Every week we'll be giving industry experts a poser from the week's news. Today, it's the turn of the unseemly spat between Microsoft and the open source community. See what our panel made of our question: Is Microsoft scared of the open source community?
"Whether or not Microsoft is 'scared' of the open source movement has nothing to do with their recent statements. Microsoft believes that their Intellectual Property is being stolen - and they eventually may act on what they feel is due to them."
Ranga Rangachari, CEO of GroundWork Open Source
"It's not surprising that Microsoft would level a well-funded, well-organized - yet not factually accurate - PR campaign against open source at this time. If you were making $1billion in profit per month, how would you react? Because that's precisely how much Microsoft makes per month on its Windows and Office products, both of which are directly and substantially threatened by Linux and Open Office."
Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, home of Linux creator Linus Torvalds
"While it appears that Microsoft running scared of Linux, I think that they are just confused about what to do about it. Certainly, their patent threats are a strategic blunder - everybody knows that real patent leverage is obtained behind closed doors, and often after the infringement claim is filed in open court. And who are they going to sue anyway? Their best customers? Linus Torvalds (a verifiable saint)? IBM (who holds the biggest patent guns of all)? Finally, the truth is that Microsoft is even more confused - and definitely more fearful - about winning against Google. It's sad to see the gorilla become a monkey...even if it was an 'evil' gorilla...."
Bob Walters, CEO of Untangle
"Microsoft is not threatened by the open source community as community. But they are scared of a many faced foe they can't fight, a method of production they can't match, and the inevitable demise of their own business model."
Mark Taylor, CEO Sirius Corporation and President, Open Source Consortium
"Even the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, noted last year that Linux infringes well over 200 patents from multiple companies. The real question is not whether there exist substantial patent infringement issues, but what to do about them. Microsoft and Novell already developed a solution that meets the needs of customers, furthers interoperability, and advances the interests of the industry as a whole. Any customer that is concerned about Linux IP issues needs only to obtain their open source subscriptions from Novell."
Horacio Gutierrez, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft
"Software patents are illegal in Europe. Microsoft, which was the most active lobbyist when the Software Patents Directive was discussed in the European Commission and in Parliament, has failed to convince MEPs that patents are good for software innovation. Microsoft's current actions will make it even harder for proponents of software patents to convince the European Parliament that they can be good for the European software economy.
"Microsoft has a long history of using unfair tactics against competitors, and software patents are an unfair tactic, a weapon used either by companies that have no product and no reputation to protect (patent portfolio companies), or as a last resource by companies who need to protect their market share by every possible means.
"In past cases, Microsoft was the one attacked in courts, either by dead companies (ex: Digital Research) or by government bodies (several American states, the European Commission). Now, Microsoft is the aggressor, and they are attacking smaller companies or non-for-profit open source communities. This will not be good for their image, and could make them appear as a company that can't innovate and has to use scare tactics (FUD) or other means to fight its rivals."