Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

I don't want to be Jim Allchin

By mjs in Op-Ed
Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 07:31:31 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I almost broke things when I read the original story yesterday on C|net, I was laughing so hard. At first I thought it was a premature April Fool joke but more and more of the general press seems to be picking it up. Jim, Jim, Jim: did you dare go into the office today? I can see it now... (It's Friday and for those out there who might have mentally checked out a little early, this is a complete fantasy. I made it up. It's satire -- go look it up, I'll wait.)

Jim Allchin walks hurridly past his secretary toward his office, his head down, a floppy hat pulled low over his face. The secretary glamces furtively at him, trying unsuccessfully to hide a grin. "Jim? Bill's waiting in his office. He'd like for you to come straight up as soon as you get in."

Oh, God, Allchin thinks: even the secretaries have heard. "Thanks, Sally," He says with a faint nod. He enters his office, closes his door, and throws his hat and coat onto a chair. He desperately wants to leave the door closed all day, the phone off the hook, and immerse himself in something artificial (Asheron's Call?) but knows that he can't ignore a summons from the Chief Technologist. He hopes against hope that that asshole Ballmer won't be there but he knows he will be. Ballmer never could resist a good crucifixion. Jim looks around his office: he's been here long enough to make the place comfortable, a little home away from home. He wonders how many boxes he'll need to pack his personal belongings. He sighs, tries to stand a little straighter, and walks out.

Bill's office is an odd mix of neat and chaos, as always. The space immediately adjacent to his chair and workstation is piled high with papers but the rest of the office looks like an advertisement for an upscale furniture store. Its obvious which parts Bill uses and which parts he doesn't. Jim tries to avoid looking crestfallen at the sight of Ballmer, seated in his usual overstuffed chair. He looks like a bear waiting for a meal.

Bill is standing beside his desk, looking out the window. He turns when Jim enters the room and nods a greeting. He's obviously applying those stress management techniques the PR people have been insisting he learn: five years ago he'd have been flying around the room like a butterfly on steroids, waving his arms and intimidating mere mortals in his usual style. But age and parenthood and weekly sessions with coaches have moderated his behavior, at least a little, and for once Jim is grateful. That's his first mistake, letting that little tiny bubble of hope out of it's cage.

Bill gets right to the point: "Jim, I've been reading about that speech you gave. Did you actually say that open source software is un-American?" Ballmer snickers.

Jim feels that traitorous little bubble of hope change, transform: it was really desperation, camouflaged. He wonders if he'll be sick on Bill's carpet. "Oh, the damn press," he hears himself say. "You know how they work, twisting things around." He feels as though he's in a dream: his mouth is working, his body is acting, but his mind seems to be detached as though it were watching a performance. He finds himself wondering how it will turn out.

Bill nods; he does indeed know. At least, he thinks he does. "They recorded the speech, I imagine."

Oh, Christ, Jim thinks, I'm gonna throw up on the Chairman's carpet!

"Of course they filmed it," Ballmer says with a grin. "They record everything, don't they, Jim? Just waiting for one little mistake."

Jim gulps, trying desperately to hold his stomach in check. He succeeds in keeping his breakfast down but it seems to need to come out. If not one end, then the other. He clenches his butt muscles doggedly, feeling his stomach rumble.

"Sure they do," agrees Bill. His face changes, grows somehow darker and more menacing. There's only so much that coaching can do, apparently, and he's already tired of the little game. His pale hands, once bony but now in middle age growing a bit puffy, rest on the back of a chair, the knuckles white under the pale skin. "What on Earth were you thinking, Jim?"

Allchin shrugs dejectedly, his eyes searching for answers in the carpet. Hope, despair, anger: all have fled the scene in much the same way as animals flee ground zero before an earthquake. God, he feels so alone! Is this what Judgement Day will be like? He shudders involuntarily. "I don't know," he says haltingly. "I mean, these people just do this for free! What the hell is that, anyway?"

Ballmer snorts. That's the only word for it: snort. Like a bull when it first sees the red cape waving just beyond the reach of its horns. Bill glances at him, then turns his attention back to Allchin. "They're having a field day with this," he points out. "It was an idiotic thing to say, and they know it."

