Microsoft: Glasnost or “We Will Bury You?”

ZDNet’s Jason Perlow had some interesting observation upon returning from Microsoft’s Technology Summit last week. For starters, Perlow noted Microsoft’s acknowledgement and implied support for the work that Novell’s Miguel de Icaza and colleagues on the Mono project are directing at porting key Microsoft desktop technologies to Linux. He speculated that Microsoft’s Open Source Lab’s work to achieve interoperability with key open source projects like Samba and Apache is being driven is not only the result of EU directives to open up its interfaces, but also to increase visibility and utilization of Microsoft platforms on open source systems.

But Perlow felt uncomfortable equating these olive branches with Glasnost. “It would be difficult to say that Steve Ballmer is Microsoft’s Mikhail Gorbachev – his patent and intellectual property saber rattling in the past year would seem to put him more firmly in the Nikita Khrushchev shoe-banging ‘We will bury you’ on the podium camp rather than be characterized like the reformative and cuddly Gorby.” Per our observations a couple weeks back at EclipseCon, it looks more like ping pong diplomacy, where Microsoft is testing the waters for a market where open source has gone mainstream.