It's an astute assessment by Pieter at FFII, in the aftermath of Neelie Kroes' capitulation to Microsoft ...
So, Microsoft has decided to bleed the GPL economy dry by:
- Fragmenting the Linux economy by making patent deals with Linux vendors - TurboLinux, Xandros, and of course, Novell.
- Starting a proxy-troll patent attack on Red Hat, the leading Linux distributor (it has also attacked Novell but that is probably so that it can ride to Novell's defense). Red Hat refused to make a deal, now it will pay the price.
- Splitting the open source community away from the free software community, by re-branding itself as an "open source" firm.
- Announcing that it wants to buy open source firms. Money is the greatest divider ever.
- Bringing open source projects into its franchise, where they will get protection from Microsoft's patents, in return for using Microsoft's open source licenses.
It's a desperate scheme, because it's guaranteed to backfire in the worst possible way, and surely Microsoft cannot be naive enough to think it'll work.
Here is how Microsoft's plan to kill the GPLv3 is going to backfire.
- It's going to bring large numbers of people into the "no software patents" camp. Up to now, it's not been clear to most people just how damaging the EPO's practice of allowing software patents has been. The FFII has been saying for a while, "software patents trump anti-trust" but few have understood, until now.
- It's going to end the license wars. Microsoft have set the stage for a mass migration to, not away from, the GPLv3. Why? Because open source projects that get too close to the beast will shrivel and die like grapes on hot coals.
- It's going to focus the wrath of an entire community against Microsoft. For the last decade or so, Redmond have not really messed with the FOSS world and the FOSS world has mostly ignored Redmond, apart from a lot of taunting and name-calling. Now, that has changed.
The future of open source and free software will look like this: first, Microsoft will pump money into its franchiseware economy and get very little back. Second, IBM will do the same with its own franchiseware economy (the Apache Foundation) and get a lot more back, because IBM actually understand how this works. Last, all remaining projects will move to the GPL, with a few exceptions. And it's that economy, the one based on formal copyleft licenses, and backed by increasing determination to litigate and defend against litigation, that will prevail.