al. were not originally intented to make money. If you can make money using them and contribute in the process, good for you. But don't bore me with the "but it's hard/impossible to make money", because frankly, no one "who gets it" cares anymore.

This comment applies also to all the Linux companies as well (witness VA Linux). If VA Linux dies because they couldn't figure out how to make $ from Linux, well, that's just too bad - I feel for the employees.

But beyond that, it's irrelevant. I still have great software to use.

It think the whole "Open Source" candy coating spear-headed by ESR was a big mistake. It subverts the original goal of having great software - LIBRE.

It's your choice (2)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 12 years ago | (#138140)

If code is GPLed, you have the choice of whether to use it - and get contaminated - or not use it.

If code is by Microsoft, only the latter option is available. You might get a source licence under certain terms by special agreement with the company, but the same is true for GPLed software also. (The copyright holder can relicense the work under any other terms.)

Shock. (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 12 years ago | (#138143)

Wow, Bill Gates spinsterish take on the GPL sounds a lot like the other MS vocalists as well.

Kinda amusing, though.
"So what you saw with TCP/IP..." Um... what, exactly? TCP/IP is in the kernel, and making a system call doesn't constitute a derivative work. The only problem you'd have is if the interface was GPL'd (and it's not), but write your own damn interface then.

But even better was "it makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work."

Right. More like, makes it impossible for a commercial company to sell users individual copies of software based on that work with shrink-wrap licenses that keep them from using the software on two computers. Which just happens to be Microsofts business model. Oh well.

And what's this "cycle" he's talking about? Sounds like the "healthy ecosystem" he's talking about is more like a waterfall. The free software flows off the cliff into the commercial company, and never goes back.

Oh well. In the end, I don't really care what Gates thinks, or claims to think, or whatever. Still, I got a chuckle out of it.

Mr. Gates really is right you know... (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 12 years ago | (#138160)

The only reason you can run commercial software on Linux is because Linus, who seemed to like and not-like the GPL, put in disclaimers basically trumping the GPL in the Linux license : The whole disclaimer saying that commercial software can utilize Linux however it would like with no need to be GPLd, etc. So whenever a GPL fanatic points to Oracle running on Linux as some great proof that the GPL and business can coexist, please realize that that is hardly the case.

Disingenuous support for openness (2)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 12 years ago | (#138165)

"So what you saw with TCP/IP or Sendmail or the browser could never happen."

Neither would it have happened if those had been Microsoft's patented, closed-source innovations.

Until Bill agrees to open everything MS does and allow their "innovations" to prosper like TCP/IP did, I think I'd rather not see the GPL go away just yet.

CNET = Confused NET? (2)

shaka (13165) | more than 12 years ago | (#138170)

That must have meen the most confused, and confusing, articles I've read in a while... I couldn't even figure out what they meant half of the time!?

Up Yours, Bill (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 12 years ago | (#138171)

"There are people who believe that commercial software should not exist at all--that there should be no jobs or taxes around commercial software at all," Gates said. While that's a small group, "the GPL was created with that goal in mind. And so people should understand the GPL. When people say open source, they often mean the GPL." -Bill Gates

Oh, right Bill. That's why the net was such a failure. No one could make money off of it.

Say, when does .NET come out?

Re:IBM should open source OS/2... (1)

sethg (15187) | more than 12 years ago | (#138180)

I have this image of an IBM middle-manager, formerly working on OS/2, now part of their Linux group, rubbing his hands together, cackling: "Revenge!"

CNET's fascinating take (3)

Lumpish Scholar (17107) | more than 12 years ago | (#138185)

What struck me about the CNET article was not Gate's analogy, but what percentage of the article was spent explaining free (and Open Source) licenses, and rebutting (by way of VA Linux's CEO, Larry Augustin) what Gates said.

Either we've got some friends out there, or Gates is really coming off as pointy haired. Or both.

P.S.: Yes, Richard, they blew the distinction between free software and Open Source software.

Guess your company has no plans to sell that! (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 12 years ago | (#138186)

So you're going to develop this wireless router using Linux and GPLed software. I'm guessing it won't be embedded. Since it's Linux, you can run it on anything, so you can't make money selling hardware. Where is the business model? Selling support for the wireless router software?

He says we can have the source to word (2)

trcooper (18794) | more than 12 years ago | (#138189)

From the article:
"I don't know that anyone has ever asked for the source code for Word. If they did, we would give it to them"
So, I want it... Think they'll send me a CD?