Allchin nods, his eyes still on the floor. He can't bring himself to look at them, especially Ballmer, sitting there smugly in his chair, his hands folded in his lap. Jim realizes that at the moment he's entertainment, nothing more; like that chick in the Star Wars movie when she went into the blob's hideout to rescue Han Solo and they all knew who she was and were just waiting for her to make her move. He thinks, reaching back... Carrie Fisher, or something like that. They had to tape her boobs so they wouldn't bounce around too much on camera. He replays the scene in his mind...

"God damn it, Jim!" Bill's gotten excited now and he's waving his arms. His face has turned an interesting shade of purple. "You're Supersmart! You're one of the best and brightest! How could you say such a stupid fucking thing? In public? Jesus God in Heaven: do you have any idea what that makes Microsoft look like? What it makes ME look like? Damn it, do you?"

What Jim wants to say is that it couldn't possibly make things worse than that Gawd-awful tape of Bill testifying for the anti-trust trial, but he knows better than to bring that up. Hell hath no fury, and all that. But still: Bill's words remind him that he is, in fact, Super Smart. He's one of the smartest people on the planet, maybe not as smart as Bill but certainly smarter than that blowhard Ballmer. He feels the first tentative heat of anger building up and when he speaks he is a little surprised to hear himself. There's a bit of steel in his voice that wasn't there a moment ago, he thinks. "Maybe its a marketing opportunity, maybe it isn't," he says. For the first time since he walked in the room he raises his head and looks at Bill's face. "But it isn't fair. They're doing for free what we're paying hundreds of millions to do. Sure, Linux sucks -- today. Windows sucked too, the first few years. We spent a lot of money and eventually got it right. They're not spending a damn dime but sooner or later, they'll get it, too. That's not the way competition works! Where's the level playing field? Where's the investment?"

"C-c-communists?" Ballmer is laughing, his face red, his ample frame jerking spasmodically. "You called them communists!"

"It was a stupid thing to say," Bill shouts, his voice squeaking. He seems to like that phrase, especially the 'stupid' part. He likes that word and when he says it, he draws it out: 'stu-u-u-u-pid', elevating its importance, emphasizing it, rolling it on his tongue like a rich cognac chasing a fine cigar. He shakes his head as though he has given up. "Just stupid." He stares at Allchin as though evaluating him. "What the hell's the matter with you? Aren't you smart? You're supposed to be smart. We're paying you to be smart, damn it!"

Jim feels his knees wobble and puts out a hand to steady himself against the back of a chair. Whatever steel he thought he'd found has vanished and for a moment, it is all he can do to keep himself from soiling Bill's carpet. Desperately, he wishes he could sit down, just for a moment. He feels his face get hot and fights back a wetness in his eyes. They're going to kick me out, he realizes suddenly. They're not even going to let me have a box to carry my stuff out in. He sees himself shuffling down an endless hallway under the flourescent lights, his arms holding a vast assemblage of unidentifiable stuff; a Santa Claus without the goodie bag, heading for the bread line. He's carrying his Monet under one arm, and his face is red and his eyes puffy. Everyone is watching. Are you allowed to carry a Monet that way, he wonders?

"Anyone can have a bad day." He's surprise to hear his own voice. Did he just say that? He closes his eyes. Ok, two bad days, he thinks. He wonders if there's a bridge nearby. Hell, this is Seattle, he tells himself. Bridges all over the place.

Bill looks upward, as though pleading with Heaven, and rolls his eyes. He stares appraisingly at Allchin for a moment. "Fascists," he says, finally. There's a glint in his eye.

Jim is puzzled. Where did this come from? "Fascists?", he mutters softly. Who? Him? Ballmer?

"The press loves communists," Gates says. He's waving his arms again. "Goddamn pinko-loving soft headed idiots." He glares at Allchin. "You called the free software people 'communists'," he says. "They're not communists! They're fascists! Dirty little thieving fascists!"

Ballmer nods quick agreement. "That's the line, all right: I like it. A bunch of little Hitlers with their black leather and tattoos. They don't respect authority or capitalism or mom or country or anything else." He nods thoughtfully. "Yeah, we could go with that."

