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Microsoft Campaign against Linux Backfires
this was on the front page of economic times - 15th july 2001. the article is long. I spent a lot of time typing it. So PLEASE DO READ IT::
<b>A microsoft corp. effort to vilify Linux and other "open source" software appears to be backfiring, with the campaign drawing criticism from legal experts as well as unifying the movements' often fractitious group af leaders.</b>
The initiative had included speeched and statements in recent weeks by Microsoft officials, and reached a crescendo of sorts in a recent chicago sun-times interview with microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, in which he called Linux "a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches."
<b>The Redmond, Wash, Company appeared to be fighting an uphill battle, since open-source code has become importand for a growing number of companies.
one of them, in fact, has been Microsoft itself. The company's Hotmail free e-mail service for years used the FreeBSD operating sysytem and the apache web server, both leading open-source programs. After buying Hotmai in 1997, Microsoft tried to replace the FeeBSD with its own Windows software. Hotmail insiders said that the company found that windows couldn't handle the heavy load, something Microsoft at that time declined to discuss. Yesterday, Misrosoft said that since last summer, hotmail had been running on both Windows 2000 and Sun Solaris operating system from Sun Microsystems inc.</B>
Craig Mundie, a Microsoft senior vice president, said that the company's main objection is with the General Public License(GPL), under which Linux is distributed. That license requires companies that incorporate GPL software in their own programs to, in turn make those programs freely available. The GPL is usually considered the most restrictive of the several open-source licenses now in use; Microsoft says that it threatens all intellectual property at companies using it.
<b>But in its statements, Microsoft tends not to draw attention to the fact that GPL also allows companies to write their own proprietary programs that work in connection with a GPL program, as long as those programs themselves dont contain any GPL code."You can write a proprietary word-processing program that runs on Linux - that's fine." said Jorge L Contreras, who deals with opensource issues at Hale and Dorr, boston's largest law firm. "microsoft is spinning this the way they feel the need to."</b>
Indeed, many large software companies, including Oracle Corp., sell proprietary programs that work with linux, and Tivo inc. uses Linux in its proprietary digital vieo recorded product. Other companies, like IBM corp. have massive inhouse Linux projects underway. What's more, other opensource software, such as FreeBSD, is distributed under licenses that contain virtually no restrictions at all.
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