Re:He says we can have the source to word (3)

trcooper (18794) | more than 12 years ago | (#138190)

Erm... actually the quotes in the actual interview which is here [cnet.com].

Read it, the article in the /. post takes things out of context quite a bit.

Re:Another day... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 12 years ago | (#138198)

> What does that make Microsoft, those evil little ghosts?

He was a bit vague on how the GPL is like Pac-Man. It looks like he is saying that the protagonist (that's you, the player) is evil and the bad guys are good.

Of course, in MS's paranoid fantasies, the good guys are bad and the bad guys are good, so maybe this was another internal memo not meant for public distribution.


Hell defined. (5)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 12 years ago | (#138201)

Hell, n. - The state of being the richest man in the world and knowing something exists that you can't buy.

Have a kleenex, Bill.


A Play in One Scene (3)

Stephen (20676) | more than 12 years ago | (#138204)

But if you say to people, 'Do you understand the GPL?' they're pretty stunned when the nature of it is described to them.
Scene: A golf course, Gates playing with Clueless Pointy Haired Boss Of Software Company.

Gates: I noticed that your web server is running on Linux.

PHB: Hey, Bill, cut me some slack, we don't have to use your software for everything!

Gates: Sure, but do you understand the GPL?

PHB: Well, I guess I've never studied it myself, but it just means it's free, doesn't it?

Gates: No, unfortunately if you use any open source product anywhere in your company, it makes it illegal for you to sell any software at all.

PHB: You're kidding, right?

Gates: No, seriously, believe me, I have to know about these things.

PHB: Yeah, I guess so. Well, thanks for the warning, Bill. I'll make sure my techies take the Linux off our web server first thing on Monday morning!

what does this mean? attacking only GPL? (1)

Misha (21355) | more than 12 years ago | (#138205)

"The ecosystem where you have free software and commercial software--and customers always get to decide which they use--that's a very important and healthy ecosystem... [The GPL] breaks that cycle--that is, it makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work. So what you saw with TCP/IP or Sendmail or the browser could never happen. We believe there should be free software and commercial software; there should be a rich ecosystem that works around that."

Do any of you understand this? I am not someone who knows GPL by heart, so i can't comment on it very well, but to me the statement looks unparsable. Kind of a it-depends-what-you-mean-by-'is' argument.

My point though is that he is only attacking the GPL here. Needless to say there are a lot of other licenses compatible with the definition of Open Source. Half of them are made by commercial entities, like Mozilla, IBM, CNRI, Sun, and Intel. Gates is careful not to quickly criticize those.

It seems that commercial products can perfectly coexist in the realm of 'free', or rather 'open' licenses. (Not free as in 'FSF free software'. Free as in 'free speech'). Just look at Apache and IBM's Websphere (built on top of that) is now a half a billion dollar business for IBM. I am sure there are more examples of this.

Oh, I get it... (1)

Misha (21355) | more than 12 years ago | (#138206)

"There are people who believe that commercial software should not exist at all--that there should be no jobs or taxes around commercial software at all. The GPL was created with that goal in mind."

We must admit, we have all been strategically using Linux to rid the world of Commercial Computer Jobs, in our hopes to start a world-wide holocaust against computer-inclined people, and welcome back the age of computer monopo^H^H^H^H^H^Hcivility.

but, wait! in our struggle against computer programmers, we have become THEM!!!! oh, no! our plan is ruined!

Article Very Clear (1)

evin (31167) | more than 12 years ago | (#138225)

Gates likes public domain/BSD/XFree-licensed software, because that means he can incorporate the code in his own products. He likes commercial software because it's usually owned by one company which he can buy.

He doesn't like GNU GPL software because there's often no clear way for him to have it.

Gates views commercial software as the real software, and Free Software as other stuff. People developing commercial software contributes to what he views as important. People developing BSDish software also contributes, because their can be proprietarized.

Copyleft software isn't competing on the same grounds as the others. It is rarely commercialized in the same sense as non-copyleft software (exceptions Qt, etc.). It will change the nature of the software business, and Gates will use FUD and .NET as much as he needs to avert this end.

Turn this around (5)

ajs (35943) | more than 12 years ago | (#138231)

What no one ever mentions in anti-GPL rants (and let's face it, MS is tredding well worn ground, here) is that the GPL removes NO rights from you. In fact, if you just want to use GPL'd software you can ignore the GPL and it never applies to you.

