Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Has Microsoft Open Sourced Itself in China?

Many reports are now discussing how Microsoft has conquered China through a combination of political hands-on and piracy hands-off, together with deep discounts (some call it dumping).

Another way to describe Microsoft strategy in China is open source lite.

Yes, Bill Gates has courted Chinese politicians aggressively in Beijing and Redmond. Yes, Microsoft has a shiny, new Chinese research center. Yes, it offers Windows/Office at rock bottom prices - $3 for Chinese students. The discount for government is top secret.

But, most importantly, Microsoft now takes a hands-off approach to the rampant pirating of its software in China.

The truth is: Piracy is helping Microsoft compete in China, and beat Linux.

In effect, Microsoft has partially open sourced itself in China ...

Windows and Office are copied and distributed for free (or nearly so) without any real licensing or IP restraints, and without legal challenge by Microsoft.

MS provides access to source code, for the government at least, allowing the Chinese to insert their own code and cryptography.

As a matter of business strategy, Microsoft is concentrating on building (even dominating) market share first, and worrying about sales second.

And finally, it has made China--through its research center in Beijing--an integral part of a collaborative, global process for software development.

Sound familiar? It isn't.

It's not the normal Microsoft strategy, and obviously it is not the work of an open source company. But Microsoft's approach to China has stolen a few pages from the open source playbook.

Call it: "Dr. Gateslove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Piracy."

Categories: China, Microsoft, opensource

Monday, July 30, 2007

FBI Investigates Ted Stevens' Tube Fetish

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) really has a thing for tubes. Not long ago, Stevens displayed his ignorance about the Internet by describing it as a "series of tubes." Brilliant!

Apparently, however, those were not the only tubes of interest to Stevens. This time it's tubes as in plumbing and wiring.

As I write this, the FBI and IRS are searching Stevens' Anchorage home as part of a corruption investigation into the re-modeling his house -- work possibly paid for by Veco, an oil-field service company that lobbies government extensively.

When it comes to tubes, maybe Senator Stevens is more of an expert than we knew.

Categories: Internet, FBI, tubes