Gates walks around the table and jabs a finger in Allchin's face, not quite poking him in the eye. "That's what you call them from now on," he says forcefully. "Fascists. Not communists, fascists. From now on."

Jim nods, a palpable wave of relief sweeping over him, almost causing his legs to collapse beneath him. All he can think of is his office. With the door closed. "Fascists," he whispers. "They're all a bunch of little Nazis." Oh, God, he thinks: oh, God: thank You for not making me shit on Bill's carpet.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o story
o Also by mjs

Display: Sort:
I don't want to be Jim Allchin | 46 comments (27 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
About Allchin's quotes (3.81 / 11) (#3)
by Anonymous 7324 on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 02:36:18 PM EST

... they are sufficiently extreme, when viewed from the perspective of a centrist, that I doubt he made them without the support of someone high up enough to soak up the responsibility.

Someone in MS knows that the mudslinging has gotten a bit out of hand, but just can't help themselves in hurling one last scoop. The result will become obvious in time.

Moreover, I haven't read any followups of Microsoft spokespeople wanting to 'clarify' Allchin's statements, further suggesting that more than just Allchin meant what he said -- perhaps some higher up the chain of command as well.

Hiding (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by Matrix on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 07:05:49 PM EST

They could also be hiding out and hoping that it all blows over sometime soon. Any further comments in the press would probably net them even more coverage than they already got, which would hurt them even more. Especially denials, as everyone knows that "they wouldn't bother to deny it if it weren't true". I'm not even going to bother contemplating on what would happen to them if they supported Allchin. That would be too stupid a move for anyone to pull.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

'Clarifications' from Microsoft (none / 0) (#44)
by FriedLinguini on Tue Feb 20, 2001 at 01:17:59 PM EST


[ Parent ]
It's time for another vacation. (3.93 / 16) (#8)
by Minuit on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 03:48:43 PM EST

I'm still trying to figure out how it is that Jim still has his job.

I mean, after treating the DoJ to another hilarious episode of Microsoft's Funniest Home Videos back in 1999, Jim went on a "well deserved vacation", which is corporate-speak for "sleeping with the fishes" (ZDNet babbles on for a bit about this). And yet, somehow, he came back to work two months later.

How does he do it? Does he have secret videotapes of Bill and Steve going through a particularly gruesome Harvard fraternity initiation involving a bottle of Jack Daniels, a jar of Miracle Whip and a goat?

A little background search on Dr. James Allchin failed to turn up any explanation for this mystery. A fluff piece in USA Today does, however, explain a few things.

"While in elementary school, [Jim Allchin] built a power transformer that nearly burned down his parents' barn when he plugged it in."

He later joined Microsoft and applied this experience to the design of Windows NT.

I could go on, but I have a sudden uncontrollable urge to watch "Bob Roberts" again. I haven't felt this way since last November.

[Side note: This would be a whole lot less funny if it was happening to me. Remember, kids, comedy is bad things happening to other people.]


If you were my .sig, you would be home by now.

Probably not for much longer ;) (2.25 / 4) (#23)
by fluffy grue on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 08:51:41 PM EST

I have a feeling that after this, he's not going to be in such a... visible position at MS. I'm just waiting to see what sort of comments come from the higher-ups, a'la Vinod, who "was merely speculating and does not speak for the entire company" when he wrote the now-infamous opensource-subversion memo (aka the "halloween document")...
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

heh... (1.47 / 21) (#13)
by minusp on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 04:51:00 PM EST

I'm gonna go get another username so I can vote +1 again!
Remember, regime change begins at home.
Two very simple comments.. (3.46 / 15) (#14)
by BigZaphod on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 05:02:13 PM EST

"I'm an American, I believe in the American Way"

And then later:

"We can build a better product than Linux"

Ahem... If he believes so much in the American way, and he's sure they can build a better product, then WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? The market should determine if Microsoft truely does have the better product and not Congress. And besides, if free vs. commercial is such a threat, then how come there are still commercial ISPs in business? Even though there are tons of those "free" ISPs supported by advertising and such the commercial ISP market seems to be doing just fine (*cough* AOL *cough*) without any extra laws.