What the GPL does is gives you a way around having to be restricted by copyright law, if you want it. Since Microsoft gives you exactly 0 ways to get around such restrictions (in fact their licenses restrict you BEYOND what copyright law gives them), this is high hipocracy.

But, then who expected any more out of Gates at this point.

Aaron Sherman (ajs@ajs.com)

He's just skinning his ignorance... (2)

RoLlEr_CoAsTeR (39353) | more than 12 years ago | (#138239)

and to think that we even bother to pay him any mind. Like the article mentioned, he does seem to be grasping at straws here. It's a sign of how great his desparation is that he's now trying to attack the character of Open Source, rather than the performance of it. He's throwing the first mud, but I hope we don't start throwing it back. To do so would put us on his level, afraid of the viability of our own software, and too wimpy and stubborn to do anything about it. My idea.. ignore him? And continue to crank out the good stuff that the Open Source +/- GPL community has been...

(and let's hope I haven't skinned my ignorance by putting something wrong in my/i. post...)

Re:IBM should open source OS/2... (1)

bmacy (40101) | more than 12 years ago | (#138240)

OS/2 likely has a lot of code in it with Microsoft copyrights. Probably other company copyrights too.

Brian Macy

So what... (2)

bmacy (40101) | more than 12 years ago | (#138241)

This thread of articles is getting old. MS isn't attacking open source, they are saying people need to pay attention to what the particular open source license they are dealing with actually says. In particular they are arguing that the GPL is virus like.

So what... it is... there is little question that that is the case (or maybe the BORG collective is a slightly better description). Anyone who has tried to use a GPL'd project in their non-GPL'd product would know that.

Brian Macy

Well... at least it comes from the top this time. (1)

Trifthen (40989) | more than 12 years ago | (#138246)

I guess Steve Balmer wasn't quite enough. Maybe they're just making sure nobody can miss their stance on this issue.

Aside from the fact that I like Pac-Man, why does he even bother? The more Microsoft points to the GPL and yells "See!? They aren't sharing!" They give the GPL that much more attention.

And, the most amusing part is that they're playing right into our hands. The open source couldn't pay for this kind of publicity.

Remember, the more Microsoft whines, the more you'll hear people mentioning companies like IBM and Redhat who don't seem to have any problem profiting from this terrible blight in software licensing. Every time they cry about not being able to use GPL'd code, it just takes a few (even one) reporters to point out that all the GPL means is share and share alike.

Don't worry. They're just doing our jobs for us. Who needs to bash Microsoft when they'll do themselves in just nicely.

Shaun Thomas: INN Programmer

Someone needs to correct this man.. (2)

xtal (49134) | more than 12 years ago | (#138260)

From the article: "breaks that cycle--that is, it makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work. So what you saw with TCP/IP or Sendmail or the browser could never happen. We believe there should be free software and commercial software; there should be a rich ecosystem that works around that."

Holy FUD Batman! Too bad the FSF couldn't get Gates on commercial damages in a court of law. The GPL allows you to sell code to whoever you want. You can use it internally to your hearts content! You can even change it for your own internal use and not give the changes to anyone, if you want - and don't people know how large the custom software market is?

You are PERFECTLY free to SELL GPL CODE. All you have to do to stay within the terms of the liscence is to give the source code to anyone to whom you have given a binary to. They in turn can do what they want, so long as they don't violate the GPL. Doesn't this make sense? If I paid someone to write code for me, I'd expect to be given the source as well as the binary. With that, I'd want to be able to do whatever I wanted with it - give it away to a million people, fine. Lock it in a closet, fine. The only restriction on ME if the code is GPL is that whoever I in turn give the binaries to, they get the source code. The code is treated as if it's "free" - in that no party can restrict the "freedom" of a user of the code to make changes or modifications to that codebase.

How does this interfere with business? OH, WAIT A MINUTE. It interferes with Mr. Bill Gates's business and profits! Oooops. This must be legislated away! If it hurts my monopoly, then there's just no way anyone else could make money doing it! They're all a bunch of dirty linux hippie communist baby-eating monsters! (Sarcasm, for the humor-impared..)

MS's Marketing Department Rocks (1)

blazerw11 (68928) | more than 12 years ago | (#138282)

In no way did any of the Gates' soundbytes actually describe actual elements of the GPL. He only made comments meant to scare PHBs. Like:

...and we are just making sure people understand the GPL.
There's nothing to understand. It IS share and share-alike. That's it.

'Do you understand the GPL?' (then) they're pretty stunned when the Pac-Man-like nature of it is described to them.
Probably not negatively stunned, tho are they?

it (GPL) makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work.
You can use it and build things on it all you want. However, if you use the source code as part of your sorce code and then re-release, you must release the source code to your app.

