Microsoft vs. Open Source OR The Cold War Redux

Open source violates Microsoft patents, so Microsoft claims. Patents, I guess, that Microsoft basically “borrowed” from Xerox PARC–who didn’t have the foresite to patent the GUI or the mouse–years ago, or blinding flashes of the obvious that Microsoft rushed a patent filing into the patent office on.
I guess it’s bad that I make my living working mostly with Microsoft products yet I still am a bit testy when Microsoft brings out the legal guns–or the threat of legal guns. It’s not that Microsoft makes bad products–as a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it if it weren’t for Microsoft products. Microsoft products also integrate in a unique way. I’m not sure–for example–that there’s another product in the market with the number of necessary features that Outlook and Exchange have when paired. And that’s to write nothing of the integration between these products and the development tools Microsoft has. The object models for addressing the various Microsoft products are quite helpful in writing code to do a variety of things. Not that other companies don’t have much the same thing.
But the thing that chaps me is that so many software companies have started to compete on the basis of how much cash they have to buy up competitors and how much slush fund they have to pay attorneys. Now Microsoft says, “we’d rather license than litigate.” Nice alliteration there, but truth is borne out in action, methinks.
And now the open source community fires back that it has patents on technologies that are in Microsoft products.
Let the lawsuits fly! Mutually assured destruction.
It reminds me of the old move “War Games” where a kid accidentally hacks the US military’s war computer and starts the game “GlobalThermoNuclearWar.” It’s a lot of fun until he realizes that (a) the guys in the green suits with scambled egg on their sleeves and bars on their chests don’t know it’s not real, (b) there may as a result be a real ThermoNuclear war, and (c) the computer can’t be stopped.
Ultimately the world is saved by setting the big computer to playing tic-tac-toe against itself. It’s a deadlock game, of course. Neither player can win if both play optimally.
The computer comes to a profound realization about both tic-tac-toe and Nuclear war: “What a strange game…the only way to win is not to play.”
Show the movie in the boardroom guys. And get back to the business of competing on who makes the best mouse trap and markets it best. Leave the legal system for the guys in ChinaTown selling DVDs of movies not yet released on DVD for $5 each.
Microsoft Claims Open-Source Technology Violates 235 of Its Patents