Is Microsoft a tiger or a rogue elephant? A tiger has its own agenda, and cannot be diverted from its mission:to kill and eat. An rogue elephant is powerful and intelligent, but they can also be trained. We in the opensource community are not sure of the answer to this question. If Microsoft is a tiger, we will have to kill it to have peace. If Microsoft is currently a rogue elephant, we can tame it and turn it into a significant open source contributor. Either way, I have faith in the power of open source to overcome, just like the power of water to erode.
This morning Sam Ramji gave one of the closing keynote presentations at OSCON 2008. He talked about writing a new chapter in Microsoft's history with the open source community, and he promised to talk openly and honestly with us. It is a promise that he made to me personally when I met him between sessions a few days earlier. He also made a commitment to engage in difficult conversations about tough issues. And he announced some other concrete ways that Microsoft was reaching out to the open source community. But the subtext of all these commitments seemed to me to be a deeper question that Sam is trying to answer: what can Microsoft do to make peace and partner with the open source community?
I have been working with Sam Ramji and Robert Duffner from Microsoft, and I have been very pleased to resolve the issues that I had with the work they are funding for the Apache POI project. Not only has Microsoft addressed the concerns that I had with regards to patents and OOXML, but they have gone a step further and added the binary formats to the list.
The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. And it will be participating at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland this July 23-25, 2008. Meet OSI's team and listen to what OSI speakers have to say at the following OSCON sessions.
See you there!
SESSIONS ON WEDNESDAY JULY 23, 2008
Panel: Changing Education... Open Content, Open Hardware, Open Curricula
In a free market, over time, competition in the production of a commodity product will eliminate all profits. Bread-makers can sell their bread for enough money to cover the cost of the capital invested in the bakery, the cost of the flour, yeast, sugar, and water, the fuel needed for firing, and the salary of the baker. They can earn no more money than that. If they did, then another bakery would be established which would price its products lower, splitting that profit between the customer and the owner of the new bakery.
When Starbucks grew from regional powerhouse to cultural phenomenon, there was one small problem: the coffee they sold did not jive with their brand. So much so that in 2000 they printed millions of pamplets in the US explaining why it was that even though they really, really wanted to sell organic, shade-grown, fairly traded coffee, that due to lack of adequate supply, customers should be delighted that they were at least committed to finding a way to sell some fairly traded coffee somehow.