GPL is like Pacman... (5)

Kanasta (70274) | more than 12 years ago | (#138286)

fun to play with, gets attacked by evil entities, but can sometimes fight back and win?


blind? (5)

Kanasta (70274) | more than 12 years ago | (#138287)

On GPL software, Bill says it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work

Now tell me, since when could a commercial company use proprietary code from another commercial company and build on it?

OK, maybe one of the few companies that regularly build on other's work (or just buys them out) is MS itself. Does Bill even know what goes on in MS nowadays? He sounds kinda like a misinformed layman.


Not Middle Managers... (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 12 years ago | (#138314)

But a lot of people who worked under middle managers who helped kill OS/2 are enjoying the opportunity to poke Microsoft in the eye with a product that IBM can't kill the moment Microsoft rattles its sword.

For those of you who are a bit fuzzy on the history, it went a little like this:

IBM: We like OS/2! We want to put it everywhere!
Microsoft: Pre-load OS/2 and we'll charge you retail for Windows.
IBM: (Sound of IBM stabbing OS/2 in the kidney.)

I read that completely differently... (5)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 12 years ago | (#138317)

Funny. I read that comparason as Billy-Boy saying

The GPL is like Pac-Man. People using it can eat me.

Odd how two people can come up with such radically different intrepretations of a statement, isn't it?

Will you sell me a license for Linux, please? (1)

Hell O'World (88678) | more than 12 years ago | (#138318)

According to research firm IDC, Linux accounted for 27 percent of new worldwide operating-system licenses in 2000, and Microsoft's Windows captured 41 percent of new licenses.
I am running pirated copies of RH... without a single license! I hope they don't audit me!

whats PacMan got to do with it ? (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 12 years ago | (#138328)

I remember the arcade game well, but have no clues whatsoever what pacman has to do with the GPL or Free Software generaly

Can someone explain it to me, or has Billy boy just gone crazy(ier).

Is Gates actually attacking OSS? (1)

drnomad (99183) | more than 12 years ago | (#138333)

Is gates actually attacking OSS here? I quote:
"The ecosystem where you have free software and commercial software--and customers always get to decide which they use--that's a very important and healthy ecosystem," Gates said.

Isn't Gates saying the same thing here as Thorvalds? "There should be choice?" or don't I et the point?

The GPL, he continued, "breaks that cycle--that is, it makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work."

Why does Gates think things like this, I mean, it is possible to use OSS for operating system, web-server etc, but this does not have to be true for software development using libraries?

It is clear to me that Gates is not attacking Open Source Software here, well not in the way Ballmer did, but just doing his bit in the argument. I would prefer him to be more precise. Maybe we should try to 'open' discussion between MS and OSS techs and discover which problems Microsoft encountered when they started using open source.

Basically... (5)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 12 years ago | (#138336)

What he is saying is that the GPL gets tossed around as THE "free" open-source license. But there are other choices.. One of them (the BSD) is actually more "free" because you can use parts of it in a commercial product and not HAVE to release the new code to the public. And that is true, the BSD license does give you more freedom, and with more freedom, you have more of a responsibility, part of that being to give back to the community that you borrowed from. But the BSD gives you the freedom to make that choice on your own, the GPL does not, it forces you to conform.


The GPL is dangerous (1)

shagoth (100818) | more than 12 years ago | (#138338)

Not because it's open source, but because of the way it's open source. It's forced places that Linux might be used commercially to pursue other avenues because all proprietary development efforts are at risk of having to be completely open sourced because of the letter of the GPL. Other licenses such as that for BSD allow a more limited sharing of a company's proprietary "magic" so contributions can still be made to the community without torpedoing commercial software development.

This isn't about a religious BSD vs. Linux OS war, it's about a sensible open source license versus one that is far too limiting to be practical. Yes, Linux is where the noise is, but just because lots of people use it doesn't make it the right choice. It just means that Linux is the Windows of open source.

come on.. really? (1)

jspectre (102549) | more than 12 years ago | (#138341)

does anyone out there expect micro$oft to have one positive word about opensource/linux/gpl/eff?

How do you get both (2)

sommere (105088) | more than 12 years ago | (#138350)

OK, so when I write OS software, I do it because I want to code and all the better if someone else can use it. So if I M$ wants to use something I wrote fine. But I want some credit. I'm not getting money, the least I could get is credit somewhere. But that isn't happening. Apperenly M$ has been using code from FreeBSD's tcp/ip stack, FTP client, etc... and has for a long time denied it.... Is there a licence out there that is not "cancer like" but forces people who use my code to give me credit somehow?