"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
Building a better product... (2.50 / 4) (#26)
by infraoctarine on Sat Feb 17, 2001 at 06:22:18 AM EST

Allchin said: "We can build a better product than Linux"

Puzzling statement: if Microsoft claim they can build a better product than Linux, then why don't they?

[ Parent ]

Because... (2.00 / 2) (#27)
by dneas on Sat Feb 17, 2001 at 08:52:39 AM EST

Polices of market penetration-cum-rape have proved to be much more successful than actually selling a decent product.

For Microsoft anyway.
-- "The car is on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel." Cut out the spam block if you need to email about something.
[ Parent ]

context, context, context (5.00 / 2) (#39)
by streetlawyer on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 05:47:24 AM EST

If he believes so much in the American way, and he's sure they can build a better product, then WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

The problem is that the context for those remarks was that he was worried about government promotion of open source software. This is a point which is tragically missed again and again, because it doesn't lend itself so readily to self-righteous autotext screeds.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Life imitating art (3.18 / 11) (#15)
by fluffy grue on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 05:05:31 PM EST

One thing which nobody has mentioned, btw, is that this whole thing happened not too long after Segfault published one particular story - my impression is that the actual event happened a couple days after the satire story was put up, and knowing Segfault's publishing delay, the satire was probably written on Thursday or Friday...
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

So that's what they mean by "attack" (4.41 / 12) (#24)
by decaf_dude on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 11:59:44 PM EST

Ballmer recently said MSFT is gonna "attack" Linux on all fronts, and I foolishly thought they're gonna try and bring Windows up on technological par.

Technology, schmechnology, let's sling some mud!

As always, MSFT is very contradictory. On one side, they're crying for the gov't to butt out and let the market decide. On the other, they want the gov't to legislate and regulate.

BALLMER: "The Linux approach has led to an environment from which we can all learn, as it's a great way to do developer support."

ALLCHIN: "Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer, I can't imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business."

What I find very peculiar is that the mainstream media keeps silent about this. Perhaps MSFT's PR dept. is busy mailing out cheques to media houses who downplay this issue. Kudos to C|Net, I guess...


There is no contradiction (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by Bluesee on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 03:14:12 PM EST

They are not contradictory if you attribute all their behavior to making money.

And I believe that Allchin's remarks can be traced to Bill Gate's ideology and behavior. I recall the Wired article: 'The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth' in which each and every corporate move made by MS came from the top. I don't think that has changed too much. In fact, the whole .NET concept is pure Gates.

The scary thing, to me, is the fact that Allchin promised to educate legislators so that they "understand the threat". Notwithstanding the fact that Allchin provided no evidence to support his three claims that

- freely distributed code can stifle innovation
- this will result in the demise of IP
- also the demise of incentive to R&D

they will still somehow 'prove' this tenuous logic to legislators. But never let it be said that matters of logic are a critical part of a congressmen's thought process. I don't think that MS lobbiests are any different than any other. Money equals sense, no pun intended.

[ Parent ]
"The whole .NET concept is pure Gates" (none / 0) (#38)
by IntlHarvester on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 02:42:31 AM EST

I was just thinking of that scene in "Pirates of Silicon Valley" where Gates is pushing the Apple Lisa around yelling "I want this! I want it!"

You could imagine a similar scene when MS finally collectively figured out why Java was beating them in certain market segments. It would have to take a screaming Gates for them to dump 10 years and millions of dollars of COM development into the legacy bin.

[ Parent ]
What is this guy proposing? (2.28 / 7) (#28)
by cameldrv on Sat Feb 17, 2001 at 01:33:32 PM EST

So Allchin is saying that free software is bad for business. If you're selling commercial software that has to compete with free software, that is certainly true. But what kind of legislation is he going for? It seems impossible for the government to restrict the creation and sharing of software, so what is Microsoft's strategy here. He prominently mentions legislation, but what legislation? Does anyone have any idea what he is talking about?

I can kind of see where he's coming from (2.70 / 10) (#29)
by Pink Daisy on Sat Feb 17, 2001 at 06:39:58 PM EST

With the comments about open source killing competition. The big pharmaceutical companies have been saying similar things about generic drug manufacturers for a long time, and I'm pretty sure they are granted some protection, at least in Canada.

