Monday, June 16, 2008

What do Free and Open Source Software Leaders Think of Microsoft?

No user of free and open source software (FOSS) can escape having an opinion about Microsoft. Microsoft products and technologies represent what FOSS users have left behind. Some consider it increasingly irrelevant, and others a shadowy figure comparable to Satan in the Middle Ages or the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Yet, no matter how members of the FOSS community regard Microsoft, all of us have well-defined opinions on the subject that we can express eloquently at short notice.

But what attitude do FOSS leaders have about Microsoft? The question is not just gossip or a test of trustworthiness. How it is answered can indicate leaders' values and priorities, and whether they deserve to be followed at all. Yet despite (or perhaps because of) how large Microsoft looms in the free software world, the rest of us rarely glimpse the attitudes the movers and shakers have towards it.

To help provide a clearer view, I asked a number of prominent FOSS leaders how Microsoft affected their work and personal computing, how much of a threat Microsoft was to FOSS, and what the odds were of the company ever becoming a member in good standing of the FOSS community.

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