Althea [sourceforge.net] A stable IMAP client for X. Now with SSL support.


Didn't Pac Man sweep the world? (2)

CyberLeader (106732) | more than 12 years ago | (#138353)

Hey now, let's look at the favorable comparisons here:

  • Pac Man swept the world and was a major craze, especially in the US and Japan.
  • Pac Man created lots of spinoff games, including Ms. Pac Man, Super Pac Man, Pac Land, etc., etc.
  • Pac Man went on to create even more spinoff products, like the cartoon series and the breakfast cereal. (Do you think Linus will get his own cartoon series soon?)

Sorry about that last bit. I don't know what came over me.

Bill sees the danger, it follows his pattern (4)

atillathehun (113468) | more than 12 years ago | (#138358)

So what did Bill do when everyone else had a better communications stack? He put one for "free" in his system, then there was the browser threat and "free" internet explorer was born. He has systematically bundled free things with his operating system to kill the competition. Now here is a for real free operating system and a long line of free things to ride on top of it. If anyone can see the pattern it is Bill.

Uhm. (1)

Latent IT (121513) | more than 12 years ago | (#138363)

So what you saw with TCP/IP or Sendmail or the BROWSER could never happen...

Excuse me? You mean, something like taking a browser which was free to begin with, making it unstable, forcing it down the throats of millions of PC users by "integrating" it, and wiping a company with a really nice fish cam could never happen?


Honestly, how terrible ARE we supposed to feel for a multi-billionaire who complains that a free ride is impossible now?

Re:So what... (1)

Latent IT (121513) | more than 12 years ago | (#138364)

MS isn't attacking open source... they are arguing that the GPL is virus like.

Well, golly-shucks. Thanks for clearing THAT up. For a second, I thought they were attacking. Honestly, the GPL is the only thing preventing open-source from being built into your next stolen .dll. Wait a minute? What is Windows often compared to?

Well now, clearly, the GPL. ;p

Re:A little early for drinking? (2)

gowen (141411) | more than 12 years ago | (#138384)

GMT+1, so the sun is over the yard-arm, even if I am at work.

My 25 Cents (5)

ellem (147712) | more than 12 years ago | (#138394)

I have never been addicted to the GPL.
I have never waited at the big dot for ghosts to eat
I have never put a quarter in a slot gor the GPL
I don't believe I have ever amassed 240 points for reading the GPL
As near as I can tell thery are nothing alike.


Pac-Man Analogy... (1)

AcidDan (150672) | more than 12 years ago | (#138396)

Ok, I can Go with the Pac-Man Analogy (only a different one), Free-Software is like Pac-Man in that you can eat up all those tasty treats that people contribute and take development to new levels.

Either that, or Open Source is round, yellow and get's chased by Ghosts... Bill, was that you dude?

Re: Wacka wacka. (1)

suss (158993) | more than 12 years ago | (#138409)

It's not "Wacka wacka", it's "Wocka Wocka".

In Bill's case, it's "Wanka, Wanka."

And Microsoft software..... (1)

shippo (166521) | more than 12 years ago | (#138415)

Is just like the Atari VCS port of Pacman - an utter waste of money!

Note to RMS: Bill calls it "free-software" (1)

richie123 (180501) | more than 12 years ago | (#138427)

"Microsoft doesn't make free software.' Hey, we have free software, the world will always have free software", it's CNET that keeps calling it Open-Source.

Re:Is Gates actually attacking OSS? (1)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 12 years ago | (#138434)

The part that they don't like, I'm guessing, is that they can't do with .. say, Apache's code (And yes, I know Apache isn't GPL) and do with it what they did with the Kerberos code (BSD License, as I recall). That is, they can't take the implimentation of it, or code thereof, use it in their own products (Windows 2000 Server), and have the freedom to manipulate it (Re: Utilizing a previously empty portion of the challenge string for Windows specific code) without being forced legally to release that change back to the public. That's what they're whining about. They keep getting bit, hard, on IIS and other products, and they can't take (at least, what I consider most of the time) better software that's GPL'd (or similarly licensed) and basically theft it or portions thereof for their own commercial gain.

