It’s not just the open source blogosphere that cherry picked a couple of four or more year old sentences from the Microsoft (MSFT) 10-K during the week of August 4, 2008 and made them sound as if they are related and are new news.
InformationWeek on August 5 ran a story that says
“(Headline :) MICROSOFT TO COUNTER OPEN SOURCE WITH 'BASIC' SOFTWARE LINE.
The story strongly implies that all of this is a new development even though Microsoft has said the same thing at least beginning in 2005 in the same source, its 10-K. Neither the wording nor the “basic software” line is new. Microsoft has long delivered “basic software” at lower prices than its standard software.
InformationWeek makes it appear as if this new activity that isn’t really new is related to open source. To do this it took two sentences from the 79-page Microsoft document but left out the preceding four sentences that clearly say Microsoft is adapting to all kinds of competition, not just open source. InformationWeek then added absurd open source examples that are out of context with the Risk Factors section of the 10-K to try to make its point.
In fact, as noted elsewhere, Microsoft allegedly declared the battle with open source over (and itself the winner) at its recent Financial Analysts meeting. I didn’t interpret the comments at the Financial Analysts meeting that way but clearly Microsoft long ago embraced open source and moved on. It's too bad the press can't.
As an aside, InformationWeek compounds its slanted coverage of this breathless new news when it goes on to say “To date, however, Microsoft's low-cost efforts are still relatively expensive, particularly when compared with software that's free.” Of course, no open source software worth having is really “free” and no one in the open source community would argue that it is. But that aside, I’m into my third year on the Microsoft “Basic Software” plan and the Office Suite is costing me the relatively expensive sum of about $16.50 a year. If--as is likely--I don't upgrade until March 2010, the cost will be $12.50 a year. The one thing useful that I learned from the InformationWeek article is that Microsoft has recently lowered the price.