The problem is, if you spend lots of time, and huge amounts of money, creating something, what do you do about someone who takes it, copies it, and gives it away for a pittance? If advancing technology won't pay off financially, there aren't many companies that will do it. To me, patents are the most obvious solution, but perhaps the are reasons why they aren't completely satisfactory.

I can think of several counter arguments. Are people better served by the possibility of better technology in the future, or the cheap products now? Also, open source has advantages beyond cost. And I believe that it can produce innovation, so it's not a clear case of the advantages belonging to only one side.

I think Jim Allchin's tirade is silly, but there are issues here, and ignoring them only makes him look good by being the only person to discuss them.

Who is copying who? (4.25 / 4) (#32)
by infraoctarine on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 05:06:47 AM EST

The problem is, if you spend lots of time, and huge amounts of money, creating something, what do you do about someone who takes it, copies it, and gives it away for a pittance?

This argument might be true in your example with the pharmaceutical industry, but is not applicable on Open Source Software, because OSS has not copied closed source products. The two "camps" have developed concurrently. Blatant stealing of ideas have occured, but they have gone both ways.

Allchin is basically saying that it is wrong to work for free, or to give something away for free, if it can interfere with anyone trying to make a profit. If I am giving away an idea for free, I am "an intellectual-property destroyer," according to Allchin. What is the next step? Closing down universities who, by openly publishing research results, also must be "intellectual-property destroyers"?

I wonder how many Microsoft products are build on open standards and research results (funded by tax money) that they have obtained for free (i.e. from the un-american "intellectual-property destroyers" they now want to get rid of)?

[ Parent ]

That's some squint you have (4.00 / 2) (#33)
by itsbruce on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 08:42:42 AM EST

With the comments about open source killing competition.

Killing what competition? Last time I looked, Apache was competing with IIS etc. Not to mention the competition between rival Open Source products.

Open Source isn't ever going to put an end to commercial software companies. They may have to change their business practices and improve the quality of their software - hey, that's competition for you.

Open Source isn't killing competition, Allchin is just afraid that he won't be able to compete.

The big pharmaceutical companies have been saying similar things about generic drug manufacturers for a long time

Unfortunate comparison. The practices of the pharmaceutical companies are killing people.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Open Source Does Kill Competition (2.50 / 2) (#43)
by ansible on Tue Feb 20, 2001 at 12:28:05 AM EST

The two biggest victems of Linux so far are: Mark Williams Corporation, and Santa Cruz Organization. The MWC produced Coherent; a Unix clone back in the early ninties. It was small, cheap, but not very featurful (no networking beyond UUCP, no X) until very late in it's development. Just as it was getting interesting, it was mostly abandoned by the hobbiest crowd for Linux.

SCO had been faltering for a while, mostly because Openserver sucked, but also because of competition from Linux for the low-end Unix market.

There are others. How about Solaris x86? It never really took off, and now it probably never will.

[ Parent ]

Good riddance... (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by chewie on Tue Feb 20, 2001 at 01:20:14 PM EST

I'm sorry, but I don't see these as competition, I see these as dinosaurs that have been on the way out for a long time now. SCO simply didn't understand the market they were competing for. M$ thought they might be able to salvage some of the operation, but they didn't get far. Some people may not like the fact that Linux has not only pushed out some bad systems, their pet favorites, but it has in fact stretched its influence beyond the simple x86 market; something SCO could never do. Now that Linux has the backing of several large corporations, including IBM, the one company no one thought would hop aboard, many companies are forced to review their own business models. "What do you mean, 'Give it away?' How can we live on a support model alone?" It's time people rethink their position in the world, and I'm happy to see that day come.
assert(expired(knowledge)); /* core dump */
[ Parent ]
What about CLOSED source stifling competition? (4.66 / 3) (#42)
by fuzzrock on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 09:01:46 PM EST

This whole discussion seems to me to be starting in exactly the wrong place.

Jim Allchin says that open source slows down the pace of advancing technology, so everyone immediately goes into a defensive stance - trying to defend the thesis that open source won't damage competetion, or some variant of that stance.