Pardon while I weep a little for Microsoft's shortcommings. *sigh* You want to do something usefull, Microsoft? Try actually making good, quality products, or contributing to Open standards (not Windows-specific), and stop whining about how you can't buy, intimidate, or otherwise crush your competition in the Open Source Software branch of the world. Sheesh.

Gates' intentionally misleading (2)

Gumshoe (191490) | more than 12 years ago | (#138442)

GPL "protects" implementations, not ideas. If TCP/IP was originally coded and released under the GPL then it would be true to say that you couldn't then use that code in your OS without releasing changes under the GPL yourself.

However, there would be nothing stopping you from reimplimenting the TCP/IP code. For Gates' to say suggest that this isn't the case indicates to me that he either doesn't understand the point of the GPL, or he is intentionally spreading FUD.

IBM should open source OS/2... (2)

AccUser (191555) | more than 12 years ago | (#138443)

IBM got screwed by Microsoft when they partnered with them to produce OS/2. Microsoft jumped ship and produced Windows NT, leaving IBM with a lame duck (although a technically brilliant dead duck). That's what Microsoft does with partnering and source code sharing. IBM, release the source code to OS/2...

Another day... (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 12 years ago | (#138446)

another Slashdot headline that reads: Microsoft says Open Source is bad (to summarize). Well sure, Linux is hurting their server share... Besides, I *like* Pac-Man, thank you very much. What does that make Microsoft, those evil little ghosts?

A good point... (1)

tssm0n0 (200200) | more than 12 years ago | (#138460)

Billy boy does bring up a good point... where can I find a GPLed version of Pac Man?

Supper Office (1)

MeNeXT (200840) | more than 12 years ago | (#138462)

I am considering creating a new office suite. It will include a word prossesor, spreadsheet, presentations software. Where can I get the Micro$oft Office code so I may complete my project.

Bill seems to imply that we may use his source, but I can't find it posted on the Micro$oft site!!!!

Re:Basically... (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | more than 12 years ago | (#138465)

"One of them (the BSD) is actually more "free" because you can use parts of it in a commercial product and not HAVE to release the new code to the public. "

Have you ever wondered though why Gates and others from M$ are attacking the GPL as constantly as they appear to be doing? The point is that GPL is the incisive defense that free software has against concerns like M$. Without the GPL linux would have been embraced and extended by M$ (in the same way that BSD TCP/IP stack was). I am sure that the same would also have been true of IBM and many other organisations.

You use quotes around "free" for good reasons. There are many definitions of "free", and no one has a monopoly on the word. I think that recent history shows that the GPL has resulted in more free software in the world. It is harder edged, harder nosed, and have a lot more attitude than the BSDL. That is its strength, and its main virtue.


I quite agree (5)

91degrees (207121) | more than 12 years ago | (#138474)

I mean I build on Microsoft source all the time, because its so easy to get a licence to use the code, and incorporate it into other apps.

This reminds me of a quote... (1)

JWhiton (215050) | more than 12 years ago | (#138482)

...from the movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley". A young Bill Gates is about to talk with some bigwigs at IBM before MS even made any sellable products. He's confident anyway, because, as he says, "Success fools smart people into thinking they can't lose."

Pretty ironic, huh?

And Bill Gates is like Monopoly (5)

cabalamat2 (227849) | more than 12 years ago | (#138504)

He's saying, in effect:

the GPL is bad because it won't let me take without giving

Thanks, Bill, for showing us your true colours so clearly.

So why would Microsoft donate Office to FSF ?? (1)

tmark (230091) | more than 12 years ago | (#138507)

Perhaps he should issue a company memo to the folks running Microsoft's stats.zone.com, who seem to be using GNU/Linux and Apache happily without donating MS Office to the FSF.

Let me get this straight. Microsoft bought a company and uses but does not sell or otherwise redistribute its Linux-based product for a small part of one of their websites. So why exactly should Microsoft donate a completely unrelated product that predates the Linux-based product and almost certainly owes none of its code to said Linux-based product ??? Come on, Microsoft's business conduct is certainly not beyond reproach, but if this is the best you can do in the way of attacking their stand on the GPL....

He's Ignoring the LGPL (2)

vodoolady (234335) | more than 12 years ago | (#138514)

Yeah, if you extend a GPL'ed product it has to be GPL'ed, but if you extend a non-GPL'ed product you get sued, right? And you can even use GPL'ed code in proprietary code under the LGPL [gnu.org]. I think Bill is committing false dilemma, because you don't have to extend an GPL'ed project to use free software. Or maybe just bullshit?

And this guy got into Harvard?

