On February 26 some organization called Wikileaks (just what you think it means) proudly outed an alleged Microsoft (MSFT) front group's alleged comments on the alleged working draft of an alleged European Union (EU) workgroup on open source software. I have no idea if any of the allegations are true but the pomposity of Wikileaks and the poor quality of the document, whatever its source, provide a little humor in these dark economic times.
Wikileaks says it only outs documents with "political, diplomatic, ethical or historical significance." If this document--full of the usual EU nonsense mispositioning open source software--is of any significance, it demonstrates how low politics, diplomacy, ethics and history have sunk. The document is full of comments of all types so it is not clear which comments allegedly come from the alleged Microsoft front group, called the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT). (For the record ACT is listed as a K-Street Washington, D.C. lobbyist funded by eBay, Microsoft, Oracle, Orbitz, Verisign and--according to its web site--3000 other companies.)
I certainly hope the EU is not paying anyone to write this document because it has the quality level of a bad high-school term paper. In a good old 11th-grade-approach, the authors have come up with the findings first and are now sending "Erwin and Charlotte (out) to find some evidence." The misspellings of EU-based companies are embarrassing. But I am afraid it might be a legitimate EU document because it has that "outlawing misshapen fruit" feeling about it.
And I hope for Microsoft shareholders' sake that it is not funding anyone to take the time to comment on this crap.
No matter the source, the original and the comments are all rubbish from the first sentence. Richard Stallman did not start the open source movement. He despises the term violently. (As an aside, I do not believe he is or ever was an "MIT scientist.")
More important, open source software is neither a complement to (apparently Microsoft's alleged contribution that makes this of Wikileak-level historical significance) nor an alternative to non-open-source software.
Open source is a widely variant set of legal terms and conditions (Ts&Cs)--some of which date back to the 1970s--by which a relatively small amount of software is distributed.
Open source is secondarily a 50-year-old culture/philosophy within the quickly shrinking worldwide software development community.
The document sets up a false taxonomy of open source "creators, which includes everyone except--not unexpectedly but inaccurately--Microsoft. 10-year-old companies are incorrectly labeled as new and companies that only license using open source Ts&Cs are incorrectly classified as hybrid. The hybrid idea is as old as the information technology industry. Software distributed with open source Ts&Cs is no more standard or non-standard than any other software.
And although I believe software has no nationality, open source has not "evolved faster in Europe than anywhere else in the world." All the leading open source projects are multinational but primarily funded by large U.S. information-technology suppliers (e.g., IBM (IBM), HP (HPQ), and others behind the Linux Foundation; Google (GOOG) behind the Mozilla Foundation, all the leading technology companies behind the Apache Foundation, and so forth). Most of the most popular open source technology began as products sold with non-open-source Ts&Cs and was later released with open source Ts&Cs as its functionality became a commodity. (The Apache web server--probably the most popular piece of open source software--is an exception.)
-- Dennis Byron