I'd like to examine the theory that maybe it's the other way around - open source is the only way that real advancement ever happens, and it is intellectual property (IP) law that truly stifles competetion. I'm not even trying to claim that any argument I'll present is airtight, but I'd like to think that at least it's a plausible alternative viewpoint, and that it's a point that people need to start making more often.

It is my impression that historically, most advances in any technological realm build heavily, and could not exist without, Those Who Went Before. Think for a second about where the computer industry would be now if the transistor had been the intellectual property of one company? We might have 80x86-speed processors by now, but I'd be shocked if we had anything close to what we actually have.

New technology advances faster when many people's ideas are both in competition and cooperation. I think that the modern GUI interfaces are much better than they started out, and I think that they're better because whenever IP law would allow for it, Apple and Microsoft have stolen every idea they could from the other.

But I don't think that's even the strongest argument. I think the strongest argument against IP law as we currently have it is what I call the "brainstorm" argument. I call it that because it was spawned by an observation I have had about people when they brainstorm. Coming up with an idea for a solution to any given problem out of the blue is pretty hard. But when ideas are flying fast and furious from people around you, it often happens that I'll have an idea that's not so much original as a synthesis of other peoples' ideas, or a refinement of other peoples' ideas. I think technology advances fastest in that same environment - ideas flying around like flies in manure. If you'll forgive the analogy.

I've made two points here, and I think the more subtle one is the more important, so I'll just say it again, if that's okay: This whole debate is in the wrong place. It's shouldn't be about defending open source technology, it should be about debating which is better - and just because IP is the way it's been done for the last 50 years, let's not give it the status of king of the mountain. I've given a couple of arguments against IP, anybody else want to chime in?


[ Parent ]

Taste of their own medicine (3.16 / 6) (#30)
by adlr on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 01:40:22 AM EST

IE was free and it squashed Netscape. It's a different kind of free, now, but same deal as far as competition.

Reality check (3.88 / 9) (#31)
by morphex on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 05:00:00 AM EST

Uhmm, this is great fun and all, sitting here fantasizing what the heads up in Microsoft would do if this was a mistake.

Don't you see the blatantly obvious? That this is FUD, and that they're discouraging potential Open Source / Free software implementations to the average customer? Be it one small company, a regular user, or a Fortune 500 company, they do not want to invest in something that may be banned in the future.

I find it unlikely that Open Source / Free software will be made illegal, but if they can make the average customer think it could/will be illegal, that will in some situations switch the choice from going into Open Source / Free software (because it's new, unknown) and instead choose Windows or other proprietary programs, because, "it's a bit unstable at times, but at least it won't be banned", and so on.

And, why on earth would a top head over at Microsoft say something like this, if not for a good reason? For example, take that statement in combination with Steve Ballmers (at times intentionally stupid) statements that they will be (paraphrasing) 'attacking Linux at all fronts': They seem to be doing exactly that, but I don't think they're attacking Linux the system directly, they're attacking the Open Source / Free software community, and the process that goes on, and the people that 'work' in this community and, not to forget, the credibility and reliability of this community. This has possibly been their biggest headache to date, and Linux is the natural decoy-target, because it represents the biggest (best known) threat at this point.

Basic psychological manipulation is more effective than you may think.

First [we] ignore them.
Then [we] laugh at them.
Then [we] fight them.
Then [they] win.

Well, maybe Allchin's right... (4.50 / 4) (#35)
by Noel on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 03:43:38 PM EST

Here's what he said:

Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer. I can't imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business.

In other words, open source is bad for the business that Microsoft is in - both the "software business" and the "intellectual-property business". I definitely agree with him there. Open source software will cause (is causing?) a complete restructuring in how software and intellectual-property businesses work. That can be bad for both the profitability and existence of current businesses.

The fault is not in Allchin's statement, but rather the implicit proposition that anything bad for businesses is un-American. Notice I said "businesses", not business. Things that are bad for businesses can still be good for business (canonical example: automobiles are bad for buggy whip businesses).

Open Source can be bad for current businesses that can't adopt to the changes in the software environment. But does that mean it's bad for business as a whole? I don't think so. Rather, it is bringing new levels of innovation, interoperability, and competition that could not exist if all we had was proprietary software and IP businesses.