Commercial profitability (2)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 12 years ago | (#138532)

Statements by MS should be qualified by stating that the open source model does not allow for commercial profitablity for software companies. I disagree with that statement, but that's a more accurate statement of what MS is trying to say.

Software companies are created specifically to make software for private and corporate customers. But most software developers (myself included) do not work for a software company. I write software for an investment firm. If creating and/or using open source software is not profitable for a software company, well I really don't care. The company which pays me will make exactly the same amount of money whether or not I create and/or use open source software. In fact, it would be FAR cheaper for them to use open source... but I digress.

My fear is that corporate execs hear what MS is saying as "Open source bad for profit" and think it applies to them. Well it may only apply to them if they are exclusively a software shop. Companies not specifically in the software industry, but who hire the most software developers and purchase the most software, should take MS' comments with a big grain of salt and really pay attention. I think MS is using the term company when they mean software company so they can spread more rhetoric and fear without directly lying.


Re:He's just skinning his ignorance... (1)

daniel_isaacs (249732) | more than 12 years ago | (#138533)

Ther once was a politician at whom much mud was thrown. "We must not stoop to thier level" he'd say. "The American People are smart, they'll see through my opposition's lack of substance"

That politician's name was Micheal Dukakis. If you recall, he got the shit beat of him by an eventual one-termer (Bush I)

Mud matters. It's about PR, it's ALL about PR where the press is concerned. Inflamatory remarks ALWAYS make headlines. Reasonable, thoughtful exchange of ideas is rare, in the Press it's alomst non-existant. If you want to beat m$, you must fight on both fronts. Beating them technically, and making them sound every bit as dirty as they are.

And... (1)

Pogue Mahone (265053) | more than 12 years ago | (#138552)

And the GPL says Bill Gates is like Pac-Man. So there. Yahboosucks.

Anyway, looks more & more like they're really rattled about Linux. ;-)


Lies, damned lies (2)

Pogue Mahone (265053) | more than 12 years ago | (#138553)

According to Gates, GPLd software "makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work.

Wrong! If Bill wants to use my GPL'd software under another license, he's quite welcome to negotiate terms with me. It might cost him some money, though, and he wouldn't have an automatic right to bug fixes and additions contributed by others.


Trolling... (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 12 years ago | (#138557)

I know the RIAA and MPAA haven't decisively had their butts kicked by the consumer yet, but it will happen. Just like all this negativity from Microsoft will end up biting them in the butt too. It's common knowledge that the consumer in any economy will generally (when it's not a luxury item) purchase the highest quality product for the least amount of money. I'm already a Linux devotee, it's just a matter of time before I switch all my app's over to Linux.

The only thing that would curb this trend in free (as in beer) software, would be government enforcement of Microsoft's "standards" (read: monopoly). But that's not too likely in my estimate.

Re:Basically... (2)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 12 years ago | (#138558)

Right, I guess. IANAL, but here's the deal:

GPL forces a company to be service oriented, rather than product oriented. A company like Red Hat exists to serve customers who do not have the time, or don't want to take the time, to set up Red Hat software for all it's many different uses in a corporate environment. Sure, a company could set up Red Hat on their own, 'cause the source code is out there, but Red Hat makes money by offering up their technological skills in a service role. What's wrong with that philosophy? Nothing!

Maybe Microsoft is just aware that offering up a 'service' oriented business is not an easy thing to accomplish (especially when you're as large as MS), and is trying to play down the importance of quality service. Both have their place in this economy, so why either of us needs to bash the other one is beyond me. Mud slinging is a bad idea, because it means you're afraid...

Why now?? (1)

gbvb (304328) | more than 12 years ago | (#138559)

I wonder what changed in the past 6 or 8 months that MS is trying to work so hard towards making GPL visible to the end users. Its not like an average user would care one way or the other..
GPL has been a Software developer's thing. Only they knew and cared about the licensing of the software. Why is it that MS is going gung-ho against GPL? I think there are a couple of possibilities.
1. Linux and other GPLed software is gaining too much importance and MS is uncomfortable with that.
2. MS wants to sell .Net web services as a way of providing services to the customers without them thinking about GPL/BSD/Mozilla licensing.
3. MS does not want to fight SUN or other unix server vendors. So, it is trying to pick a fight with Linux which seems to be the easiest target because of what it stands for.
4. MS is trying to justify the cost of Windows XP and .Net services.
I wonder which one this might be..??

Re:GPL is like Pacman... (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 12 years ago | (#138560)

> fun to play with, gets attacked by evil
> entities, but can sometimes fight back and win?

