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Shared Source vs. Open Source: Panel Discussion
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Audience member:
I have a question for Craig. You spoke of the software ecosystem, and as Tim and Mitchell pointed out, in the traditional software market, you're a cash cow and [in] the business of most of those of us in the room, you have an overwhelmingly dominant position. And as Microsoft goes forward in trying times, it's difficult to maintain annual growth and revenue of 15 or 20 percent. And we all know that exponential growth has its limits. In the interest of the software ecosystem — and I'm speaking now of the traditional market — is it time for Microsoft to declare not zero population growth but zero revenue growth?

Craig:
Well, I don't think so. [laughter] I mean, our fiduciary responsibility to shareholders pretty much would preclude that. Our job in our publicly held company is to in fact provide return to the shareholder. That is the end job.

Audience member:
Do you also have a responsibility to the ecosystem?

Craig:
Well, absolutely. Sure. I mean Microsoft tries to be a good corporate citizen. I personally spend a lot of my time involved in a lot of issues, including critical infrastructure protection for this country. Okay? And many other things that have little to do with the direct business of Microsoft. And so people at a personal level and at a corporate level really do try to step up and deal with some of these issues that people think are an issue of corporate responsibility.

Tim:
Next question.

Mark Vercallo:
Yes. I'm Mark Vercallo with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. [applause] I'm just a sysadmin [laughter, whoops, approving applause]. One of the issues that concerns me is that we're in a more monolithic society. We have a monolithic press. We have a monolithic government of cookie-cutter politicians. The oil companies, the gas companies, the electricity companies, have us under their thumb. And the only thing that seems free anymore is the free software, the free Internet, the free speech community. Now, in that battle, the way I see it is that your community has taken a hostage in one of the members of our community and that Dmitry is still in jail at this time. And I want to know how Microsoft feels about the enforcement of the DMCA, whether or not that you are going to continue to take hostages in our community for free speech, free expression, and putting people in jail for open source and speaking their — using code as a form of free speech. [applause]

Craig:
I suggest you address your question to Adobe. [applause]

Audience member [off-mike, shouting]:
Did Microsoft lobby for the DMCA?

Craig:
We talk to people all the time. [groans of disbelief]

Right now the DMCA is what it is. It's the law of the land. All right? So we and you and anybody else has a right to go try to get it changed if you don't like it. But it is the law of the land.

Tim:
So, Craig, let me ask a question. Does Microsoft like it?

Craig:
There's aspects of it we like and there's aspects we don't like. We're like you.

Tim:
Well actually there's very little I like about it. [laughter and applause]

Dave:
Your business depends on copyright, Tim. Right?

Tim:
Right. But I figure the DMCA breaks the rules in that it basically — it goes too far against fair use.

Craig:
Write your congressman.

Tim:
Well, I've spoken to him —

Dave:
No, he has spoken out, no question about that.

Audience member:
My name is Robert Lydie. I'm speaking not so much from my current work background as by formal training as a biologist. We've been talking a lot about ecosystems. But one of the things that we have, as biologists, learn[ed] about ecosystems is that the width of the ecosystem has something to do with its vitality. When you get narrow ecosystems, what are called the monocultures, which we do fine with in farming occupations, you have to do things to keep these systems viable. You have to start [using] pesticides. You have to do other things. If we've got a force that's all the same type of tree and we get parasites, a red worm goes through and destroys it. What's the vision that Microsoft and the other commercial firms that are such a thin culture, a monoculture? How are you going to protect yourself form these red worms?

Dave:
We want a healthy ecosystem. And actually, in all seriousness, metaphors aside — and those are wonderful tie-ins — it's very, very important to our business as well as your businesses to have a healthy ecosystem.

Audience member:
Buy breadth. Have Linux. [laughter]

Dave:
There ya go.

Brett Glass:
Okay, my name's Brett Glass. I'm known as a writer for Boardwatch magazine, among other things, and somewhat of a rabble rouser in the community. In the interest of brokering peace between the camps here, I'd just like to ask a question. During his talk, Michael said that Microsoft shouldn't engage in a winner-take-all strategy. The problem I see here, though, is that the GPL is also a winner-take-all strategy. As a matter of fact, if you remember — I'm sure most people here have read the GNU Manifesto -- Richard Stallman said that one of the effects of the GNU Project was to eliminate competition in the realm of operating system.

Now, this is sort of scary, in light of what our previous questioner just said. The GPL also has the potential to destroy, or at least weaken, the ecosystem by creating a monoculture. So I guess the question is: Why should we be going to the other extreme? Why advocate the GPL, rather than some sort of fairer regime that allows room for both, such as the Apache license, for example. Why not offer something to both camps, rather than going to one extreme to the other? [applause]

Shared Source vs. Open Source Related Links

Debate and Panel Discussion

Technetcast of the debateWith audio

Part 1: The Debate

OSCON Conference Coverage

Tim:
Well, I would have to say this is probably a loaded hot potato and I'm not afraid of those. I have to say I've spoken out quite clearly: I think that the university licenses are the best balance between freedom and the ability to make money. I think that is a choice that many projects have made. At the same time, I really respect and support the right of Microsoft to put out software under a proprietary license, and I really respect the right of people who want to use the GPL to put out software on [garbled]. I think the very fundamental right, you know, of freedom zero, for me, is to offer the fruit of your work on the terms that work for you.

Craig:
It's all about choice.

Tim:
Yeah [applause], and I think that that's really what's absolutely critical here, and I think the fact is, let there be competition in the marketplace. I mean that's the answer. I mean let people use whatever license they choose, and if their customers don't like it, they will have other choices. And I think because of technological changes, we are entering an era of greater choice. The fact is, Microsoft's past history is past, and we really are entering a new era, and it's a result not just of open source but of profound technological changes, and I think the future is open and we can make that future be what we want it to be. [applause]

And we probably need to end on that. If you want to ask Craig more questions, go to the free software event in October. [laughter]

[applause]

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