Unfortunately, we are cursed with a government, and to a large extent a popluace, that seems to believe this underlying proposition. They seem to think that American success is defined completely by the success of the businesses big enough to send them lobbyists. As long as this belief remains, we will continue to see governmental interventions that protect businesses from the consequences of their actions. [but that's another rant...]

So what.. he's right.... (3.75 / 4) (#36)
by debaere on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 07:03:57 PM EST

Look at what he said. 'Open Source is an intellectual property destroyer', 'It goes against the American Way', and '[Microsoft] can build a better system'.... seems harsh, but is it?

'Open Source is an intellectual property destroyer' is a very accurate and emotion stirring statement.. RMS would be proud. Open Source is about information freedom (available to all), NOT intellectual property (owned and controlled). So Open Source IS an Intellectual Property destroyer. Thats the whole point!

'It goes against the American Way'. Corporately speaking, the american way is capitalism. Becomming successful. This is usually done by hoarding and fiercely protecting the details of your product lines. Open Source flies flat in the face against this concept. What this article fails to mention is that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

'Microsoft can build a better system'. You're damn right they can! They have a ton of PhD's working for them, and they are capable of creating amazing feats of software engineering (when Sales goals, and facist marketing divisions allow). They also have more money than God... so yes, they CAN build a better system if they put their mind to it. They are too constrained with sales margins, and marketting campaigns to have the desire to.

This article reads like a criminal trying to justify his crimes.

Bottom line, except for the bit about Stifling innovation (which he fails to expand on IMHO) This article comes out on the side of Open Source. Rather amusing actually.

You're thinking of Free Software . . . (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by hardburn on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 09:59:36 AM EST

. . . not Open Source. RMS is not part of the Open Source movement, he's of Free Software. They are nearly the same, but differ in the interpretations of the same definision and in their underlieing philosphy.

Open Source says "being open has benifits for your business", and thus has a pragmatic idealogy. Free Software says "being Free is not just a pragmatic thing to do, it's moraly wrong to do otherwise", and thus is more of a moral idealogy.

It can be noted that Open Source does not always demand software be put under Open/Free licenses. ESR once told a company that they should not make their software Open Source, because (in their case) there was no practical benifit for doing so.

Thus, you are thinking of Free Software, not Open Source. You should know that you're not alone; lots of people are believe more in Free Software then Open Source and don't know it. Open Source is so dominant right now that it's easy to believe that the two are synonyms. However, the two are quite diffrent once you get past the surface similarities.

As for other points in your post:

. . . They have a ton of PhD's working for them, and they are capable of creating amazing feats of software engineering . . .

Exactly! So why don't they?

'It goes against the American Way'.

As you bring out so nicely, the "American Way" is corupt through and through. Anyone spouting crap about "the American Dream" needs to be smacked over the head with a giant cluestick. I'm quite proud that Free Software has nothing to do with it.

What I do worry about is that most people don't realize what the "American Way" really means. To them, it means "anyone" can crawl their way from the bottom to the top on their own two feet. Anybody thats not doing so just isn't working hard enough. Lazy basterds.

This is all a justification for leaving the poor and oppressed masses poor and oppressed. If the poor are poor because their lazy, you're not moraly required to do anything about it. Thats the American Way.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
Microsoft is afraid (none / 0) (#46)
by arturo on Sun Mar 11, 2001 at 12:43:38 AM EST

They are afraid because it's monopoly is threated by Open Source. It is the only way to stop Microsoft 'architect' mesianic dreams of power. But is not Open Source who threat directly Microsoft, is people that can excecise the rigth to choose. Open Source also have opened new niches for profitable bussiness (my company is based on Open Source solutions and pay our salaries). Finally Microsoft have never being promoting state-of-art technology see DOS vs DRDOS Windows vs OS2 NT vs UNIX VB vs Delphi, the only great success of Microsoft was copying MAC suites. On the other hand Open Source is backed by promiment reserchers at univertities that are doing significant contributions.
Arturo Borquez
I don't want to be Jim Allchin | 46 comments (27 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!