...and most importantly, Pacman ultimately always loses.

It's all your fault! (2)

MSBob (307239) | more than 12 years ago | (#138566)

It's all slashdot's fault that OSS and the GPL virus are considered synonymous. There are thousands of OSS projects that use the MIT license for instance but still get associated with the GPL zealotry. If slashdot (arguably the biggest OSS PR machine) was a bit more objective in its editorial practice the world would have a bit broader understanding of the OSS community.

There is a grain of truth in gates' ramblings too. The mess of the licensing issues that Richard Stalin^H^Hlman created is and should be of concern to any software company who isn't keen on going full GPL. Figuring out what you can and can't do with all those pieces that have strings attatched to them must be every lawyers nightmare. Even da man himself seems to be a bit baffled by all this licensing mess. He still can't tolerate KDE which is now decidedly GPL compatible while he gives his blessings to GNOME which uses Mozilla for the rendering engine in its up and coming albeit deceased (yeah, go figure how that works!) file manager. Mozilla being under the MPL license is decidedly GPL incompatible. Anyone else see the hipocricy here?

Re:CNET = Confused NET? (2)

tb3 (313150) | more than 12 years ago | (#138575)

Welcome to Microsoft FUD.

"What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

Let's rephrase it another way (1)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 12 years ago | (#138581)

"erm.. and in what aspect is that different from the stuff Mr Gates is making himself?"

Hmmm. I suspect that what bill meant was that GPLd software makes it impossible for micro$oft to use any of that work.

I mean had TCP been released under the GPL instead of the BSD license, micro$oft would not have a TCP stack...

Mine, mine, all mine! (1)

lowdozage (319641) | more than 12 years ago | (#138582)

Micro$oft will never give up, they will just have to put in another $0.25 to try to put a bad rap on GPL-ed software any chance they get. GNU/Linux loves to eat Apples, Banana's and Cherry's!
One pill makes you smaller,
One pill makes you tall,

Re:what does this mean? attacking only GPL? (1)

ballzhey (321167) | more than 12 years ago | (#138583)

(1)"there should be a rich ecosytem that works around that" refers to bill gates. (2)And when did bill see episode I? It seems like he talking about symbiosis descrepencies with all this ecosystem talk. (3) sadly i can't explain gates's comments other than he views software as his way to make money and GPL is his competition. Classic Acrade move: eliminate the competition.

What a compliment!! (1)

evenprime (324363) | more than 12 years ago | (#138585)

Being compared to a classic arcade game is pretty cool! :)
"Weapons should be hardy rather than decorative" - Musashi

Important Distinction (3)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 12 years ago | (#138587)

I think it's really important for the Free Software/Open Source communities to make sure that everyone knows that merely USING GPL'd software exposes you to zero risk. It only comes into play when you start to modify it. And if it's licensed under the LGPL, you can link to the library, and keep your application proprietary. Most of the comments MS has made about the GPL is pure BS.

GPL vs OS (1)

RazzleDazzle (442937) | more than 12 years ago | (#138599)

At least the article concludes that the GPL does NOT equal Open Source. Does it make sense that Gates/MS call Linux/OS/GPL cancerous and breaking to commercial companies than say it is healthy to the ecosystem? Cancer is healthy? Better send it in to Nature.com [nature.com].

Re:And Bill Gates is like Monopoly (1)

kraf (450958) | more than 12 years ago | (#138604)

Whoa, if it's bold, it's suddenly insightful.
Is the moderation system about contents or HTML skills ?

excuse me? (5)

Ubi_UK (451829) | more than 12 years ago | (#138606)

According to Gates, GPLd software "makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work.

erm.. and in what aspect is that different from the stuff Mr Gates is making himself?

If my mommy knew ... (1)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 12 years ago | (#138607)

... that all my friends are cancerous non-fair-playing egalitarian communist Pac Mans, she would sleep at night!

Living is a way of life ...

Re:He's right you know (1)

jbl81 (458835) | more than 12 years ago | (#138646)

How about stop drinking at 7:13AM on a Wednesday! Unless you've been up all night and it's still Tuesday to you.

Re:what does this mean? attacking only GPL? (1)

return 42 (459012) | more than 12 years ago | (#138647)

They're focusing on the GPL because that's the one license they can't get around. (At least I think it is. I'm not aware of any other copyleft licenses that apply to software, except the LGPL, which is rarely used and isn't too relevant to this issue.)
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